Freetown, Sierra Leone. Tony Elumelu, Nigerian banker and philanthropist on Wednesday, in Freetown, donated $500,000 (about ₦188 million) to President Ernest Bai Koroma to help alleviate the suffering of people of Sierra Leone affected by flood and mudslide.
Along with former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, Tony Elumelu visited survivors at the Connaught Hospital, the principal adult referral hospital in Freetown, the country’s capital.
“I was deeply moved by what I witnessed today and have therefore donated $500,000 towards the rehabilitation & recovery efforts,” Tony Elumelu said via his Twitter handle.
Tony Elumelu called on other wealthy individuals and organizations around the world to support relief efforts in Sierra Leone.
The Nigerian philanthropist also called the attention of international media to the Freetown floods and bemoaned the fact that the world’s major news organizations have not given significant media attention to the situation.
“All lives whether on the African continent or elsewhere are the same and should attract the same media attention and human sympathy,” Tony Elumelu said.
A U.N. agency said the death toll from recent Sierra Leone torrential mudslides is nearly 500. Red Cross officials estimate more than 600 are still missing. Reports indicate many people were still sleeping when the landslide hit. Rescue officials have warned that the chances of finding surviviors are decreasing each day.
Churches across Sierra Leone held special services Sunday in memory of those killed. Large-scale-burials have taken place all this week amid rainy weather that threatened further mudslides.
Rescue workers search for survivors following a mudslide in Regent, east of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Monday, Aug. 14, 2017.
The government of the West African nation in recent days has warned residents to evacuate a mountainside where a large crack has opened. Thousands of people live in areas at risk and the main focus is making sure they leave before further disaster, authorities have told local media.
Aid groups are providing clean water as a health situation looms.
“Water sources have been contaminated” and that officials “fear for an outbreak of waterborne diseases,” said Saidu Kanu, country director for World Hope International.
Foreign aid from the rest of the world is being sent to Freetown, said authorities.
Thousands of people have lost their homes. Some critics accuse the government of not learning from past disasters in a city where many poor areas are near sea level and lack good drainage. The capital is also plagued by unregulated construction on its hillsides.
Photo: Tony Elumelu with Sierra Leone President Koroma in Freetown
Three years ago, Tony Elumelu donated about $300,000 towards Ebola containment and relief across Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. Tony Elumelu, 54, is one of Africa’s most prominent business leaders and philanthropists. The author of Africapitalism, he is the chairman of United Bank for Africa, Transcorp Nigeria and Heirs Holdings, a proprietary investment firm. His Tony Elumelu Foundation is an African-based, African-funded philanthropic organization that supports entrepreneurship in Africa by enhancing the competitiveness of the African private sector.