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FG spends N15bn on Safe Schools Initiative as abduction worsens

The federal government says it has injected N15 billion take-off grant to the Safe Schools Initiative programme which it launched in 2022 and began the…

The federal government says it has injected N15 billion take-off grant to the Safe Schools Initiative programme which it launched in 2022 and began the full implementation in 2023 in order to have conducive environment for learning.

The National Coordinator, Financing Safe School Initiative, Hajiya Halima Iliya, disclosed this to journalists at Nigerian Army Resource Centre, Abuja on Thursday during the Safe School Summit organised by the Defence Headquarters.

Daily Trust reports that the initiative was conceived against the background of incessant abductions of school children from their respective schools by terrorists, bandits and other sundry criminals — the development many stakeholders have flayed, especially in the wake of recent kidnappings in schools in Kaduna and Sokoto states.

The summit, with the theme, “Providing a Secure and Safe Learning Environment for the Advancement of National Development,” was in preparation of the military to join other security in the programme implementation to halt attacks on schools.

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Speaking to newsmen, Iliya said the summit was a component of the national plan for the Safe School Initiative, adding that the federal government had already in 2021 conveyed a high-level meeting where the decision to address the menace on a more holistic and sustainable basis was taken.

She said, “The federal government in 2021 conveyed the high-level meeting which was to address the menace of school abductions on a more holistic plan because without plans, you can’t achieve anything.

“The programme was later launched in 2022 and full implementation started in 2023 with first six school centres which we intend to replicate at the States and the localgovernment levels to have a Safe Schools Response Security Infrastructure.

“In 2023, the federal government funded the project, N15 billion was released for the take-off. The thing is, if you look at the sources of funding in the national plan, which is National Plans and Financing Safe Schools between 2023 to 2026, there’s commitment that is ought to come from the sub-nationals.

“It is a plan where you have commitment from the three tiers of government. We need to have the local contents before we reach out to partners. So, there is a need to have political will and commitment locally and the beautiful thing is that the States are keying locally.”

Earlier, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Christopher Musa, said the summit was to secure positive contributions of stakeholders to the success of the initiative, adding that the aim of the interaction was to develop and adopt holistic approaches to guarantee the safety of children in school.

“It is therefore in the interest of our dear nation that every stakeholder works assiduously to build a strong, safer, more secure, and prosperous future for our children and our beloved country.

“We must continue to strive to maintain a society where every child has the opportunity to learn, grow and maximise their potentials as well as fulfil their dreams.

“Today’s event gives us the unique opportunity to safeguard the future of our children and by extension the future of Nigeria. It is expected that we will make ample use of this opportunity to provide enduring solutions to the compelling security challenge,” the Defence Chief said.

Musa assured that the military was committed to providing necessary assistance for the security of school children and all learning institutions in the country.

He said the Armed Forces of Nigeria would be launching a Standing Operating Procedure (SOP) during the summit to support its operational activities in this regard, stressing that the SOP would provide necessary guidelines for members of the armed forces to implement the programme.

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