The federal government has hinted it is gearing up to fully launch the Safe Schools Initiative, which aims to keep schools safe across the country.
Ms. Halima Iliya, Head of the Safe Schools Financing Secretariat and Technical Working Committee of the Ministry of Finance, said during a courtesy call on Dr. Ahmed Abubakar Audi, Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) at the Corps Headquarters in Abuja.
Following the abduction of around 300 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno state, the federal government launched the Safe Schools Initiative in 2014 as part of efforts to ensure continued education for children in conflict zones or affected by insecurity.
Further cementing the commitment to Safe Schools, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Safe Schools Declaration of Approval in December 2019.
As a result, the federal government activated N144 in December 2022. An $8 billion Safe Schools financing initiative to protect schools across the country from terrorist attacks.
Speaking at the event in Abuja, Finance Minister Mrs Zainab Ahmed said the scheme would be implemented between 2023 and 2026.
She added that the plan was developed through rigorous strategic consultation with all relevant key stakeholders in the education and security sectors at the national and local levels, including the Federal Ministry of Education; the Nigerian Police Force; the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC ); Department of State Security (DSS); Defense Headquarters (Army, Navy and Air Force).
The Minister further stated that input was also received from 36 State and Federal Capital Territory Departments of Education; Finance and Budget, development partners; donor agencies and civil society organizations on how best to ensure children’s education is free from the activities of terrorists and other criminals interference.
The Funding Safe Schools Secretariat/Technical Working Committee was also satisfied with the level of readiness of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) to ensure the success of the programme.
While chairing the National School Safety Technical Working Committee, NSCDC Commander-in-Chief Dr Ahmed Abubakar Audi thanked the team for their support, commitment and synergy with sister agencies in ensuring Nigerian schools are safe.
He said that to protect the schools, the Corps has introduced the School Community Safety Vanguard, established a special women’s team, the Integrated Electronic Arrest Reporting System (I-EARS), etc.
According to Audi, the NSCDC has proposed to develop two sites as permanent control rooms for the project.
He reiterated that the NSCDC, as the lead agency for the protection of the nation’s vital assets and infrastructure, is ready to fulfill its mandate.
He also tasked the Private Guard Company (PGC) with timely grassroots intelligence gathering to ensure adequate protection of the country’s schools.
He affirmed that the Legion had trained more than 3.5 million guards and suggested that, because of their proximity to the grassroots, such connections could be used to attract reliable intelligence.
Ms. Halima Iliya, Head of the Finance Safe Schools Secretariat and Technical Working Committee of the Ministry of Finance, thanked the Legion for its donation and pledged to use the infrastructure provided.
After inspecting the donated office workspace and control room, Mrs Iliya said the council would renovate the office as it lacked the funds to build the undeveloped donated site.
She said there would be a lot of outreach in rural areas because of her advocacy for the importance of community response.
She emphasized the need for all stakeholders, especially the security agencies, to continue to develop proactive measures to produce outcomes that address national security challenges.