The Federal Government yesterday announced the commitment of N1.6 billion to the Safe School Initiative Fund, a programme launched after the abduction of Chibok girls in Borno state.
The United Nations Special Envoy on Global Education, Gordon Brown, had recently announced a donation of $10 million for the fund aimed at ensuring the safety of schools in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states currently facing the challenge of terrorism in the country.
Also, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday met with Brown, Governor Kashim.
Shettima of Borno and Governor Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe state, on efforts towards making schools, especially in troubled parts of the country, safe for students.
Addressing State House journalists after the meeting, Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala disclosed that the president had ordered her to open a trust fund with N1.6 billion for the initiative.
The minister said the private sector would also contribute N1.6 billion to the fund, while Brown and the governors would also put in commitments.
According to her, the aim is to make school environments safe for students. “We met with the President who has kicked off the Safe Schools Initiative and Brown former UK’s Prime minister is here, the envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations bringing the wishes and support of the intentional community to back Mr. President’s initiative.
“We have got their Excellences, the governors of Borno and Yobe States and we will be joined by the governor of Adamawa State tomorrow, who are going to be working with us to make the communities safe and the schools safer so that our children, who are in these areas, can come back to school.
“And Mr. President has kicked-off this initiative, by opening and instructing that I open a trust fund which we have already put N1.6bn. The private sector is also putting N1.6bn.
“His Excellency, Gordon Brown is going to be raising some resources and the governors are also putting in commitment. We are intent on trying to make sure that our children in the states have an environments which they can come back to school and not have their education truncated”, the minister said.
Also speaking, Brown said the international community would support the Federal Government’s efforts towards rescuing the abducted schoolgirls.
He explained that the initiative was aimed at making schools safer so that parents would be encourage to send their children to schools.
He noted that the United Nations would rebuild the Chibok school where the girls were cruelly kidnapped on April 14.
In his remarks, Yobe state governor, Ibrahim Gaidam pledged that the governors in the three states where the initiative would kick off would give the necessary cooperation, to ensure its success; while Shettima, who also welcomed the development, cautioned against playing politics with human lives.
“By the grace of God, we want to give you our commitment that we are going to pursue this thing with vigour, with all the resources, human and materials, in our disposal and please it will be completely devoid of politics.
“Times like this call for sobriety, maturity, for unity of purpose. At the appropriate time, we are going to play politics but this is not time for playing politics with the lives of people”, Shettima said.