Nigeria: Safe School Initiative - Senate Begins Probe of Utilisation of $20m Donation

25 February 2021

The Senate has mandated the committees on Education (Basic and Secondary), Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND to investigate the utilisation of over $20 million funding proposed and budgeted for the Safe School Initiative.

The investigation, according to the directive, would also cover all monies donated by foreign governments and agencies to the initiative.

This formed part of resolutions reached during plenary yesterday after the Senate considered a motion on the "Urgent need for the Restoration and Revalidation of the Safe School Initiative in Nigeria."

Sponsor of the motion, Senator Stephen Adi Odey (PDP, Cross River North) noted that the "Safe School Initiative" was launched to promote security and safety of schools, pupils, students, teachers, as well as facilities in 2014.

According to the lawmaker, the initiative "was formulated to design and Implement the best of global standards in the educational sector in Nigeria through the employment of qualified teachers, provision of library and laboratory equipment, conducive environment for teaching and learning, as well as provision of habitable classrooms and hostels.

He expressed concern that "the unfortunate increase in the insecurity crisis in the country, with the advanced target at schools in diverse locations, especially the regrettable kidnap of the Chibok and Dapchi school girls in Borno and Yobe states respectively, the Kankara school boys in Katsina state and most recently, the kidnap of students of Government Science College, Kagara in Rafilga local government area of Niger State, have exposed the unimaginable decadence and dilapidation in the schools in Nigeria, drawing inference from the footage from the school environments.

"These ugly and condemnable activities of insurgency, kidnapping, wanton killing and other associated crimes will not abate, especially in consideration of the payment of "Ransom" for the release of victims and as reportedly hinted by the immediate past chief of army staff (COAS) in the course of his continuation as ambassadorial nominee," he warned.

Contributing, Senate deputy whip, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger North), said the recent kidnappings of school children by bandits have resulted in students from a part of the country missing out on education.

Senator Orker Jev (PDP, Benue North West), speaking in support of the motion, said the spate of kidnappings of students would on the long run have adverse effect on the quality of learning and education in Nigeria.

Also, Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC, Kogi West), said the welfare of school children must continue to be a priority for the federal government of Nigeria so as to secure their future.

Accordingly, the Senate while urging the federal government to, in collaboration with the various state governments, restore, revive and revalidating the Safe School Initiative in Nigeria, urged the Ministry of Education under the auspices of the National Council of Education to come out with a comprehensive and workable framework for Safe Schools in Nigeria.

In his remarks, the Senate president, Ahmad Lawan, advised the National Council on Education to come up with policies and guidelines that would ensure the safety of school children and students in the various institutions of learning across the country.

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