Irked by terrorist attacks on schools in the country, the federal government may be considering the deployment of armed guards across high-risk states to protect institutions of learning.
Speaking at the high-level summit save-guarding the schools, in Abuja, yesterday, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said that the federal government was committed to protecting the nation’s schools from further terrorist attacks.
Without giving details of the planned strategy on the National Safe schools Plans, the minister said that the government was working through an inter-agency committee, which was consulting widely, in order to achieve the goal.
A security source said, however, that the federal was considering armed guards in states which have suffered incessant terrorist attacks on schools when the new session commences in September.
Already, as learnt, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps had established a special Armed Squad with some members of the squad deployed to protect students in some states.
According to the minister, “The Nigerian Government, in keeping with its responsibility to create a safer and more secure teaching, learning and living environment for her children, has taken several steps in this direction.
“In 2014, as part of efforts to tackle these crises, the Federal Government launched the Safe School Initiative (SSI), focused on enabling children affected by conflict and insecurity to continue with their education unhindered.”
She added that President Muhammadu Buhari, 2019, formally signed the Safe Schools Declaration Ratification Documents, signalling the country’s commitment to implementing the intergovernmental commitment in Nigeria.
“We at the Federal Ministry of Finance and National Planning established a committee with members drawn from relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies, including the Federal Ministry of Education, the Military and other Security Agencies.
“The Committee has been working to collate inputs from the relevant MDAs and to develop a National Plan for Financing Safe Schools. The plan will incorporate state-level plans, as well as Federal Government sectoral plans, with an emphasis on ensuring adequate budgetary allocation in order to create a safe learning environment for teaching, learning, and restoring confidence in the education system.”
The National Plan, according to the minister, would be implemented in phases, starting with Most at the Risk States, Local Governments and Schools Host Communities.
“This National Plan is expected to be launched before the end of the 3rd quarter of 2022, and will clearly outline how Nigeria intends to protect her schools and other learning places so that our children can once again return to learning in a safer and more secured environment.,” she said.
The convener of the high-level meeting,
Dr Ayoade Alakija who hosted the summit under the Emergency Coordination Center stressed the need to protect schools from further attacks.
The federal government, together with the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, commenced the Safe Schools Initiative (SSI) in May 2014.
It followed the devastating Boko Haram attacks on schools in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, the worst-hit states of the nation’s North East.
The Safe Schools Initiative is to be funded by the federal government in collaboration with development partners, as well as a possibility of persuading the private sector to co-fund it.