Federal Government Launches N144.8 Billion Project To Enhance Safety In Schools Across 18 States

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Taking a proactive stance against the prevailing security challenges, the Federal Government has set in motion an extensive Safe Schools Initiative with a substantial budget of N144.8 billion. This forward-looking effort is set to span across 18 states nationwide, focusing on enhancing security in a minimum of 48 schools within each state during the current year.

In a collaborative move, state governments are considering earmarking funds for the Safe Schools Initiative in their upcoming budgets, reflecting their commitment to complement the Federal Government’s endeavors in this crucial domain.

Underlining their dedication, the Federal Government has allocated N15 billion within its 2023 budget to finance the Safe Schools Initiative. This allocation underscores the urgency of ensuring the safety of both students and educational institutions.

During a press conference, Halima Illiya, the National Coordinator of the Safe Schools Initiative, situated within the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, shared these insights. Illiya emphasized the ongoing challenges faced by educational institutions due to persistent threats posed by extremist factions, bandit groups, and abductors, prompting the launch of the Safe Schools Initiative.

Focusing on the magnitude of the project, Illiya remarked that a preliminary assessment team have been dispatched to 18 states identified as high-risk areas. The larger vision is to comprehensively encompass all 36 states between 2023 and 2026, with each state contributing 48 schools to the initiative.

This initiative seeks to safeguard half of the vulnerable public schools from potential attacks within the medium-term timeframe. To facilitate the funding and execution of the program, a dedicated unit known as the Financing Safe Schools Unit was instituted under the supervision of former finance minister, Dr. Zainab Ahmed.

A specialized committee was convened, consisting of representatives from diverse entities, including the Ministry of Education, Nigerian Governors Forum, Nigerian Police Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Department of State Services, and Defence Headquarters.

This committee was entrusted with formulating a comprehensive national plan to fund the Safe Schools Initiative, delineating the financial requisites for the project; projected to amount to a total of N144.8 billion over a span of three years.

The National Plan on Financing Safe Schools was introduced in December 2022, outlining a structured implementation timeline from 2023 to 2026. The allocated budget for this initiative is set at N32.58 billion in 2023, N36.98 billion in 2024, N37.15 billion in 2025, and N38.03 billion in 2026. In line with this, the Federal Government has allocated N15 billion for the year 2023.

The funding sources for this endeavor encompass contributions from federal, state, and local governments, coupled with support from multilateral organizations, foreign governments, corporate entities, and philanthropic institutions, among other contributors.

Halima Illiya made known that they are proactively engaging with governors through high-level consultations. Encouraging commitments have been received from governors of various states, including Benue, Bauchi, and Borno. They have expressed their unwavering commitment to incorporate the initiative into their upcoming budgetary provisions.

In readiness for the impending project implementation, an estimated 350 personnel from the civil defense have undergone specialized training, with the police force intending to follow suit for their personnel.

Endorsing the initiative, organizations like the World Bank, UNICEF, and Civil Society Organizations have pledged their support, recognizing the paramount significance of securing educational environments.

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