FG budgets N15 billion for safe school project in Nigeria’s best interest

Students writing exams used to illustrate the story

The federal government says its N15 billion budget for the safe school project in the 2023 budget was in the country’s best interest.

Halima Iliya, the national coordinator, of Safe School Initiative (SSI), Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, stated this at a news conference in Abuja on Tuesday.

Ms Iliya said the SSI was to enable children affected by conflicts and insecurity to continue with their education unhindered.

She said a national plan for financing the initiative was developed and launched in December 2022, and it would be implemented between 2023 to 2026, with a total investment of N144.8 billion.

She said the plan proposed N32.58 billion in 2023, N36.98 billion in 2024, N37.15 billion in 2025, and N38.03 billion in 2026, respectively, stating that FG made provision of N15 billion for 2023.

Ms Iliya said the plan would be funded through annual budgetary provisions from federal, state, local governments, and government interventionist agencies, foreign governments, multilateral institutions, donor partners, businesses, and philanthropists, among others.

She said the implementation strategy would cover 50 per cent of public schools under risk over the medium term 2023-2026.

“The plan will achieve building and integrating security resilient host communities in the protection of education, strengthening the detection, deterrence and response capabilities of the security agencies.

“It will also equip schools’ security, response and coordination centres,” she explained.

She said the plan’s implementation commenced in January 2023 with the national school security and coordination centre by the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) as the lead agency for protecting schools and government critical assets.

“The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Kayode Egbetokun, will be holding a strategic forum on the protection of schools and other learning places in Nigeria.

“He will also be launching the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the police special squad for the initiative on Wednesday,” Ms Iliya said.

The national coordinator said 18 states would be covered, with 48 schools in each of them, adding that subsequently, other states would join the initiative.

Ms Iliya also said earlier that the former president signed the safe school declaration ratification document, endorsed by 118 countries signing the country’s commitment to implementation.

“A technical working committee was constituted from critical agencies, Ministry of Education, Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), NSCDC, Department of States Services and Defence Headquarters and saddled with the responsibility to develop a national plan on financing the safe school,” Ms Iliya said.

Ebenezer Leo, a representative of NGF, urged the media to sensitise the public on the importance of the school safety initiative and the need for everyone to key into the project.