Private Sector Demands Whereabouts Of $20m Safe School Initiative Fund

The Nigerian Economic Summit Group Chairman, Asue Ighodalo, wants the Federal Government to give an account $20m raised in 2014 for the Safe Schools Initiative in Nigeria.

The NESG Chair made the demand during a panel session at the ongoing ‘Financing Safe Schools’ and creating safe learning communities for children in Nigeria programme organised by the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning in Abuja.

President Goodluck Jonathan had in 2014 supported the Safe Schools Initiative in Nigeria, launched by Nigerian business leaders through the Global Business Coalition for Education, a World at School and the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown.

The Initiative was to ensure that schools are protected and safe spaces for children and youth to learn.

This was part of efforts to curtail a repeat of the kidnap of the 276 school girls in Chibok.

Based on the arrangement, President Jonathan committed $10m in government funds, while Nigerian business leaders provided $10m amounting to $20m.

“In 2014, there was a fund established for this process of safe schools. I think that after a while, things kind of splitted out, there was a private sector initiative and I think we need to go back there and revisit these funds and see where it is and see how we can get a lot more contributions. I think in all of these, funding is required to support safety in schools,” Ighodalo said during the re-launch of the project which was abandoned in 2015.

Nigeria has since witnessed repeated cases of kidnapping of students particularly in the Northern region with recent cases of kidnap of 300 boarding school girls in Jangebe, Zamfara state in February and the abduction of 39 school children of Rema Primary School, in the Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

He said fencing the schools would go a long way to curb the threat, but insist that “funding is required.”

He said tracking technologies in school like drones that could gather intelligence, observe and provide to the security agencies was vital in the fight to secure schools.

“All of these technological support and help to provide a strong security base can be funded and the private sector can galvanise funding.”

Apart from probing the whereabouts of the funds, Ighodalo also accused the Federal Government of over regulating the country’s business environment and scaring investors.

“The economy of Nigeria is over regulated. The over regulation of the economy of Nigeria and private sector participation affects investments,” Ighodalo said.

“We have to go back to the base. We need to encourage and attract investment in the country.

“We need to do a lot more to create an enabling environment. If businesses don’t feel welcome, if businesses are not supported, they will go elsewhere and they won’t stay here.

“If we don’t support business, you don’t support Small and Medium Enterprises, then jobs will not be created. The environment of investment must be attractive and encouraging.”

According to the NESG boss, the FG needs to soften its regulations to accommodate private sector influx in the country’s business amidst the rising unemployment in the country.

The Chairperson said apart from the unemployment, the government is faced with high insecurity which it is in a dilemma of which to tackle first.

He said for the safety of school children, the FG must tackle the twin challenges of unemployment and insecurity.

He said, “The private sector is fundamentally affected by the ongoing insecurity as regards schools which directly translates to looking at the future of the country and the stunting of the development and growth looking into the future of the country.”

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