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$30m is yet to protect Nigerian school children after Chibok (2)

The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), which has incorporated Dfid, told the BBC that its role was to provide “expert advice on safe school approaches”, including the “development of safe schools guidelines”. Begin Reading HERE

But it added that it was not directly responsible for carrying out the projects as this was under the Nigerian army engineering corps.

The Nigerian army did not respond to BBC queries about its handling of the project.

Government delays

The office of Mr Brown, who is still the UN special envoy on education, told the BBC in a statement that “following the recent kidnappings over the past year, [he] held a meeting with the Nigerian finance minister in 2020 to help encourage a new Safe Schools Initiative”.

His office did not respond to questions about how the initial $30m was spent, saying that “all funding was directed through and managed by the Nigerian government”.

The SSI largely collapsed in 2016, one year after a change of government in Nigeria.

Goodluck Jonathan, under whose watch the girls were kidnapped and the SSI launched, lost the presidency in a general election to current President Muhammadu Buhari.

chibok clasroom

UN agencies and international donors said infrequent meetings and a change of policy by Mr Buhari hampered the activities of the initiative and led to their exit.

In its report, the British foreign office blamed the Buhari government for delays in implementing the SSI, with decisions being postponed because of infrequent steering committee meetings.

More about the Chibok kidnapping:

Concerns were also raised about Nigeria’s handling of the fund and a UK policy that no aid money should go directly to the government of Nigeria was strictly enforced.

The Nigerian presidency did not respond to questions about these concerns and the finance ministry that managed the SSI fund did not provide details of contributions received and how they were spent.

A former high-ranking member of the Buhari government, Babachir Lawal, whose office had access to the SSI fund, is currently on trial for allegedly mismanaging 500m naira (£954,000; $1.3m) in contracts awarded for cutting grass. He denies the accusations.

 

Since 2016, the SSI has been passed around a succession of Nigerian government agencies overseeing the reconstruction of the north-east region, and what remains is a skeletal operation.

30m dollar yet to protect nigeriam pupils

 

The positives recorded by the initiative within its first two years – the 73 prefabricated classrooms and the transfer of 2,400 students from vulnerable communities in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe (the three north-eastern states mainly affected by Boko Haram), meant only as temporary measures – now stand as its only successes.

The vital component of the initiative, the construction of better-protected schools, was seen as a permanent solution.

But because it never took off, it is hard to tell if bolstered perimeter walls and barbed-wire fences held the answer to attacks on schools in northern Nigeria where mass abductions continue to happen.

The increased number of schools now shut in north-western Nigeria because of the activities of criminals, in addition to the hundreds that have remained closed for years in the north-east, is perhaps an indication that in the aftermath of the Chibok incident there was no long-term strategy in place to protect learners.

For groups like Boko Haram that are against secular education, the continued closure of schools, especially that in Chibok, might seem like a victory.

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