The Federal Government’ delegation on Thursday visited Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Chibok in Borno, settled in Buzunkure, Kuje Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, to support and encourage them. Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Minister of Finance who led the delegation, said the visit was to understand how they got to the area and also to attend to the needs of the children who were out of school.
“We have this initiative called `Safe Schools initiative’ for people in the North East; we are interested in the children and how they are coping and whether they are in school or not. “We are really pleased that we are able to come and be with you; once we heard about the community here which we only got words some few days ago.
“We mobilised to come and see what is happening; we sent the NGO that is supported by the Safe School Initiative; Mr President said we should mobilise Nigerians who can help others through counseling and support. “We used the safe school initiative to do it and we have done that with the NGO that has been talking with you because we know that you are traumatised, being away from your community which is a very difficult thing,’’ she said.
Safe School Initiative of the Nigerian Business community supported by the government and international donors to help out-of-school children across the country but with much emphasis on North Eastern Part of Nigeria. She said that the major focus of the government was to ensure that Boko Haram was removed so that people could move back to their communities.
“Displacement is not a permanent condition; the idea is for you people to be able to go back and not to build your camps in different places. “The second thing is about the school, Government Secondary School Chibok; about two days ago, we had a conversation for a long time, we have been waiting for the right circumstances.
“That school, the president is determined and he promised publicly that he will have the school rebuilt, the plans are ready, they are working with engineers. “In no few distance, we will be able to start work in that school; he has already approved that,’’ she said. Okonjo-Iweala added that 44 students among the IDPs would be added to about 2,400 others that would be transfered from schools in the North eastern states to various unity schools in other parts of the country.
This, she said, was being done with donors who are the British, Americans, Norwegians, World Bank, African Development Bank, among others under the safe school initiative programme. “We will add the names to the list but we will come back to you to do it in orderly fashion to make sure that we are reflecting what the parents and children want.
“If they want to be placed in schools close to here, we will do it; if they want to be in secondary schools elsewhere, we will do that; it is a voluntary thing and we will try to meet up with their demands,’’ she said. The minister assured the Chibok people that nobody would ever rest until their case was settled and commended the Chibok people living in Buzunkure who accepted to help their people.
She commended the Local Education Authority Primary School for accommodating about 15 pupils in their school. Earlier, Mr Gapani Yanga, the Coordinator of the IDPs, said that one of the major problems of the people was how to ensure that the children were back to school.
He said that Federal Government must double its effort to rescue the kidnapped Chibok girls, adding that the situation had traumatised a lot of families in the communities.“We want the government to rebuild the Government Secondary School Chibok, so that the rest of the children in the community will be able to continue with their education.
“They should also provide social amenities, water and good road because the community, over the years, has been marginalised even by the state government,’’ he said. He also requested that Federal Government should set up an independent judicial inquiry to probe the circumstance of the kidnap of the Chibok girls.
Also, Dr Anigbogu Tochukwu, a medical doctor with NGO helping the IDPs, said that most of the children needed immediate health attention. He said that a lot of them needed to be immunised and there was the need to contact hospital that could help out in case there were referral cases.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) donated some food items such as bags of rice, palm oil, yams, mosquito nets to support the IDPs