Military to Launch SOP For Implementation of FG Safe Schools Initiative

The Chief of Defence Staff ( CDS), General Christopher Gwabin Musa has said the Armed Forces of Nigeria remains committed to providing every necessary assistance for the security of school children and other learning institutions against attacks within the ambit of Nigeria’s constitution as the military key into the Federal Government Safe School Initiative.

General Musa said this on Thursday at the opening ceremony of the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) Safe Schools Programme aimed at  mobilising critical stake holders in response to the growing occurrences of attacks on schools in the country, with the theme, "Providing a Secure and Safe Learning Environment for the Advancement of National Development," to halt attacks on schools.

The CDS said, the adoption of more robust approaches to boost intelligence sharing, collective understanding of the operational environment and  cross-organizational capabilities remains vital to the successful outcomes of military efforts.   

He noted that the Armed Forces of Nigeria would be launching a Standing Operating Procedure during this summit to support its operational activities in this regard.  The Standing Operating Procedure will provide necessary guidelines for members of the Armed Forces to implement the Safe Schools Initiative within the confines of international and national laws.   

According to him, the Safe Schools Summit was designed to provide a platform to enhance positive contributions by stakeholders through the exchange of ideas. This interaction is to eventually enable the development and adoption of holistic approaches for the attainment of the intent and objectives of Nigeria’s Safe Schools Declaration.

"Today’s event gives us the unique opportunity to safeguard the future of our children and by extension the future of Nigeria. It is expected that we will make ample use of this opportunity to provide enduring solutions to the compelling security challenge. I expect that the summit would provide the right ambience for all stakeholders to express themselves adequately while brainstorming to provide the needed results. 

"The interactions should in turn facilitate the design, implementation, monitoring and periodic evaluation of operational and administrative guidelines that will enhance our overall capacity as well as efficiency to provide a secured learning environment for our children.   

"It is imperative to note that the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous nature of the current security environment requires better synergy among the military and other security agencies." he said

The success of such an initiative without doubt will require the uttermost commitment of all stakeholders who particularly are looked up to by the citizens of the country for their security and safety.  It is therefore in the interest of our dear nation that every stakeholder works assiduously to build a strong, safer, more secure, and prosperous future for our children and our beloved country.  

The Keynote Speaker, a Former Chief of the Defence Staff of Nigeria, General Martin-Luther Agwai (Rtd) said the incessant attacks on the country's education system, abduction of pupils and students, as well as general insecurity have been contributing to the high number of out-of- school children.

He said Nigeria has not been spared by the persistent attacks on education happening all over the world.

Agwai who noted that the initiative must be a collective responsibility of all communities, added that the Safe School Summit and the development of SOP reflect the armed forces' collective commitment to upholding the sanctity of education and creating conducive environment for teaching and learning to thrive.

In a separate goodwill messages, stakeholders commended the armed forces of Nigeria for proactive measures into the Federal Government Safe School Initiative to end incessant attacks on schools. 

The Director-General, World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, decried how terrorists constantly abducted school children in broad daylight from open schools with little or no protection.

She recalled that the safe school initiative was initiated by the former President Goodlyck Jonathan's government in partnership with international bodies after the abduction of Chibok school girls to ensure adequate operational attention and financing..

"To save our children and the reputation of our country, we need to move fast to identify communities and schools most at risk and do the maximum to protect them.

"What this entail is to envisage protective walls on infrastructure around schools, especially primary schools, some of which are just out in the open and easy for bad actors to penetrate.

"Parents armed with a mobile phone or some kind of radio device with which they can give warning to security forces to the village and school itself, that danger is abound

"Solar panels in these schools can ensure the minimum amount of electricity to charge phones and enable connectivity for boarding secondary schools.

"So we must educate and mobilise the community to be involved in protecting the school," she said.

The National Coordinator, Financing Safe School Initiative, Hajiya Halima Iliya, said the summit was a component of the national plan for the Safe School Initiative.

Iliya said the federal government in 2021 conveyed a high level meeting which decision was taken to address the menace on a more holistic and sustainable basis, noting that the full implementation commenced in 2023 by establishing the first Safe Schools Coordination Response Center, which was intended

The Permanent Secretary, Special Duties, Ministry of Finance, Mr Okokon Udo, commended the defence chief and the armed forces as members of the implementing agents of the safe school programme had hit the ground running since the launch of the national plan

He said the 2023-2026 national plan on safe schools was developed with inputs from sub nationals, traditional rulers, civil society organisations, religious partners and other leaders.

Udo, who was represented, said the implementation of the national plan in 2023 with takeoff grant of N15 billion heralded Nigerian government's commitment to addressing the challenge.

He urged the participants to synergise for the success of the crucial national assignment.


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