Senate Bill For Foreign Education For Repentant Boko Haram Members, Faces Resistance

Outrage As Repentant Boko Haram Terrorists Urged To Be Sent Abroad For Foreign Education

The proposed National Agency for the Education, Rehabilitation, De-Radicalisation and Integration of Repentant Insurgents in Nigeria, will get its funding from the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, and the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund.

Other sources of funding include: donations, grants, annual subventions from the government, and counterpart funding from the six North-East States of Borno, Bauchi, Yobe, Adamawa, Taraba, and Gombe.

The details are included in the bill sponsored by the Senate.

The controversial bill, which is officially known as ‘A Bill for the Establishment of the National Agency for the Education, Rehabilitation, De-Radicalisation and Integration of Repentant Insurgents in Nigeria, and for Other Connected Purposes’, passed the first reading in the Senate, on Thursday, last week.

However, a few hours after the bill, which was sponsored by the Senator representing Yobe-East,  Ibrahim Geidam, passed the first reading, it attracted angry reactions from the Chibok community, which was attacked by the insurgents, in 2014, and the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN.

Also, the #BringBackOurGirls movement, which has been calling for the release of the Schoolgirls abducted from Chibok, in 2014, by Boko Haram insurgents, said that the plan to set up the Agency should be done concurrently, with the rehabilitation of thousands of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs.

On Monday, Geidam in an interview with Journalists, defended the bill. He stated that many Boko Haram terrorists are willing to lay down their arms, but are afraid of the consequences of their action.

The Senator explained that his bill is not meant to take care of insurgents captured by the Security Agencies, because those ones would be made to face the full wrath of the law.

Barely two days after the Senator defended the controversial bill, 25 Boko Haram members and their wives, who surrendered to troops in Niger Republic, arrived in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, on Wednesday.

A copy of the bill on the Agency for Boko Haram repentant terrorists, shows that one percent of TETFund and UBEC funds will be used in funding the Agency for rehabilitating the terrorists .

The Agency will also be funded by 0.5 percent of the Federal Allocation of the six North-East States.

Section 10 of the controversial bill reads in part: “The Agency shall establish and maintain a fund, which will consist of initial take-off grant from the Federal Government; annual subvention from the government; States counterpart funding, which will be deducted at source at 0.5 percent of their statutory allocation; 1 percent of the Education Tax Fund, TETFund, and UBEC fund.

According to the proposed law, the Agency will also be funded by grants in aid, gifts, testamentary dispositions, endowments, and donations.

The bill states that the proposed Agency shall have a Governing Board, which shall consist of the Chairman, who is to be appointed by the President, in consultation with the National Assembly.

The Governing Council will also have one representative from each of the North-East States, one representative each of the Stakeholders, three representatives of the impacted communities, one person from the Nigerian Army, Air force, Navy, Police, and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, all of whom must not be below the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

The Council will also include one representative each from the Federal Ministries of Humanitarian Affairs, Finance, Environment, Petroleum resources, North-East Development Commission, and the Local Content Board.

As regards the powers of the proposed Agency, the bill gives repentant terrorists the opportunity of receiving foreign education.

Section 5 (m) reads in part: “(The Agency shall) implement programmes geared towards the rehabilitation of beneficiaries, engage the services of offshore, and Nigerian institutions, in the pursuit of the educational needs of ex-agitators.”

The proposed Agency is expected to implement a comprehensive programme in the area of disarmament, demobilisation, rehabilitation, and reintegration.

It will also coordinate efforts of relevant Agencies, organisations and institutions, towards the attainment of set objectives, as regards job placement, internship, and sustainable reintegration.

Reacting, Civil Society Organisation, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, knocked the Federal Government, over its plans to deduct from TETFund and UBEC’s funds, for the rehabilitation of Boko Haram terrorists.

The CACOL Director, Mr. Debo Adeniran, said that the Education sector is already underfunded, and the Federal Government must rather seek ways to increase funding, and not deduct for the terrorists’ rehabilitation.

He said: “I will say straightaway, that it is not right and it will be criminal, if anyone dips his hands into Education funds of whatever description, to fund the rehabilitation of the Boko Haram.”

The Chairman, Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria, University College Hospital, University of Ibadan branch, Dr. Dare Olulana, in an interview, said that the Federal Government should not use part of TETFund for the Agency.

Olulana, who recalled that the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, had toiled and suffered, by engaging in protests and strike actions before TETFund was approved, said that it would be unfair and gross misplacement of priority, for the current administration to divert the money meant for the funding of tertiary education in the country.

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