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KonkNaija Media | May 4, 2016

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FG releases $10m safe school initiative fund

FG releases $10m safe school initiative fund

| On 13, Jun 2014

The Federal Government yesterday released the $10 million (N1.6 billion) Safe School Initiative it promised on May 9, this year at the wake of the abduction of over 200 Chibok schoolgirls in Borno State.

Speaking at an interactive meeting with a business delegation from Germany, led by the German Ambassador and Minister of Economic Development, Mr. Gerd Mueller, Okonjo-Iweala said the approval for the release of the fund was given on Wednesday by the president.

According to her, with the approval, the $10 million would be transferred into a Special Trust Fund account, adding that the Federal Government would be meeting with top officials from the World Bank, African Development Bank and the United Kingdom to fine tune strategies on the governing structure of the fund.

She revealed that the structure would include representatives from the civil societies, the private sector, international donors and both the state and Federal Government.

Besides World Bank, AfDB and the UK partners, the Norwegian government had also pledged its support for the project.

“There are number of measures that Gordon Brown and others have put in place to provide incentives for children to go to school. Our private sector is donating $10 million, which is hinged on the government coming up immediately with a matching fund and as of yesterday the president has approved that sum and we are opening a trust fund to deposit those money by tomorrow (today) and so that money would be lodged there,” she said.

In her view, the terrorists’ activities would not affect the economy because investors are still interested in the critical sectors of the economy.

The Minister listed three priority areas Nigeria would want Germany’s assistance, which include skills, manufacturing and development bank.

“There are three things we are looking for from Germany: We admired the way Germany has been able to marry skills in its education system to industry. We just lunched our industrial revolution plan. We think we need to manufacture more things in Nigeria because we got a large market and we think that Germany can be of assistance by sharing with us the knowledge on how it has been able to organise itself so that we can have the right skills for the right industry.

“The second area of assistance is manufacturing and is very important. We admire the way you built your development bank. Nigeria is building a Development Bank of Nigeria. The president and the vice-president have pushed very hard for us to have long-term money in this economy.  We want you to support us. We are negotiating with you for about $200 million soft credit support on this.

“The last area is investment. We want your business people to invest in our manufacturing sector. We have a very large consumer sector and Germany manufactures high quality things, from electronics, consumables and power.  You have big opportunity to do that in Nigeria. These are the three things I want you to think about,” she said.

On Mueller’s request to enlighten the German delegation on the socio-economic developments in the country in respect to North East and the Chibok girls’ abduction by the terrorists group, the Minister explained that every hand was on the deck working for the safe release of the abducted girls.

For the economy, the Minister said the economy is robust and sound, a fact attested to by the outcome of a recent re-basing exercise ranking Nigeria’s economy the biggest in Africa. She, however, pointed out that the country was still faced with a twin challenge of insufficient jobs and huge inequality gap.

In his remarks, the German Ambassador promised that Germany would support the proposed development finance institution, which will provide affordable credit for Nigerian entrepreneurs.

“We want to take our partnership forward on education and vocational training and we would be looking at the agriculture sector. Nigeria is rich in terms of soil yet it imports food and that is something we want to change by enhancing knowledge in agriculture so that Nigeria can begin to feed itself,” he said.

Recall that Okonjo-1weala on May 9 during the hosting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), had announced that President Goodluck Jonathan had approved the sum of $10 million (N1.6 billion) for the safe school project.

The Minister made the disclosure at a press conference at the close of the conference, noting that the $10 million would be added to the initial $10 million provided by the Nigerian business community. This will bring the total amount for the project to $20 million (N3.2 billion).

According to the Minister, this became necessary to ensure the safety of all schools to prevent the kind of abduction that occurred at Chibok in Borno State.

Sun News