FG Unfolds National Emergency Relief Programme For North-East, Others

FG Unfolds National Emergency Relief Programme For North-East, Others

By ThisDay on June 18, 2014
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President Goodluck Jonathan | Jonathan Rebboah/Wostok Press/Maxppp France, Paris)

The federal government yesterday announced a comprehensive National Emergency Relief Programme for the country, which is to commence in the North-east, where the attacks by Boko Haram terrorists have taken a devastating toll on the region.

L-R: Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Geidam; former British Prime Minister and UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Mr. Gordon Brown; President Goodluck Jonathan; Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima; and Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, at the launch of the National Emergency Relief Programme for the North-east and other parts of the country in Abuja…
L-R: Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Geidam; former British Prime Minister and UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Mr. Gordon Brown; President Goodluck
Jonathan; Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima; and Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, at the launch of
the National Emergency Relief Programme for the North-east and other parts of the country in Abuja…

Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who spoke in Abuja alongside a former British Prime Minister and United Nations Special Envoy on Education, Mr. Gordon Brown, as well as the Governors of Borno and Yobe States, Alhaji Kashim Shettima and Ibrahim Geidam, and the Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Alhaji Sani Sidi, said the programme has a three-window structure.

The three-pronged structure, she explained, are the Emergency Relief Window, Reconstruction/Rehabilitation Window, and Safe Schools Window.

According to her, the Emergency Relief Window would support the rapid/immediate deployment of relief assistance to the affected communities and households.

The scope of support will include evacuation and temporary accommodation (tents, mosquito nets and sanitation facilities), water supply (boreholes), provision of food supplies, medical supplies and provision of first aid and emergency healthcare services, and cash transfer programmes.

The fund for this window, she said, would also support a rapid needs assessment (where necessary), and also help fill immediate security gaps, adding that this is meant to complement NEMA’s resources.

The Reconstruction/Rehabilitation Window is aimed at establishing support programmes, including public works to repair dilapidated infrastructure (rural roads and bridges) and provide temporary employment for the youth; introduce cash transfer schemes; and provide agricultural inputs which will be delivered through existing schemes like the e-wallet, among others.

This window is meant to fast-strack the provision and/or resuscitation of basic services in healthcare (construction of health centres and clinics, including essential medical supplies and deployment of health workers); reconstruction of safe schools in the worst affected areas; and provision of scholarships to affected students, among others.

The Safe School’s Window would focus on education through the upgrading of existing federal, state and local government schools to make them more secure through various interventions, including proper fencing, alarm systems, school guards, and other measures.
This could include the introduction of modern and environmentally-sustainable systems like solar power, to ensure that the schools are well lit.

According to her, where the reconstruction of schools is necessary, the safe schools window would partner the rehabilitation window to ensure that the schools have the necessary safety features, adding that the window is a national programme, but implementation would start with state of emergency states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.

She recalled that the Safe Schools Initiative, which is a collaborative effort of Nigerian business leaders, who are poised to take the lead in safe schools in the north through the Global Business Coalition for Education, was launched when Nigeria hosted the World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA) in May this year.

The minister said the federal government had contributed $10 million (N1.65 billion) to boost the effort of the business leaders,  who had already put down $10 million.

Okonjo-Iweala disclosed that the president had instructed her to open a trust fund with N1.65 billion for the initiative, adding that the stakeholders were looking at an initial target of $100 million (N165 billion) for the Safe Schools Initiative.

She explained that the initiative is a national programme, but implementation would start with the emergency states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa.

The minister also clarified that the Safe Schools Initiative was not aimed at turning schools into armed camps but to enhance the atmosphere of safety and security of schools, adding that the government was availing itself of the expertise of Indian security experts with the requisite experience.

She said business leaders, the federal government, states, and global partners have continued to support the initiative, pointing out that Brown had continued to mobilise resources from across the globe for it.

According to her, very fruitful discussions had been held between President Goodluck Jonathan and the Borno and Yobe States governors, and between herself and the governors on how to make the Emergency Relief Programme work effectively.

In his remarks, Brown described the Safe Schools Initiative as the biggest of such programmes in the world, adding that no efforts would be spared to make schools in the north as well as other parts of Nigeria safe.

He expressed appreciation to Geidam and Shettima for their commitment to make the initiative work, noting that it was heart warming that the kidnapping of the over 200 Chibok schoolgirls had elicited such outpouring of global solidarity.

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