Following the abduction of hundreds of school girls in Chibok Borno state almost four weeks ago, the Nigerian business community has voted $10 million to make schools safe in Nigeria.
Addressing journalists at the on-going World Economic Forum Africa in Abuja yesterday, the former British Prime Minister and current UN envoy on education Mr Gordon Brown also disclosed two teams from the United States of America and the United Kingdom will be coming to Nigeria in the next two days to help find the kidnapped girls.
Brown stated that “there is a desperate need to assure Nigerians that school children are safe to go to school as result the Nigerian business community has earmarked $10 million with a pilot of 500 schools. The initiative wants parents and teachers to come up with what safety measures they need but government too should be involved.” Most of the 500 pilot schools he said are from the North.
Parents and teachers he said are free to ask for what kind of support they need like provision of guards.
As the Nigerian business community has declared its support with this initiative the former British Prime Minister expressed hopes that other international bodies will join the business community stressing that he “hopes that additional funds will be made available to support this programme.”
The number of children who go to school in. Nigeria he said are more than 10 million as such the pillars of the initiative will “to get the kidnapped children back safely and reassure Nigerians that schools are safe.”
He added that the UK and US governments have assured him “that they will provide teams to locate the children and defeat the terrorists while President Goodluck Jonathan wants to accept that support.”
The first step of the foreign assistance he said “will be to support the Nigerian government to get the girls back and assure parents and children that schools will be safe.
In his remark, the publisher of. ThisDay newspaper Mr Nduka Obaigbena said the Nigerian business community was stunned by the abduction which he described as a reflection of the threat to education in Nigeria.
The greater danger he warned “is in the fear of going to school, we could lose a generation of students who are afraid of going to school.”
Business leaders in Nigeria he said “have met and want to step in, they may not be frontal but they are supportive by putting in place a response with an initial 500 schools. We cannot be defeated by terrorists in any way manner or form and we need to assure school children that they are safe.
At another initiative of the WEF Africa, over 100 accomplished young African leaders and change-makers met to share ideas on how they can improve life in their home cities and countries.
Meeting under the theme BOLD Solutions, participants to SHAPE Africa – the annual meeting of Forum’s Global Shapers community – developed a website (www.chibokgirls.com) to tell the story of the kidnapped Nigerian girls to support the efforts of the authorities and the community to bring them home.
Other solutions include the development of: a Global Shaper farm network; an Africa-wide social media initiative to track the multifaceted effects of investing in people; an eco-funding platform, which will rally multinationals to donate funding to entrepreneurs; and the creation of a Global Shapers Business Network, which will act as a common marketplace for African Shapers.
In addition to the Global Shapers, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance of Nigeria, Jubril Adewale Tinubu, Group Chief Executive of Oando, and Elsie Kanza, Head of Africa at the World Economic Forum, participated in SHAPE Africa and they offered support and advice to the Global Shapers on how to bring their mission forward.