The Federal Government has approved the release of N164.7million for payment of the second-semester school fees of 106 Chibok school girls at the American University of Nigeria, (AUN) in Yola.
This followed the completion of the rehabilitation programme of the freed girls from Boko Haram’s captivity. FG also says that it has completely reintegrated them into the society.
A statement issued by Senior Special to the president on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, in Abuja on Sunday, announced that President Muhammadu Buhari who reviewed the progress report submitted to him “in line with his commitment to personally monitor the rehabilitation and reintegration into society of the girls,” also gave assurances that government will provide full support for their education.
A total of 276 girls were seized from their dormitory on April 14, 2014, by Boko Haram terrorists and taken into captivity in Sambisa forest.
The present administration had entered into negotiations with the Boko Haram for the release of the girls, securing two batches of 21 and 82 so far as a result of those negotiations.
Three girls had also been successfully rescued by the armed forces, bringing the total number of freed Chibok girls so far to 106.
The Presidency said while in captivity, the freed girls were severely traumatised and afflicted by various ailments and injuries, necessitating their being taken to secure medical centres for attention.
The statement revealed: “They also went through debriefing and de-radicalisation by security operatives, after which the girls were handed over to the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.
“The Federal Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Social Development was assigned the main role in supervising the rehabilitation and reintegration of the girls back into society.
“Long before the girls were released, the Federal Government had established the ‘Chibok Girls Desk’ in the ministry, responsible for acting on matters relating to the abducted Chibok schoolgirls and serving as a channel of communication between relevant agencies and the parents and relatives of the abducted girls.
“The government, through the ministry of women affairs and in collaboration with the United Nations Fund for Population Activities, UNFPA, UN Women, and other donor agencies, embarked on programmes earmarked to facilitate the rehabilitation and reintegration of the Chibok girls with a nine-month time frame.
“A hostel in the National Centre for Women Development was converted into a suitable shelter, where the girls were kept for the nine-month period.
“The programme, which began in January 2017, ended in September 2017. During the period, the 106 girls were given lessons in English, mathematics, Biology, Agriculture, and Civic Education.
“In addition, they were trained in ICT and vocational skills. Professionals were engaged to provide them with psychosocial therapy and one-on-one counseling to help them overcome post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“They were also provided with religious instruction and comprehensive care by two in-house doctors and two nurses. Periodic visits from the girls’ parents to stimulate family support and reunion were sponsored and organised by the ministry.
“Having successfully achieved the desired goals of the rehabilitation and reintegration programme, with recorded significant improvement in the academic performance of the girls, in September, a final send-off party was organised for the 106 Chibok girls and they were subsequently moved to the American University of Nigeria (AUN) in Yola for their foundation studies and continuation of their education.
“The AUN had successfully established a foundation school for 14 out of the 57 Chibok girls who escaped while the rest of their classmates were taken to the Sambisa forest by Boko Haram.
“The absorption of the 106 girls into the school marked the beginning of their integration into the larger Nigerian society, thus fulfilling President Buhari’s promise of providing the best education for them.”
The Presidency added that although they have been officially handed over to their parents, the federal government will continue to be responsible for the payment of the Chibok girls’ school fees right up to their graduation from the school.
It said while expressing appreciation of the progress made in the rehabilitation the 106 freed girls, the president renewed his commitment to bring back all the Chibok girls held by terrorists operating in the Northeast using all possible means
It said it was in line with this that the president has approved payment of the sum of N164,763,759 for the second-semester school fees of the 106 Chibok girls at AUN in Yola.
The statement affirmed that according to the progress report received by the President, the decision to pursue avenues in addition to military action to free the abducted girls is “in the resolve to protect the lives of all Nigerians, to end the insurgency in the northeast of the country, and to fulfil one of the campaign promises of the President.”