By Amos Aar
THE Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) has completed the training of three hundred and sixty-four (364) personnel of the Safe Schools Response Team for the protection of schools in the North Central zone and Taraba state with Benue as a pioneer participant.
The Safe School Response Team is an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Education, NSCDC, the Nigeria Police, Department of State Services, Defense headquarters, MDAs, development partners and donor agencies, with the aim of protecting schools, learners, teachers, non-teaching staff and host communities that are at risk of attacks in Nigeria.
Speaking during the closing ceremony of the capacity building programme for the Response Team held Thursday in Makurdi, Benue State capital, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator George Akume, expressed hope that with the formation of the Response Team, Nigeria would no longer experience mass abduction of students from schools by bandits.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Special Duties in the SGF’s office, Shehu Shinkafi, Senator Akume noted that the Safe School initiative was not just about securing physical spaces but it’s also about securing the future of Nigeria.
“It is about ensuring that every child has the opportunity of acquiring education without fear. It is about the protection of our youths so that they can become the leaders of tomorrow.
“Today as we celebrate the successful completion of the training programme, let us also look forward to the future, let us continue to sustain the gains we have made and continuously improve the safety of our schools. It is our hope that never again will we record mass abduction of students from schools by criminals elements”, Akume optimized.
In his speech, Benue State Governor, Rev. Fr Hyacinth Alia, who commended the initiative noted that education was the right of every child and not a privilege.
Governor Alia on behalf of the people and government of Benue State approved a building in Makurdi for use as the operational base of the team.
“The government is committed to addressing all issues of insecurity in our schools to ensure conducive learning environment in our schools”, Alia stressed.
He pointed out that his collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education in in the Safe Schools Response Team initiative signified the government’s recognition of the paramount importance of protecting the Benue educational institutions and ensuring a conducive learning environment for students.
Also speaking, the Commandant General of the NSCDC, Ahmed Abubakar, noted that the Response Team was the first of its kind in Africa and said that the Team has a taxing work to do.
According to the Commandant General, available records indicated that the NSCDC since his assumption of office had averted over 30 kidnap attempts in schools in the country, assuring that the menace would be tackled with the advent of the National Safety School Response Centre.
He appealed to the Benue State Government to support the team to succeed and also donate an operational base for the team in the state.
Earlier, the Commander, National Safe Schools Response Coordination Centre, Dr Tersoo Shaapera, and Dr Leo Ebenezer, Head of Education at the Secretariat of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Representing the Director General NGF, amongst other top dignitaries at the event stressed the need to provide security to schools and host communities to guarantee seamless learning process in Nigeria.
Members of the Response Team were drawn from the NSCDC, Private Security Guards including the teams from Taraba State among others.
In a goodwill message on behalf of traditional rulers, Ter Makurdi, HRH Chief Vincent Aule, thanked the Safe school Response Team and promised to collaborate with them in ensuring the wellbeing and future of Benue children.