• UBEC, TETFund to fund Rehabilitated Insurgents’ Agency MDCAN Chairman Faults Senate’s Decision, Says Its betrayal of ASUU Struggle

Boko Haram repentant terrorists are to enjoy foreign education via the proposed National Agency for the Education, Rehabilitation, De-radicalisation and Integration of Repentant Insurgents in Nigeria.

The controversial bill, which is officially known as ‘A Bill for the Establishment of the National Agency for the Education, Rehabilitation, De-radicalisation and Integration of Repentant Insurgents in Nigeria and for Other Connected Purposes’, which has passed the first reading in the Senate, holds that the Agency shall implement programmes geared towards the rehabilitation of beneficiaries; engage the services of offshore and Nigerian institutions in the pursuit of the educational needs of ex-agitators.

According to the bill, the proposed agency is expected to implement a comprehensive programme in the area of disarmament, demobilisation, rehabilitation and reintegration; as well as coordinate efforts of relevant agencies, organisations and institutions towards the attainment of set objectives as regards job placement, internship and sustainable reintegration.

The Agency is expected to get its funding from the Universal Basic Education Commission, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund and Other sources of funding that includes donations, grants, annual subventions from the government and counterpart funding from the six North-East states of Borno, Bauchi, Yobe, Adamawa, Taraba and Gombe.

“The agency shall establish and maintain a fund which will consist of initial take-off grant from the Federal Government; annual subvention from the government; states counterpart funding which will be deducted at source at 0.5 per cent of their statutory allocation; 1 per cent of the Education Tax Fund (TETFund) and UBEC fund”.

The bill states that the proposed agency shall have a governing board which shall consist of the chairman who is to be appointed by the President in consultation with the National Assembly.

“The governing council will also have one representative from each of the North-East states, one representative each of the stakeholders, three representatives of the impacted communities, one person from the Nigerian Army, air force, navy, police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, all of whom must not be below the rank of lieutenant colonel”, the bill stated.

The bill added that, “The council will also include one representative each from the federal ministries of humanitarian affairs, finance, environment, petroleum resources, North-East Development Commission and the Local Content Board”.

The sponsor of the bill, Senator Ibrahim Geideam who is representing Yobe East, in an interview with journalists defended the bill that many Boko Haram terrorists were willing to lay down their arms but were afraid of the consequences of their action.

Senator Geidam explained that his bill was not meant to take care of insurgents captured by the security agencies because those ones would be made to face the full wrath of the law.

Meanwhile the proposed law has not gone down well with many quarters as angry reactions from the Chibok Community, which was attacked by the insurgents in 2014, and the Christian Association of Nigeria, seeing the bill as foul play with no human face and consideration of the feelings, rights and privileges of victims of the insurgents.

Similarly, the #BringBackOurGirls movement, which has been calling for the release of schoolgirls abducted from Chibok in 2014 by the insurgents, said the plan to set up the agency should be done concurrently with the rehabilitation of thousands of internally displaced persons.

A civil society organization, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, has knocked the Federal Government over its plans to deduct from TETFund and UBEC’s funds for the rehabilitation of the Boko Haram terrorists.

The CACOL Director, Mr Debo Adeniran, said the education sector was already underfunded and the Federal Government must rather seek ways to increase funding and not deduct for the terrorists’ rehabilitation.

“I will say straightaway that it is not right and it will be criminal if anyone dips his hands into education funds of whatever description to fund the rehabilitation of the Boko Haram”, he said.

The Chairman, Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria, University College Hospital, University of Ibadan branch, Dr. Dare Olulana, said Federal government should not use part of TETFund for the agency.

Olulana, who recalled that the Academic Staff Union of Universities had toiled and suffered by engaging in protests and strike actions before TETFund was approved, said it would be unfair and gross misplacement of priority for the current administration to divert the money meant for the funding of tertiary education in the country.

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