By G9ija

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Borno State government have initiated a partnership to protect education from Boko Haram attacks.

Aside educational infrastructure that had been destroyed, activities of the terrorists also claimed over 32,000 lives and property worth N3.52 trillion in Borno, Adamawa and
Yobe states.

Announcing the joint protections yesterday in Maiduguri to mark International Day to Protect Education from Attack (IDPEA), Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono, stated: “Many Nigerian children are denied the fundamental right to education, due to incessant attacks on education facilities.”

According to UNICEF, the Safe School Declaration is a political commitment endorsed by 104 countries to protect education and learners from attack.

UNICEF Chief of Field Office in Borno, Maulid Warfa, urged government at all levels to prioritise the safeguarding of children and educational institutions.

Warfa, who commended the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office for its support for educational programmes in North-East Nigeria, lamented the impact of armed conflict on children in the North East.

Responding, Governor Babagana Zulum said that the state government was building more classrooms to accommodate out-of-school children.

Zulum, who was represented by Commissioner of Education, Bello Ayuba, said the Ministry of Education and the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) had been directed to launch programmes that would enrol more out-of-school children.

Also, the United Nations (UN) has applauded Gombe State for its comforting role to those displaced by insurgency and natural disasters in the neighbouring North-East states.

UN officials were in the state to assess developmental strides and possible ways of assisting the state.

According to Edward Kallon, leader of the delegation, pressure from insurgency and natural disaster-ravaged sister states in the North East is seriously telling on Gombe.

Addressing Governor Mohammed Yahaya in Government House, Gombe, the envoy assured: “My presence here in Gombe is to assure you that you are not alone; UN shall share your pains and burdens.”

The team advised the state on how best to survive the post-COVID-19 era towards socio-economic emancipation with assistance from international donor agencies.

Responding, Yahaya said his administration understood and appreciated that “until critical issues affecting humanity are addressed and placed on the human capital development, the state will certainly miss the point.”

He added: “In the past, efforts were concentrated on cosmetics rather than real issues that affect the people, and for that, we missed the way.”

Yahaya lamented that the country ought not to be in its present predicament of economic depression, considering its abundant human and natural resources.

The country’s population and resources, he argued, ought to be to its advantage.

“If properly harnessed, our agricultural resources are enough to make Nigeria a clearinghouse for food production. Our ability to realise, embrace and change them to our benefit is what I think the UN is here to help us achieve,” he added.

The UN team had earlier visited the state’s specialist hospital and the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) colony in Akko North Council.

At the specialist hospital, leader of the deputy governor, Daniel Jatu, who led the state’s team, briefed the envoy on many United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) facilitated projects to include the recently launched Molecular Diagnosis Laboratory.

He also told the guests that the number of patients seeking HIV counselling increased from 230 monthly to 470.

Kallon, however, noted that the IDPs were well taken care of.

“I have seen the displaced, but something baffled me; no evidence of malnutrition is visible on the children. This shows a lot about Gombe,” he noted.

The IDPs’ chairman, Abba Jatau, remarked that the number of IDPs stood at 14,000, appreciating the state for accommodating them.