Interior Minister lauds Safe School project

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…Describes children as valuable assets that deserves to be protected

By Palma Ileye

Children in Nigeria have been described as the most valuable assets of paramount importance which must be protected, that is why the present government under the leadership of President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, places a high premium on eradication of all forms of attacks on schools in the country.

Minister of Interior, Dr Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo according to a press release issued by NSCDC, National PRO, CSC Afolabi Babawale made this assertion at the graduation ceremony of this year’s National Safe Schools Response Coordination Course One, held at Karu in the Federal Capital Territory.

Tunji-Ojo commended the NSSRCC for playing the response coordination role as he urged all stakeholders to consider school protection as an all-responsibility affair and not the Government alone.

He also applauded the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, as a host Agency of the NSSRCC for developing more strategies for preventing school attacks.

He reiterated, “Children are the most valuable assets of a nation which must be protected.”

The Minister who was the special guest of honour at the occasion stressed that the protection of schools was a task which must be carried out by all and commended the Defence Intelligence College and Ministry of Defence for the collaboration in the training of the participants.

Corroborating the minister’s view, Commandant General, NSCDC, Dr Ahmed Abubakar Audi informed the audience that the centre which was a product of the vulnerability survey carried out in 2021 by the Corps under his administration is saddled with the responsibility of coordinating safety and security responses against violence on schools and host communities.

Audi maintained that so far, the centre has through collaboration, cooperation and coordination, thwarted no fewer than 48 planned attacks on schools stating that the Corps remains resolute in the discharge of its mandate of protection of critical national assets and infrastructure where schools are inclusive.

He charged NSCDC and other participants to go back to their formations and Areas of Operations and put their experiences into practice as he also urged them to cascade the training to their colleagues for maximum results.

Announcing the Corps’ determination to ensure the success of the Safe Schools implementation project in Nigeria, the Corps helmsman said a lot of advocacy, training and capacity building for NSCDC personnel among other stakeholders have been carried out in addition to the collapse of Special Female Squad and Rapid Response Squad to form Safe Schools Squad.

Earlier in an address of welcome, Commandant of the Defence Intelligence College, Rear Admiral Julius Nwagu thanked the Minister of Interior for honouring the occasion to witness a strategic training to develop the capacity of NSCDC and other relevant agencies for the Safe Schools Project.

He admonished the 238 participants who were members of Course One in the year 2024 to be good ambassadors of the college, Corps and Nigeria.

Some areas the participants were exposed to during the week-long training according to the Commandant include surveillance, intelligence circuits and military drills amongst others.

Parts of the objective of the Programme include developing critical forensic and psychological competencies and skills to support safer learning environments, strengthening the capacity of security agencies for joint operations and building the capacities of security agencies on emergency preparedness in response to issues of attacks and violence around Nigerian schools.

The rest were to strengthen the capacity of vigilante groups, retired officers and host community members, build capacities of the communities to better understand the human dimension of security build resilience against attacks or Violence and strengthen schools and communities against violent criminals and related attacks.

Other highlights of the occasion was an overview by the former Commander of the NSSRCC, CSC Tersoo Shaapera the presentation of souvenirs to the Special Guest of Honour/ Minister of Interior, a presentation of the certificate of participation to participants, the vote of thanks by Commander of the NSSRCC, Commandant Hammed Abodunrin and group photographs.