The Federal Government on Saturday assured Nigerians that the 106 Chibok girls, who were released by the Boko Haram insurgents, would resume school in September 2017.
The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Jummai Alhassan, stated this during a special lunch organised for the girls and their parents in Abuja.
She said the girls were billed to be enrolled in schools because the rehabilitation and reintegration programmes organised for them would be concluded in September.
She said the Chibok girls had been rehabilitated and were ready to return to pursue academic activities.
However, Alhassan said the Federal Government would keep all the 106 girls in one institution in the North- East.
According to her, the Federal Government has initiated discussions with the American University of Nigeria, Yola, to admit the girls into its foundation programme.
She stated further that the management of AUN had earlier indicated interest in supporting the education of 21 girls released in October, 2016 but that the idea was put on hold when 82 other girls were released this year.
The minister stated further that the government was disposed to keeping all the 106 Chibok girls in AUN because it had the foundation programme required to prepare the girls for further education.
She said, “When the 21 girls were released, the American University indicated interest in supporting the girls just like other development partners in the country.
“The UN is supporting the government in its rehabilitation programme. Other people too have indicated interest in the education of the girls.
“From the time the 21 girls came, some institutions indicated interest in supporting them in their education when they finish their rehabilitation programme. The programme is coming to an end and the girls are due for school in September.
“The American University is supporting government in respect of the 21 girls earlier released but we don’t want to give the girls different standards of education.
“The girls are already here together, all of them will go to the American university. No other university has the type of foundation programme being offered by the AUN; that is why we are insisting that all the girls should be admitted to the programme.”
The minister added that AUN had earlier given scholarship to 14 of the girls who escaped from the Boko Haram enclave, and were made to go through the foundation programme preparatory to the degree courses.
The Vice President, Administration, of the AUN, Mr. Reginald Briggs, said two of the 24 girls were in year two studying Computer Science and Journalism.
He added that two other girls had been given admission to study accounting, three were doing pre-medical degree programmes, while one of them was billed to study law.
The minister later told journalists that the Federal Government was making efforts to get the remaining girls out of captivity.
She also appealed to the Boko Haram sect to embrace dialogue not only on the issue of the release of the abducted girls and other Nigerians in their custody but also to stop the insurgency in the North- East.
She said, “Negotiation with the Boko Haram leaders is still going on. You know the first 21 were released in October last year, and about six or seven months later, 82 others came. We are hopeful that by the grace of God, the rest will be released also.
“You heard me pleading with the people that are keeping the girls that they should please see reason and negotiate with the government and embrace dialogue not only because of the release of the Chibok girls but also the release of others that are in their captivity and even to stop the insurgency.
“They should dialogue and see reason and that whatever it is, they should come to the table. Government is ready to engage them in a dialogue. “
The minister dismissed insinuations that the government was preventing the parents of the girls from visiting them, stressing that the girls were not compelled to be kept in government custody.
The minister also said that none of the girls was either HIV-positive or pregnant.
Chibok community hails govt
The Chairman, Abducted Chibok Girls Movement, Mr. Yakubu Keki, in an interview with journalists, commended the government for taking adequate care of the girls.
He said he had confidence in the ability of the government to negotiate the release of the remaining girls the same way their counterparts were freed.
Source: ( Punch Newspaper )