The federal government has approved the payment of N164.8 million as the second-semester school fees for the 106 Chibok girls released by Boko Haram at the American University of Nigeria (AUN) in Yola.
This was disclosed in a statement issued at the weekend by the Presidency.
The approval is in consonance with the president’s commitment to personally monitor the rehabilitation and reintegration of the freed Chibok girls into the society.
It also said the president who promised that the government would continue to provide full support for the girls’ education, had renewed his commitment to bring back the remaining Chibok girls still being held by the terrorists operating in the North-east by all possible means.
The statement provided a detailed account of how the girls have been handled while in federal custody. At the outset, due to concerns over their mental and physical health, stemming from their traumatic experiences in captivity, the 106 girls were taken to medical centers for health checks.
Subsequently, they underwent debriefing and deradicalization sessions conducted by the security services before being handed over to the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development which was assigned the main role of supervising the rehabilitation and reintegration of the girls back into society.
Prior to the release of the girls, the federal government had established the ‘Chibok Girls Desk’ in the ministry, to take charge of matters relating to the abducted Chibok schoolgirls and serving as a channel of communication between relevant agencies and the parents and relatives of the abducted girls.
The Ministry of Women Affairs in collaboration with the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), UN Women and other donor agencies, embarked on programmes earmarked to facilitate the rehabilitation and reintegration of the Chibok girls within a nine-month time frame.
A hostel in the National Centre for Women Development was converted into a suitable shelter, where the girls were housed for the nine-month period. The programme, which began in January 2017, ended in September 2017.
During the period, the 106 girls received lessons in English, Mathematics, Biology, Agriculture, Civic Education, ICT and vocational skills. In addition, they were provided with psychosocial therapy and one-on-one counseling to help them overcome post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as religious instruction and comprehensive care by two in-house doctors and two nurses. The Ministry also organized and sponsored periodic visits from the girls’ parents to facilitate family support and reunions.
Following the successful completion of the rehabilitation and reintegration programmes, in September, and the significant improvement in an academic performance recorded by the girls, they were subsequently moved to the American University of Nigeria (AUN) in Yola for their foundation studies and continuation of their education.
The absorption of the 106 girls into the school marked the beginning of their integration into the larger Nigerian society, thus fulfilling President Buhari’s promise of providing the best education for them. The statement said that although they have been officially handed over to their parents, “the federal government will continue to be responsible for the payment of the Chibok girls’ school fees right up to their graduation from the school.”