By Blessing Otobong-Gabriel
As part of President Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda which focuses on the eradication of poverty and reduction of the humanitarian crisis in the country, the Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation in collaboration with UNICEF and state Governments has set up plans to create within a secured location, new transit schools and low-cost homes for over 11,000 out-of-school children and Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs in Niger state.
Speaking when she paid a visit to Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State, Dr. Betta Edu disclosed that her Ministry will ensure the IDPs displaced by Bandits, multi-dimensional humanitarian challenges facing parts of the state were surmountable.
Edu lamented the continued closure of over 400 schools in the state, which has forced over 11,000 pupils and students out of their classrooms. She called for immediate action to ameliorate the situation, saying it was unacceptable as lack of basic education predisposes people to poverty.
The Minister commended the state governor, Muhammed Umaru Bago, for continued payment of the displaced teachers’ salaries. encouraging them to continue to teach children under the new transit class rooms provided by the government and UNICEF at temporal holding sites.
She expressed optimism that peace will soon return to communities affected by banditry, and displaced persons will return to their homes. “We will help you resettle appropriately.
“The Federal Government is considering options of providing a resettlement centre in the interim where IDPs can resettle and vacate the school premises they are presently occupying so that our children can return to their classes”
“The current staggering figure of out of school children in Nigeria is not good for the country. As you know, education is the foundation, and if we must fight poverty, we must return our children to school because that is the key and the beginning of ending the circle of poverty.
“As a government, we will do all we can to tackle the problem from the root cause so that they can continue with their education.”
In another development, the Minister flagged off the distribution of starter packs to 400 N- -Skills beneficiaries. The equipment, including vulcanizing machines, pumping and grass cutting machines, irrigation pumps, among others, to the trained IDPs, while food and nonfood items were also distributed.
On his part, the state Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Ahmed Baba Suleiman, said that 29,774 people have been displaced by bandits in the state. The figure, according to him, comprised 7,650 women, 3,201 men, and 11,113 out-of-school children in addition to 108 people with special needs across 11 local government areas.
He appealed to the federal government for immediate intervention and collaboration with the state to reduce the humanitarian challenges and poverty displaced victims of banditry are facing in the state.
Speaking earlier, Niger State First Lady, Hajia Fatima Umaru Bago, commended the Minister and President Tinubu for their interest in the humanitarian needs of the people of the state and Nigeria in general.