BY YUSUF BALOGUN
The Bill recently proposed by the National Assembly, stating that the government will start sponsoring repentant terrorists for free foreign education will no way deter terrorism in Nigeria neither will it prevent people from engaging themselves in such practice but rather encourages more classes of persons therein. The bill titled, “A Bill for the Establishment of the National Agency for the Education, Rehabilitation, De-radicalisation and Integration of Repentant Insurgents in Nigeria and for Other Connected Purposes” contained therein that the Agency shall be funded by the UBEC and TETFUND.
And we should not forget that these same sectors (UBEC and TETFUND) have been accusing the government of their poor commitment to the promotion and development of basic and tertiary education, as one of the greatest challenge facing the sub-sectors, whereby demanding for revitalization of public Institutions as led to many industrial strikes in the country which has contributed to the bastardization of the education sector.
I keep wondering why the said National Assembly who sees this development as their main priority cannot use part of their cumbersome allowances they take home to fund the Agency rather than planning to take from what is not sufficient. They even have plan to buy 400 exotic cars estimated to be $35,130 per car. This is a urge amount that can do fund Boko Haram rehabilitation.
Section 10 of proposed bill, reads: “The agency shall establish and maintain a fund which will consist of initial take-off grant from the Federal Government; annual subvention from the government; states counterpart funding which will be deducted at source at 0.5 per cent of their statutory allocation; 1 per cent of the Education Tax Fund ( TETFund) and UBEC fund.”
Equally, The Agency will also be funded by donations, grants, annual subventions from the government (0.5percent of the federal allocation) and counterpart funding from the six North-East States and compulsory two per cent profit tax that is paid by all registered companies to the Federal Government. To me, it is a gross misplacement of priority on the part of our lawmakers.
At the initial stage, my thought was that the sponsor of the Bill, Senator Ibrahim Geideam, representing Yobe-East will maintain that the Bill would be funded with the cumbersome allowances of the senators, it guess it was a dream which can never come true.
Research has made it known the National Assembly has one of the most lucrative allowances in the world among lawmakers. The monthly salaries of 469 lawmakers in the two chambers of Nigeria’s National Assembly will pay monthly salaries of 191,954 civil servants in the country at the rate of the #30,000 new minimum wages.
Section 5 of the proposed Bill gives repentant terrorists the opportunity of receiving foreign education, it states: “The Agency shall implement programmes geared towards the rehabilitation of beneficiaries, engage the services of offshore and Nigerian institutions in the pursuit of the educational needs of ex-agitators.”
Any right-thinking person will subscribe to the effect that establishing an Agency for Repentant Insurgent will not deter terrorism in Nigeria but rather by fighting insurgency with full forces will be a better option. Nigeria’s military forces are one of the strongest in African, in which many African states are envious of.
The Army forces have been engaging in many peacekeeping missions in and outside Africa, so why can’t we fight our internal problems? The manpower is there in our gallant military men, why is our government not helping the situation. Let the National Assembly put their allowances for the main aim of fighting insurgency and see whether it will be of history or not.
Obviously, free foreign education is the desire of every Nigerian and I fear that soon, if the Bill sees the light of the day, all Nigerians will want to turn to terrorists in order to enjoy free foreign education upon their repentance.
The aims of implementing a comprehensive programme in the area of disarmament, demobilisation, rehabilitation and reintegration expected of the proposed Agency will now turn to home of harbouring, aiding, arming and mobilising terrorists, the establishment of such agency will not mitigate the current challenges but rather instigate it and thereby defeating it set purpose and objectives.