By Akanimo Sampson
Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) are now to fund foreign training for repentant Boko Haram fighters.
This is contained in a bill proposing the establishment of National Agency for the Education, Rehabilitation, De-radicalisation and Integration of Repentant Insurgents in Nigeria.
Funding will also come from donations, grants, annual subventions from the government and counterpart funding from the six North-East states of Borno, Bauchi, Yobe, Adamawa, Taraba and Gombe.
The bill, known officially known as 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, passed its first reading in the Senate the previous Thursday.
It is sponsored by Senator Ibrahim Geideam (Yobe East).
Geidam, in an interview on Monday, defends the bill, saying many Boko Haram terrorists are willing to lay down their arms but are afraid of the consequences of their action.
He explains that his bill was not meant to take care of insurgents captured by the security agencies because those ones would be made to face the full wrath of the law.
The bill provides that one per cent of TETFund and UBEC fund will be used in funding the agency for rehabilitating the terrorists.
The agency will also be funded by 0.5 per cent of the federal allocation of the six North-East states.
TETFund obtains its funding from a compulsory two per cent profit tax that is paid by all registered companies to the Federal Government.
Section 10 of the bill reads in part, “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.
According to it, the agency will also be funded by grants in aid, gift, testamentary dispositions, endowments and donations.
The bill states that the proposed agency shall have a governing board which shall consist of the chairman who is to be appointed by the President in consultation with the National Assembly.
The governing council will also have one representative from each of the North-East states, one representative each of the stakeholders, three representatives of the impacted communities, one person from the Nigerian Army, air force, navy, police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, all of whom must not be below the rank of lieutenant colonel.
The council will also include one representative each from the federal ministries of humanitarian affairs, finance, environment, petroleum resources, North-East Development Commission and the Local Content Board.
As regards the powers of the proposed agency, the bill gives repentant terrorists the opportunity of receiving foreign education.
Section 5(m) reads in part, “(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.”
The proposed agency is expected to implement a comprehensive programme in the area of disarmament, demobilisation, rehabilitation and reintegration.
It will also coordinate efforts of relevant agencies, organisations and institutions towards the attainment of set objectives as regards job placement, internship and sustainable reintegration.