The Borno State Government on Wednesday granted scholarship and relocated 36 schoolgirls that escaped abduction in Government Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State when Boko Haram insurgents attacked the school and abducted over 200 final year female students on April 14.
The 36 schoolgirls, who have been admitted into International schools in Abuja, Kaduna and Plateau States, were part of 57 female students that either escaped abduction or ran from captivity after the attack. Fifty one of the girls were meant for admission after six secured scholarship at an international school in Yola, Adamawa State.
The Borno State Government is spending a minimum of N1.4million annual fees on each of the schoolgirls in their new schools besides other costs for their welfare.
The governor spoke at a brief farewell held for the girls at the Government House in Maiduguri on Wednesday. Governor Shettima said he opted to spread the girls in different schools so as not to make suitable, unnecessary visits that would continue to make them subject of public focus given the global attention on them.
Mr. Shettima said the decision to relocate the schoolgirls was reached after psychosocial experts, psychologists, medical doctors, interfaith religious experts, women from civil society organizations and other trauma managers conducted trauma management sessions for the schoolgirls at the Government House in Maiduguri some months back and certified the girls as set for continued education.
The governor said while it was a hard decision to send the 36 girls back to school when their colleagues were still in captivity, government he said, has not given up on the girls still held. He said no sane parent would rule out a child that is held in captivity.
Mr. Shettima called on the schoolgirls to be of good behaviour, obey the rules of their new schools, put their bitter experiences behind them and focus on their studies so as to achieve their dreams in life. The Governor announced that any of the schoolgirls that obtains a minimum of five credits will be awarded automatic scholarship throughout her university education.
Governor Shettima thanked parents of the 36 girls that released their children for continued education noting that his government was deeply committed to ensuring the girls were provided access to the best education money can offer in Nigeria.
He said his administration has a bias for female education which was why he introduced a female medical education intervention programme under which 50 female citizens drawn from the 27 local government areas of the State were granted full scholarship to study medicine abroad while more will be sent in a continuous exercise.
Governor Shettima appealed to the media not to make public the new schools the girls are attending even if they get to find out through investigations. He noted that exposing their schools could expose them and the schools due to the global interest in them.
The Borno State Chairman of the Christians Association of Nigeria, Titus Pona, who is an elder in Chibok community, was full of praises for Governor Shettima for fulfilling his pledge of relocating the freed schoolgirls to international schools.
Mr. Pona, who was part of the trauma management sessions organised for the girls in June, said it was gratifying to him that daughters of his kinsmen were given a great opportunity to achieve great heights in life. He called on the girls to remember the biblical sermons he preached to them during their trauma sessions and other things they learnt.
Speaker after speaker at the farewell ceremony also called on the schoolgirls to be focused on their education to make themselves, their parents and Borno State very proud at the end of the day.