Jonathan announces scholarship for Chibok girls, Malala donates $200,000

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By Suleiman Bello

Nigeria President, Goodluck Jonathan on Monday re-assured Nigerians and the world at large that the Chibok schoolgirls would soon be rescued from their abductors.He made this assurance while speaking at an audience with Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani Girl-Child Education Campaigner.President Jonathan at the occasion said that the Federal Government was definitely doing everything possible to ensure that the girls were rescued alive and safely returned to their parents.He then announced scholarship awards for all them once they are freed.According to the president, the girls would be free to use the scholarship in any part of the country they deem fit.The Director of Operations of Malala Foundation, Shiza Shahid, told State House correspondents after the meeting that the President said to Malala, “he can guarantee that all the girls that have been kidnapped, including the ones that escaped, will be given scholarships to go to school in other parts of the country”.Malala in interaction with journalists said the Malala Foundation has raised $200,000 for the abducted schoolgirls, adding: “And we want to use it to contribute to those children’s education.“We have started working with two organisations here in Nigeria to be able to help these girls continue their education.”July 14 is Malala Day, a day set aside by the United Nations for the world to focus on putting all girls to school.She submitted: “I am here in Nigeria on my 17th birthday for a price, which is to see that every child goes to school.“This year, my objective is to speak up for my Nigerian sisters, about 200 of them who are under the abduction of Boko Haram.“And I met the President Goodluck Jonathan for this purpose.“I conveyed the voice of my sisters who are out of school or who are still under the abduction of Boko Haram and for those girls who escaped from the abduction but still do not have education.“And in the meeting, I highlighted the same issues, which the girls and their parents told me in the past two days.“The parents said they really want to meet with the President to share their stories with him.“And I asked the President that if he wants to meet with the parents of the girls, the President assured me that he would meet with them.“The parents of the girls still have this hope that there is still someone who can help them.“They asked me if there is any chance for them to meet the President because at this time, they need the President’s support.“I am hopeful that these two promises: the return of the girls from Boko Haram and meeting with their parents, will be fulfilled and we will see it soon.“But the President said these girls were his daughters and he was pained by their sufferings and that he has his own daughters and he can feel what they are feeling.“The President has expressed his solidarity with those girls and his sadness.“He has assured that these girls will come back home safely.“He has several options but that he will choose the best to ensure the girls are released safely.” She said.President Jonathan had at the meeting told the delegation that the Federal Government’s efforts were constrained by the overriding imperative of ensuring that the girls’ lives are not endangered in any rescue attempt.“Terror is relatively new here and dealing with it has its challenges. The great challenge in rescuing the Chibok girls is the need to ensure that they are rescued alive,” President Jonathan said.He stressed that the Federal Government and its security agencies were very mindful of the need to avoid the scenario in rescue attempts in other parts of the world where lives of abductees were lost in the effort to rescue them.The President said that this challenge notwithstanding, the Federal Government was very actively pursuing all feasible options to achieve the safe return of the abducted girls.“The time it is taking to achieve that objective is not a question of the competence of the Nigerian Government.“We have had teams from the United States, Britain, France, Israel and other friendly nations working with us here on the rescue effort and they all appreciate the challenges and the need to thread carefully to achieve our purpose.” He said.President Jonathan reiterated his Administration’s commitment to ensuring the safe and proper education of all Nigerian children.He said: “I personally believe that since about 50 per cent of our population are female, we will be depriving ourselves of half of our available human resources if we fail to educate our girls adequately or suppress their ambitions in any way.“We are therefore taking steps to curb all forms of discrimination against girls and women, and have also undertaken many affirmative actions on their behalf.”

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