In my capacity as an education advocate, I have began negotiations with government recognized vigilante group, the Civilian JTF for hundreds of child soldiers engaged in Maiduguri to be disengaged and returned to the classroom.
An estimated 2,000 to 3,000 children are currently associated with the Civilian JTF. The figure includes those serving as spies, as well as those working as messengers and in other roles.
Discussions with the Civilian JTF have started with the full support of the Government of Borno State, who has engaged in talks with me since August 2015.
At the moment, I am entering into negotiations with the Government of Borno State to study the feasibility of a disengagement agreement, after the Civilian JTF has agreed to sign a final commitment in the coming weeks.
Our support (through 1 GAME Campaign) in the disengagement and integration of these children will be carried out at in the following ways:
1) For a start, books, pens and other stationery will be handed to these children so as to enable them learn while in school. (10,000 of these items are currently in Maiduguri, and will be distributed when this programme starts).
2) In the future, schools will be rehabilitated, and three sporting programmes covering Table Tennis, Badminton and Football will be encouraged in these schools to welcome the disengaged children.
3) Still in the future, families will receive cash pay for Textbooks and other related cost which aims at encouraging parents to ensure that their disengaged children continue to go school. Each child will receive N5,000 a term (about $26), and N15,000 (about $78) a year, for 3,000 children, amounting to N45,000,000 ($230,000).
Following the signing of the declaration, the parties will agree on a schedule for the disengagement of the children, for their reintegration into school, and for the provision of support to help them to rebuild their lives.
The leaders of the Civilian JTF have also agreed to give us immediate and unrestricted access to the areas under their control in order to identify and verify the number of affected children and plan the disengagement process.
I thank you for all your support.
Philip Obaji Jr.