To control the consequences of the Boko Haram insurgency and other forms of insecurity in the country, the Federal Government has hired NICON Insurance Plc to insure 125,000 secondary pupils in 104 Unity Schools across the country.
Each pupil is expected to pay N5,000 premium per annum. This means that the company will be raking in N625m from the schools’ 125,000 student population.
NICON Insurance, which once belonged to the Federal Government, was sold to business mogul, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party in 2006.
Investigation by our correspondent revealed that there was no bidding for the insurance contract before it was handed over to NICON Insurance as the sole underwriter of the 104 unity schools scattered across the country.
In a circular informing parents and guardians of the new fee to be paid, a principal of one of the schools said the new policy was because of the general security challenges across the country.
The circular read in part, “Due to the security challenges in the country, the Federal Ministry of Education has employed the services of NICON Insurance Company to insure Federal Government College pupils.
“Each pupil is expected to pay N5,000 yearly and also complete the form attached. This amount will be remitted into NICON Insurance’s account to be supplied later.”
In a telephone interview with our correspondent, the spokesperson of NICON Insurance Plc, Mr. Ade Adesokan, confirmed that the company was in the process of launching the special insurance product and confirmed that it was the sole underwriter of the policy nationwide.
“The Students Welfare Insurance Scheme for Unity Schools is a product designed by NICON Insurance to provide much needed benefits under a combined personal accident and life cover for the pupils and their sponsors,” Adesokan said.
According to the company, in the case of accidental death of a pupil, the sponsor named in the policy will be entitled to N500,000.
In the event of the death of the sponsor or guardian of a pupil, the pupil will be entitled to the payment of school fees up to the year of graduation from the secondary school (maximum of N500,000).
In the case that a pupil accidentally sustains permanent disability, he/she will be entitled to N500,000 as compensation. For accidental medical expenses, a pupil will be entitled to N50,000 for medical treatment.
If a pupil is involved in accidental death, the company will pay N50,000 for burial expenses.
Apart from paying the premium, which is compulsory for all the pupils, some conditions are also to be fulfilled before a pupil can enjoy the benefits.
These include duly completed claims signed by the pupil or sponsor and countersigned by an authorised officer in the principal’s office; and medical certificate of cause of death (for death benefit only).
Others are medical report confirming extent of disability (for permanent disability benefit only); certificate of burial (for burial expenses benefit only) and evidence of actual medical expenses incurred e.g. receipts of payment for drugs purchased and other medical treatment.
The Boko Haram insurgents have mounted a vicious campaign against Western education, students and colleges, with many schools completely burnt and pupils abducted or murdered by suicide bombers.
The most outrageous attack on institutions of learning was the abduction of more than 200 girls from the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State on April 14. Although the abduction has attracted international condemnation, the girls have yet to be rescued.
The attacks on schools had led the Federal Government to come up with the Safe School Initiative, with N1.6bn in funding.
The private sector had pledged another N1.6bn to the fund, while foreign actors led by a former Prime Minister of Britain, Mr. Gordon Brown, are also mobilising funds to contribute to the programme aimed at making Nigerian schools safer.
Brown had said the programme would help with fortifications, telecommunications, guards and safety equipment that would enable people to feel more secured about the schools.
However, in November, the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who chairs the initiative, announced that under the programme, 2,400 students from the states under emergency rule would be moved to Unity Schools across the country where they would be catered for with N435m in the first year.
The minister had said, “The components involve the transfer of students from the three states under emergency rule who want to study in other parts of the country. It is a purely a voluntary programme. Parents who want their children from JSS1 to SSS3 to go to the Unity Schools in other parts of the country have been identified.
“We have 800 students per state for a total of 2,400 students. Parents participated in choosing the schools they want their children to attend and the initiative is going to support the commencement of studies by those children. There are about 42 schools ready to receive them.”
She added, “We are supporting the initial cost for the first year involving 2,400 students with about N435m. The German government is putting down €2m; British Government, £1m; the Norwegian government has put in $1.5m; the United States is talking about supporting us with $15m; the African Development Bank disbursed $1m. The World Bank is putting in about $3m annually and this is just for this immediate initiative.
“Don’t also forget that Prime Minister Gordon Brown is opening a Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Safe Schools at the level of the UN and we are also waiting for the $10m (about N1.3bn) commitment from the private sector.”
It is not yet certain when safe security protocols will be implemented in the Unity Schools and others, especially in the states worse hit by the insurgency.[Punch]