WHEN the Boko Haram insurgents made their debut in 2012, their major angst was against Nigeria’s education system. In fact, the appellation ‘Boko Haram’ was derived from their morbid hatred for modern education in Nigeria. At no time did they deviate from this plan in their carefully orchestrated onslaught against schools in Nigeria. From the primary to secondary and even universities, successful attacks have been launched and are being launched to disallow many Nigerians who value education from tasting in the civilizations and opportunities that it offers.
THE Hope notes with dismay a UNICEF report that about 11,536 schools have been closed, over five million students were out of school in 2021 while 1409 students have so far been abducted from various schools in Nigeria. Unfortunately, and worrisome too, close to 821 students have been abducted this year. The abduction had taken place in various locations in Nigeria, and some of these include Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, Igabi LGA of Kaduna state; Greenfield University, Kasarami, Kaduna; Salihu Tanko Islamic School, Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, Federal Government College, Birnin-Yauri in Kebbi state; Bethel Baptist High School in Damishi, and the College of Agriculture and Animal Health in Bakura, Zamfara state as well as Olayinka Tokunbo, a Federal University of Agriculture student, Abeokuta. While some of the abducted students have been released, some are still in captivity, some enslaved, and some may be dead. Given the daily incursions of the terrorists, the numbers of the victims, and plumaged communities is set to rise before the end of the year.
WE have however observed that in response, the Kano State government had then ordered the closure of 12 secondary schools while the Federal Ministry of Education has directed the closure of all Federal Government Colleges (FGCs) in Abuja following security threats on the Unity Colleges located in the FCT. While these proactive steps seemed commendable, we are however concerned that whichever way, the Boko Haram agenda is being actualized.
UNFORTUNATELY too divergent opinions from the Presidency on curbing the menace have not brought succor to Nigerians. While the Defence Minister Maj Gen (rtd) Bashir Magashi advised Nigerians to exhibit boldness and confront bandits, the Information Minister submitted in frailty that though government was aware of the locations of terrorists, it is difficult for a democratically elected government to use the instruments of coercion against her people, especially in the light of possible collateral damage.
HOWEVER, we wonder why the Federal Government’s security personnel and agencies had not engaged ‘Knockout Gas’, which could have been easily developed in the Universities to incapacitate terrorists in the wild forests, and recover the abductees.
WE opine that as resumption dates for students draw near, it is important for government at all levels to note that the successful siege against the schools poses near and distant threat to all sectors of the nation’s conomy, and the survival of the nation in the long run. Given that the girl-child is often targeted in these raids, fewer women would be educated, leading to early marriages and reduction to unskilled possessions of men. This brick wall against education would reduce their opportunities to better life, promote early marriages, susceptibility to fistula and thus exacerbate poverty. Soon, there would be the exodus of teachers to ‘peaceful’ areas, causing unemployment and possible attraction to crimes.
WHEN the young can no longer have trust in government to secure their lives and have access to education, the young boys may become easy recruits into terrorist gangs and banditry. The reason for this is not farfetched as children who ought to be in school would be required to work for income to augment the meager wages of their struggling parents.
RATHER than shut down the schools, more effective security measures should be put in place to ensure that the Boko haram agenda does not draw the nation backwards into ignorance induced underdevelopment. We propose that government should change its policies of negotiation with terrorists to extermination. Furthermore, the provision of specialized security round the various citadels of learning is non-negotiable. Hence, the installation of closed-circuit cameras and effective communication hotlines with direct links to security operatives must be in place in all public schools.
IN this wise, government can no longer dilly-dally on the issue of community and State Police. Apart from being ready, available and reachable, they are also better in gathering local intelligence that could secure these children and save many lives.
Also, given the vulnerability of boarding schools, it is important to create viable and modern schools closer to the habitation of students, as this would make it difficult to abduct them en-masse. With the full registration of Okada riders, and their motorcycles, and the wearing of body cameras by security and non-security personnel in schools, our schools can yet be safe from the Boko Haram influenced abductors.