By Adesina Wahab
ON the night of April 14, 2014, some innocent girls at a secondary school in Chibok, Borno State, were abducted from the school by Boko Haram insurgents.
The number of the affected girls was given as 276. They were sitting for their West African Examinations Council papers. Up until now, no fewer than 112 girls are still missing, as only some of them were able to escape or were released after negotiations with their abductors.
Not long afterwards, girls in another secondary school in Dapchi, Yobe State were also kidnapped, thus opening another chapter in Nigeria’s battle with insecurity.
On December 13 last year, over 300 students were also abducted by bandits at Government Science College in Kankara, Katsina State, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Just yesterday, another set of bandits stormed the Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State taking away some students, their teachers and some other innocent persons. One of the students was reportedly killed in the attack.
Are students no longer safe in their schools? Why are the bandits targeting schools? Nigeria does not have an enviable record when it comes to out-of-school children, ours is the highest in the world, over 15 million.
Incidentally, most of the OSC are found in the North and this is where the assault on schools and education is now rampant. The schools being attacked are boarding schools set up to encourage parents to send their children to school, as such such schools are local model schools. Many of the stakehoders have blamed the government for the poor state of security in the country, saying the main duty of the government is to provide safety for the people by protecting them and their properties.
The National President of of the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria, NAPTAN, Haruna Danjuma, expressed the grief of parents on the recurring ugly incidents. He told Vanguard Learning: “We are so disturbed about the development. When the Federal Government wanted to reopen schools, we told them that it is not only reopening schools that matters but the security and safety of lives of the people involved. We don’t know where we are, and where we are heading to.
“Something is wrong somewhere. The situation is very scary. And the responsibility is on all the tiers of government and particularly on the Federal Government. If the President can empower the state govenors to handle security matters in conjunction with military top shots in their domains including the Commissioners of Police, the situation could be better.
“These criminals are now targeting our children to make easy money. Our children have become objects of bargaining. This is another form of coronavirus disease. Some parents are now wary of allowing their children to go back to school.”
The Southwest Coordinator of the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, Kappo Olawale Samuel, opined that the government has not got the issue of security right in the country.
He said: “The Presidency just changed the service chiefs, but nothing really has changed as far as security is concerned. I think we need to declare a state of emergency in the security sector.
This kind of development is a great disservice to education. It is discouraging the students, the teachers and the parents. The government should live up to the expectation of the people with regards to the protection of lives and properties in the country. It is really disheartening.”
What the teachers are saying
Also speaking on the matter, the Lagos State Chairman of the NUT, Otunba Adesina Adedoyin, said what is happening is a reflection of the insecurity in the country at large. “It is unfortunate and ungodly that bandits have taken students to be pawns in their hands. Though we are teachers, we are parents too and with the way things are going, anybody can fall victim. It is the duty of the government to protect the citizens whether young or old.
“If the government does not want the people to take the law into their hands, it must do the needful.
This trend of targeting schools must be stopped. The schools they go for are boarding schools and there are reasons why the government provide boarding facilities in the schools. This is becoming really serious, ” he said.
While security is an issue that involves everybody, the government has a big role to play as it controls the security apparatus and must do the needful before things get out of hand