The incessant rising cases of students’ abduction by organized bandits or whatever names has been given to them has rendered the Northern Nigeria educationally disadvantaged making them to face numerous challenges.
The abduction began in Chibok; then spread to Dapchi. Many Nigerians had thought that the two incidences would serve as a wakeup call on government to improve security and secure our schools. However, the recent abduction in Kankara, Kagara and now Jengebe in which over 317 female students were kidnapped indicate that the government has not learnt any lessons. The spate of abductions are coming at a time when damning statistics have continued to emerge on the increasing number of out of school children and poor funding of the sector by many states in the north. For instance, the photograph of the Kagara School in which 27 students were abducted depicted the poor state of infrastructure in most of our public schools.
If truth must be told, the reason for the abduction goes beyond ransom-taking. It is deliberately and carefully arranged or carried out to discourage learning of western education in the northern Nigeria as being championed by the dreaded Boko Haram members. By abducting students, the bandits are trying to instil fears in to the minds of parents, guardians and the teachers. Many parents will be reluctant to send their children to schools for fear of the unknown. In the wake of the Jangebe abduction, the Zamfara State government announced the closure of all boarding school across the state. I have also learnt that Kano State government has followed suit by giving directive for the closure of 10 boarding schools in the state. The closure of the boarding schools come at a time when the corona pandemic has already wreaked havoc on the education system as a result of which many schools have remained closed in the last one year.
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Katsina and Zamfara states governors have been pushing for reconciliation with the bandits. Unfortunately, looking at how these bandits refuse to cease fire in spite of all entreaties including the one from Sheikh Gumi, one is convinced that the bandits are not ready to surrender their arms, let alone embrace amnesty being proposed by these governors. The only language these bandits understand is killing and abduction of their helpless victims.
Let the government stop deceiving itself that negotiation with bandits will end banditry. The bandits will pretend to have repented but only return when ransoms have been collected. It is high time government used force to suppress the activities of the rampaging bandits who threaten our education sector.
There is the need for northern governors to increase investment in education. Our public schools have become glorified primary schools with inadequate infrastructure. Most of our boarding schools in the north are porous with little presence of security. This provides easy access for the bandits to strike whenever the need arises. Government must ensure adequate deployment of security personnel to man our boarding schools. From how these abductors frequently visit our schools, it shows total failure of the intelligence gathering agencies. There is the need for government to rejig its intelligence agencies for effective security and policing.
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