Asks Abdu Abdullahi
“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” John Dewey
Tears and sorrow!! From December last year to date, more than 600 students have been kidnapped in North Western part of Nigeria in various criminal operations at different schools. What is glaringly disheartening is the lingering skepticism of not tackling this highly challenging and volatile insecurity as well as child abuse. It is as if we want the problem to proffer its own solution.
Absurdity and oddity!! There is the awful and awkward outburst of certain government functionaries that Nigerians should stand up and provide their own security to survive the onslaught and brutality of these marauding gunmen.
We are still ignorant of how this will be done as we are defenceless, hopeless and helpless.
Indeed, we are taking the path of lawlessness, reminiscent of the Somalia crisis. The gunmen are determined to be above the law of the land. They want their Satanic law to be the supreme law of the order.
I have never known any government that has surrendered its security obligation and provision to its citizens. Is it not telling you and I that we should be our private chief security officers, albeit we are not enjoying any security vote from the government coffers?
Yet, we are not permitted to have access to legitimate weapons for our protection. Perhaps, those functionaries are implying that we use local weapons to defend ourselves from those terrorising us with modern weapons. Forget about the fact that one of the constitutional roles of the government is ensuring our security of lives and properties.
Sooner or later, it may likely be archaic. It will be just a matter of constitutional amendments to emphasise that security of lives and properties in Nigeria will now be a privilege to selected few rather than a right to the teeming masses.
I will never hope to live and witness when public security will be in total shambles, while the security of a very few is more secured than ever. It is as if we are writing the script of another national tragedy waiting for explosion.
As we are all living witnesses, maximum insecurity is assuming the place of maximum security. Painfully, the systematic collapse of our security architecture is manifesting alarmingly. Instead of being secured, we are now cautioned that our security is no longer guaranteed by the very government that pledged and is mandated to improve it.
In the aftermath of the Jangebe girls’ abduction, President Muhammadu Buhari vowed to our hearing that it would be the last abduction of any school child in Nigeria. Probably, that executive pronouncement was akin to amusement to the hard criminals.
Not long afterwards, the unrefined and violent elements debunked the president’s executive capacity by stealing more of our children. They are showing to us they are mightier than the government that has defence ministry and huge budgetary allocation to secure the country.
Gradually, Northern Nigeria is undergoing the process of brutalization under our very watch. It will be very safe for one not to imagine the colossal and devastating effects of this unfolding dangerous phenomenon. If you did not hear the bad news before, here is a repulsive recap.
The Honourable Minister of State for Education, Barrister Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, came up with a very absurd and conflicting message. He had clearly and emphatically informed us that the government could no longer provide security for students in our schools, period!
He was rebuking what the president had earlier pledged that our schools would be secured. Impliedly, this is the only solution the minister can offer in response to the unceasing calls for the government to save our school children from the continued menace of the kidnappers.
With this ministerial declaration, parents, students and schools are now at the mercy of the notorious criminals. The government has conceded defeat in the hands of the ruffians. The battle now is between the masses and the men of the underworld.
It is a clash of the guns versus education, humanism against barbarism, between the adult world infected with atrocities and the world of innocence as symbolised by the child. These are themes for deepest reflections for bona fide North Westerners, the bulk of the Hausa Fulani race.
Fortunately however, our high esteemed minister is an informed person. He is definitely aware of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. He is adequately up to date that Nigeria ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991.
As a signatory of that convention, what Nigeria pledges up till now are protecting and safeguarding children from violence, neglect, abuse and exploitation.
Popularly called article 19 of the Convention, it stipulates children protection in and out of home. And one of the ways to ensure this is giving them quality education. Interestingly, Nigeria passed the groundbreaking Child’s Rights Act in 2003, ensuring the rights of the child in national law.
Has Nigeria now withdrawn its ratification of that Convention act? Are we telling the world that our children, tomorrow’s assets, are no longer worthy of protection and cannot be accorded immunity in terms of security just like top politicians enjoy immunity against financial fraud?
Are our children undeserved for quality education that we prefer closing our schools than taking protective measures so that our education is not killed?
The minister has, indeed, so many questions to answer. If all government functionaries are enrolling their children in public schools, the minister and his government would not have found the need to make that uncharitable statement.
It is really horrible that the child of Northern Nigeria is no longer innocent and safe. It is developmentally a disgrace and disappointing that the government has succumbed to the evil will of the gunmen to surrender us to their evil machinations.
The Northern child lives in a perpetual fear of being stolen like a commodity for ransom. The child is made to forfeit what rightly belongs to him and ought to be protected against all odds.
The Northern child could not understand why his or her counterpart in the South is living in peace, his or her education secured and attaining high quality. The same child will be puzzled as to why he or she is a target of an organized crime, while the counterpart in the South is making tremendous progress in learning.
These reflections by the Northern kid pose a great challenge to our Northern elders for proactive measures to arrest this damaging trend before consuming all of us.
This predicament is contextually summarized thus by Governor Nasir el-Rufai: “Nigeria consists of two countries: there is a backward, less educated and unhealthy Northern Nigeria, and a developing, largely educated and healthy Southern Nigeria.”
Left to the level of asunder, the education of our children is now being gradually assassinated owing to prevalent and prevailing insecurity in the schools of North West.
We are suggestive of not being afraid of ignorance. We are gesturing of not being afraid of the slow death of our education. However, our children’s education is a collective and valuable heritage that we must save from total collapse. Going by the writing on the wall, is school closure the best option in our search for a viable solution to the conundrum?
Before allowing our children’s education to be eliminated by the prophets of doom, the government should take the bull by the horns to fight the insecurity bedeviling our schools and students.Abdullahi wrote in from Galadanci Quarters, Ringim, Jigawa State and can be reached through:email@example.com or 07036207998.