By LAWANI MIKAIRU
Education has received a major blow in North-East zone of Nigeria as most schools, led by the University of Maiduguri, in the zone have closed due to escalation in the activities of Boko Haram especially in Maiduguri metropolis.
Various state governments from across Nigeria have being sending mass transit buses to evacuate their students who are schooling in Maiduguri following escalation of the violence in Borno State.
Reports say that students of the University of Maiduguri are also taking advantage of the intervention by their state governments to leave the crisis zone. The university which has over 35,000 students was closed last week as a result of the security situation in Borno State.
As at last count, more than eight states have evacuated their students from the zone. These are Lagos,Ekiti, Delta, Gombe, Kwara, Bauchi, Ogun, Edo, Ondo, etc. Gombe State government had sent about 42 commuter buses between Tuesday and Wednesday last week; Kwara State sent 20 buses and Bauchi, 31 buses.
The Ogun and Edo States government have also evacuated their citizens who are undergraduates of the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAD) or are residents of the capital of Borno State. The evacuation followed as tension over insecurity of lives and property continues to mount over the deadly activities of the Boko Haram sect.
In Ogun State, the returnees, numbering about 150, were received at Abeokuta, the state capital by the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Sola Adeyemi.
Mr Adeyemi said the evacuation was in fulfilment of the promise made by the state governor, Ibikunle Amosun to protect lives and property of the people of the state wherever they are.
He said a team led by the State Director of State Emergency Maintenance Agency (SEMA), Timothy Oyenekan, was dispatched to Maiduguri after receiving a distress call from the students.
Taiwo Sokanlu, who spoke on behalf of other students, thanked the state government, especially the governor for the quick intervention saying, “May be we would have been victims of explosion because it happened very close to where some of us reside.”
Similarly, students of Edo State origin studying at the University of Maiduguri were also evacuated by the state government. The government also evacuated students of neighbouring Ondo State and some pupils of primary, secondary and special schools.
Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole received the students at the Government House. According to reports, Mr Oshiomhole had established a personal telephone contact with one of the parents of the pupils.
During the reception at the government house, he assured the evacuees that the State government would ensure adequate care of the children until the crisis in Borno State was resolved.
Leader of the evacuated students, Mohammed Ali Abdulazeez, a 400-level student of Economics, thanked the governor for acting promptly by deploying four buses to Maiduguri to bring them back to the state.
He confirmed that the buses also assisted in evacuating about 50 students of Ondo State origin who were dropped off in Abuja to their state representatives.
Mr Ali Abdulazeez said ‘’It is very dangerous living in Maiduguri, because whenever there is a bomb blast anywhere, the soldiers would just cordon off the whole area.” Another student, Kingsley Osholene, a 400-level student of Business Management said some of the students have not had any bath since Tuesday, when they packed out of their hostel.
Another student, Alex Ezekiel Ohue, a 500-level Mechanical Engineering student, commended the state government for acting quickly and urged the government to assist them financially.
The governments of Lagos, Ekiti , and Delta states, last week also commenced the evacuation of their indigenes from the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID).
No fewer than 14 of the 200 Lagos students from Lagos state arrived the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) of the Murtala Mohammed Airport (MMA), Lagos aboard Arik Air. The 14 were the first batch of evacuees schooling in University of Maiduguri and Yola, Adamawa State expected out of the state within two days.
General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Mr. Oluwafemi Osanyintolu who led the delegation of the state to Maiduguri, Borno State Capital said that the exercise would be completed in two days and it has since been completed.
A total of 43 indigenes of Ekiti who were evacuated from Borno arrived Ado-Ekiti, the state capital two weeks ago. The evacuees who are students of tertiary institutions in the troubled state arrived the Government House, Ado-Ekiti at about 3.30 am in three buses. In Ekiti, the students were also given stipends to transport themselves to their respective homes.
The president of Federation of Ekiti State Students Union (FESSU),University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) Chapter, Osetuyi Gabriel Sola who is a 600 Level student of Veterinary Medicine praised Fayemi for prompt response to their distress call saying it was God that saved them from being killed in the Boko Haram crisis.
Also Delta State Government, evacuated 585 students from Delta State in Borno State as a proactive measure to save them from falling victim of the activities of the Boko Haram militia.
The evacuated students were also studying at University of Maiduguri, Borno State.Addressing the students at Government House Asaba , the State Commissioner, Bureau for Special Duties, Dr. Tony Nwaka reiterated the state government’s commitment to the welfare of Deltans irrespective of where they reside.
This mass movement of students and closure of schools in a zone that is considered educationally backward by available indices, does not help the accelerated educational development the zone needs.
The possibility of fresh students gaining admission into tertiary institutions in this zone this year is very remote, as their academic calenders have been disrupted . And parents, especially those from the south , will be very reluctantly to allow their wards go to that zone.