…Advocates deployment of hunters as school marshals
…As KDSG vows not to shut schools despite attacks
By Ibrahim HassanWuyo
JUST like in a horror film, inhabitants of many parts of the North have continued to watch helplessly as bandits unleash vicious attacks on innocent persons, schools and families in the area with ferocity, leaving tales of woes behind.
The attackers have remained relentless in their exploits, launching ceaseless assaults on innocent school children and their officials. Many have been taken captives, while others have been killed with tears, sorrows and blood flowing in the aftermath.
The Chibok, Dapchi, Kankara and many other schools’ attacks readily come to mind and the recent mindless kidnap of pupils and teachers in Birnin Gwari in Kaduna all remind everyone of the readiness of the hoodlums to carry out their wicked enterprise despite government’s effort to curtail them.
For the past few weeks, schools in Kaduna State, especially those in rural areas have not been finding it easy. Gunmen, who had previously, terrorised major highways and remote communities while perpetrating their heinous acts, have turned their attention to schools where they kidnap staff and students for ransom.
Although some of the kidnap attempts on Kaduna schools were repelled by security agents, the gunmen went away with 39 students of the College of Forestry in Afaka on the outskirts of Kaduna.
While efforts were on to rescue the students, a public primary school in Rema near Birnin Gwari suffered a similar fate as gunmen abducted three teachers as the pupils managed to escape in the commotion that ensued.
This development has been a source of serious concern to parents of school-going children across the state, as no one could predict what would happen next. The Kaduna State Government has over the past few years invested a lot of resources on the education sector.
Many schools that were neglected by previous governments have now taken good shape and the teaching manpower improved. Enrolment, especially at the primary level, has doubled and child education has become attractive once again in the state, even to families with close affinity to traditional Almajiranci who were previously opposed to modern learning.
In spite of the fear and continuous threat to the schools, there was no order from the authorities that schools be shut. The state governor, Malam Nasir Ahmed el-Rufai, who corroborated this in an interview after he held an enlarged security meeting, maintained that they would not close down any school in the state and would not also negotiate with bandits and other criminals.
But the National Parents Teachers Association of Nigeria is really worried about the continuous attacks on schools and the kidnap of teachers and workers in the North.
While voicing their fear over the sad development, the PTA appealed to the state and Federal Government to bring an end to the incessant attacks on schools, not only in Kaduna but all over the region.
The association suggested that the various levels of government in the country should team up with security forces and mobilise them to schools in order to halt activities of bandits who are now focused on kidnapping Nigerian students for ransom.
According to the National President of Parents Teachers Association of Nigeria ,Alhaji Haruna Danjuma, the development is a big threat to the education sector as such attacks have the potential to demoralise all Nigerian students, most especially those residing in rural communities.
Danjuma said: “We condemn in totality all the activities of bandits, kidnappers and terrorists attacking our schools. We want government to secure all our schools with the required security to avert kidnappers evacuating students from schools to the forests and demanding for ransom. Since the kidnap of Chibok girls, to Dapci to Katsina, the incidence in Niger State and now in Kaduna, this security challenge has caused a serious setback to education in the North and the country at large”.
While appealing to government to speed up the process of rescuing students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation who are still in captivity, he said there was need for collective effort by both communities and the security agencies towards bringing an end to the security challenges affecting the educational system.
“Both states and Federal Government could effectively hire the local hunters and vigilantes; equip them with appropriate weapons to team up with the security agents so as to safeguard schools and put an end to the attacks on institutions,” he suggested.
The association commended the security agents who repelled the gunmen that attempted to kidnap more students in the Kaduna State Science Secondary School Ikara and at a private international school near Kaduna. In like manner, the Foundation for the Protection of Women and Children in Nigeria has also appealed to the state government to provide adequate security to schools in the state.
Hajiya Ramatu Tijjani, the founder of the NGO also harped on the need to engage local hunters and the coalition of Civilian Joint Task Force in bringing an end to the insecurity disturbing peace and stability in Nigeria.
She said the North has the highest number of out-of-school children in the country and with increased attack on schools in the region, many children would be afraid of going to school in the future, hence the need to bring an end to the menace.