By Adesina Wahab
Critical stakeholders in the education sector have challenged the Federal Government to tackle the issue of incessant abduction of students headlong, saying the present approach by the government is like treating the matter with kid’s gloves.
They said the government should not be friendly with kidnappers or criminals in whatever guise.
They also frowned at the payment of ransom to kidnappers to secure the release of abducted persons, noting that it only encourages crime and criminality.
The stakeholders, who spoke with Vanguard on Tuesday were the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, and the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria, NAPTAN.
While expressing happiness that the girls abducted last Thursday at the Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, Zamfara State have been released, they called on the government to be decisive in its approach to the issue.
The National Secretary of the NUT, Dr Mike Ene, said there were many questions begging for answers with the manner large numbers of students were being kidnapped and released.
“It is obvious some people are behind these incidents. How can some people just take away hundreds of school children just like that? Where do they keep them and how do they feed them? Even to feed and keep nearly 300 children in a day is a task.
How do the kidnappers always manage to escape and where is the thick forests where they hide their victims?
“No one should support ransom payment because when that is done, we are promoting and supporting criminals in their ugly trade. If a group does the kidnapping here and it is paid, another group will rise up somewhere and do its own. We cannot turn crimes into a business that the state will be supporting and financing indirectly, ” he said.
Speaking on the same issue, the Southwest Coordinator of NANS, Comrade Kappo Samuel Olawale, said the government should call a spade a spade.
“Those abducting school children are nothing but terrorists. There is no point using euphemism to describe them. The truth be told, the Federal Government is too friendly with these kidnappers. Unless decisive steps are taken to stop this illicit trade of the freedom of school children for money by abductors, it will do the country irreparable damage.
“The kidnappers are using the children to somehow blackmail the government. And we all know that a blackmailer won’t stop his trade easily, he will come and come until his mouth his somehow shut permanently. Paying ransom can never be the solution to the problem, ” he said.
The National President of NAPTAN, Haruna Danjuma, said as parents, his association feels unhappy with the current trend of mass kidnap of students in schools.
“When such a thing happens, we don’t feel happy and we are always anxious for our children to be released. Parents would no doubt mount pressure on the government and others to secure the release of their children no matter how.
“Be that as it may, paying ransom would not put an end to the criminal act. It is the government that must be decisive in handling the matter. Everybody, including parents, must also support efforts to secure our schools. Deploy military in schools. Enough of turning our children into objects of making cheap money by kidnappers, ” he noted.
Recall that the kidnap of the Jangebe girls was the third time within two months that school children would be abducted in large numbers in some parts of the country.
Last December, hundreds of students were kidnapped in Government Secondary School in Kankara, Katsina State and that was followed by the abduction of students in Kagara, Niger State.
On all occasions, the government denied ransom being paid to the abductors despite strong insinuations that money exchanged hands.