March 19, 2021

School abductions: Reps, ACF, Ohanaeze, MBF, NEF worry over attacks

  • As Reps lament deplorable infrastructure

  • Say incidents, an embarrassment to Nigeria

  • Situation serious, unfortunate – ACF

  • Govt should end attacks on schools without delay – Ohanaeze

  • Kidnapping of school children’ll destroy Nigeria – MBF

  • Bandits sponsored by those against western education — Northern CAN

  • Prevent setback to education in North, NEF urges FG

By By Anayo Okoli, Peter Duru, Levinus Nwabughiogu, Luminous Jannamike & Ibrahim Hassan

Continued attacks and abductions of school children, especially females ones have put the education sector and the future of the young ones under serious jeopardy, the House of Representatives has said.

The position of the lawmakers was also re-echoed by Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Middle Belt Form, MBF, Northern Elders Forum, NEF, and Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN.

Speaking through the House Committee on Basic Education and Services, the House also lamented the deplorable infrastructure in primary and secondary schools across the country, urging state governments to wake up to their responsibilities.

Chairman of the committee,  Professor Julius O. Ihonvbere, who  represents Owan Federal Constituency of Edo State, said in a statement yesterday that the invasions and unabating kidnapping of school children have constituted a huge embarrassment to Nigeria.

The statement read:  “The House Committee on Basic Education and Services has observed with great alarm the steady dislocation and deterioration of basic education especially in states that are badly affected by frequent kidnappings, Boko Haram and bandit attacks.

“This has compelled many state governments to shut down schools especially boarding houses. The invasion of schools has disrupted the school calendar, destroyed school infrastructure and properties, traumatized our children, scared off teachers and school administrators.

“The clear consequences of these attacks are that children are afraid to return to school, parents are uncertain if their wards would be safe in school, and teachers and administrators can no longer concentrate fully on their duties. Insecurity is now breeding a palpable fear for education in Nigeria.

“Without doubt, it is the view of our Committee that these happenings constitute a huge embarrassment to our nation.   With the largest number of out-of-school children in the world, now, insecurity of steadily shutting down the school system in historically underserved communities, even war-torn nations do not experience such levels and frequencies of attacks as they affect our schools.

“There are serious gaps in our state and federal policies on basic education especially school administration and safety.

“When school reopens, the girl child will be the biggest loser in this unfortunate development.   Already suffering from all sorts of deprivations, many will not return to school and the population of out-of-school children in Nigeria will increase further.

“Government at all levels must begin to design new and sustainable policies and programmes to protect, encourage and keep the girl-child in school.

“The  state  of  infrastructure in many of our schools all over the country remains embarrassing.   The infrastructure at the Government Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State is just a sampler in the widespread neglect of the school and environment that our children are expected to live and study in.

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“The basic education sector is under attack. Our children are under attack and our collective future is under attack. The consequences of the current disruptions will be evident very shortly unless urgent steps are taken.’’

Recalling that President Muhammadu Buhari had issued a shoot-at-sight order, the committee, however, regretted that the vices had continued incessantly, even assuming a more disturbing dimension.

Situation serious, unfortunate – ACF

Reacting,  National Publicity Secretary of Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Emmanuel Yawe, said: “We agree with House of Representatives. The situation is very serious all over the north.  It is unfortunate.’’

Govt should end attacks on schools – Ohanaeze

Similarly, Ohanaeze Ndigbo said the position of the House of Representatives on the  spate of school abductions in the country could not be faulted

Spokesman of the Igbo apex group, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, said insecurity in any manner was a great set back to development in all ramifications, including education.

He called for concerted effort to end the attack on schools and the general insecurity in the country.

Kidnapping of school children will destroy Nigeria – Middle Belt Forum

Also reacting yesterday, the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, said kidnapping of school children in the country would endanger the education sector as well as the education of Nigerian children.

National President of MBF, Dr. Bitrus Pogu, urged the government to act fast to save the country from a looming disaster.

He said:  “What the National Assembly said is correct. The ongoing kidnap of school children in parts of the country is not just endangering the future of children and education in this country, it is endangering the whole country in terms of both education and human development.

“When we have more illiterates due to the fact that people withdrew their wards from schools, then the whole society is endangered.

“So it wouldn’t just endanger the future of education and the education of our children, it endangers the whole development of this country and something has to be done very fast to save us from a looming disaster, otherwise we will have bunch of illiterates in this country all over the place.

“We all know that no one would risk keeping his kid or ward in school when you know that the child will be abducted or kidnapped. And with all these videos of raping of kidnap victims trending on social media, nobody would want to experience that kind of thing.

“In fact, when I watched one, I was so enraged I had to control my temper because I started to deeply hate things that are going on.

“But we have to control our emotions so that all of us do not go mad because of what is happening in the country.

“So, the position of the National Assembly is correct and it is good for the press to go farther by saying that it will destroy the whole society, including human capital development.”

Bandits sponsored by those against western education — Northern CAN

In its reaction, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, said many of the bandits executing mass abduction of school children in the North were sponsored by Boko Haram whose basic ideology opposed the acquisition of western education.

Vice Chairman of CAN, Northern region, Rev. John Hayab, said:  “The challenge of mass abduction of school children in the North has multiple faces. We suspect the bandits carrying out these attacks are an extension of the Boko Haram.

‘’The primary objective of the terrorist group is the disruption of western education in the country. That has been their ideology. These people carry sophisticated weapons and rockets. They are not mere bandits. They are terrorists. Today, many parents in the North are afraid to send their children to school. The attacks on school children have discouraged many families.”

Hayab, who doubles as the CAN chairman in Kaduna State, said he was also concerned that the bandits were using the future of children in the North to spin huge ransom from the government.

Prevent setback to education in North, NEF urges FG

In its reaction, Northern Elders Forum, NEF, said the Federal Government needed to urgently increase its security intervention in some Northern states in order to prevent a major setback to education in the region.

NEF Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, stated:  “Without a doubt, school kidnappings intensify all threats to quality education.  Painful as it is, the truth is that no one is safe in the north wherever they are. If you are not   being kidnapped while in school getting education, you can get kidnapped elsewhere even at home.

“So, we commend parents and guardians for not responding to school kidnappings with mass panic, and urge people not to reward the kidnappers with the future of our young ones.”

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