Insecurity, Child Abductions and the State of Education in Nigeria’s North
Following the rising cases of insecurity and abduction of school children, CODE, in partnership with the Malala Fund organises a webinar to discuss the threat of insecurity on girl-child education and solutions that can be charted.
Insecurity continues to be one of the deadly menaces plaguing Nigeria.
In recent times, there has been an increase in kidnapping and banditry, posing a grievous threat to national security and economic development. Not only has this adversely affected our National image but has also eaten deep into every fabric and segment of the Nation.
Not too far from this is the spate of abduction of school children in recent times. Mass kidnappings of school girls and boys at schools in the North-East & North-West Nigeria began 7 years ago and have become a frequent phenomenon in the past couple of months, carried out by acclaimed bandits who have turned this menace into money-making ventures. This form of brazen terrorism has unfortunately not been met with the level of aggression that is needed to address the severity of a recurring crime of this kind.
Since 2014, according to several news reports, there have been over a thousand student kidnappings. These crimes have been targeted at underaged school children who are often made vulnerable by poor security infrastructure and negligence on the part of the state and federal government.
The Safe Schools Initiative: A Tale of Corruption and Incompetence
In recent times, the public has begun to recall the genesis of the spate of school kidnappings in the town of Chibok in north-eastern Borno state. 276 girls were kidnapped in April 2014 and 112 of them are still missing.
The Safe Schools Initiative (SSI), a $30m plan to improve security in schools, was launched in 2015 to bolster security at schools. The plan was backed by UK’s former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, along with UN agencies, the Nigerian government and private business leaders.
However, SSI has failed to stop abductions and protect children and like many ambitious government projects, suffered the usual fate of corruption. After several years, 500 schools have not been protected, the classrooms have not been built and the Chibok school is still closed.
According to a BBC report, “a former high-ranking member of the government, Babachir Lawal, whose office had access to the SSI fund, is currently on trial for allegedly mismanaging 500m naira (£954,000; $1.3m) in contracts awarded for cutting grass. He denies the accusations.” More recently, the trend has accelerated with kidnappings occurring in Dapchi, in north-eastern Yobe state, in February 2018; Kankara, in north-western Katsina state, in December 2020; Kagara, north-central Niger state, in February 2021; Jangebe, north-western Zamfara state, in February 2021 and Kaduna in March 2021.
Matters Arising in Kaduna State
In Kaduna, thirty-nine students went missing after gunmen stormed the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization in Kaduna state overnight on March 11, 2021. At the time, it was the fourth school abduction in northern Nigeria since December. In an ironic turn of events, gunmen seized three teachers from a primary school in northern Nigeria’s Kaduna state in the same month. One can only wonder what is to come if the trend persists. These terrorists are becoming bolder.
The State Authorities assured of improving security infrastructure. Not long after, there were reports of security operatives reportedly foiling an attempt to capture students from a secondary school in the early hours of Sunday, March 15 on the outskirts of Kaduna’s Ikara town. Officials said that 180 students and staff abducted from a college in the state on Thursday were rescued by the army.
CODE Condemns this Menace, Urges Govt to Take Action
Connected Development [CODE] & Malala Fund have described as worrisome and an indictment on our democracy; the spate of abduction of school children in recent times. CODE strongly condemns these atrocious crimes and hereby calls on the government to urgently deploy measures to protect children and ensure schools are safe for learning.
“The psychological and social consequences on parents and guidance are too grievous to describe and the abducted children often have to live with the scar for the rest of their lives” -Hamzat Lawal, Chief Executive of CODE.
CODE continues to advocate for education for young Nigerians, especially the girl-child and through its works has significantly ensured that the number of out-of-school children is reduced. The abduction of school children who now serve as pawns in the hands of their abductors is a challenge that drastically sets back the work of the government and many organisations to ensure children learn in schools.
The NGOs urge the government to re-strategise its security infrastructure and address the dearth of effective protection of lives and property. The authorities cannot continue to play to the tune of these culprits and reward them with ransoms. State governments and President Mohammadu Buhari must step up measures to tackle this notorious attack before it escalates.
Nigerians must continue to speak against this injustice until the government becomes responsive. The Nigerian Government must awaken to its responsibilities of protecting citizens lives and properties and combat this menace because the target on education is a target on the future of Nigeria.