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Save education, save Nigeria

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The continuous abduction of students and the resultant closures of schools, especially in Northern Nigeria, relay one message for the country: Nigeria is heading towards civilisation doom. As pessimistic as it seems, this is the bleak reality of a country that plays destructive politics with its future. The impending doom can still be reversed, but only if governments, particularly the Federal Government, wake up and live up to their duty of protecting ordinary citizens from harm.

Since the February abduction of 27 boys and their teachers in a school in Kagara, Niger State and the scandalous kidnap of nearly 300 students from the Government Girls Science Secondary School in Jangebe, Zamfara State, no fewer than 618 schools have remained closed in seven northern states over the fear of attack and abduction of pupils and members of staff. The states affected are Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, Katsina, Niger, Kaduna and Yobe.

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When the terrorist sect Boko Haram declared about 10 years ago that western education in Nigeria is forbidden, many wondered how that would happen. But the ripple effects of window-dressing by government and its security apparatus have motivated criminality to a nearly unmanageable level. Even in Abuja, parents are afraid because the regular abductions are happening around states sharing borders with the Federal Capital Territory.

How are these criminals carrying on with so much confidence that they could sit at meetings with government officials? How can a government watch helplessly as the tragedy unfolds daily? As it is, education is suffering double assaults: one from inadequate funding and another from threat and insecurity. UNICEF Nigerian country representative, Peter Hawkins, was right therefore when he stated: “At a time when the pandemic is rife and some parents have withdrawn their children from school, or have not sent their children back to school, the insecurity and threats to educational facilities can only compound an already difficult situation.” Indeed this strategy of abduction that started in Chibok, Borno State in 2014, and the consequent closing down of school has not only compounded the decline in culture and values, it is counteractive, as it draws back this country to a dark, medieval, retrograde society swimming towards the back waters of civilisation.

Not too long ago, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, made a social dissection of the country when he stated: “Looking at the statistics, Nigeria appears to be a middle income country but if we segregate those statistics across states and zones, you will see that in terms of human development indicators, Nigeria consists of two countries. There is a backward, less educated and unhealthy Northern Nigeria and a developing, largely educated and healthy southern Nigeria.” Given the curious nature of this disparity, which successive governments at all levels brought about by their crass omissions and incompetence, is it surprising that some murderous groups are up in arms to rub salt on injury, and make the country ungovernable?

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Tragically, Nigerian schools, especially public schools are non-starters in the phenomenal evolution that is gradually marking down formal classroom education as an outmoded form of knowledge production, acquisition and self-development. Yet, the same Nigerian children of the lowly East London Brampton Manor Academy, managed by a Nigerian headmaster, have been atop of elite schools like Eton and Harrow to secure admissions into Cambridge and Oxford universities. This same Nigeria that is globally renowned as one of the countries with the most impressive harvest of human resources has produced an array of scientists, engineers, academic professionals dotting far-flung areas of the world.

Sadly, the country is witnessing another wave of brain drain; a swift flight of these quality human resources that has left the country to dregs who aspire to the pinnacle of political power. Must Nigeria be left to rot this way? Must her destiny be surrendered to bandit imperialism?

The present situation is a clarion call to every citizen who cares about the future of Nigeria and the future generations of Nigerians to stand up now and demand concrete actions to stop this destruction. All arms of government should urgently approve local vigilantes and state police. This is no time to rehash the calamity in the educational sector or rationalise government’s inactions.

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Firm actions need to be taken and speedily. It is obvious that the Gumisque practice of mediating between bandits and government potentially grants legitimacy to bandits and promotes abductions. This is counterproductive and should be discouraged. It is also clear that the police as well as the military are overwhelmed by insurgency and criminality across the country.

Nigerians must begin to smoke out enemies that promote these lucrative industries of banditry and kidnapping, no matter who they are, or the political influences they wield. Bandits and kidnappers must be given no respite within the confines of the country unless they stop their deadly pre-occupation.

This social dysfunction will not pass unless it is squarely addressed. And it can be so addressed by Nigeria’s array of illustrious and patriotic minds, spending time and resources to thwart this Mephistopheles infesting the country with the contagion of hate and carnage. With her resources and potential, Nigeria cannot afford to be harangued by a bunch of demented and irrationally fearful misanthropes. Her people are very conscious of their global renown and influence to be rubbished by never-do-wells. If Cambodia could resurrect from the carcasses of Pol Pot’s blood-thirsty lunacy and atrocious megalomania, Nigeria can arise to become stronger than ever.

However, this can only come about when all well-meaning Nigerians join hands with patriotic minds to save education and save Nigeria.

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