The recent abduction of over 234 female students of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State during their S.S.C.E Exams by suspected terrorist sect, Boko Haram; over a 2 weeks ago, leaves a bitter aftertaste in the mouth of well-meaning citizens of Nigeria and the world. It becomes distressing if one remembers the earlier gruesome killing of over 59 male students and rape of their female counterpart; of Federal Government College, Bun Yadi Yobe State, Nigeria, mid February 2014. Where are our students (and children) going? And what implications would such baseless attacks, kidnaps and blind intimidation have on our collective psyche, economy and social cohesion in a nation mouthing and perhaps, striving to become one of the strongest 20 economies in the globe come 20:20?
Insecurity undermines the leaning of young people towards learning and education. Knowledge can best be imparted in a safe and conducive air. Besides, investors are loath to invest in unstable and violence-prone terrain and eco-system. In all, the buck stops at the table of the state which is principally saddled with the core and indivisible duty of providing security-protect life and properties of its citizenry. This duty becomes heavier when the state is in a cauldron of crisis as the kind boiling in North-Eastern Nigeria. It frustrates imagination to think that with our military garrison in North-Eastern Nigeria under the emergency rule close to a year; some rag-tag insurgents could attack schools, kill teachers and students, rape at will and even abduct over 234 girls and ferry them away into Sambisa forest and beyond to be bartered as cheap chattel to hoodlums as ‘wives’ and sex-slaves while our military look the other way.
Without apology, the Nigerian state has faltered and failed in her duty to protect the lives and properties of her citizenry which rank high in her ratified international treaty obligations. The state has repeatedly failed to act-protect schools and other vulnerable persons- targets of attack and failed to pursue attackers and rescue victims. This leaves the citizens with an option of self-help and in deep fear.
More so, it is sky clear that the attacks on schools are coordinated attempts to rubbish the efforts of our younglings to get an education which is a social right; and better their lot and society. Therefore, it is tantamount to right-violations if these students are attacked, killed, raped and dehumanized in the enjoyment of their rights. And it appears the Federal Government of Nigeria has tacitly given impetus to these mindless terrorists by closing all public schools in the North-East in the wake of the Bun Yadi attack in February. Now, what message did the sect get – that they are actually winning in their ploy to return the nation to Stone Age of bigotry, intolerance and ignorance.
Further, the Nigerian state must realize that nations occupying the top rung in development in the world got there through a well-pursued educational policy and pursuit. Education is the oil that moves the wheels of development, for it opens the eye of people to light – to see and grab opportunities in their environment and create more for others in the process. She must not be cowed by blood merchants; she must confront these monsters trying to fritter away her most profitable resource – humans. Let it be known that qualitative, accessible and safe education is a veritable catalyst to economic development.
In sum, the Nigerian state must rouse herself from her self-induced slumber and face squarely this war against education in our nation if she truly hope to achieve that laudable goal of being reckoned with 20 Most Developed Nations 20:20. She must address the question of security which has a multiplier effect on every sector of the state. If she continues to fail in her primary duty and treaty obligations of protecting life and property then she is telling every citizen – to your home oh Nigerians – we can’t guarantee your rights. And it may profit her if she beckons on her brother nations beyond the shores to come join hands with her to combat this monster. Wake up Nigeria, your students are going!!
– Elvis-Wura Towolawi