School attack, One too Many

School attack, One too many

Parents are anxiously waiting at the school for news about about their children — Image Credit: BBC News

Over the years, especially in recent times, there have been several armed attacks on schools in Nigeria. The latest was the attack on Government Science Secondary School, Kankara in Katsina State. It is a sad reminder of previous attacks on schools in this country, especially in the North. From Buni Yadi and Dapchi in Yobe, to Chibok in Borno, to Epe in Lagos, to Chikun and Kajuru in Kaduna, to Moruba in Niger State, and Kankara in Katsina. It’s all tales of tears and agony.

Armed conflict constitutes one of the most devastating barriers to education. And the moment this is allowed to take root in any country, such a nation is doomed. This is why what is currently going on in Nigeria should not be allowed to continue under any circumstance, considering the importance of education and the fact that it is the bedrock of every society’s development.

On September 9, 2020, the world observed the first International Day to Protect Education from Attack that was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly last May. Stakeholders from all walks of life stepped up support for actions against attacks on education. The Nigerian government must begin to show genuine commitment to the UNESCO’s Safe Schools Declaration which is endorsed by 51 countries, including Nigeria. Members are expected to support and implement the guidelines for protecting schools and universities from attacks.

This newspaper is of the opinion that perhaps a timeline of the several attacks will awaken the conscience of the nation to begin to do what is right and needful. It is imperative that the country’ leaders should stop pushing to God what is clearly their responsibility. God won’t come down from heaven to protect and guard our schools. On February 25, 2014, 59 boys were killed at the Federal Govern- ment College, Buni Yadi in Yobe State.

The twenty-four buildings of the school were also burnt down in the attack. The same year, in less than two months, on our stand April 15, 2014, Boko Haram attacked Government Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State and kidnapped 276 girls from the school dormitory. 57 of the students escaped. Some of the girls were later released, but more than 100 are still missing to this day.

Again, on October 6, 2016, gunmen, in broad day light, kidnapped four students and two teachers in a Lagos State Model College. On May 26, 2017, gunmen attacked another school, Igbonla Model College, Epe area of Lagos and kidnapped 10 students.

The gunmen gained entrance into the school premises around 6:00am through the creek at the back of the college. And just when Nigerians thought they had seen the hell of it all, on February 19, 2018, a total of 111 girls were kidnapped from Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi in Yobe State. On March 22, 2018, 105 of the girls were released, but the terrorists held back Leah Sharibu who refused to renounce her Christian faith, while five others died from the ordeal and torture.

On October 3, 2019, terrorists abducted six female students and two teachers at Engraver’s College Kakau Daji village in Chikun local government area of Kaduna State. Exactly a week later, on October10,2019, kidnappers attacked the Government Technical Secondary School located at Maraban Kajuru community in Kajuru local government area of Kaduna and abducted the principal of the school. On January 8, 2020, armed bandits attacked the Good Shepherd Catholic Major Seminary, situated in Kakau, along KadunaAbuja road at about 11:00pm and made away with four seminarians.

On March 1, 2020, gunmen kidnapped five female students, one teacher and two gatemen of Tular Academy, Moruba, in Mariga local government area of Niger State. On August 25, 2020, armed men killed a man and abducted seven students and a teacher at Prince Academy, located at Damba-Kasaya village in Chikun local government area of Kaduna State.

On November 14, 2020, gunmen abducted a lecturer and two children of a member of staff of the Nuhu Bamali Polytechnic Zaria in Kaduna State. On November 23, 2020, gunmen again invaded the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria and abduct a lecturer alongside his wife and daughter. They were abducted on the university’s main campus.

Also, nine ABU students were recently abducted while travelling to Lagos on the Kaduna-Abuja expressway. They were released days later after a ransom was paid for their freedom. The climax of all of these attacks was on the evening of December11, 2020, when no fewer than 344 students were kidnapped from a boys’ boarding school, Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, Katsina State. Although, all 344 of them were released a week later, on December 17, 2020, it was no doubt one ugly incident too many.

These children, we dare to stress, are the future of the country. It is, therefore, incumbent on the government, at all levels, to do every- thing humanly and scientifically possible to put a permanent stop to the attacks on our schools. The current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has promised severally to ensure adequate security of lives and property.

As a newspaper com- mitted to the wellbeing of Nigerians and the country, we call on the government not to renege on that promise to protect Nigerians irrespective of status, faith or creed. The government must be seen to, under all circumstances, walk the talk, lest these terrorists destroy our yesterday, today and tomorrow beyond repair.

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