PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has said handling the nation’s ongoing security challenges has been so tough on his administration.
He, however, expressed optimism that with measures being put in place by his administration, the general insecurity would soon be a thing of the past.
The president, speaking Tuesday, in Abuja, through his Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, at the 4th International Conference on Safe Schools Declaration, also regretted that the security situation in the country has had a great toll on school enrollment, particularly in basic school level.
According to the president, over 12 million children, particularly girls, were afraid of accessible quality education because of the attacks schools have witnessed so far in the country, saying the development had left them traumatized.
Speaking further at the event with the theme: ‘Ensuring Safe Education for All: From Commitment to Practice, co-hosted by Nigeria, governments of Argentina, Norway, Spain, AU Commission and the Global Coalition to protect Education from attack, the president said government was determined emplace strong security measures in institutions of learning.
He regretted that kidnappings of pupils and students, coupled with the overall insecurity in schools have worsened many factors that were hitherto contributing to out-of-school children in the country.
But Buhari said to record adequate achievements in the education sector, the system would require a total overhaul in provision of a safe and secured environment for learners and teachers.
He said availability of professional teachers, strong political will on the part of government to invest in education, and provision for adequate funding mechanism were all priorities to realise better education system.
He said at will, bandits, kidnappers and terrorists invade education facilities in Nigeria and in some African countries to abduct the learners in large numbers.
According to the President, “A report released by S.B Morgen revealed that a total number of 1,462 learners and education personnel were abducted between 1st December 2019 and September 2021, in school-related abductions as well as home and community- related abductions of Learners and teachers”
“The highest number of abduction of 327 learners was also recorded in a single kidnap in Zamfara State, Northwest Nigeria while Kaduna has experienced the greatest number of incidences of attack on education,” he said.
He said, ”Out of 19 educational institutions attacked, 12 representing 63%, were secondary schools while five which represented 26% were within the tertiary educational system”.
“Currently, there are more than 12 million children traumatized and afraid of going to school especially the girl child as reflected in S.B Morgen report,” he said.
He listed places already invaded as Chibok, Dapchi, Buni Yadi, Afaka, kagora, and Jangebe in Borno, Yobe, Kaduna, Niger and Zamfara states respectively.
Hear him “In recent times, all over the world, there has been a myriad of persistent attacks on education and Nigeria is also having its own fair share of these attacks.
“It is no longer news that at will, bandits, kidnappers and terrorists invade our educational facilities to abduct the learners in large numbers. Some places that have been hit by this menace include Chibok, Dapchi, Buni Yadi, Afaka, Kagora, and Jangebe in Borno, Yobe, Kaduna, Niger and Zamfara states respectively.It is disheartening to note that even when the abducted students are released the trauma of the incidents remain long in their minds hence the plan to have teachers trained on psycho-social support.”
Also speaking, Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, explained that the objective of the conference was to build on experiences from the previous ones and highlights progress made by respective countries on the implementation of the Declaration’s commitments, share best practices and deliberate on challenges to improve the relevant approaches that would enhance the protection of learners, education personnel and educational institutions.
On his part, the UNICEF Country Director, Peter Hawkins, said Nigeria has displayed commitment it has towards ensuring that children’s education is of paramount importance for Nigeria and to the international community.
“SSD is an important tool to ensure that children attend school freely and safely wherever they are ,it’s an international phenomenon where schools are used by military ,impacts of the insurgents on children have been high a lot has been done to ensure that the insecurity problem is alleviated and to ensure that education do continue,” he said.
“The Street Child Country Representative, Marcheillo Viola, said community based implementation of the frameworks on Safe School Declaration is key to achieving the set goals of the document”.
“To mainstream the guidelines into practice, the first will be awareness and identify the risk and help the children to know the sign of where the risks are, it is important to have government prosecute perpetrators, the document is systemic,” he said.
Also speaking, Head of Finland Mission in Nigeria, Yohanna Tedevitui, said as a signatory to the SSD, attacks on education in Finland have reduced in the last ten years, she expressed optimism that the document will help Nigeria and her partners to address the too many abductions of school children.
FG won’t allow us deal with insecurity in Plateau — Lalong
Meanwhile, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, on Tuesday, expressed his frustration with the federal government in failing to stop the killings in his state and refusing to allow him deal decisively with the situation, even after investing in equipment that can change the tide.
He spoke as a panelist on on “Removing Binding Constraints to Security: The Sub-national Perspective,” at the 27th Nigeria Economic Summit in Abuja.
According to the Lalong, he and his colleagues have been investing heavily in the procurement of weapons and equipment for security forces, but they do not have the desired support of the federal government to deploy some of them to tackle the insecurity in their states.
He specifically said that after acquiring drones with which to help stave the killings, the use of such drones was refused on the basis that the state had no end-user-certificate.
His words: “In some cases, the governors will use their money to buy the equipment and technology but they will tell you that you don’t have an End-user Certificate.
“And you are waiting for an end-user certificate while your people are being killed every time.
“So these are some of these things. I thank God we are discussing security. Let there be something that we can address as quickly as possible.
“I cannot go and buy drones and keep them for three years and there is no End-user Certificate and I see my people being killed.
“Allow me to use it to address the insecurity in my state. These are the things that we are talking about.
“They call you Chief Security Officer of your state but are you the chief security officer of your state when you cannot control the total security of your state?”
End-User Certificates for the use of drones are issued by the Office of the National Security Adviser.
According to him, the governors have made recommendations on the need to urgently allow the establishment of state police, in order to rescue the country from the ranging insecurity.
According to the governor, “We have made recommendations to the President. We say look, let us sit down at the table.
“Let us set up a high powered committee of experts to sit down and look at the recommendations and see the recommendations and see the opportunity to help the governors to rescue their states.
“Otherwise we will continue to lament on some of these things that we are talking about.
“Initially we (northern state governors) were against state police. But recent events show that it is a problem. The number of police is not there.
“But to us even without having state police, half of the police expenditure is funded by the governors. We are already funding the police.”