Little Hanifa And The Sin Of Schooling In Nigeria

Abdulkadir Salaudeen

Abdulkadir Salaudeen

I don’t argue with those who argue that education is a scam in Nigeria—especially the youths. They are entitled to their opinion. To argue otherwise would lead to an unending argument. Agreed that one cannot always win, I detest losing an argument to an opponent. In Nigeria today, one needs to be a wizard to factually defeat the narration that ‘school na scam.’

What I do know for sure is that it is not wrong to be educated. If there is any secret behind the development of the most developed economies of the world today, it is of course education. Why education in Nigeria keeps compounding our problems despite the surge in the number of higher institutions needs critical introspection.

There seems to be consensus that the biggest thieves in Nigeria today—most of which are in the political class—are sadly educated people. It is that desperation to be successful in life that drives many Nigerians to school. Our higher institutions, especially the universities, are filled to the brim for certificate acquisition—not necessarily knowledge.

It does not matter whether one has the pre-requisite cognitive or learning ability. What matters is; get into the system, don’t waste your time burning the candle at both ends, lobby your way all through, corrupt everybody, get the certificate by hook or by crook.

Anyway, there is nothing wrong in our desperation for certificates, what is wrong is our utter dependence on certificates to get our bread buttered in a country where going to school is becoming a sin. A sin!? Yes, a crime. I will come to this later.

Nigerian streets are full of unemployed graduates roaming the streets for want of job.  I don’t want to be specific about the rate of unemployment in Nigeria in terms of percentage lest the President complain he doesn’t know how I arrive at that calculation. But the truth is: many graduates are jobless. This joblessness has landed many of them into valleys of crimes. This explains why it might be a lost debate to argue that schooling in Nigeria is not a scam with those who believe it is.

Many graduates today could not cease lamenting that the years they spent in school are wasted years. They regret that many old friends of theirs who opted out of school are way more successful than can be imagined—materially speaking. Many with their first, second and even third degrees ended up in jobs that do not need literacy; or at best need just the ability to read and write.

In this atmosphere of diminishing relevance of education and its bleak future, we still have parents who struggle to send their kids to school. Kudos to them! They deserve to be praised but unknowing to them that they are committing a sin. What sin did the little amiable Hanifa (or her parents) commit if not for being enrolled in school?

Hanifa remains a cynosure of all eyes even to those who do not have sense of beauty or have lost their perception of beauty. But the ugly killer insisted that she must die. He killed her with rat poison; which to him it is still not enough. He went on to butcher her to display the height of inhumanity of man to human. Still not done, he shed the crocodile tears to ridicule Hanifa’s parent and members of the household.

In an expression of rapacity that knows no bound, he went ahead again to demand for millions of naira in order to confess to Hanifa’s parent that he had already butchered their daughter whose ransom they laboured to pay. If you still do not understand how wicked people are, please wake up from your slumber.

Why Hanifa’s killer is still breathing on earth after all these revelations should give you a glimpse of how justice is difficult to get in our motherland which we prefer to call Nigeria. Our justice system is unique but only in the negative sense. That doesn’t mean justice does not exist at all but it is difficult get and slow to come by. And if you do not forget; “justice delayed”, as we were taught, “is justice denied.”

Would Hanifa’s case go the way of Dowen’s? All we can say is God forbids. The shadow of doubt refuses to cast on Hanifa’s murder and murderer. Her case is crystal clear like a fool moon. There should be no room for manoeuvring. But how her tormentor is being addressed recently as “alleged” and “suspected” killer of Hanifa sends a chill down my spine.

It chills me to the marrow. It gives me a sense of a foul play despite all assurances from the highest quarters. I just hope it will not go the Nigerian way. For in Nigeria a crime easily becomes a virtue provided the committer is connected to those who own the country, the state or any of its institutions, agencies, etc.

Baby Hanifa, may your soul rest in peace. You are not alone, may Allah have mercy on you and your ilk who were brutally killed in a country where life is becoming the cheapest commodity as prices of other commodities skyrocket beyond what the eyes can see or the sense can visualize.

Hanifa’s parents only need to be strong. No amount of human consolation is consoling enough. While I join others to show sympathy, be hopeful and strongly believe that the Almighty shall console you in His divine way of consolation. For no one consoles like Him.

As for Nigeria, considering the shrinking breathing space due to the activities of rampageous bandits and kidnappers, I doubt if the country is being led. If that is correct, there is no point criticizing leaders who do not exist. Oh Almighty, we hand Nigeria over to you. How You will rescue it? I don’t know. Just help us out of this mess; You are God of mercy.

Abdulkadir Salaudeen

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