Nigeria` epic struggle to enforce rural development has continued to extract a chilling cost from some of the most vulnerable Nigerians who live in rural areas. The insecurity which has recently ridden into the mix has had the effect of compounding what was already an extremely tricky situation.
In many rural areas, Nigerians have been abandoned to their faith, and fates. This abandonment is amplified and accentuated by an appalling lack of the basic provisions that make life bearable in the least. These provisions would include good roads, water, electricity and the infrastructure that support health and education.
Now, to compound this almost impossible situation is insecurity which is complicating what are already difficult lives and putting Nigeria under intense scrutiny.To bear the brunt of these relentless attacks and an almost absolute collapse of security is children.
Pockmarked and pulverized
Because by reason of their tender age and dependence on others, children are necessarily vulnerable to the adverse effects of crisis and conflicts, whatever affects others affects children disproportionately.
Almost every conflict crafts the biggest victims out of children. When children do no lose their lives, they are left traumatized at the loss of loved ones.
The trauma that older people suffer from the devastating effects of conflict somehow makes its biggest victims out of children who are left to bear lifelong scars that they often find inadequate support to recover from.
The Safe Schools Declaration, launched in Oslo, Norway, in May 2015, highlights the broad impact of armed conflict on education and outlines a set of commitments to strengthen the protection of education and ensure its continuity during armed conflict.
Nigeria is a signatory to the Safe Schools Declaration which among other things stipulated that in times of armed conflicts, schools are to be spared.
If the Declaration was applauded by state actors which sat at table on that day, the armed non-state actors which have made attacks on schools and students their specialty were anything but represented.
That ruthless attacks have since followed on schools and students in Nigeria is testament to the fact that the absence of these armed non-state actors from the Declaration bore eloquent witness to the fact that whatever was etched into the declaration, they disagreed with. But who do they represent? Who could they have been invited to represent?
What stakes could ruthless terrorists possibly have in the education of children and the safety of schools if not for disruption.
It was in February 2018 that Nigeria was cruelly reminded of the horrors of the abduction of the Chibok school girls in 2014 when Boko Haram terrorists struck at the Government Girls` Science and Technical College and kidnapped 110 school girls aged 11-19 years old. Five school girls died on the day of the kidnapping.
Unlike the Chibok girls, some of whom still languish in captivity, all the girls snatched from Dapchi were released by Boko Haram in March 2018 save for Leah Sharibu who is still being held for refusing to renounce her Christian faith. Somehow, she has become the face of the grief girls go through just to get an education as Nigeria continues what is a distasteful duet with disaster.
On Friday, July 8, 2022, gunmen attacked Shuwari primary school in Buni-Yadi, the headquarters of Gujba Local Government area of Yobe State where they set the school and the teachers quarters ablaze before abducting the head teacher. This attack on a school facility and again on teachers formed part of the model of three-pronged attacks on schools, students and their teachers.
In what has become a very difficult situation, the activities of terrorists who are determined to overrun Nigeria have made schooling a very dangerous endeavour in Nigeria`s Northeast.
Students, teachers and the school building have all continued to feel the heat of what has become a relentless war on terror.
Nigeria currently has about 10.5 million children out of school. Many of them are from the North. Many of them from the North are from the Northeast. Unsurprisingly, many of them are girls.
There is nothing random or coincidental about the war terrorism continues to wage on education in Nigeria. It is systemic. It is strategic. In education, terrorism recognizes its mortal enemy.
It is left for the Giant of Africa to ensure that terrorism does not continue to hamper education thereby jeopardizing the future of millions of children and their families.