Desperate parents and guardians, last Saturday, stormed the premises of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State, looking for their wards after Boko Haram abducted nearly half of the student population.
Disorderly and confused, the parents pleaded to the government to bring back their children safe and healthy. Their fear is that some of the young victims may be killed or wounded in the effort to rescue them.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement, said the security operatives were working actively to locate and rescue the pupils.
Abubakar Lawal spent his night praying to God to save the schoolboys. He has two sons among the kidnapped children and one was named after President Buhari 17 years ago.
“From yesterday, I have been here praying that the almighty Allah should rescue our people,” he said outside the school grounds.
Murja Muhammad, whose son is also among the kidnapped students, begged the government to ensure a safe return of the children. “If it’s not the government that will help us, we have no power to rescue our children,” she told Reuters.
An attack on education
Experts think that the attack on the school may have a knock-on effect on education in the sub-region filled with a large number of out-of-school children.
A 2017 record put Katsina as the state with the third-highest number of illiterate people in Nigeria. It has only 10.4 per cent literacy rate and insecurity is believed to be among the causes of illiteracy among the population.
According to Hafizu Abubakar, a researcher and academic, the attack is sending a signal to thousands of parents whose children attend boarding schools that the lives of their children are in danger.
“The parents will not be in peace knowing that their children could be kidnapped or killed,” he said.
This is not the first time a school would be attacked by the terrorists. On November 14, suspected herdsmen stormed Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, Zaria, Kaduna State, abducting a member of staff, children, and injuring others.
Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, has also suffered a number of kidnappings for ransom by terrorists who continue to extend their operations from the Abuja-Kaduna highway to the Zaria-Kano road.
Katsina State Governor, Mallam Aminu Bello Masari, ordered the closure of all boarding schools after the attack. But many residents of the state consider this merely a temporary solution to the problem.
Balarabe Abdallah Ahmad, a school teacher, said the closure was the only solution since the government had shown it could not secure everywhere.
“It will definitely affect education but students cannot learn in an insecure environment,” he said.
However, Aminu Hassan, a father of two female students at Government Science Secondary School, Daudawa, expressed disappointment over the action taken by the government that had failed to secure villages and towns.
According to him, the government has no clear plan to end insecurity in the state. He said the future of children was at stake since the government was doing next to nothing to stop the criminals.
Hajiya Rabi’atu Bakori also criticised the government for closing schools, saying education was very important that a strong and effective security apparatus should be deployed to secure schools rather than shutting them completely.
“The security that works for the president, governors and senior Nigerians should be the same security to put in place for boarding schools instead of their closure,” Bakori suggested.
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