Closure of FCT Schools: Fire Brigade Approach can’t Tame Terrorists
By Adamu Farida Isa
On Tuesday 2nd August, 2022, Daily Trust, one of the widely-read Newspapers in the country, published an editorial titled: “Do more than close FCT schools”.
In the editorial, the newspaper, maintained that the emergency step taken by the federal government to halt all academic activities in FCT schools is not enough to tame security breaches in the nation’s capital.
I find the newspaper’s standpoint to be objectively correct and not alarming. This piece, therefore is not a rebuttal of sort to the editorial, but a young writer’s contribution to the insecurity discourse in the country.
While I agree with the tabloid that the FCT authorities should have gone beyond hurriedly closing all the primary and secondary schools, as a way to prevent students’ abduction, I think the existential threats insecurity is posing to the entire residents of Abuja, is something that the FCT authorities with the Federal Government, should not treat with levity.
Northern Nigeria, in the last few years, has become a war zone. It has become the epicenter of violent crimes, and haven for every criminal element.
It is one region that is associated with gruesome maiming of lives, kidnapping, banditry, and insurgency, among others. In the north, only few people sleep with their two eyes closed, over insecurity.
Worried about the deteriorating security condition in the country, UNICEF, in 2021 endorsed the ‘Safe School’ Initiative.
The Safe School declaration recognises education as a fundamental right of the child, but its advocates believe that schools and students in Nigeria are not sufficiently protected, amid escalating security challenges.
This year, at the 8th commemorative anniversary of the abduction of 276 students of Government Girls’ Secondary School, Chibok, in Borno State, UNICEF Country Representative, Peter Hawkins, said that 11,536 schools in Nigeria were shut since December 2020, due to abductions and other security issues.
According to Hawkins, the ugly development affected the education of approximately 1.3 million children in the 2020/21 academic year.
Also, within the same period, the UNICEF envoy, said 1,436 school children and 17 teachers were abducted from schools, while 16 of them eventually lost their lives.
Although, the closure of schools seems like the best bet in an era of biting insecurity, it is an unwise decision, one that will eventually be catastrophic. Besides, bandits and terrorists are still wrecking havoc, while schools are under lock and key.
With reports of abductions and killings in Abuja becoming a daily staple, it is disappointing that government and security agencies have not been proactive in finding a permanent solution to ‘security breaches’ in the FCT, and across the entire north.
On the other hand, the Nigerian education system is gasping for breath, and key stakeholders must join forces to arrest its decay, for the sake of our unborn generations.
Though terrorists will finding it difficult to abduct FCT school children now, they may be plotting how to repeat another Chibok incident, if relevant authorities let down their guards whenever the schools are reopened.
To this end, necessary security measures such as deploying policemen, soldiers and operatives of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, together with neighborhood vigilantes, at FCT schools cannot be overemphasised.
Schools’ management, on their own, should make arrangements for their school environments to be equipped with Close Circuit Cameras, while those without perimeter fencing should construct one before the next academic session begins.
It will be nice to learn that FCT school children, together with their teachers, are also taught ll basic combat skills of self-defence, for them to outwit persons with the sinister plan of hurting, injuring, kidnapping and even killing them.
By the time FCT schools are reopened, students will be excited to resume their academic pursuits or better still, their studies. But now, is the time for the government and other relevant authorities to do the needful, in other not to expose our children to any harm, or security threat, eventually.
Farida is a Mass Communication student of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria.