From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has highlighted the dangers that lie ahead over the decision of some northern states to perpetually kept schools shut due to rising insecurity that has affected the safety and well-being of children in schools.
Atiku insisted that the decision to close the schools was not a wise one, and should be reversed immediately, and in response, tackle the issue of insecurity across the country and also provide adequate security for school children to acquire education for future relevance.
Atiku who spoke in Abuja, at the Baze University graduation ceremony held at the weekend, insisted that not reversing the decision could make the north suffer more socioeconomic deprivation and insecurity in future.
He said: “Unarguably, education is the foundation of any society. In our globalized and technological world, national wealth is more and more based on knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurship. It’s education that makes them possible.
“For a country like Nigeria, education must be available to all. Societies are transformed when girls and women are educated. We see these all over the world. When women are educated, families are smaller and healthier, more children go to school, infant and child mortality is reduced, national economic growth increases and corruption is reduced. All these are achieved from education.”
The former Vice President made reference to a report by the US Center for Disease Control that early childhood education is an important contributor to better health in children, and that provides a foundation for children’s academic success, health, and general well-being.
He added: “It even acts as a protective factor against the future onset of adult disease and disability. Everyone in a society benefits from the widespread availability of a quality education, from infancy to adulthood.
“Well then, how does Nigeria fare at this challenging time? How does Nigeria measure up? How are we doing? Not very well, it seems. It pains me to share this information with you. The most striking thing for which Nigeria has become known all over the world has been captured in a BBC headline “Nigeria’s Kidnapped children”. There are even whole websites now devoted to the latest kidnapping news in Nigeria.
“And what has been our response to this horrible situation? Some say we cannot protect these most vulnerable of our citizens. Our very own children. No, they say. We can’t protect them in Nigeria’s schools. So, we should just close the schools and send them all home. Who cares if they are educated or not? Just send them home.