By Habu Mohammed
As things are now, secondary schools and later tertiary institutions in Kano State have been closed. It is a fall out of the raid on another secondary school in Katsina State. The news of what happened in Katsina on Friday 11, 2020 involving the capture of hundreds of young boys from their school compound to Zamfara State via a dangerous forest is one of the saddest moments that expose the fragility of our security architecture and porousness of our intelligence.
No matter how one looked at the scenario that unfolded that fateful Friday night in Kankara, the situation showcases the weaknesses of our security architecture to holistically be on top of the heightened state of insecurity in northern Nigeria and beyond. If anything, the experience of kidnapping hundreds of students in one fell swoop is not new in the country. What is new is the fact that insurgents from the northeast of the country have developed the intelligence and garnered confidence to network with like minded criminals, far away from their comfort zone in Sambisa forest.
Reaching out to kidnappers and bandits in Rugu forest in the hinterland of the Northwest geo-political zone by the metropolitan headquarter in Sambisa is a new chapter in the audacity of terrorism in Nigeria. The development poses a serious threat to our peace and freedom of movement. Paradoxically, the Kankara incident happened at the pick of banditry and kidnapping in the area where the school is located, not far from the infamous Rugu forest.
Now back to the main issue of this piece. The Katsina experience has shown that the closure of schools could be well justified in the state where the kidnapping of the school children took place but its extension to other northern states is a big score for the insurgents. It is like affirming that the latter have succeeded in taking education to such sad point in northern states where, for long, education has occupied the backseat. More disastrously, the closure of schools clearly indicates that the Nigerian state is overpowered in its efforts to put a stop to the lingering insecurity in northern Nigeria. Sadly, in recent past, only six (6) U.S. Navy Seals rescued an American along Nigeria-Niger border without resorting to negotiating with the criminals or being killed by them. Globally, we have become a laughing stock because we could neither end the act of kidnapping nor of terrorism.
Individual citizens of countries we could call serious are valued, so also their safely and security wherever they are, very much unlike us. In ours, the tale of two worlds is endless. Public officials travel not by road but in the comfort of an airline or a train. Children of the poor are kidnapped in schools while those of the rich are protected and secured or taken care of in schools abroad. My bleeding heart is for the north, so also my fear the fear of going backward educationally in the 21st century.
Now that the schools are closed and our children are at home, do we have to wait until we eliminate the kidnappers or the menace of kidnapping and their patron in Sambisa, before our boys and girls would be allowed to resume schooling? If the answer is yes, then surely educational backwardness will continue endlessly as the fight against the insurgency is speculated to take many years by the ‘creme de la creme’ of our security.
Let there be no deception again and again or corruption in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgents and criminals, armed robbers, kidnappers and bandits, these being what brought us to the embarrassing Kankara Secondary school incident. The sooner we understand our dilemmas the better we address the badly felt insecure society we live in.
Schools should not have been abruptly closed as “ordered” by the kidnappers because they would never announce when to open them. The decision is for the government to decide and the surest approach to take is by addressing the deteriorating security situation in the north, restore the confidence of students, parents and teachers that all is over and well. We should not let the enemies of peace declare a victory on us.
The author is of the Department of Political Science, Bayero University, Kano.