Following continuous attacks on education facilities and subsequent abductions of students in Nigeria, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has advised the Federal Government to declare state of emergency on education sector pending such times the insecurity would abate and schools would cease to be targeted by kidnappers.
Aside from the state of emergency declaration, Atiku also urged the apex government and other tiers of governments to ensure armed guards are deployed to all schools in Kaduna, and other affected states.
Atiku, who was Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate during 2019 general elections, made the call following the abduction of an unspecified number of undergraduates of the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Benue State, yesterday.
According to him, the abduction marks both an unacceptable escalation and an expansion of this menace, and we must not only ensure that the abducted youths are rescued, but even more importantly, we must put in measures to prevent future reoccurrences.
Through a statement on Tuesday, the former vice president maintained that though the armed guard security deployment was costly, considering the economic restraints, the option remains the best given the incessant attacks on school facilities and subsequent abductions of students by bandits and their co-travelers.
He added that it was also important for governments to take definite stands and punitive measures by formulating policies that criminalise kidnappings and other activities that would deter criminal from going about their evil businesses once they know strict punishments awaits them.
“We must put in measures to prevent future reoccurrences. This must not be allowed to become our new normal. It is time for us as a nation to face the reality that we have an emergency on our hands. A catastrophe that must be decisively dealt with before it snowballs into an existential crisis.
“We must stop treating these acts of criminality with kid gloves. Enough is enough! There must be the safety of lives and property in our citadels of learning. Without it, there would be a loss of confidence in the sector, which will result in low enrolment rates in a country that is amongst the highest statistically for out-of-school children.
“This is all the more reason why I have maintained in the past that impunity must give way to punitive measures. When criminals profit from their criminality, crime will increase. The only response from all governments in Nigeria to acts of abduction, kidnapping, and unlawful detention of persons ought to be to bring the full weight of the law on the perpetrators of these heinous crimes.
“Once these criminals have clarity on what awaits them should they toe such evils paths, then their audacity to commit evil will be weakened, and gradually, this ugly chapter in our national life will become a thing of the past. I renew the call I made on Monday, March 15, 2021, for a state of emergency to be declared in the education sector and for 24 hour armed guards to be posted at all schools in the affected states.
“Yes, it is an expensive venture. Nevertheless, we must accept that whatever we invest in preserving the lives of Nigeria’s youth is worth the price, as nothing is, or can be more valuable to us than our youths, who will take up the baton after we are gone,” the statement said.