In a bid to draw attention to the harrowing impact of insecurity on children’s education especially that of the girl-child, Connected Development (CODE) in partnership with Malala Fund on Tuesday held a webinar to address the issue.
The webinar which focused on Kaduna state due to successes recorded in the state as a result of CODE’s interventions, featured a panel discussion where participants, discussed the root causes of insecurity in Kaduna as it affects girl-child enrollment and education in the state, its effects on the country, and suggestions on how to tackle the issue.
Recall that the Kaduna government Friday, April 30, while giving a breakdown of data obtained from a security report, revealed that bandits have killed 323 persons while 949 others were abducted by the gunmen in the state in the last three months.
In line with this, Connected Development (CODE) and Malala Fund while describing the spate of abduction of school children in recent times as worrisome and an indictment on Nigeria’s democracy, also strongly condemned these atrocious crimes and called on the government to urgently deploy measures to protect children and ensure schools are safe for learning.
Speaking at the webinar, the Kaduna state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, stated that the state is the epicentre of banditry in the country, noting however, that efforts are in top gear to tackle the issue.
The Commissioner pointed out that the reason Kaduna is always in the news for banditry is because the state government acknowledges the problem and is not living in denial like some states.
Aruwan also noted that the decision for the Kaduna state government not to negotiate with bandits is right, adding that instead of going to the forests to meet with the criminals, the government will rather focus on lawful interception of communication between bandits in the forests.
According to him, “The reason why Kaduna is the epicentre is that we are speaking up and not living in denial. We ask all of us to reflect and think of what is happening in other states. It is a fact that our police and military are already overstretched.”
Giving an overview of the security situation in Kaduna, the Head of Research at CODE, Dr Onyekachi Onuoha, lamented that the heightened insecurity in the country is predominant in northern Nigeria which is already the most educationally challenged region in the country.
He further stated that Nigeria is likely to experience mass exodus of foreign investors, unemployment and idleness, as well as an enabling environment for resentment and recruitment of the unemployed into the bandwagon of insurgency.
He disclosed that, “The kidnapping of school students in the northeast and the northwest of Nigeria has become a frequent phenomenon that is of concern to every Nigerian, the bandits are trying to get the attention of not just the parents of the children but the government as well.
“The psychological and social consequences on parents and guardians are too grievous to describe and the abducted children often have to live with the scars for the rest of their lives”, he said.
For his part, Programs Associate in CODE, Kingsley Agu in an overview of the organisation’s intervention in the education sector in Kaduna state, said that since September 2017, through support from the MacArthur Foundation, Connected Development through Follow The Money started the implementation of the 3-year long project, tracking Universal Basic Education (UBE) spending in Kaduna state.
In a breakdown of the project outcome, Agu said that, “N569,579,737.83 UBE spending in Kaduna state was tracked for 23 school projects in 20 communities, ensuring that the budgeted amount was put to good use in four local government areas. The project impacted over 200,000 people directly and conducted a needs assessment in 609 schools.”
Earlier, the Chief Executive of CODE, Hamzat Lawal noted that the theme of the webinar will help participants get the right information on what the Kaduna state government is doing concerning security.
There were also comments from the Commissioner of Human Services and Social Development in Kaduna State; Hajiya Hafsat Musa Baba, a representative of the Kaduna state Ministry of Education; Hajiya Aishatu Muhammed and the in-country representative of the Malala Fund in Nigeria, Crystal Ikanih-Musa.
The NGOs urged the government to re-strategise its security infrastructure and address the dearth of effective protection of lives and property.