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Abuja Battles Kidnappings: Schools on High Alert

Fear Grips Capital: Education Sector Seeks Urgent Security Solutions

by Adenike Adeodun

In the heart of Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT), a growing sense of unease permeates the air, casting a shadow over the daily lives of its residents. Amidst the bustling streets and vibrant communities, a silent threat looms large, challenging the very fabric of safety and education within the region. The menace of kidnappings has escalated to alarming levels, forcing schools into a state of vulnerability, with teachers, students, and parents caught in a web of fear and uncertainty.

The Guardian’s investigative efforts have unveiled a disturbing map of danger zones scattered across the capital, from the Julius Berger roundabout to the remote villages within the Bwari and Kuje Area Councils. These areas, once symbols of Abuja’s expanding urban landscape, are now hotspots for criminal activities, casting a long shadow over the city’s educational institutions.

The stakes are high, as the surge in insecurity threatens to derail the country’s ambitious targets under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, which advocates for inclusive and equitable quality education for all children by 2030. Furthermore, the Federal Government’s “Education for Renewed Hope Agenda: Roadmap for the Nigerian Education Sector 2024-2027” is at risk, with its laudable objectives of reintegrating 15 million out-of-school children and bolstering the education sector through public-private partnerships and the Safe Schools declaration hanging in the balance.

The FCT is home to a rich tapestry of educational institutions, from primary schools to tertiary institutions, nurturing the minds of the nation’s future leaders. Yet, the shadow of fear cast by over 50 kidnapping cases involving more than 300 victims in 2023 alone threatens to stifle the educational journey of these young minds. The grim statistics of N654 million paid in ransoms between 2021 and 2022 further underscore the urgent need for a robust response to this growing menace.

UNICEF’s statement on the International Day of Education paints a bleak picture of the impact of violence on the education of over 1.3 million Nigerian schoolchildren. The call for collaborative efforts to improve school safety is a clarion call to action, urging stakeholders to elevate the standards of school infrastructure and address the multifaceted risks facing students and teachers alike.

The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) voices the palpable fear among educators, with some still held captive by kidnappers. The harrowing tales of teachers resorting to crowdfunding for ransom payments highlight the dire situation facing the education sector in the FCT. The psychological trauma inflicted on those released from captivity is a stark reminder of the human cost of inaction.

The Defence Headquarters’ deployment of special forces and the introduction of armoured personnel carriers are steps towards reclaiming the safety of the nation’s capital. Educational institutions, such as Veritas University, have taken proactive measures to ensure the safety of their campuses, employing both internal and external security measures for intelligence gathering and vigilance.

The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has pledged its commitment to the safety of students and teachers, emphasizing the importance of routine patrols and the National Safe Schools Response Coordination Centre (NSSRCC) in enhancing school security. This initiative offers a glimmer of hope, promising a more responsive and preventive approach to safeguarding educational environments.

The National Parents Teachers Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN) has advocated for the relocation of schools from rural to urban centres, highlighting the increased vulnerability of remote educational institutions to attacks. This suggestion, while challenging, underscores the urgent need for a strategic overhaul of the approach to school safety, emphasizing the importance of a secure learning environment as the cornerstone of quality education.

As Abuja grapples with this complex security crisis, the collective resolve of government, security agencies, educational institutions, and communities will be pivotal in turning the tide against the forces of instability. The path to a safer, more secure future for the FCT’s schools is fraught with challenges, but it is a journey that must be undertaken with determination, innovation, and a steadfast commitment to the rights of every child to a safe and nurturing educational experience. The time to act is now, to ensure that the dreams and aspirations of Nigeria’s youth are not quashed by the spectre of insecurity but are instead nurtured in the safety of their classrooms, free from fear and full of hope for a brighter tomorrow.


Source: The Guardian

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