Northern Governors And Terrorism Challenge | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


Northern Governors And Terrorism Challenge

Posted: Apr 19, 2016 at 5:04 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Nnedi Ogaziechi

Hannatu and Salamatu were first year students at the Federal Government College Enugu at a time I was in high school. In these two girls, one could see an enthusiasm and zeal for education.

Behind their innocent sense of accomplishment lay the fear that their journey to self-fulfilment might be aborted if they are forced into early marriage. This fear envelopes the world of most girls from the North thereby exposing their level of vulnerability.

The two young girls displayed an above average level of academic brilliance and that won them admiration from even senior students.

Like a disaster foretold, the two girls did not come back after one of the holidays. My curiosity ran wild and I asked rather rhetorically whether their greatest nightmare had become a reality. My shock and disappointment could only be imagined when eventually I found out that they were actually married off.

These two brilliant girls that wished for a brighter future built on quality education are not alone in a growing statistics of the number of young girls from the North whose future are blighted by the poor vision of their leaders.

It is from the bowel of this form of social dislocation that potential Boko Haram sentiments are institutionalised.

In essence, the current socio-cultural, religious, economic and security crisis unfolding all over the country especially in the North East is not merely some strange events we suddenly woke up to in the morning of April 2014 with the Chibok tragedy.

The social implosion the country is dealing with presently explains a hangover of years of human development gaps across the country especially in the North. ***If successive state governments had been providing education for all children in their formative years, it will be difficult for them to be pawns in the chessboard of warped minds parading as Islamic Scholars.

One cannot agree more with Vice President Yemi Osibajo who voiced his outrage about the neglect of education by states and local governments who have had billions of Naira allocated over the years.

At a “Roundtable Discussion on Vulnerable People and Conflict Situations in Nigeria” he regretted that not enough advocacy has been geared towards the provision of education of children and in particular, the vulnerable.

Today, the agonizing story of the abducted Chibok girls is making global headlines.  Sadly, the Northern governors would readily blame everyone but themselves, yet their inaction over the years has imploded across the country.

Thousands of young children and women have been abducted and used as suicide bombers, child soldiers and sex slaves. How many of the Northern governors have cared to see how real investment in education can liberate the region and guard against radicalisation and dogmatism?

If the children are denied education, the flipside is exposing them to the negative influences and the consequences can be seen with all the chaos in the country. By neglecting basic education, a fertile environment has been created for Boko Haram tenets to grow.

One wonders whether the Northern Governors’ forum is merely self-serving. Do they discuss how the region continues to be the ‘most educationally disadvantaged’? That should be the high point of their peer review.

The paradox of the present situation in the North is that all the governors are literate. It is therefore unacceptable that the states and local governments always play the Ostrich while waiting on the federal government to bear the burden of education.

Where the leaderships at those two tiers of government fail to make education a priority through planning and funding they are invariably promoting Boko Haram by default.

If the number of out of school children from the North have been too staggering as to jolt the federal government into establishing Normadic and Almajiri schools, one wonders how the governments in the North evaluate the character of the youths they unleash on Nigeria and the world.

Let the truth be told, three quarters of commercial motorcycle riders and other unskilled labourers are from the North and that speak volumes about their definition of human development.

Make no mistakes about this, no amount of resources and men deployed to degrade the capacity of Boko Haram terrorists in the country without corresponding proactive measures in human development can be of much impact.

Human development through education empowers. Governors, like the Vice President demanded, should be held accountable. Child marriage stunts the physical and mental development of the girl child.

The pervasive influence women have in the family demands that serious attention should be paid to educating the girl child as a veritable means of positively re-orientating the families and communities in the North.

Human capital is the most valuable asset of any nation. This explains why most of the world’s most prosperous and viable economies do not boast of many natural resources. They mainly invest in their human capital and the result is obvious.

This writer dares the Northern governors to shake off the paraphernalia of office and go incognito into the IDP camps and major cities and soak in the tragedy that has become of their human capital. This tragedy did not start with Boko Haram insurgency, it dates back to long periods of negligence and the squandering of the material and human capital that build viable economies.