Insecurity: Controversy trails Kaduna’s deliberate merger of colleges


As one of many Northwestern states grappling with the challenges of banditry and kidnapping, Kaduna State has had a number of horrid experiences when it comes to assaults on colleges; from Engravers Faculty to Good Shepherd Seminary, Forestry Faculty to UBE Main Faculty, Rama, Greenfield College to Nuhu Bamali Polytechnic, Bethel Baptist Faculty to Native Training Authority (LEA) Kuriga. Subsequent to this, the state now mulls merger of 359 colleges in banditry-prone areas, which stakeholders regard as a litmus check, ABDULGAFAR ALABELEWE stories.

The bandits’ assaults on colleges throughout the panorama of Kaduna compelled many dad and mom to take away their kids from such colleges. The assaults additionally impoverished victims’ households, as residents have been robbed of tens of millions of naira as ransoms. Many have been maimed and others have been despatched to early graves.

The latest of such mass abductions have been the assaults on LEA Main Faculty and GSS Kuriga in Chikun Native Authorities Space of the state, the place 137 pupils have been kidnapped in broad daylight alongside a trainer. The trainer died in captivity attributable to torture by the bandits, earlier than the college kids have been rescued 16 days later in distant Zamfara State.

The destructive impacts of kidnappings

Apart the destructive impacts suffered by the victims’ households, bandits’ assaults on colleges, based on the federal government, Kaduna has recorded dramatic drop at school enrolments from 2,111,969 in 2021/2022 to 1,734,704 in 2022/2023 tutorial session.

The Governor Uba Sani-led administration, although is keying into the Federal Authorities’s Protected Faculty Initiative by fencing of colleges, institution of Safety and Security Response Committees, Deployment of Kaduna Vigilance Service (KADVS) to varsities amongst others, it’s adopting merger of colleges in high-risk communities as quick answer.

The varsity merger venture, based on stakeholders, will include its personal problem, which can embody transportation and even safety of the pupils whereas going to and from their new colleges. However, the state authorities mentioned it’s planning to handle new challenges which will come from the brand new plan for its success.

 Police Faculties’ Safety Squad to the rescue?

Governor Sani, final week as prime hierarchy of the Police Drive and different stakeholders converged on Kaduna to launch the Police Drive Faculties Safety Squad, lamented that banditry and terrorism have disrupted socio-economic actions within the affected communities and they’re presently threatening the state’s academic revitalisation programme.

Assistant Inspector Basic (AIG) in command of Zone 14, Katsina, Yahaya Abubakar, on the occasion, traced the historical past of faculty assault in Nigeria again to 2014, when the Boko Haram terrorist group within the Northeastern a part of the nation stormed Authorities Ladies’ Secondary Faculty, Chibok in Borno State and kidnapped over 250 schoolgirls.

“The title of the group actually interprets to ‘Trendy Training is forbidden’. To buttress this unusual ideology, the group constantly attacked colleges, college students, academics and safety companies that defend them, ensuing within the destructions and closure of a whole lot of colleges within the ‘BAY states’ of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.”

Justifying the necessity for the Police Drive Faculty Safety Squad throughout Nigeria, the AIG argued that the phenomenon of assaults on colleges by armed teams and non-state actors shouldn’t be restricted to the North-East alone, as North-West and North-Central components of the nation have additionally witnessed quite a few violent assaults on colleges by armed bandits.

“As an example, on November 11, 2020, Authorities Science Secondary Faculty, Kankara in Katsina State was attacked by bandits, and over 300 college students have been kidnapped. Comparable incidents additionally occurred in Kagara (Niger State) on February 17, 2021 and in Jengebe (Zamfara State) on February 26, 2021. Most lately right here in Kaduna State, one other incident of abduction occurred on the Authorities Secondary Faculty Kuriga on March 7, 2024, amongst others.

“These incidents of violent assaults on colleges made it crucial for the adoption and implementation of the Protected Faculty Declaration (SSD) and the Protected Faculty Initiative (SSI) in Nigeria, as a part of the International commitments to guard college students, academics and studying environments, and guarantee unfettered entry to training in all international locations.

“Because the principal regulation enforcement organ and the lead company in crime management and public security within the nation, the core duties and tasks of the Police Drive below the Nationwide Coverage on Security, Safety and Violence-Free Faculties (NPSSVFS) 2021, consists of placement of the best precedence within the safety of scholars and academics throughout assaults on colleges and different greater establishments of studying.

“We’re additionally to make sure quick response to misery requires assist and safety throughout assault on any college or when such an assault is imminent; to determine and assign a Speedy Response Unit that may co-locate with colleges and native training officers throughout emergencies; and to develop complete operational tips and procedures for cover of scholars, academics and academic infrastructure,” he mentioned.

AIG Abubakar disclosed that the Inspector Basic of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, had inaugurated the Faculty Safety Squad, the Commonplace Working Handbook for Faculty Safety Squads, operational gear, patrol autos and different platforms for colleges security.

The Nationwide Coordinator on Protected Faculty Programme, Federal Ministry of Finance, Hajia Halima Iliya, mentioned the Federal Authorities was frightened by closure of colleges in high-risk areas and the attendant improve within the variety of out-of-school kids. Therefore, the creation of Protected Faculty Initiative (SSI), to allow kids affected by battle and insecurity to proceed with their training unhindered.  Nevertheless, Sani mentioned in his personal method to make sure unhindered training for the kids within the state, his administration has commenced the merging of 359 colleges in conflict-prone and terrorists infested areas with these in secure areas.

The governor counseled the Federal Authorities for launching the N144.8 billion Protected Faculties Financing Plan in 2022.

Governor Sani advocated for normal conferences of safety forces with elders, spiritual leaders, representatives of youth and ladies teams.

 “Consultative Committees on Safety ought to be fashioned in communities, with membership drawn from safety forces and key stakeholders. They’ll play a key position in gathering intelligence, mobilising the residents on safety and growth points, in addition to nipping potential disaster within the bud.”

Issues over merger

In the meantime, a Public Affairs Analyst, Alhaji Tajudeen Tijjani, mentioned that the merger of a giant quantity colleges just like the one deliberate by the state authorities shall be troublesome to take care of.

He, nonetheless, prompt that recruitment of native youths into the state Kaduna State Vigilance Service (KADVS) will work higher within the safety and safety of the faculties within the bandits’-prone areas.

In line with him, “The state authorities could discover it troublesome to take care of such massive variety of colleges, on the preliminary stage, as a result of variety of pupils which are going to be affected.

“It should make that means, if the federal government recruits folks from affected areas into the state safety outfit, the KADVS and ensure they’re educated and adequately remunerated. These native safety personnel could be combined by the opposite safety, such because the Military and the Police.

“Authorities will even construct barracks and stations within the affected areas. The safety of these pupils is within the fingers of these nearer to them and dwelling within the setting.”

Additionally lending his voice on the matter, a civil society skilled and woman training advocate, Mr. Alex Uangbaoje, described the merger plan as admittance of presidency failure to deal with insecurity round colleges and communities.

Uangbaoje mentioned: “In the beginning, is there any a part of the state the place colleges are secure? We solely name some areas secure as a result of they haven’t skilled assault. The merger concept simply exhibits that the federal government has misplaced concepts on the right way to deal with insecurity within the state.

“The query is: For those who relocate the scholars, are you additionally going to relocate their dad and mom? Or is the federal government going to take full accountability for these college students? Are there boarding homes in these areas they’d be moved to? Is the governor now attempting to say all the faculties in Bini Gwari, as an illustration, shall be relocated to a different space? As a result of the final time I checked, I’m not positive of anyplace in that LGA that has been declared secured.

“The one answer in my opinion, shall be to wipe out insecurity, in any other case the bandits will all the time search for a technique to make an announcement once they wish to”, he mentioned.

Commissioner: Safety measures will go together with merger

Giving additional perception into the college merger programme, Commissioner for Training, Prof. Muhammad Sani Bello, mentioned the college which have been recognized for merger are inside strolling distance to the brand new college. Prof. Bello informed The Nation that the concept of the merger is to permit safety efforts to be concentrated in each chosen cluster space, including that such will ensured a well-secured college setting.

He harassed additional that safety measures like fencing and development of watch towers have been being put in place within the chosen areas.

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