By Egbe Attah, Otukpo
Following the wave of kidnappings of school children by bandits, especially in the Northern part of Nigeria, The Voice recently spoke with a cross-section of stakeholders in Otukpo metropolis of Benue State who expressed concern over the matter.
Speaking, the Chairman, Central Parent-Teacher Association in Otukpo Local Government, Alhaji Garba Geryma, condemned in strong terms the wanton kidnapping of schoolchildren by bandits in the country. He stressed that the incident has created apprehension not only among the students and teachers but also among their parents.
He pointed out that no parent would like his child killed or kidnapped while in pursuit of knowledge. The PTA chairman therefore, called on the government to step in to tame the tide. On the recent threat by the Nigeria Union of Teachers to embark on strike over the development, Alhaji Geryma appealed to the union to give government more time to tackle the problem.
Also speaking, a parent and teacher, Mallam Sambo Turkur, condemned the violent assaults on schools by criminals in the North. He maintained that if the trend continues education in the country would not only collapse but the nation will slide into retrogression.
On his part, the Principal of Otukpo Community Secondary School Upu, Architect Sunday Ewada, said the onslaught on schools is condemnable and called on the bandits to let innocent students be. He noted that the ugly trend has given the nation a bad image a setback, as well as created fear and anxiety in the mind of every parent and student in Nigeria.
He lamented that the education sector in Nigeria has suffered all sorts of mishaps ranging from strikes, under -funding, COVID-19 lockdown and now kidnapping by bandits. Ewada however, expressed happiness on the discovery of the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine for COVID-19 and pleaded that schools should be given special consideration in the administration of the drug.
In their reactions, two students, Emmanuel Umoru and Mercy Obekpa, expressed deep fear over the incidents saying if they were in far North they would not go to school in the midst of the ugly situation. “If I were in the far North I will not go to school, especially boarding school in the midst of all this insecurity, It is only when one is alive, that one can seek knowledge,” said Emmanuel.
Also in agreement with Emmanuel and Mercy is Mrs Anna Ishawa, who said if she were living in northern states like Katsina, Kaduna, Niger, Zamfara among others, she would withdraw her children from school on account of insecurity ravaging schools in those areas.
All others who spoke including the principal of Ewulo College, Ode Ida, the Proprietor of Unique Nursery and Primary School, Chief Icha Adole, that of Gloryland Nursery, Primary and Secondary Schools, John Oboyi, decried the incessant kidnapping of students in the land. They appealed to the government to place surveillance over the security of schools in the country to save the education sector and the future of the Nigerian child.