Banditry seems to be the in-thing now.
I’m echoing a friend.
This friend of mine is quite silly; I mean; what kind of talk is this?
When he told me, I said, “hell no!” School always trumps banditry.
But he countered with some points that left me speechless.
He started with the latest kidnap at the Kagara Government Science College where students and teachers were carted away like cattle…He said to me, “did you see the dilapidated school buildings? Did you see the crumbling classrooms?’
I saw and it was an eyesore, but I told him, “That is beside the point. Is that why students should be kidnapped and subjected to inhuman treatment?”
“What can anyone learn in such a decrepit environment?” he said…. “What would the toilets be like, the rooms, the beds, the food…How can anyone learn anything there? Are you surprised it was that easy to kidnap students there?”
I had no answers. Then he pursued further, “Do you know only three months ago, 11th of December 2020; students were taken captive in Kankara in Katsina state? That time at Government Secondary school for boys where over 300 boys were reported stolen from their school?”
I nodded at this, remembering the news report.
“Cast your mind back a little,’’ he said, “Do you also remember the Buni Yadi boys that were massacred for being in school? At least, 29 students died as it was reported that the terrorist group that invaded the students operated without challenge for five hours! While the boys were hacked or burnt to death, the female students were told to abandon education and get married!
At this point, I began to see my friend’s point. But he would not let me admit a quiet defeat.
He said, ‘‘what of the Chibok girls? Who were kidnapped from their school on the 14th of April, 2014…? And the Dapchi girls, two years later? And the scores of villagers, farmers kidnapped from their homes?”
Then he asked, “Will you send your child to school knowing there’s a potential he/she could be kidnapped?
And remember, many of these schools were shut down for extended periods of time…Those who were released upon capture couldn’t even speak one sentence in English. Were they being taught in Hausa? Certainly not English.
Let’s assume they were being taught something, maybe not in English. How many of these children are back in school today? Is anybody checking?
Will there even be trained teachers, doctors, nurses, professionals from that region for many, many, many, many years to come?”
This was getting annoying. But I maintained a straight face, then I asked, “So why is banditry profitable? Isn’t education the way out of poverty, can ignorance/banditry ever help anyone, not to talk of a society, a state, a nation as a whole”
“But banditry is the best way out of poverty,” he said.
Because there’s amnesty for bandits and terrorists and kidnappers! Thanks to a government that negotiates with terrorists; a government that prefers to pay ransom to bandits instead of equipping its army and fortifying its security forces. No thanks to sectional leaders unconcerned about the fact that they have the highest number of out-of-school children in Nigeria…Nigeria by the way has the highest number of out of school children in the world!
Rather than address the issue of security or lack of it; the government prefers to water it down to ethnic bias and religious intolerance.
And with the likes of Sheikh Abubakar Gumi stepping in to negotiate on behalf of the government; the Sheikh advises government to offer amnesty and compensation to kidnappers. So, tell me, why would any sane-minded person return to school?”
I swallowed my spit.
I guess we should be grateful these bandits have considered sparing our lives by laying down their arms. -I mean, we ought to be grateful they have considered our requests to which they would be handsomely rewarded! After all, Sheikh Gumi said they learned the art of kidnapping from Niger Delta youths.
“So why go to school?”
I do not agree.
On the surface, it does look like schools are a waste of time.
We will, in five-10 years’ time know whether indeed banditry and kidnapping are better than education and can we qualify this education? Quality education.
Hopefully, someone will ask the past and current leaders; “why you were spending money paying ransom to bandits and kidnappers. Why didn’t you spend same amount equipping our schools and strengthening our security apparatus?”
People will ask and I hope they will make these so-called leaders pay for their irresponsibility. They say history will judge. But only those who are truly educated can fully grasp the true meaning of this.
We need well educated leaders and not bandits and robbers in fine clothes.