Why we support NUT, NANS action against school attacks
Series of abductions and criminal attacks on schools by armed groups have elicited threats by the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, and the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, to shut down schools along the corridors of the attacks until the security situation in those areas improve. As the need for concerted effort to stem the ugly tide becomes even more urgent, some Nigerians who spoke to Scholastica JOSEPH and Williams ABAH threw their weight behind the unions. Excerpts:
HAPPINESS ITUA: I expected them to come out earlier than now. Notwithstanding, I just do hope that their actions will further enhance the safety of our children in schools. What is happening in our primary and secondary schools now, is actually the failure of the government. How could one explain the situation that children sent to school to learn are kidnapped?
This trend of abductions has really put parents and guardians in perpetual fear. Last week, I came across a story in Punch newspaper, where parents in Chanchagi Local Government Area of Niger State, said they will not allow their children to go to school until they are sure their children will be safe while in school. This is the result of this persisting insecurity in our land.
This is happening at a time, when the number of out of school children continues to increase in the North, especially in the North-East. If this ugly scenario continues, it then means we will see high increase of out of school children. I salute the joint decisions of the NUT and NANS; they have actually taken the right direction.
Having said that, there is need they come out with concrete guidelines for the safety of School children, present it to the relevant authority of the government for prompt action.
GABRIEL HEMBE: Well, I don't know how NUT and NANS are planning the said protests, but the past experience in protest and agitation, has shown how government resist protesters from peaceful demonstration. Looking at the spate of insecurity in schools and the entire country, there is need for effective collaboration with all civil society organization. Concerned stakeholders should go into the negotiating table with relevant government authorities.
This will help both parties to brainstorm and come up with templates to reshape the security architecture across schools in the country. I'm suggesting this because the level of insecurity in our schools cut across all social strata. Students, Parents and guardians are traumatised due to all these uncertainties in our schools.
So there is need for all stakeholders to get involved in the negotiating table. If NUT, and NANS come out to protest, the usual practice of government sending security after protesters may likely occur. Hence, the need for all relevant authorities to get involved, so that at the end, collective resolutions would be made, where everybody will be given a sense of belonging.
EMMANUEL VAMBER: Ordinarily, it would have been a very good step for them to alert the government that kidnapping of school children and general insecurity in Nigeria is not a welcome development. If they take that kind of step, it is going to be too dramatic. Our children’s education would be retarded if such a decision is taken. Invariably, it would also affect the psyche of our children. You see that most times, ordinary strike affects them when they stay longer at home.
So it is better that NUT and NANS would have embarked on a nationwide protest to register their grievance. The whole world would witness it and also understand quickly that this is what is happening in Nigeria. But shutting down schools will not create any self-development for our children.
As a way forward, the NUT should put themselves together and stage a nationwide protest; it is going to be a peaceful protest, and let the United Nations and the world know that they are protesting against insecurity in the nation. This way, it would be registered in the history of the country.
TIMOTHY HEMBAOR: My position is simple; their threat is long overdue. It is supposed to be implemented by now because the President has relegated his responsibilities. Whenever the president or anyone charged with the responsibility of taking decisions fails to do same, it becomes the responsibility of the public to take the lead.
So, I urge them to use the instrument of the lockdown to ensure that the presidency complies and do the needful. The state governors should rise up and sensitize the people and owners of schools to build security around the schools. More so, the state governors are not responsible for the control of security agencies as it is the exclusive preserve of the federal government. But the states can complement that by sensitizing the people.
When the people are sensitized, they will be aware of who is coming, the justification. So state governors should embrace the sensitization campaign.
AYO RASHEEDAT: For me, I do not think NUT and NANS can make any meaningful impact in ensuring the safety of our children in schools. I can tell you that they made that threat to shut down schools to avoid being criticized by Nigerians. What have they done since these kidnappings of school children started?
These are union bodies that supposed to checkmate the activities of government in the management and running of all schools in the country. But they have not demonstrated their ability to carry out that mandate. What we need at this critical time is for government and stakeholders to stop the delay and to take decisive action against these criminals.
Often time you will hear that the National Assembly is holding security meeting with the president, yet no good results from the meeting to solve the problem in our hands. Everyone is at fault. What are the teachers and the heads of schools doing to ensure the safety of these children under their care?
Imagine that unknown persons will enter your school premises and abduct such a large number of children, and you did not provide explanation of how it all happened? We cannot continue this way; somebody must be held responsible for this security lapses in schools. That will make them to wake up to their responsibility.