· Rural schools not safe – PTA chair
· No cause for alarm – FCTA
· Engages services of NSCDC, Vigilantes in rural schools
As schools in the Federal Capital Territory kick start activities for the 2022/2023 academic session, parents and guardians have expressed concern over the safety of their wards especially as the FCT grapples with issues of insecurity in parts of the territory.
A parent, Christopher Nwosu, who has three children in one of the public schools in Bwari, is afraid that the attacks on schools may resume now that schools are in session.
Nwosu insists that the government has not done enough to allay parents’ concerns over the dangers the schools are exposed to.
“I don’t think the bandits have given up; from the look of things, they may also be strategizing. It worries me about the preparedness of our security agency when there is an attack.
“I don’t think it’s just enough to tell parents the schools are safe. We should actually see them beefing security around the schools. As I speak with you now, I haven’t seen any soldier or even police around the school my children attend here in Bwari and the school has resumed over a week now. How can government guarantee the safety of our children in the schools? It’s better to plan to be safe. It is heart breaking when we see videos of children captured by these bandits.”
Mr. Esther John, a farmer in Kwali, wants the administration to fortify the school premises by fixing all the broken fences and deploying adequate security personnel.
“The porosity of our schools is a big concern for me because most of the fences are broken. In fact, the school compound has become some sort of footpath for residents of this community. The lack of security personnel and also employing of retired old men to secure a school of about 800 to 1000 pupils is worrisome.”
She called on the government to deploy more security personnel across schools in rural communities instead of concentrating them in ministries and parastatals.
Recall that the FCTA Education Secretariat had on July 27, 2022, ordered owners of private schools and heads of public schools to shut down for the 2021/2022 academic session.
Though no reason was given for the sudden closure, many residents connected the decision to the pace of insecurity experienced in the nation’s capital at the time.
Days before the FCT school closure, the Federal Ministry of Education had asked principals of all Federal Government Colleges to beef-up security in their respective colleges to forestall any form of breakdown of law and order.
It asked the principals to liaise with the police and security agencies in their locations, as well as in-house school security outfits and other measures to protect their schools.
The suggestion was thought to be a response to report of a security breach at the Federal Government College Kwali, which had close down and students vacated immediately.
Though, most schools in the FCT have resumed for a new session, the chairman of the Parents Teachers Association, FCT chapter, Alhaji Usman Abubakar, had raised alarm over the safety of pupils in primary and secondary schools in rural communities.
Abubakar on Friday, told a section of the media that the schools were not safe to resume for academic activities.
He said reports over activities of bandits and kidnappers in some rural communities especially at Abaji rural communities, which share boundaries with neighbouring villages in Niger State, were quite worrisome.
“In fact, schools within Yaba axis and some other communities that share boundaries with neighboring villages in Niger State are still shut because report coming from that axis over security threat as a result of activities of bandits and kidnappers is quite worrisome,” he said.
The PTA chairman said even before the resumption of academic activities, some of the rural schools across the axis had been facing security threat, saying “we expected that before resumption, government should be able to put in place security measures in these schools.”
While these concerns may be tenable, the FCT Administration has dismissed the fears insisting that the schools are safe for resumption.
The public relations officer of the FCT Education Secretariat, Malam Kabiru Musa, said the administration has fortified security around schools in the territory, especially those in rural communities.
Musa, in a telephone interview with our correspondent explained that the Security Department of the FCTA, in collaboration with security agencies, have deployed security personnel to red spots in Abaji, Rubochi and Kwali.
According to him, the administration has also engaged the services of local vigilantes to provide support for the conventional security officers on duties in schools across the territory.
“A number of security personnel, especially men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, have been sent to Rubochi, Abaji and Kwali to provide security for schools in those areas. As I speak to you now, some schools have up to 10 civil defence officers attached to them, in addition to local vigilantes who have also been engaged in those area so that when they notice anything they will immediately alert the security agencies immediately.”