Senate President Bukola Saraki says with no fewer than 10.5 million Nigerian children out of school, the country is sitting on a time bomb. Saraki’s warning is born out of the implication this situation portends for the future and security of the country.
Being the senate president of Nigeria, Saraki is in prime position to understand the peculiar challenges facing the country. So his projection that having such an alarming figure of out-of-school children will continue a cycle of poverty and “these children could constitute the next generation of suicide bombers and militants,” calls for an urgent national response to a potential crisis situation.
For over five years now, Nigeria has been engaged in a war against Boko Haram-a sect that is against western education. It has cost Nigeria billions of dollars to prosecute this war and manage the resultant humanitarian crisis. In a report by the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin Nigeria spent $2.6 billion in 2016 to deal with the humanitarian crisis in the north east with 2.3 million people believed to have been displaced already.
The senate president is planning for the future. He wants to forestall a situation where the country will one day be over-run by people who didn’t have an education. He is already advocating for funding and provision of material resources.
“The Senate is already working with a few state governments which are yet to domesticate the Child’s Rights Act. We are determined to also improve on this and to work together to see how best to reduce drastically the level of illiteracy among our people, especially from the preliminary stage,” he explained.
While Saraki and other stakeholders make plans to secure the future of Nigeria, recent events suggest that action needs to be taken to diffuse tension in a country which is on the precipice of disintegration.
Quit notice given to the Igbos
Last week, an alliance of 16 northern youth associations demanded that Ndigbo resident in Northern Nigeria should vacate the region within 90 days or before the 1st day of October, 2017. It equally urged northerners in the south to leave the region. This ultimatum given to the Igbos has attracted reactions from prominent Nigerians, setting the country on edge.
The group says it was only helping to fast track the actualization of the state of Biafra. However, the general view is that the group’s call is an incitement against the Igbos
Already there are reports of Igbo families leaving the north to relocate to the eastern part of Nigeria out fear of an attack at the expiration of the ultimatum.
The rhetoric from the northern youths is not unconnected to the call for secession spear headed by the indigenous people of Biafra, IPOB. IPOB had on May 30 declared a sit at home order to mark the death of Biafrans during the Nigeria-Biafra civil war.
Since the release of its leader Nnamdi Kanu from detention, calls for the actualization of Biafra has only gotten louder.
Consequently, groups from other parts of the country have been reacting to IPOB’s s call. The government is resolute in its stance that the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable.
As the divide between the north and south becomes more pronounced, it is pertinent that opinion leaders be mindful of their utterances to avoid further tension. Security agencies should be swift in dealing with comments that incite to violence such as those made by the northern youths. Agitators for the state of Biafra should also pursue the path of dialogue in their quest for a new state.