Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
Sufficient investment in education has been described as a veritable tool for curbing militancy and other forms of violent crimes in Nigerian.
The Bayelsa State Governor, Mr. Seriake Dickson, who made the assertion at the weekend when addressing the class of 20 parents’ graduation dinner and the fund raising of the Loyola Jesuit College Endowment Fund held at the Transcop Hilton, Abuja, said he succeeded at curbing militancy in his state by paying adequate attention to the educational sector.
According to Dickson, “If we must have a new Nigeria, we can only have it by investing in education and creating the new Nigerians that will give us a new Nigeria and the new Nigeria has already started in the various schools where I have children; all of us; they interact, make friends and they prepare for this new Nigeria.
“Talking about the imperatives of investing in education at the governmental level and as a way to address security issues, he said: “While I was campaigning for governor in 2011, I was very clear about the need to build a sustainable society on the foundation of education.
“From the totality of my public life experience, I was so clear that if we have a society bedeviled with militants, if you have a society where the role models that you find in families and societies are young men wielding AK47 riffles – those guys also have a role of also providing for their families and for their community, and so, in a sense had obtained the right to be seen as role models. And so, if you want to handle that kind of society, you want to stabilise that society, you want to create circumstances and conditions favourable to development, then you must begin to bring up an educational agenda.
“So, one of the first things I did was to pronounce; not just the usual free and compulsory education people talk about because there are some components that must be prepared to back it up like policies, legislation and appropriation, I declared an emergency in education.”
Commending parents of the parents of the Loyola Jesuit College who he commended for their painstaking efforts of paying the high cost of school fees, Dickson noted that after building world class schools, provided books, uniforms, yet people take it for granted and were not ready to bring their children to the schools.
To address that, he said, “I criminalised your not bringing up your children. I have the basis to do that, so, I signed a law that if you have a child or ward in your custody, of school age and that child is not in school, there is penalty. And where I come from when Governor Dickson makes a statement like that it is taken very seriously. The good news now is that all our boarding schools are now full.
“The total number of students we have in our secondary boarding schools is now 10, 000. I bet you, none of those 10, 000 boys and girls will ever be a militant holding AK47 riffle in the forest waiting to kidnap a 90-year old man or woman.
“The most endemic local government areas, endemic is the sense of prevalence of militants, incidentally are the local governments where you have the least attendance (school). They have all the militant generals. Nobody wants to go to school. Now that is changing.
“Now we are at a stage where we are building and handing over secondary schools – completed, to the military and the paramilitary and I have invited all of them, the Nigeria Army Command Secondary school built and handed over to them; one to the Air Force, one to the Police and one to the Department of State Security (DSS)”
The governor did not only announce a N10m donation of the government of Bayelsa State to the endowment fund, in appreciation of what the parents and the institution had been doing, he also offered a partnership by which the state will hand over a fully built secondary school to the Loyola Jesuits to start a school in Bayelsa.
The chairman, editorial board of THISDAY newspapers and a former presidential spokesman to the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Mr. Segun Adeniyi, who is also a parent in the school, said: “It is a source of pride being a Loyola parent. For most of us in Abuja, the status alone; I am Loyola parent because Loyola is very good, not only in terms of excellence but also in terms of value.”