Bello: 7 Niger LGs under Frequent Attack by Bandits
The Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, has disclosed that not less than seven out of the 25 local governments in the state are frequently under attack by bandits and terrorists.
This is even as the number of out-of-school children in the state has reached over 298,962, the highest in the North-central geo-political zone of the country.
The governor, who spoke at the flag-off of the North-central campaign against out-of-school children in Minna on Monday, did not name the affected local governments but recent reports have it that Shiroro, Munya, Rafi, Magama, Mariga, Mashegu and Wushishi are some of the bandit-prone local governments in the state.
The Commissioner for Education, Hajia Hanatu Jibrin Salihu, gave the figure of the out-of-school children in the state at the forum, saying before 2015, the figure was 513,963 children but because of several interventions, it has dropped to 298,292 children.
Bello said there is a nexus between the number of out-of-school children and insecurity that has plagued the seven local governments in the state, adding that:” When we talk about out-of-school children, the question begging for answer is why are there so many out-of-school children, obviously our size and current security situation plays a major role.
“To access some schools in Niger State, some pupils trek five to 10 kilometres to get to schools. With the security situation, if such a pupil is a girl, no parent will dare it especially when 10 to 11-year-old girls are being raped.”
Bello admitted that part of the security challenges confronting the North is due to the large number of out-of-school children who are now constituting a menace to the society, adding that: “Most of the children of the Fulani herders do not attend school therefore, they become vulnerable for people to recruit them into banditry. Invariably there is a nexus between school dropout and security challenge.”
He therefore appealed to the federal government and other development partners to redouble their efforts at making education accessible to more Nigerian children, adding that:”Education is not cheap, but it is an investment we must do if we are to secure the future of our children and nation.”
The Commissioner for Education, Hajia Salihu, in an address said she was happy to state that the number of out-of-school children had reduced from 513,963 to 298,292 for basic education sector in 2020, adding that out of this number, 128,342 are females and 161,750 are males.
Salihu said efforts are being made to even to further reduce the figure.
“For us in Niger State, our commitment to the drastic reduction of the number of out-of-school children is a priority that we have set to accomplish at all cost.
“The modest achievements recorded in recent times is being threatened by the insecurity confronting the state.”
In his address, the Minister of State, Education, Mr. Chukwemeka Nwajiuba, said the federal government is worried about the staggering number of out-of-school children in the country and the danger it poses to the future of the nation.
Nwajiuba therefore called on all stakeholders to join hands with government to stamp out the trend, urging Niger State to sustain the momentum in its school enrolment programme in the 25 local government areas.
“No nation can make meaningful progress with a large percentage of its children out of school. It is not just a social phenomenon, but an economic characteristic.
“This is why the federal government wants out-of-school children to return back to school not just to complete their basic education but to go further in their education,” the minister said.