The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has decried what it described as “an uncontrollable wave of insecurity” in Nigeria, which it noted has also dangerously affected the nation’s educational institutions from primary to the university levels.
The union blamed the government for its failure to secure schools, colleges and universities.
The president of the union, Emmanuel Osodeke, who addressed the media on Monday at the end of a two-day meeting of the union’s National Executive Council (NEC), noted that Nigeria’s education sector in the year 2021 plunged into new depths with an increasing spate of insecurity adding to the myriad of challenges the sector has been facing.
Nigeria’s education sector, which had been beset by incessant industrial actions by its workers, leading to frequent disruptions in academic calendars, also suffered the consequences of the rampaging coronavirus pandemic.
And with increased cases of kidnapping of school children and fears of the third wave of COVID-19 pandemic, learning has been disrupted, thus increasing the number of out-of-school children.
Nearly a thousand secondary school and university students have been kidnapped in coordinated attacks by terrorists and bandits in the last 10 months, especially in the country’s northern region.
In the north-east, over 800 schools remain closed due to violent crises, and while kidnapping and violent attacks on schools in the South-west and south-south region are rising, the constant sit-at-home directive by separatist group IPOB in the south-east is taking a toll on the education system.
For instance, 10 days after gunmen invaded a school in Niger State and kidnapped 41 persons in late February, bandits kidnapped 317 pupils from Government Girls Science Secondary School, Jangebe, in Zamfara State.
ASUU, which cited the more recent security crisis and violent attacks the education institutions are facing, also blamed porous and dilapidating facilities for increased violent crimes on the campuses.
Mr Osodeke said: “Apart from the dilapidating facilities, many of the quarters are embarrassingly porous; making them prime targets for criminals, hoodlums, kidnappers and other criminal elements.
“Until recently, the University of Calabar (UNICAL) staff quarters was perennially attacked. Similar experiences were reported in University of Maiduguri, Usman Dan Fodio University and some other campuses. In these and other instances, some of our kidnapped members never came back to tell the stories.
“The recent kidnap of three professors, one registry staff and some family members of the University of Abuja (UNIABUJA) epitomised the uncontrollable wave of insecurity that has enveloped our educational institutions from primary to the university.
“Government’s failure to secure the schools, colleges and universities will sound the death knell of our fragile education system. Staff residential quarters on our campuses are least befitting of academic communities of the 21st century.”