By Malam Naini Musa
Nelson mandela, the one-time president of South Africa said “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children”. If you hold that to be true, then where does that leave the children of Katsina state? A state that is now planning on spending 580M to protect its vulnerable secondary school students. Imagine the trauma for a child, knowing that they are some sort of asset that can be picked and could only be returned for exuberant amount of ransom money. No child should ever have to worry over his/her life and how much it’s (their lives) worth. Here we are today, after billions of naira spent and thousands of lives expended, the Government of Katsina state is spending more money but bitterly loosing. Astonishing! Astonishing!! What an incredible situation to find yourself in.
Firstly, let us remind ourselves that this is a government that has for its entire existence pretty much failed utterly in every attempt it has made to secure its citizens. The commissioner of Education, Prof Badamasi Charanchi whilst talking about their plan to secure students returning to schools said ““Day system were open but boarding (schools) closed and presently 1.9 million children are attending various junior and senior secondary schools in the state.”. Now let us analyze this through the lens of history. For a government that has spent billions on security and still came short is protecting its citizens, how will is it planning on spending much less and achieving this important feat. How can you fail to protect small villages under attack but achieve the jugular feat of protecting close to two million students? That is an oxy-moronic ambition if I have ever heard of one.
Secondly, I am assuming that any arrangement to keep these students would involve guarding them with heavy security. Where are we going to get these security operatives? Who is paying them? And for how long are we going to pay them. I must apologize for making this assumption, however, throughout this war, apart from their horribly executed amnesty program, their solution has always been to bring in more troops. So I will have to be excused for assuming we are headed that path again. I would love to be proven wrong by a masterstroke of an idea from our brilliant leaders. I doubt that I would be proven wrong anytime soon though. Just look at the reality today, how many bandits have been prosecuted or executed by our courts today? What is the number? Answer that question and you will know where we are today with regards to the ability of Katsina state government to protect its citizens.
Thirdly, if you are able to protect the students in their schools I say bravo! to you all. However, you will have to keep them in that protected premises for as long as this situation persists. This is because the rest of the society is vulnerable. Surely this arrangement cannot be part time. Spending hundreds of millions for protection only to put them back into the danger zone at the end of every term seems like the worst idea. It seems like you have only two options here; you either provide hostels for the parents within the school premises or you will have to employ a team of body guards for each and every student so that they can be protected at all times when they go home for holidays.
But even if you do build the parents a hostel within school premises then you cannot keep them there forever, right? They would have to go to work, go to the markets and visit the hospitals. Maybe to avoid that we have to make their parents work from home, we also have to build them markets in the schools premises and upgrade those school clinics to standard hospitals. But what if a parent has children in different schools? Which school do you post that parent to? Well maybe we are bothering too much with these questions, I believe the geniuses that are in charge of our state must have figured all these things out.
All this drama could be averted though. We could buckle up and start discussing real solutions that will bring ever lasting peace to our state. All these “Teburin Mai shayi” ideas are terrible and have lots of loopholes in them. It is precisely the reason why we are in this disastrous situation today. When this problem started, Katsina State government had the opportunity to squash it, instead they chose the simplest and easiest options. Now we have paid bandits to re-arm and attack us with better equipment. Brilliant idea guys! Top shelf stuff!
It used to be that we were vulnerable on highways, and when you guys fail to handle it, they followed people home and kidnap them. Your failure to curb kidnapping for ransom led to full blown out attacks in rural areas. Just few months ago we did not even knew that our students were vulnerable, today we are discussing how to keep them safe. If you had protected the citizens in the first place, you wouldn’t have to worry about the evolution of the crime and who their next target would be.
Like always “za’a bar jaki ana dukan tanki” The people that hold the reins of power today were not born under terror, they did not grow up in terror, why then are they leaving behind a world full of terror? Maybe this is precisely the problem of Nigeria, the people taking decisions for its future are not going to be in it. They are saddling the youth of today with a burden of their own making, caused by their own disregard for ethics and in clear violation of reason and logic. What kind of society is this?
My father has a popular saying which has been tattooed to my brain because of the thousands of times he had told it to me. He says “don’t leave till tomorrow whatever you can do today”. No man equipped with a human brain will even contemplate for a second the handling of Katsina state security by the present administration of Katsina state, we have a consensus; it is an abject failure. The people that started these attacks were un-coordinated, ill-educated, dullards that knew nothing but violence, if we lost to those retards, what chance do we have against these evolved version?
- Mallam Naini Mua is a writer and a social critic.