The Southern Kaduna Youths and Students Forum (SKYSFOM) has accused Mr. Nasir El-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, of plotting to stifle the educational advancement of the people of Southern Kaduna and the institutions located within the zone. The group made the allegation in a statement issued after a press conference it addressed in Kafanchan.
Signed by its National President, Mr. Galadima Jesse, the statement said the execution of the governor's plot was recently evidenced by a state-sanctioned disruption of a press conference it organized to plead for the re-opening of tertiary institutions in the zone.
SKYSFOM said the aborted press conference, slated for 12 June, was stormed by heavily armed policemen, who barricaded the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Secretariat.
According to SKYSFOM, Mr. El-Rufai has behaved inhumanely to Southern Kaduna students through the closure of the College of Education, Gidan Waya; the Kafanchan Campus of the Kaduna State University (KASU) and the School of Nursing, Kafanchan.
"These schools were closed down since December 2016 and up to now, they remain closed. In fact, the Kafanchan Campus of the Kaduna State University was closed down on the 19 December, 2016, and has remained closed since," said SKYSFOM. The group noted that academic activities had been paralyzed at the College of Education since last October because of the government's failure to promptly tackle herdsmen's attacks on communities close to the school. The government attributed the closure of the institutions to insecurity, a reason described by SKYSFOM as ridiculous and constituting an indictment of the government.
"Assuming that the excuse of insecurity is valid, then how come all other schools – private and public, state institutions, state agencies, markets and so many other institutions and facilities have been open all this while? Doesn’t the continued closure of the three tertiary institutions indict the Government that it has been unable to secure it citizens?" SKYSFOM asked.
The group also asked Mr. El-Rufai to explain why the University of Maiduguri in Borno State, which has been persistently attacked and bombed, remains open while the yet to be attacked tertiary institutions in Southern Kaduna should be closed for almost a year.
"Is the governor still trying to give a wrong impression to the outside world that Southern Kaduna is still in crisis when peace has returned to the zone? Which is more difficult: To reopen the Kafanchan Campus of KASU and continue with normal lectures or transfer the students to the main campus in Kaduna, as the governor is trying to do? We say no to that," stated SKSFOM.
It described as ironic Mr. El-Rufai's enrollment for a PhD in a Dutch university at a time he has shut tertiary institutions in Southern Kaduna. The group said it was possible for the governor to close the institutions because none of his children attends any of the closed schools. It described the governor's action as a crime against humanity.
"This is a serious crime against humanity that the governor is guilty of and we make bold to say that we, the students, will lawfully and legally resist him. Consequently, we demand the immediate reopening of the tertiary schools in Kafanchan so that our members can go back and continue with their studies because this same governor has told the world that normalcy has returned to Southern Kaduna," said SKYSFOM.
The forum also called on its members in the impacted institutions to remain steadfast, saying it will not rest until the schools are re-opened. It added that it is organizing educational programs to engage the minds of its members during the period of the closure. It also reiterated that the three-week ultimatum served the governor on 12 June still stands.