The National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN) has called on federal and state governments to protect schools and students from all security threats or parents will be forced to withdraw their children from all boarding facilities in the country.
President of the association, Haruna Danjuma, who spoke with SaharaReporters on Friday, described the recent activities of kidnappers in the Northern region targeted at schoolchildren as worrisome and should be tackled immediately by the government.
According to him, the fresh abduction of schoolgirls in Jangebe, Zamfara, and the kidnapping of Kangara students in Niger State should make the Nigerian government deploy security operatives to schools, especially boarding facilities in the North.
He said, “The government should be concerned about the security of the state and find a way to protect our schoolchildren from being kidnapped. Look at what happened in Jangebe in Zamfara state and the other incident at Niger state.
“I have spoken with the national council of the association, directing the state chapters of the association to make sure that they, alongside the government of the state should see how security personnel will be mobilised to secure the lives of all our children in all the government and private schools that are operating boarding facilities and so also day students.
“What happened in two other states, Niger and Zamfara, we wouldn't know which state or school is next. We've asked the national council members to liaise with the state chapters to decide on what needs to be done. The government has to make constructive arrangements to secure lives. What we meant by constructive arrangement is to mobilise security personnel to make sure that our schools are secured.”
According to him, the association has continuously employed the use of the media to communicate with President Muhammadu Buhari about its complaints, requests, and the way forward.
Danjuma stated that the recent request of the association is for the president to meet with the service chiefs and all those concerned on the issue of security to find a way to protect the lives of schoolchildren.
He said: “When we heard of the issue of Niger state, we organised a press conference appealing to Mr President to protect them. Having heard of what happened in Zamfara, we are working again towards meeting with the members of the national council to have a meeting so we request the audience of the president or the education minister, so that we can hear from them. I can't tell what the members of the national council are going to say about it but now, we are trying to get their permission to have an audience with Mr. President.”
He added that the body had directed all schools at all levels to engage the service of capable security personnel to protect the school from any security threat.
Danjuma, however, said the challenge is that the security officers employed are usually too old to protect the students.
“Because of the expression of free and compulsory education at all school levels, we have given that directive that they should get security personnel. The challenge is government-owned schools or public schools. It is possible only two security personnel are managing the security affairs of the whole school but some of these security personnel are old enough that they can't do anything to secure children or teachers from any security threat.
“We want real security operatives to be deployed to schools. These are parts of the issues we will preset to Mr. President when we meet him because we need our children at day and boarding schools to be safe. We will also see how the governors at the state level, Commissioners of Police, and the Department of State Services will come in and intervene because we are afraid. We are talking about Zamfara, what about other children in other boarding schools? What we are concerned about is the safety of our children in boarding schools.”
Danjuma further stated that the association members were waiting to hear from the government to know what would be done to ensure the safety of schoolchildren, refusal of which might attract withdrawal of wards from boarding houses in the North.
“For now, we are waiting to hear from our government, as a matter of urgency, how we can ensure that the lives of our children and teachers will be safe. If that could not be granted, then we have no option but to think of how to take our children away from boarding schools.”