Niger State Governor, Mr. Abubakar Sani Bello, has raised the alarm that seven of the 25 local government areas in the state were frequently under attack by bandits and terrorists.
This, the Governor pointed out, has led to the increase in the number of out-of-school children in the state, which he puts at over 298,962, the highest in the North Central geo-political zone of the country.
The governor, speaking at the launch of the North-Central campaign against the trend of out-of-school children in Minna, yesterday, added that the development was embarrassing.
Although he did not name the affected local governments areas, recent reports indicated that Shiroro, Munya, Rafi, Magama, Mariga Mashegu, and Wushishi were among the LGAs that have been incessantly attacked by bandits.
The Commissioner for Education, Hajia Hanatu Jibrin Salihu, gave the figure of 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 was a nexus between the number of out-of-school children and insecurity that has plagued the seven local governments in the state saying: “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 the state, some pupils trek 5 to 10 kilometres to get to school; with the security situation, if such a pupil is a girl, no parent will dare it, especially when 10 to 11 years old girls are being raped,” the governor declared.
Bello admitted that part of the security challenges confronting the North was 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 into banditry; invariably, there is a nexus between school dropout and security challenges”.
He, therefore, appealed to the Federal Government and other development partners to redouble efforts at making education accessible to more Nigerian children, adding that though “education is not cheap, it is an investment we must do if we are to secure the future of our children and nation.”
Niger State Commissioner for Education Hajia Salihu, in an address, said: “I am happy to state here that the number of out-of-school children has reduced from 513, 963 to 298,292 for basic education sector in 2020.”