Today, the Leadership Newspaper published the names of the students killed at the Federal Government College in Buni-Yadi, Yobe State.
This is a timely reminder that these were indeed real people, not just a number or a statistic but real young Nigerians whose lives have come to an untimely end.
On the 25th of February 2014, un-known persons presumed to be elements of the Jama’atu ahlus sunnah lid da’awati wal jihad (JALISWAJ), perpetrated a mass atrocity in which they killed tens of learners at the Federal Government College, (FGC) Buni-Yadi and abducted an equally shocking number of female learners.
There is no way to minimize the shock and tragedy of these events. The perpetrators clearly do not wish Nigeria well. Words are not enough to condemn them and their conduct. To the parents of the affected children, words are equally insufficient comfort or condolence. This is every parent’s worst nightmare. Condolences are also due to the Government and People of Yobe State and to the Federal Government.
Education a basic right guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. These children were killed in exercise of this right. The pursuit of education cannot be cause for the mass murder of innocent children.
FGC Buni-Yadi is one of a network of 104 so-called Unity Schools, begun in 1966 by the Federal Government and accelerated in the 1970s to foster national unity in Nigeria through learning and enlightenment. It truly hurts that children whom we sent to school as symbols of our unity as a country have become sacrificial offerings in some people’s project towards dis-unity. This must not be allowed.
Confronting this requires collective leadership at all levels. At a time like this, it is necessary for political leaders across parties to sink differences, reassure the country, and discover in adversity such as this the will to forge common purpose.
Sybolisms do matter. In memory of these children and all others lost in the ongoing situation in the north-east and as the institution of government closest to the people, our National Assembly should re-convene urgently in plenary. The plans for the Centenary celebration must reflect the tragic backdrop of the country at this time. A suitable period of national mourning will not be out of place. In the interim, proposals for the transfer of children in the eight Unity Schools in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States to other schools outside the region should be taken seriously.
Many official reports, including the Marshall Dike report (2009); Galtimari Report (2011); and Turaki Committee Report (2013) already contain far-reaching proposals for addressing the situation in N.E. Nigeria. The Federal Government and the governments and people of the states in the Lake Chad area in N.E. Nigeria deserve the support and ideas of all citizens, well-wishers and friends of Nigeria as they work to bring an end to these atrocities.
This massacre of innocent young Nigerians is so tragic. It is easy for us to lose hope in our country’s present and future.