Atiku: Government failing in its responsibilities to youths


Atiku Abubakar, former vice-president, says the government is failing in its responsibilities to the youths.

The former presidential candidate spoke on Friday at the graduation ceremony of Baze University in Abuja.

Abubakar said the attacks on schools across the country pose a serious threat to education.

“How does education improve a society? Education, knowledge, is the foundation of any society. In our globalised and technological world, national wealth is more and more based on knowledge, innovation and on entrepreneurship. It is education that makes these possible. And especially for a country like Nigeria, that education must be available to girls as well as to boys,” he said.

“The evidence is clear, societies are transformed when girls and women are educated. We see this all over the world. When women are educated, families are smaller and healthier. When women are educated, more children go to school. Let me repeat that very important fact. More children go to school when women are educated. Infant and child mortality is reduced. National economic growth increases, and corruption is reduced. All this from educating women, and from educating men too, of course. From getting the sort of education we are celebrating here today.

“Well then, how does Nigeria fare at this challenging time? How does Nigeria measure up? How are we doing? Not very well, it seems. It pains me to share this information with you. The most striking thing for which Nigeria has become known all over the world has been captured in a BBC headline — ‘Nigeria’s Kidnapped Children’. There are even whole websites now devoted to the latest kidnapping news in Nigeria.

“And what has been our response to this horrible situation? Some say we cannot protect these most vulnerable of our citizens. Our very own children. No, they say. We can’t protect them in Nigeria’s schools. So, we should just close the schools and send them all home.

“Who cares if they are educated or not? Just send them home. What would we do if our airports were threatened? What would we say to the airlines? Would we say, ‘our airports are threatened? We are closing our airports. Do not fly your planes to Nigeria’. No, of course not. If our ports were threatened, would we turn back the ships? Yet when schools are threatened, we don’t do everything in our power to defend them. Instead, we close them and send the children home. Here is the terrible truth: we are failing our youth in Nigeria. And it goes far beyond the kidnapping.

“UNESCO reports that here in Nigeria we have more children out of school than in any other country in the world. We top the list. One out of every five children who are out of school in the entire world live here, live right here in Nigeria. What kind of lives will they have as illiterates, our young people with no ability to read or to write, with no ability to add and subtract? What skills will our young people have to earn a living in the modern world?

“And in the face of this educational disaster, last year national spending on education in Nigeria fell to its lowest point in a decade. The population is doubling. Education spending is declining. It’s almost unimaginable.

“Nigeria is at a critical moment in our history. Whether our growing population will be educated or illiterate, whether they will be employed or permanently out of work, at peace or war with one another, all this will depend on what happens right now and in the next few years.”

Abubakar said some solutions must be immediately implemented to salvage the educational crisis.

He said the government must increase funding for education, employ cutting edge technology for learning at all levels of education and prioritise educating girls and women.

According to him, this is crucial for the social, economic, and political development of the country.


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