Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Executive Secretary of Benue State Teaching Service Board (TSB), Prof. Wilfred Uji, has disclosed that over 300,000 school children have been displaced by the incessant Fulani herdsmen invasion of the state since January this year.
Uji disclosed this in a chat with newsmen in his office on Tuesday.
He said those affected included 200,000 secondary school students as well as over 100,000 primary school pupils in three local government areas of Logo, Guma and Ukum many of whom are now taking refuge in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in the state.
He lamented that other local government areas such as Agatu, Gwer West, Okpokwu and Apa are not also spared by the grave destruction to educational facilities occasioned by the Fulani incursion into the state.
He revealed that Government Secondary School (GSS) Gbajimba, GSS Agasha, GSS Logo, GSS Ukum as well as and many other community driven schools have been closed down or burnt down completely as a result of these crises.
While stressing the need for all hands to be on deck to ensure a quick resolution of the herdsmen/farmers crises, Uji posited that there seem to be a deliberate agenda by some group of people to destroy the educational capacity of the north.
Uji, however, urged President Muhammadu Buhari and all governors of the affected state to come together Governor to address the situation.
“I think it will take the intervention of the President and the governor of the state, working together in some kind of atmosphere of diplomacy to end this crisis quickly so that the future of our children will be restored.
“There is a challenge for northern Nigeria in terms of educational development in the next 50 years and we might find ourselves being unable to compete with the rest of Nigerians.
“The future is under attack. Education is compromised completely in the situation we find ourselves. In my own view, I suggest that President Buhari should take a second look at the unwholesome development of the crisis between herdsmen and farmers communities.
“It’s not just the economy that is being attacked, but above all, education which is the future of the country. And if we destroy education to such an extent that we are beginning to see, there is hardly any future for our children tomorrow.
The Executive Secretary noted that another terrible dimension of the crisis was the fact that several teachers and principals, most especially from Zones A and B where there are 2000 and 1500 teachers were receiving letters of threats from criminals warning them to stop further school activities in the areas.
“I was in my office when some of them walked in and showed me their threat letters and once these kind of letters are written to you, you better take it seriously or the next day, you find yourself in a different form.
“The question is if this crisis is between herdsmen and farmers, why the attacks on educational facilities same way like the fight you find in the Northeast? There is a connect between Boko Haram attacks on Northeast and the attacks by Fulani herdsmen in the North central Nigeria in terms of killings and destruction of properties.
“It is my firm belief that Somebody somewhere is trying to destroy the educational standard of Benue and the northern Nigeria,” Prof. Uji said.