By Ali Sabo
Education as a tool for self-development and wealth creation has become a nightmare and mirage to the significant number of people in Northern Nigeria which can be traced to how Western education came to the region and the way the people accepted it.
It was then regarded as an abomination, taboo, and the people that embraced it was regarded as outcasts. Gradually, as the society evolves, people started to realize its importance and even the most critics of it started enrolling their children into the system when the benefits and privileges it comes with starts manifesting.
From 1960 up to the late 80s, education was free and compulsory, we heard many stories on how people of that time were treated like kings and queens by the society, enjoyed all the educational benefits and given special treatment where ever they go, alas, they are the ones destroying the legacy built by our forefathers.
But as the population starts skyrocketing, the country’s revenue going down and the lack of seriousness by the successive governments’ everything starts to fade. Incoming governments gave many excuses on why(s) students can no more continue enjoying their country’s God-given resources. That was how many of the students dropped out and pursued other things.
North as a region has been in the disadvantaged side in terms of western education. The missionaries who were first to introduce it to Nigeria used it as a means of preaching and expansion of Christianity just like the Arabs who used Arabic to expand Islam in Northern Nigeria.
The South is on the advantageous side of the first contact with those missionaries was more educated and knowledgeable than their Northern counterpart for more than 50 years. But this not where the problem is. When the Federal Government introduced federal and unity schools in the country in the 70s, it decided to lower the cut off marks of those schools for the students of Northern states due to the fact that the region was not well matured to compete with other parts of the country.
The issue of education in Northern Nigeria is one of the biggest threats the region is facing. You can believe me if you are privileged to know the cut-off marks of our federal and unity colleges in the country; where a student from Abia state is required to score 130-130 before getting admission while a student from Jigawa with 44-44 scores would be admitted in the same school; if you are in Anambra state you must score 139-139, but a student from Bauchi with 35-35 can get admission and be admitted in the same class with you.
The story is the same with Kano state where its student is allowed to be enrolled with 67-67 while Lagos pupils must get 133-133 and we are still acting like it is normal. It will hurt you more to know that this disturbing trend has been in existence for more than four decades and no one cares to raise an eyebrow or correct it. This is a story for another day.
To show you how the region has failed its people, for almost ten days now a video has been circulating on social media, the videos which is believed to have emanated from Kano state showed thousands of children lined-up at a residence of a wealthy man in the state waiting for him or his aides to come out and give alms to those hungry young girls and boys and women who were waiting for him for God’s only knows hours.
Begging and giving alms have become part and parcel of Hausa culture and our elites capitalized on it to enslave the teeming uneducated youth (the people they intentionally deprived the right to education) and the poor among us.
Since before the surfacing of the said video, North is a well-known hub for child negligent, many parents in the region do not know the responsibilities and what it takes to bring a child to this world; also our political elites have found a lucrative business in child negligent where they recruit them during elections and use them as thugs against their opponents; while government have for long refused and failed to provide a safe haven for these innocent children who were victims of bad system.
The consequences of this child influx especially rural-urban migration is a threat to every one of us; government, individuals and academicians at all levels must devise ways on how to tackle this menace and come up with a well-designed solution to it, otherwise, none of us will be safe in the future.
Ali Sabo works with Centre for Information Technology and Development in Dutse, Jigawa State. You can reach him either through email: email@example.com or his twitter handle @a_sabo12