”Knowledge is power, information is liberating, education is the premise of progress in every society”–Kofi Annan
First off, I will like to express my deepest condolences to the family of Kolade Johnson the young man who was brutally murdered by irresponsible men of the Nigerian Police Force special anti-cultism squad, the thousands who have been killed by the “technically defeated” Boko Haram terrorists group, the hundreds who are being killed every other day in Zamfara state by armed bandits and the patriotic Nigerians who lost their lives in the just concluded 2019 general elections amongst others.
One thing we must realize is that an unstable society cannot develop at her desired rate, therefore we must do better for Nigeria and Nigerians. Living in Nigeria today has become a nightmare as the value of life has been reduced to zero or nothing. Crime rates are increasing at an alarming rate, new vices are being introduced daily and most alarming thing, in my opinion, is that the government has not taken any commendable steps to look into the fundamental issues birthing these vices. It is still all fun and games till one of their own is directly affected (something I don’t hope for as well). In a Premium Times Report dated March 7th 2019, it stated that over 113 people have been killed and over 18,000 people have been displaced in Zamfara state alone by “armed bandits”, operatives of the Nigerian police force have killed not less than 3 innocent young people in the space of 5 days, terrorist group ISWAP publicly murdered 5 Nigerian soldiers, Kaduna-Abuja highway has been described as a den of kidnappers where we even saw the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai personally going into the bushes to “chase away” these criminals, the acting director of army public relations, Colonel Sagir Musa reported the death of seven people in died in a shoot-out between an unidentified gang and Nigerian soldiers during the rivers state elections the list keeps going on and on. Now the scary thing about these figures is that they might not even be accurate because who really cares? This gives a brief summary of Nigeria today.
An established research finding in the economics of crime literature shows that a well-educated society is less prone to crime and criminal activities while a society with high illiteracy rate tends to be more prone to crime. In the classic Becker model of crime, individuals decide whether or not to commit crime by comparing the advantages and disadvantages of criminal participation. At the margin, higher wages and stable employment can tilt the individual away from crime. In simpler terms, a society where the people are gainfully employed/empowered will record lower crime rates. Applying this to our indigenous society it means that as long as there is a deficit in our educational sector (formal & informal), we will continue to have more people unlikely to be gainfully employed or intellectually empowered to fend for themselves and will, therefore, be cajoled into alternative means of sustaining their lives.
What can we do?
We need to employ a holistic and sustainable approach to these issues where every stakeholder in the Nigerian projects plays an active role in curbing these vices. However, the bulk of the work lies in the hands of the government of the day. First the government needs to declare a state of emergency in our educational systems and begin to consider education a priority from the budgeting process by increasing the percentage of education in our budgets from the average 17% to 26% as recommended by the UNESCO or more, work closely with the National Assembly to pass and enforce bills and policy that will enable rapid growth in our educational system. The government should also find an urgent way of engaging the high number of out of school children which was estimated to be 10.5 million children by the UNICEF because without education these children will face a future of thwarted ambitions, broken dreams and a life bereft of hope. They will lack all it takes to be gainfully employed/empowered and therefore result to anger, hate and extreme frustration falling as bait directly into the arms of violence and terrorism as their solutions to social justice and equity.
If we treat education as a priority at all levels, we will have a well-trained police force that would not harass or kill innocent citizens, our young men and women would not be easily manipulated into joining terrorist groups, our youths will not engage in pointless political thuggery that will cost them their lives and the lives of others, bombings and kidnappings will not appear to be the only way to engage and dialogue with the government as the people will be more enlightened to other viable methods and most importantly we will have enlightened leaders who will understand the true meaning of leadership and not the mess we have been dealing with all along.
As citizens, we should make our voices heard, we must to hold our leaders accountable and finally live with the basic principle of being our brother’s keepers to ensure a more peaceful society.
“Education is the key that unlocks human potential, it provides hope for the most disadvantaged and marginalized in society and gives courage to keep striving for a better future. Our continuous obliviousness of the rot in the educational sector in Nigeria will deliver serious consequences for us all”.
Alli-Bob Cinwon is the President of Evergreen Initiative and a social commentator based in Abuja.
This post was first published on News Digest NG