By Emmanuel Uzuegbu-Wilson, Babcock University - School of Law and Security Studies.
This paper discussed the security challenges of targeted attacks on schools in Nigeria by non-state armed, terrorist or criminal’s groups. The discourse was for the purpose of understanding the factors contributing to the frequent attacks while also distinguishing the roles and responsibilities of critical stakeholders in the educational system. The paper employed a desk-review qualitative research methodology with the use of secondary sources of data. Data was analyzed through content analysis. The paper found that the pre-dispositional factors contributing to the attacks directed on schools are linked to the emergence of domestic terrorism and concluded that school administrators, staff, parents and students have critical roles to play in supporting safe school initiative. The paper therefore recommended that all critical stakeholders must commit their resources together and establish an effective working relationship for the purpose of promoting safe school in collaboration with public law enforcement agencies. This will go a long way in addressing the security challenges of schools attacked by the Boko Haram insurgent group and other armed criminal groups.
Keywords: Security Sector, Governance, Reform, Development
Security lapses and challenges certainly do manifest on a daily basis in schools in Nigeria. Such challenges ranges from “youth restiveness, terrorism and insurgent attacks, kidnappings and hostage-takings for monetary ransoms, political assassinations, arsons, murders, cult-related activities, mass protests and so forth” (Phenson, Ojie , Esin & Atai,2014,p.1). However in the wake of Boko Haram insurgency and the subsequent launching of attacks on schools, suicide attacks, bombings, shooting at sight, abductions and hostage taking have taken prominence and have remained issues of serious security concern. While many have falling victims to any of the dangers aforementioned, very few have actually escaped death or injury during such attacks. In the prevailing circumstances, the safety and security of school administrators, teachers and students and entire community where the schools are located are no longer guaranteed; most especially in the north-east geo-political zone where the activities of Boko Haram insurgents are much pronounced.
The inaccessibility of schools as a result of the inherent dangers therefore remains a serious challenge to the knowledge givers, the learners and also other critical stakeholders. In most schools attacked, the traumatic experience alone cannot easily be erased as such experience instills fear on the teachers and the students alike and make it very difficult for them to return back to school. More so, the “planning , organizing, coordinating, financing and evaluating of all education activities on students, teachers and school heads” in the schools attacked are often jeopardized while teaching and learning processes hindered because the school environment are unsafe and learning can’t be properly conducted and coordinated in an unsafe school environment (Olowoselu, Bello & Onuselogu, 2014,p.81).
Schools attacked are not also excluded from the effect of the crippling security challenges that threaten the security and unity of the Nigerian state in general. Some of these challenges outlined by (Phenson, Ojie, Esin & Atai, 2014, p.3) are also directly or indirectly linked to the critical security challenges that certainly have made schools vulnerable to attacks in Nigeria. They are:
Inadequacies in manpower recruitment and training of security forces and law enforcement agencies.
Lack of timely and promptness in the handling of security issues by government.
Lack of citizen’s involvement in state security management.
Low standard of security awareness.
Reluctance by citizens to volunteer security information to law enforcement agencies.
Slow threat response by government to security advices on threat assessment and neutralization.
Lack of effective coordination and harnessing of human material and technical resources.
Poor funding of security agencies and low motivation of security personnel.
Lack of effective security networking between security and law enforcement agencies.
Lack of security personnel’s self-control and discipline.
Lack of secrecy and porous security network.
Non-adherence to document security classifications and violation of oaths of secrecy Acts in security and government departments in Nigeria.
Uzuegbu-Wilson, Emmanuel, Security Challenges of Attacks on Schools in Nigeria: The Role of School Administrators, Staff, Parents and Students (September 18, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3456304 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3456304