Over the last few years, people from all parts of Borno state have been converging in the state capital. Most of the local government areas have been sacked by the boko haram insurgents, making thousands of residence to troop into the state capital, an incident that marks the proliferation of IDP camps in the state capital.
A tour on this IDP camp, Dalori camp clearly indicates the unfortunate story of these IDPs; stupefied by the looks of dejection and hopelessness on the faces of the IDPs especially the children. One begins to ask questions if children are really the leaders of tomorrow or human lethal weapons.
In a country that is threaten with violence, insecurity, insurgency, insurrection and deprivation, children are the most vulnerable members of society as they now loitered the streets as orphans, as victims of man’s inhumanity to man; that killed their parents, abduct their siblings and destroyed their homes.
The right of children in Nigeria as in all countries of the world; to educate, healthcare, time to play are not being fulfilled and fear interventions exist to protect children. Walking through different Internally Displaced Persons IDP’s camps in Maiduguri, the capital city, the hot spot and birth place of Boko Haram in 2009, leaves one with nothing but tears. These children are allowed to wonder the streets scavenging for food, this make them prays to all sorts of abuses.
To be realistic, how many IDP’s camps do we have in Nigeria? How many orphans do we also have? Please, who owns this child; His parent or the society? When a child is an asset; he belongs to the society. But, when a child is a liability; he belongs to his parent. The devastating effects of insurgency this country is going through has not only increase the number of street children and orphans but has post a threat to the future security of our country, when these talents are not harness, but wasted they may turn out to be tomorrow’s insecurity.
National Emergency Management Agency NEMA, said, more than three million people have been displaced as a result of insecurity among who mostly are children and women. The site of a mother with her two children living under a polythene tent along the street gives one sleepless nights, a course to wonder ‘what next after the IDP camps!’
When violence of war or conflicts of any kind strikes, people die; both the young and old are wasted, many more are brutalised, maimed and injured. Houses, schools, offices and stores are not left out. While looters enjoy the ill-gotten wealth, women and children are always the worst victims.
Insurgency and abuse can have serious and permanent effects on the child thus not only slowing down any progress or development of the child, but also not allowing the full exploration of potentialities available giving prominence to mediocrity at the expense of excellence.
What can be more brutal or more evil than the adoption of more than 200 Chibok school girls in 2014 and the killing of harmless students by the Boko Haram! How can there be education if there are no people to receive education? This strikes at the very foundation of education. Students and pupils that are lucky to escape such brutality may be marred physical or psychological for life.
Image for a moment those young boys and girls kidnapped from schools by insurgents to be used as human shields, chips for ransom bargaining, sex slave, boy soldiers or sold on tightly as slaves. What can be more evil? The effect on children is just staggering and mind boggling.
All these atrocities have been committed on students, in Mamudo, Potiskum, Gujba and Damaturu in Yobe State, Chibok in Borno State. Sadly,the effect on education is terrible, retrogressive, destructive and damaging to the overall human progress and development of an already very backward and poor zone.
Painfully, the horrible effect of insecurity on children is the financial or economic incapacity of individuals, families, communities and government. With wars and conflicts raging mercilessly and incessantly, economic activities cannot function let alone thrive. Scarce economic resources cannot meet up with such daunting challenges. Providence of shelter, food, medicationand education are indispensable prerequisite for children’s wellbeing. But,parents can scarcely take care of their children’s basic survival needs talk more of education as it can be seen in various camps of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Many of the children have been orphaned completely. No father, no mother, no body to care for them. The few philanthropists and kind hearted sympathetic individuals or organisations that offer assistance are overwhelmed.
Security challenges whether insurgency, insurrections, sectarians or communal/tribal conflicts, religious conflicts or war, kidnapping, robbery and the likes hinders the children progress and development as they cannot have a fulfilled life. They cannot explore and exploit to the maximum all the potentials of greatness and success endowed in them by their creator for the development and advancement of mankind to greatness, progress and peace for all. The greatest and most important factor in the quest for such a most ideal and egalitarian society is education and is unfortunately the first casualty where there is insecurity.
One cannot but mention MalalaYossouf of Afghanistan who sought for education in the face of death. Nor can one forget the zeal and determination of the students and pupil struggling to acquire education in Yobe, Borno, Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe states and indeed the country at large.
The depressing rate of poverty in Nigeria needs to be addressed to secure a better future for the children of the next decade. Efforts to reduce poverty must be carefully designed and must go beyond setting up agencies whose effect are hardly felt, Give the child a home; a bed pillow to rest his head, a shoulder to cry on, an arm to embraces him, and a heart to care for him. Give the Nigeria child a hope.
By RahabTosal Ayuba is a 300 level student of the University of Maiduguri.