20m Out-Of-School Children Poses Threat, Recruitment Target For Militia Groups – Obasanjo

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The Former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has warned that the 20 million out-of-school children in Nigeria constitute security threats and cast recruitment targets by terrorists, kidnappers, Boko Haram and armed robbers if their education is not addressed with deliberate commitment.

Obasanjo said this at a National Summit on Tertiary Education Reform organized under the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, with the theme: ‘Re-imagining Tertiary Education in Nigeria: Issues, Challenges and Solutions.’

He said, “If we do not get them back to school, we are worsening the generation to come.”

He said no Nigerian should be denied education for lack of means to do so, adding, “We must find a solution.  So what are the issues? The issues to me are that we are cutting more than we can chew.

“Who is looking at our population ahead of time, five years from now and ten years from now, and what can we do about it? And apart from food which is very important, who are the people thinking about that and working forward on that?

” After food and after health, the next important aspect of our life is education. Now, if this is the position and these are rights that we must have, what do we do? We know that if we continue the way we are going, by the year 2030, 2040, 2050 what our population would be.

“We have to think about it and how we would sort it. And I believe, that you asked where did we miss the road? We missed the road when the whole world is talking of education for all and we did not follow that. It was bad news. today we have 20 million out-of-school children. Almost 10 percent of the population. We continue to miss and we are still missing. That is a very bad one. Can we do anything about it? I believe we can. 

He noted, “The 20 million children out of school, can be brought back to school by us, but If we fail to do that, we are rather preparing them for Boko Haram of tomorrow in this country. 

“What can we do where are these 20 million children? Where are they located. Can we have schools in the morning and afternoon to get them in at least for six years. In the period of six years where this is happening, we would prepare for the transition from primary school to secondary school. 

The Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, who stressed the need for human capital development, said the nation’s greatest resource was its people.

He said the Summit is the manifestation of the commitment in the 9th House of Representatives to engender a national conversation to consider bold ideas and radical innovations to restructure and reform public tertiary education in Nigeria.

According to the Speaker, “The nation’s greatest resource is not the oil that flows through our deltas nor the abundant minerals that lie underground in every corner of our country.  Our most incredible resource has always been the Nigerian people.  This immense collection of tongues and tribes, bound together under one flag, striving through adversity and achieving despite every obstacle.  As we are gathered here this morning, our cause is more than to seek solutions to the challenges of tertiary education in Nigeria.  We are here today on a mission to save Nigeria.”

He said for Nigeria to reach its potential and achieve the greatness it are capable of, it must invest in the people.

“In this generation, social, economic and political development is, and will continue to be powered by advancements in information and communication technologies.  We must provide the resources to modernise and improve our education infrastructure and provide the right training for young people from primary through tertiary education.  This goes to the heart of our survival as a nation and as a people.  I say that because I believe our country will not survive long if our children cease to believe their best dreams are possible here,” he said.

Gbajabiamila further said, education was the silver bullet that would eliminate poverty in the country.

“Education is the silver bullet that eliminates poverty and lack; it presents hope and confidence and reduces violence and strife.  Education offers us the promise that by the application of our minds and the works of our hands, we can make this world better and improve the life of man on this earth.  Education is the gift that keeps on giving through generations.  A university degree, or tertiary qualification of some other kind, can be the catalyst that changes the trajectory of an entire family.  Evidence abounds of the transformations that can happen when ambition and diligence are amplified by access to quality education and training.”

The Minister of State for Education, Goodluck Opiah, expressed gratitude to the Speaker, Femi Gbajabimila for intervening in the face-off with ASUU and organising the summit.

This, he said, was in continuation of his commitment to ensuring that the legislature contributes to creating stable environment for our tertiary education sector.

He said as more universities were established to improve access to the growing population, the dwindling economic realities made it difficult for government to sustain adequate funding, to maintain the quality of teaching and learning, infrastructure as well as maintain the structures necessary for attracting global talents needed to sustain intellectualism. 

“Several attempts has been made to reform the funding structure by TEFUND, which has released over N2.3 trillion to the various institutions to create more infrastructure, support research and improve documentation. 

However, he said the increasing population with its associated increased demands for tertiary education has made it difficult to satisfy the various demands for funding by government.

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