How the security crisis in Nigeria threatens the safety of students across the country
The recent increase in the kidnappings of students as young as 4 years old during school hours in Northern Nigerian states proves the existence of an immense security crisis in the country, putting young students at risk.
Nigeria has been suffering several issues that impact the lives of its citizens: 83 million under the poverty line, 53 million in danger of entering poverty situations, the Boko Haram terrorist group reappearance, and now the kidnappings of students by smaller gangs.
As one of the biggest countries in Africa, with the biggest oil reserves and population, Nigeria has been plagued by terrorist attacks since 2011. Due to the drop in oil prices after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country began to rapidly lose revenue for oil, which was its biggest source of income. The lack of other resources to fall back upon economically has led the country to an economic crisis. The constant inequalities between regions, specifically security-wise, within Nigeria has also become a heightened problem the past year.
During 2021, a series of student kidnappings have been plaguing Nigeria, but they have not begun this year, as since December of 2020, a total of 1,000 children have been captured. In the past month of September, in a village named Kaya, the Government Day Secondary school was invaded by gunmen, with 73 children being taken.
Ransoms have been requested by the assailants, but are but are unaffordable to the parents of the children, leading them to selling most, if not all, of their belongings to be able to pay for a part of it. Three months prior, over 100 students were taken from a different school, the Islamic Seminary in north-west Niger state. 1 child passed away during the ordeal. Only a week before the latest mass-kidnapping were the previous children released by kidnappers.
The crimes have no connection to the Boko Haram group, a terrorist organization that has reappeared in Nigeria the past year. Instead they have been done by separate smaller gangs that specifically target students in order to receive large sums of money. After an extensive period of capturing, agreements are reached and ransoms are paid, and the gangs allow the release of the children.
The Nigerian government, led by president Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressive Congress Party, have temporarily closed schools in order to begin enforcing better security measures and ensuring the presence of more policemen around the areas of schools that have suffered from these attacks. To address the issue, the Nigerian president has also taken military action against the criminals, but no success has been achieved as kidnappings continue to occur.
It is of primal essence that the Nigerian government finds a fast solution to the increasing security issue. They must enforce the safety of students, so they are allowed to live normal lives and attend school, rather than fearing for their lives during school hours.