Saturday, June 7, 2014 5:16 pm
Owerri – The Minister of State for Defence, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro, has called for educational reforms in the North to complement efforts in fighting the Boko Haram insurgency.
Obanikoro made the call on Saturday in Owerri, during the second memorial lecture in honour of late Prof. Celestine Onwuliri.Onwuliri was the former Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology (FUTO), who died in the Dana air crash in May 2012.
In a lecture titled: “Security and National Development”, Obanikoro said for insurgency to be eradicated in the North, there must be a reform of the educational system to help bridge the education gap in the area.
He said that the consequences of mass illiteracy in the North and the politics of underdevelopment had contributed to the birth of Boko Haram insurgency.
The minister said: “Educational vacuum has been created in the North, which Boko Hara is exploiting to pursue its subversive ideologies.”
According to him, Kebbi, Sokoto, Bauchi, Jigawa, Yobe, Zamfara, Katsina and Gombe state have Nigerian’s worst girl-child education record and the highest female illiteracy rate.
He said that Nigeria could not achieve any greatness if any part of this country was left behind in the nation’s drive to provide education for the citizens.
Obanikoro said that members of the Boko Haram sect believed that “western education is a sin”, adding that such was a wrong ideology caused by illiteracy.
“Islam has no quarrel with education and those killing innocent souls are misguided people who have never read the Holy Qu’ran.
“I call on all my true Muslim brothers and sisters to denounce Boko Haram insurgency and stop being misguided by selfish leaders,” he said.
The minister said politicians must be very careful with the way they play politics with Boko Hara insurgency.
According to him, politicising the war against insurgency can be counter-productive.
The minister said that there could not be any sustainable development without peace and security in a country.
He said that the fight against insurgency had become an unfortunate distraction in the efforts of government to give dividends of democracy to its citizens.
The minister said that the drive for development had suffered a great setback in the North as a result of insurgency.
He said that some of the resources meant for development were being used to fight the war.
“Some of the ongoing projects in the North have been impeded by the challenges of insecurity.
“Some potential investors in the area are being discouraged by the threats of insecurity,” he said.
Obanikoro urged every Nigerian to collaborate in the fight against insecurity in the country,
He said that the war against insurgency should not be left in the hands of the Federal Government alone.
Obanikoro said state and local governments in the country must play a crucial role in the security challenges, and that security issues were better managed at the local level.
He said that the military would continue to strive till insurgency “is put to an end in the country”.
The minister urged the Federal Government to continue to supply the military with the necessary equipment for the battle.
He said that time had come for the Nigerian military to be reviewed in order to reposition it to meet the contemporary needs of military strategies.
Obanikoro called for a military reform process, where all the key stakeholders in the military, government officials and selected private sector operators would come together and retool the Nigerian military.
The minister also urged them Federal Government to constantly remember that counter insurgency was the art of winning public support.
“We must be ready to work with civil society groups and engage in community diplomacy,” he said.
He, however, urged military personal to always show respect to civilians in their military operations.
“The right of civilians must at all times be protected, especially the right to peaceful protest,” the minister said.