Poor school enrolment boosting insurgency, says Atiku

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has raised the alarm that the fight against insurgency could be a mirage if conscious efforts were not made by government to address the problem of out-of-school children in the country.

Atiku, who was the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the last general elections, stated this while addressing  the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and Tertiary Education Trust Fund on Thursday.

He spoke as a  stakeholder at a public hearing organised by the committee on the conversion of Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola to a conventional, multi-disciplinary institution.

The panel also conducted public hearing on the proposed Federal University of Agriculture and Technology, Funtua, Katsina State.

Atiku said the conversion of the university would be in the national interest.

He said the people of the North-East region had been at the mercy of Boko Haram insurgents, adding that the development had led to a drastic reduction in enrolment in tertiary education.

He said, “A compelling justification for the conversion is the location of the university.  Yola is located in the North-East region of the country, a region just emerging from a grueling insurgency, whose central creed is antagonism to conventional education.

“Limiting access to higher education to large number of youths in the region will not only mean submitting to the insurgents but it will also worsen the challenges of youths in the area.

“The general state of fear – both imagined and real – that has enveloped the region as a result of the activities of the dreaded Boko Haram and the general insecurity on the roads, has extinguished the motivation in parents to send their children to neighbouring conventional universities that should ordinarily absorb the candidates.

“Added to this, is the worsening economic situation in the region, which has been deepened by the insurgency. The conversion of the university would create more access to students and lessen the burden on parents and guardians who would ordinarily find it difficult to send students far for academic pursuit.”

Atiku, therefore, urged the Senate panel to approve the conversion of MAUTECH to a full-fledged conventional university in the interest of peace in the North-East.

He said, “Distinguished senators, it is in the overall national interest that you favourably consider the conversion of Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola to a conventional university.

“As a conventional university, the university in addition to courses in Science and Technology will have the mandate to run courses in Medicine, Pharmacy, Law, the Arts and Social and Management Sciences, among others.

“This indeed is the surest way to accelerate access, quality, relevance and equity for our people in Adamawa State, the North East-and entire Nigeria.

“It is equally part of a right step toward rebuilding a broken people. We lose nothing and gain everything if we just get this done.’’

Atiku also urged the federal parliament to monitor budgetary allocation to the education sector to avoid diversion.

He said, “When we were in office, we passed the compulsory education from primary to secondary school law. We also imposed taxation on education.

“This is one law I will appeal to you to take and look at for review again,” he said.

The senator representing Adamawa Central, Senator Aisha Benani, who initiated the bill for the conversion of MAUTECH to a multi-disciplinary institution aligned with the submission of the former vice-president.

She said insurgency had restrained students from  the North-East region from moving outside  their immediate zone to seek learning in tertiary institutions which had led to a drastic reduction in enrolment.

“With this institution in Yola, the gap will be bridged, jobs will be created and they will feel at home learning professional courses,” she said.

She added that with the conversion of the only federal institution in the state to a multi-disciplinary institution, justice would be served.

The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, advised the  Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and Tertiary Education Trust Fund, led by Senator Ahmed Baba Kaita, to be thorough in its assignment.
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