Nigeria: Boko Haram - Northeast Nigeria '500 Years Behind South in Education' - VC

The Vice- Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri, Abubakar Njodi, has said the North-east may take 500 years to recover from the destruction inflicted by Boko Haram on its education system and attain the current standard in southern Nigeria.

Mr. Njodi, a professor of Physical and Health Education, said even before the advent of Boko Haram, studies indicated that the
region was about 150 years behind other parts of the country, especially the south.

He made this remark on Friday when he received a delegation from the Victims' Support Fund, VSF, on a condolence visit over the January 16 suicide bomb attack that claimed the lives of three staff of the university, including a senior professor.

"Education in the North is endangered," Mr. Njodi lamented.

"I have said it at different fora that prior to Boko Haram, there were some studies, some real, some speculative, that showed the north was 100 years behind the south. And that was before Boko Haram came. What it means here is that, at that time if the south should stop going to school, it would take the north 100 years to catch up.

"When the north was broken up into North-east, North-west and North-central, the North-east was 150 years behind. And also at that time, if the south stopped going to school, it would take the North-east 150 years to catch up.

"With the situation that the Boko Haram has put us now, if those studies are anything to go by, the North-east may require about 500 to 1000 years to catch up with the other parts of the country", said the vice-chancellor.

Mr. Njodi said the state of education of the North-East requires the support of all as the future "looks gloomy".

He said the University had been in the eyes of the Boko Haram storm since its inception but had managed to survive without closing its campus for a single day.

"We knew from the onset that we are their (Boko Haram) prime target because going by their name, Boko Haram, which goes against Western education, we should not be in existence at all.

"And when they attacked us on the 16th January, we were not surprised but shocked in the sense that despite all the efforts we put in place, we couldn't contain everything. And during the attack, we lost a very hard working professor, Aliyu Mani, the Director of Veterinary Teaching Hospital, along with him were two students who were wards of two of our staff".

The vice-chancellor said 17 persons were taken to hospitals for treatment with various degrees of injuries from the attacks, but so far 13 of them had been discharged.

"When the heat of the Boko Haram was too much in 2004, we took a decision not to close the university because if we close, where will our students who are 90 percent from the North-east go to when their communities had all been attacked and probably taken by Boko Haram?

"So we felt we should remain and continue to run the school, so as to give the military and other aide agencies the reason to be here; and also to encourage them the more and make them have the reason to fight on", he said.

The deputy chairman of VSF, Tijjani Tumsa, who led the delegation, said his organization would partner the university in research and education.



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