Will Buhari Learn
President Mohammed Buhari

The founder of Bayo and Bunmi Babalola Foundation, Engineer Sunday Adebayo Babalola, on Tuesday lamented that banditary and kidnappings of school children had dealt big blows to educational development in Nigeria.

He called for collaborative efforts of all stakeholders to address the challenges and restore the nation’s education to its pristine glory of yesteryears.

He spoke on Tuesday in Omu-Aran, Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara State the during the sixth edition of the scholarship awards of the non-governmental organisation. His speech was read by the Chairman of the Organising Committee of the foundation, who is also a retired principal, Mr. Dele Ajiboye.

He stated that 549 people, consisting of 95 pupils from Junior Secondary School 3; 64 from Senior Secondary School (WASC); 169 students from tertiary institutions and 221 others were the beneficiaries of this years scholarship awards of the NGO.

He explained that there are 1,362 beneficiaries of the scholarships since the inception of the scheme. According to him, 549 people benefited during this year’s edition while 813 had benefited in the previous five editions of 2015/2016, 2016/2017, 2017/2018, 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 of the scheme.

National President, Omu-Aran Development Association, Major General Yemi Abidoye(rtd)  described education as the most valuable asset in life which will make the younger generation true leaders of tomorrow. He lauded Engineer  Babalola for his scholarship initiative which, he said, has turned the fortunes of many children who are brilliant but their parents are not capable financially.

He noted that aside from the scholarship scheme,  Engineer Babalola also plays active roles in moving the entire community forward. He prayed God to continue to bless him.

The retired military officer advised the students and pupils to emulate their benefactor and shun internet scams and other social vices so that they will be useful for themselves and the society in future.

He also admonished parents and guardians to perform their roles effectively.

Transition Implementation Committee Chairman, Irepodun LGA; Mr. Jide Oyinloye, said government alone cannot fund education.

According to him,  it is better to build people than to build houses.

He commended Engineer Sunday and Mrs. Bunmi Babalola for the scholarships and  advised the students and pupils to face their studies seriously.

Babalola said, “It is sad that the education sector has become a major target by kidnappers and bandits for their wicked and nefarious onslaughts. Reports abound of kidnappings of pupils, students, teachers, lecturers and other support staff in our nation’s educational institutions.

“It is still fresh in our memories that on April 14-15, 2014; about 276 females, mostly Christian female students, aged between 16 to 18, were kidnapped from the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok in Borno State, Nigeria by Boko Haram Islamic terrorists.

 Translated directly, Boko Haram means “book is sin” or by implication that ‘learning or education is sin’.

 The irony of this is that the guns, phones, vehicles and may other gadgets that these terrorists use made possible only by the medium of education.

“Although many of the students later regained their freedom, some are still in the captivity of the insurgents. Some of them have even given births to children and lost their direction in life.

“Also on 19 February 2018, Boko Haram insurgents also kidnapped 110 girls from the Government Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State. Some of the girls have regained their freedom but the pathetic case of Leah Sharibu still rings bells in our ears.”

He added, “Also, on July 5, 2021, 140 students of the Baptist High School, in Kaduna State were kidnapped. As a result of the kidnappings, the Kaduna State Government had to close many schools in the state.

“Furthermore, on August 27, 2021; 136 students from the school in Tegina, Niger State, were also kidnapped by bandits who demanded ransom.

“According to www.france24.com, more than 1,000 pupils and students had since December 2020 been kidnapped from schools in some states in northern Nigeria by bandits who demanded payment of huge amount of ransom from parents.

 Though many of the victims were later released, some either died or were killed in captivity.

“According to The United Nations Children’s Fund, there had been 20 attacks on schools in Nigeria, by bandits with 1,436 children abducted and 16 children killed so far in 2021.

 The report also stated that more than 200 children remain missing.”

Babalola noted that affordable and quality education is the bedrock of societal development.

He said, “This nongovernmental organisation spent a total sum of N19.4m, comprising N17m directly to the beneficiaries and about N2.4m on logistics in the past editions.

“We increased the award amount to N10 million to compensate for our inability to hold the award in 2020 because of the pandemic. As a result, we have invested a total of N29.4m in the beneficiaries (excluding logistics).”

added, “We have made this whopping investment, not because we have all the money but as our willingness to sacrifice and a show of commitment for the educational advancement of the younger generation. We believe in Luke 12:48 that “To whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” We believe firmly that every child should have good education as education is the bedrock of societal growth and advancement. “

“Education is instrumental to the emergence of outstanding professionals, business tycoons, local government, state, national and world leaders.

Without education, the society, alas the world at large, will not only stagnate but retrogress. Crimes, poverty, sickness, insecurity, and total darkness will overwhelm the world without education.”