Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State has said Boko Haram insurgency resulted in 54,911 widows and 52,311 orphans, quoting statistics from World Bank, in partnership with the European Union and the Presidency.
According to Shettima, “these are official figures; probably the unofficial figure may be twice these numbers. The truth is that we either take care of these orphans or 10 to 15 years from now, they will be the monsters that will drive us out of this land.”
The governor, who spoke, yesterday, in Abuja at a ceremony organised by a female rights advocacy group, Girl Child Concerns, to celebrate the graduation of 42 Chibok schoolgirls and 31 indigent girls drawn from Kaduna, Plateau and Borno states, said Nigerians should appreciate the fact that the girls had been in the “deepest valley” before they were released.
His words: “You must have heard some of these girls speak. It is often said that it is only those who have been in the deepest valley that would appreciate when they are on top of the mountain. If we knew where they (Chibok girls) were coming from, they deserve a standing ovation.”
He said education was at a dismal state at the time he assumed office, saying only N20 million was being spent on feeding per month for 76 secondary schools.
He said: “I went to Government Girls Secondary School, Maiduguri, with a student population of 2, 500. I asked the principal how much they were getting for feeding and she said N1.2 million per month. I did a breakdown and it came to N5 per student, per meal, discounting leakages. N5 cannot even buy a sachet of water.”
The 42 Chibok girls were among the 57 who immediately escaped hours after their abduction. In April 2014, Boko Haram abducted 276 girls from an all-female public secondary school in Chibok. Of the figure, 57 escaped, leaving 219 missing. Of the 219, 106 are back, while 113 remain missing for the past 1,198 days, today.
Shettima added that while the school had no perimeter fence, hostels meant for 20 students had over 120 crammed in.
He said: “Guess what? The school had only two maiguards (security men). In the evening, Sugar Daddies lurked around, wreaking the lives of these students. But for us in northern Nigeria, we have no option than to embrace western education.”
The Board Chairman of the Girl Child Concerns, Dr Mairo Mandara, lamented that the educational advancement of girls in the north had been greatly constrained by a combination of economic, social and cultural factors.
She said: “It was difficult getting a school for them.In one school, some parents threatened to withdraw their children if we offered the girls admission. Bethel International Christian Academy, Jos, and Ulul Albab Islamic School Katsina not only gave them admission but also created special remedial classes to help the girls catch up with others.”