The Deputy Director of Information, National Assembly Usman Al-Hassan Dapchi speaks to our editor on why Lea Shuaibu is still with the Boko Haram insurgents and the effort the state in making to secure the school. Excerpts;
Introduce yourself officially sir!
I am Usman Al-Hassan Dapchi, Deputy Director, information National Assembly.
As somebody from Dapchi, how have your people been fairing since the school girls incidence?
We thank Almighty Allah, it is almost one year now. It has not been easy for the community, the local government and even the state government, but as God have it after about five week these girls were returned safety except one of the girls that remained in captivity up to this moment and the trauma by the parents is better imagined.
That has created a situation where people were skeptical about even Western Education because that school is only girls institution within the community and we know what it takes to convince parents from local communities to patronize the school but when this incident happened now we are almost drown back to square one.
Now as time goes on, or before then, state government put in a lot of resources in terms of physical structure, provision of learning equipment, because it is the only girls’ senior science secondary school in the state. So the state government put in a lot to ensure that it is of standard. Now, having done that and the students are performing wonderfully each year in the SSCE, NECO, NABTEB and what have you, but all these things have been put down as a result of the incident.
We thank God, when the girls were released, at least as the situation is now more than have of the student population have gone back to the school, but definitely a significant percentage or a little percentage have decided to stay away from the school.
Did the incident affect the school enrolment?
It did but a very negligible percentage of effect, but obviously it has to affect the enrollment but it is a very negligible percent.
After the mistake or whatever allowed the Boko Haram to have access to the school, have fortified the fencing and security around the school?
Well, the school is well fenced as I told you the state government has put in resources. These resources were not restricted only to classroom structure or laboratory equipment, even the wall fencing was put in place but in terms security, though there is a military check point in the township but it was not close to the school before the abduction of the girls. It was about a kilometer from the school.
It was after the incident that the security decided to mount check point right in front of the school gate.
The girl still in captivity, what are the parents saying? What is the community trying to do to make the parents not to kill themselves?
Well you know if the communities have access to the captors it would have been a different story but the government and security agents are the link between the community and the captors. Now all what the community will do is to rely on what government is doing, but the government is saying it is doing its best and we have to believe that the government is doing its best; but there is one thing, may be you will ask me that later. Why all the girls are released except one.
Now she is a Christian and unfortunately the only Christian out of one hundred and fifteen or so.
So they were saying it is because she refused to convert to Islam that is why she was kept, but the truth of the matter is not that she was to convert and she refused. When they were taken to the place she started running away.
So when she started running away, they pursued her then brought her back. Now they said, why should run away, she said I ran away because I am not a Muslim. So they felt offended that okay since you are not a Muslim you can run away let us see who will release you. That is the truth of the matter why she is still in captivity. But the information that is going now is that she refused to convert that is why she is still in captivity. That is actually the reason why they held her.
The actual reason, because the girls confessed. When they came, they said only Lea cannot be released because she started running, they pursued her some meters then brought her back when she said I am not a Muslim so why should I be here. That is the actual truth.
Those of them that came back have they all gone back to school?
It is about seventy percent of total school population. And most of them that have gone back are definitely those from the local government headquarters and even the local government. Those outside the local government or outside the state capital cannot go back definitely because it is our community. So we have to mobilize them that they ard assure them that they are safe, they should go back to school. About seventy percent have gone back to school.
Those that refused to go back to school, what are they doing now?
They have been transfers to other schools. The state government has opened a window for transfer to other schools of their convenience; just to keep them in school instead of saying no. So if you cannot go back to Dapchi, no way. You know the government cannot do that, but to open a window for them. The government has opened a window where they are transferred to schools of their convenience.
What are you doing to sustain normalcy in the school after the incidence?
Now let me go back a little. Since the occurrence of Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east in particular, now in Yobe state Dapchi town, the headquarters of Bursari Local Government; it is the only town that has ever been attacked by Boko Haram – until that abduction. That is why we are saying that abduction has to do with some other things unknown to us but known to Boko Haram, because it has never been attacked since the beginning of Boko Haram insurgency.
So you can imagine that abduction has to do with something else, which I want to keep in quote.
What is your advice to parents who are stopping their children from going to school?
This should not be a reason for them to stop enrolling or refuse their daughters go back to that school. At least if they cannot go back to that school, they can go to other schools where there is opening as I told you.
But to keep them at home is detrimental. This is what Boko Haram insurgency entails, that we should not go to Western Education. And we have to prove them wrong. No religion, if they are claiming Islam, Islam encourages learning. The exalted Prophet, Peace be upon Him said “You should seek for knowledge even if it will take you up China”. You know China is the farthest. So even if it will take you up to China you go and seek for knowledge.
And the Prophet did not say knowledge of Islam. He said knowledge and knowledge is all what you can see. So if the Prophet can encourage us to go up to China and seek for knowledge, then if you are skeptical about Dapchi because of that abduction, okay go to other schools that you are too sure you are not skeptical about the safety of your daughter. Take her there insisted of keeping her with you.