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…Urge Parties To Embrace Dialogue Resolving Crisis
Students in the African continent have sent a strong message to the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), calling on the subregional body to channel the resources it intends to deploy for the planned Niger Republic invasion to securing students’ campuses, improving quality and access to education for sustainable development in the continent.
The students, under the aegis of the All-Africa Students’ Union (AASU), at a world press conference in Abuja on Friday urged the Africa Union (AU), through AU Peace and Security Council on the Implementation of the Safe Schools Declaration in the Promotion of Education for Children Affected by Armed Conflicts in Africa, to step up their responsibility in ensuring that Campuses are Safe in Africa.
The AASU President, Osisiogu Osikenyi at a world press conference in Abuja on Friday read the demands of the African students.
“We demand accelerated efforts at securing the Release of hundreds of students and other Africans in captivity by various Armed Groups on the continent. They must not be ignored!
“All Africa Governments must prioritize Campus Safety, and increase budgetary allocation to Education; avoid unnecessary skyrocket in cost of living and school fees as Africa education system is too fragile to withstand high cost at this time”, the AASU demanded.
The students observed that “Given the worrisome level of Conflict, Insecurity, and Political Instability occasioning Campus Insecurity that the continent is facing and the daunting challenges in managing the situation by the leadership of the African Union and various Governments in Africa, it becomes obvious that the implementation of the AU Agenda 2063, which aims at the economic progress of the continent, cannot be achieved without Peace and Security in the region; AASU wishes to state our position.
“As we speak – Out-of-School-Children in Africa has hit over 100million with Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and South Sudan and others topping the Global figures; And sadly, this quagmire is rapidly aggravated by Armed Conflicts, Insecurity, and Political Instability across the Continent.
“Armed conflict is robbing 28 million children of an education by exposing them to widespread sexual violence, targeted attacks on schools and other abuses – and this situation under any guise is unacceptable to the All-Africa Students’ Union”.
The students, who are worried about further escalating the scourge of conflict, insecurity, and political instability occasioning campus insecurity in the continent, noted that the threat of military action by ECOWAS leaders again the military junta in Niger “is of grave concern”.
They urged the head of the Niger coupists, General Abdourahmane Tchiani, who ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, “to embrace dialogue” while asking the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led ECOWAS “to avoid any approach that may aggravate the “Spree of Conflict Quagmire” that is impacting adversely on the continent”.
The African students further observed that “ Almost every part of the continent is torched by the scourge of Insecurity instigated by Political Instability caused by either the State or those opposed to the State.
“In the North African region, political instability instigated by the Arab Spring in 2010 led to instability and regime change in Tunisia and Egypt, the fall of Libya in 2011, and the subsequent rise of international terrorism in the North of Africa.
“The Sudanese civil war from 1983 to 2005, the subsequent carving out of Southern Sudan, and the protracted political imbroglio in the country have continued to puncture any form of development that would have been achieved in the two countries.
“Today, South Sudan has the world’s highest proportion of out-of-school children in the world, with 72 percent of primary-aged children out of school; and Sudan is still embroiled in Political Crisis that have Campuses closed and in some cases, conversion of Campuses to Concentration Camps by military forces.
“In the East African region, Kenya is coping with terrorism instigated by Al-Shabaab from neighbouring Somalia; with Education Institutions not being spared such as the attack on Garissa University, Kenya – the deadliest assault – killing at least 147 people. You may also recall that recently on the night of Friday 16th June 2023, Lhubiriha Secondary School, in Southwestern border town of Mpondwe, Kasese district was attacked by assailants killing over 40 people.
“In Ethiopia, The Tigray Armed Conflict that lasted from 3rd November 2020 immediately after COVID-19 Lockdown to 3rd November 2022 in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia between the Ethiopian federal government and Eritrea on one side, and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) on the other left Education Institutions in the entire Region closed for over 3years, destroying over 7,000 schools and about 1.4million Students unable to go to school. We applaud the “Pretoria Agreement for Permanent Cessation of Hostilities” even as we call for help for reconstruction of Schools in Tigray Region to resume fully and rehabilitation of students and teachers who were forcefully conscripted into the military.
“In the Southern African region, the xenophobic attacks in South Africa are instigating social-cultural disharmony which negates the cooperation and solidarity required for integration and cooperation in the continent.
“In the Central Africa region, the Congo Democratic Republic has been engulfed in a protracted political upheaval and conflict that has been described as the world’s most neglected crisis, due to overwhelming needs and an acute lack of funding including media and diplomatic inattention. The crime of conscription of Child Soldiers and Use of Child Labor has impacted the high number of Out-of-School Children in that country and many others in the region such as Cameroon, Chad, and the Central African Republic who have been struggling with issues of terrorism in the various enclaves.
“The West African region especially countries on the Chad Basin is experiencing the issues of Terrorism and Political instability, particularly, in countries such as Nigeria and Niger that share common borders with neighboring Chad and Cameroon in the Lake Chad Basin region. According to UNICEF, over 11,100 schools are closed due to conflict or threats made against teachers and students in the Central Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin.
“Nigeria and Niger have been confronted by Terrorists and the consequences have been severe on the socio-economic and political lives of the people, including the effective running of government.
“Recently, the military coup in Niger republic and the attendant threat of military action by ECOWAS Leaders is of grave concern as we urge General Abdourahmane Tchiani to embrace dialogue and ask the ECOWAS led by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Nigeria to avoid any approach that may aggravate the “Spree of Conflict Quagmire” that is impacting adversely on the continent, especially as may impact adversely on Campuses in Niger and other parts of the Chad Basin already suffering gave consequences of armed Conflicts”, the students noted.