Kaduna — Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi II, has told governors of northern states to deliver on education or quit government.
He read the riot act at the Northern Nigeria Traditional Leaders Conference on Out-Of-School Children yesterday in Kaduna State.
At the event, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alh. Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar III, and other speakers had admitted that "northern Nigeria contributes a large chunk" to the 13.5 million out-of-school children in Nigeria.
The emir said that Nigeria could only fix the problems facing education by addressing issues of misplaced priorities and accountability exhibited by those responsible for delivering education, healthcare, nutrition and development.
According to the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), elected politicians who are not being held accountable do not want such discourse.
In the same vein, the Sultan, who chaired the conference, said: "As we look forward in our quest to revitalise the education sector, we must build the requisite courage to tell ourselves the truth. For several decades, our investment in education, human capital formation and development fell far below expectation and cannot move us to the optimal level we all desired as a region and as a nation.
"This conference must not go the way others had gone in the past."
The deputy representative of United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Nigeria, Pernille Ironside, quoted the Federal Ministry of Education's 'Education for Change: A Ministerial Strategic Plan' as stating that Nigeria has 10.5 million out of school children aged six to 14.
"When we speak of out-of-school children, who are they? It is too easy to keep them nameless and faceless. The latest Mics data tells us that 69 per cent of out-of-school children in Nigeria are in northern states. Bauchi has the highest number of 1.1 million and Katsina follows with 781,500," she said.
For her, we can take the quantum leap together to give more children the opportunity to stay in school.
"For Nigeria to achieve its Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target for education, this is essential. Only a quantum leaps today will enable Nigeria to achieve its social and economic goals for the future," she added.
Also speaking at the event, the executive secretary of Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Hamid Bobboyi, described the out-of-school phenomenon in northern Nigeria as cancerous, which, if not addressed, would lead to the collapse of the systems in the region.