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Tuesday, 29 November 2011


The ongoing closure for ten days of all public schools within the Abuja municipal area by the Federal Capital Territory Administration for the use of the participants at the ongoing Abuja carnival has been condemned as ‘retrogressive’, ‘unproductive’ and ‘backward’.

A call has therefore been made to the minister of Federal Capital Territory Mr.Bala Mohammed and Minister of Education Professor Ruqayyatu Rufai to put in place legal framework that would make it impossible for the educational rights of Abuja residents to be abridged whenever the annual Abuja cultural festival is to take place. The Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory Administration has also been asked to pay heavy financial compensation to the students of the affected schools for the loss of valuable learning periods and the extracurricular opportunities that are their inalienable rights as bonafide students. 

HUMAN Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA), a democracy inclined and development focused non-governmental organization which made the call in a media statement jointly authorized by its National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs officer Miss Zainab Yusuf said the closure for ten days of those public schools in the nation’s capital to allow for Abuja carnival to take place has conveyed the wrong impression that Nigeria places more premium on cultural dances and other mundane celebrations rather than on the core value of human capacity development, skill acquisition and educational empowerment of the youths.

It said; “We are shocked beyond comprehension that at a time that clarion calls are being made to the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in the educational sector in order to arrest the sharp decline in standards and other man-made institutional imperfections, the Abuja Federal Capital authority has decided to close down schools for ten days so that the members of the political class could assemble to watch as female teenagers dance naked in the streets of the nation’s capital. This is shameful, reprehensible and deplorable and must not be repeated”.

The Rights group questioned why the secretariat in charge of the Abuja carnival has not deemed it appropriate to establish play grounds where such events could take place every year rather than embark on the annual retrogressive rituals of forcing the school children in the Abuja metropolis to vacate the premises of their schools to allow participants in the Abuja carnival to use them as residential quarters through out the duration of the cultural festival.

HURIWA said it will approach President Goodluck Jonathan, the National Assembly and the Federal ministry of Education to protest against the arbitrary and force closure of public schools in Abuja for Abuja carnival even when it is clear that students ought to be writing their end of year examinations at this period.

HURIWA said thus; “We seriously condemn this primitive and anti-education decision by the federal capital Territory Administration to close down public schools, for ten days to allow participants at the poorly attended annual Abuja carnival to use the schools as residential quarters. This barbaric and unproductive practice amounts to a violation of section 18 of the constitution of Nigeria and stated that the practice is a clear case of robbing Peter to pay Paul in the most brazen dimension.”

Specifically, section 18(1) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended provides that “Government shall direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal and adequate education opportunities at all levels”. HURIWA argues that the closure of the public schools for ten days deprive the students of equal opportunities to education and called on the federal government to put a permanent stop to this practice.

“We urge the Minister of Federal Capital Territory to desist from this primitive practice and to commence immediate measures to erect befitting permanent structures for the holding of the annual Abuja carnival so as to stop depriving hundreds of thousands of students in public primary and secondary schools from enjoying their educational rights for ten days”, HURIWA, stated.       


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