Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture, has said the incessant spate of insecurity bedeviling the country in recent times is as a result of the 1975 coup, noting that Nigeria is now “paying the price”.
The coup, which took place on July 29, 1975, overthrew Yakubu Gowon and brought Murtala Muhammed to power.
According to Mohammed in an interview broadcast on Monday, the lead discussant at a town-hall meeting on national security organised by the Federal Government had explained the strategy by the Gowon government to forestall another civil war by planning to ensure free and compulsory primary education for children of school age.
The minister said one of the resolutions at the town hall meeting was that all three levels of government “must ensure that we go back to that and ensure at least free primary education for the first nine years for each child”.
He, however, lamented that following the toppling of Gowon’s regime, the plan was discarded and has partly contributed to a large number of out-of-school children ratio in Nigeria.
He stated that militant and insurgent groups have a ready army to recruit from the country’s 13.2 million out-of-school children, hence the heightened insecurity in Nigeria.
“The fact is that in 1973, we were informed by the lead discussant and that the government of the day then had a retreat and said there must be a national pledge that what is that thing that we must do to ensure that we did not go through another civil war.
The government of that day came out with a decision that what will prevent another civil war is to ensure that anybody born after January 1970 has free and compulsory primary education,” Mohammed said on Channels Television’s Newsnight.
“Regrettably that administration was overthrown two years later and all the lofty ideas and all the preparations that were needed to ensure that every child of school age acquired free and compulsory education were jettisoned.
“And we are paying the price today because if you have 13.2 million children of school-age out of school that is the market which Boko Haram, bandits, IPOB and other militants, that is the market where they recruit people.”