Why I secretly withdrew my son from public school

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Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has revealed why he withdrew his seven-year-old son, Abubakar Al-Sadiq El-Rufai, from Kaduna Capital school.

The Kaduna Governor had enrolled Abubakar in a public school in the state last year.

According to him, his decision to enrol his son in one of the oldest public schools in the region was to lead by example.

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However, it was earlier reported that the Governor had secretly withdrawn his child from the school earlier this year. Abubakar had stopped coming from classes, and none of the teachers was informed beforehand.

“His parents may have enrolled him in another school or who knows, he may still be back, perhaps after the schools are safer. The Governor has a strong stance against bandits – he is not willing to be seen to be paying ransom. So he would have assessed the situation and concluded that he has to protect his son from any occurrence,” one teacher had said.

Now, in an interview with BBC Pidgin, El-Rufai said his son had been targeted by bandits because of the Governor’s public stand against the payment of ransom.

He also said that his daughter, Nesrin, was also enrolled in the school when she turned six.

He said even though there was no threat to Nesrin, both children were removed from the school on the advice of security agencies.

“My son and my daughter are registered in the school because his sister became six, and we had to register her. But we have had to temporarily withdraw them for the security of the school because we got intercepts from at least two groups that are planning to attack the school to kidnap my son.

“I don’t think they will succeed because there will be enough security there to prevent it but, other children may be placed in danger. We have no idea what weapons they will come with. I have taken a stand against paying bandits, and at least three groups of bandits have been intercepted planning to go to Kaduna Capital school and kidnap my son and ‘see if they catch my son, I go say I no go pay ransom?’” the Governor said.

He assured that his decision was purely based on the safety of other children in the school, adding that he had enrolled his son in the school to prove to the people of Kaduna State that he had enough confidence in the public-school system and stressed that he intends to keep the promise.

El-Rufai said that his son goes to the school to take his exams and is now being home-schooled and assured that as long as there is reasonable confidence that his attendance will not put the school at risk, both children will return there.

“It is my intention that my children will be in public school as long as I am governor here,” he said.

Speaking on his son’s reaction to the development, the Governor said, “he keeps asking, ‘Baba, when will I go back to school, I miss my friends, I miss my teachers’ I told him not yet, you can’t tell a seven-year-old you are likely to be kidnapped.”

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