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The Overwhelming Impact Of The Sit-at-home Order On The Educational System In Nigeria

On the 30th of July 2021, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a Biafran separatist and Igbo nationalist organisation in protest of the detention of its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, by the federal government, declared a sit-at-home order to commence on Monday the 9th of August and subsequent Mondays.


Contrary to an earlier statement published by the spokesman of IPOB declaring the 9th of August a “Ghost Monday,” the IPOB leader’s younger brother, Kanunta Kanu, stated that the sit-at-home order had been suspended due to the National Examinations Council (NECO) examinations for Junior Secondary Schools. This was followed by other statements by Aba, Enugu, Anambra and Imo state governments and police asking its inhabitants to ignore the sit-at-home order.


Thrown into confusion, some inhabitants of the affected regions stayed indoors while some proceeded to go about their activities. However, a good number of those who proceeded to go about their activities met with death as there were shootings in some parts of the south-east by unknown gunmen, houses set ablaze and commercial buses burnt with people inside.


This and other attacks on southeast inhabitants sent the people scurrying for safety after hearing the news, discouraging those who planned to head out. 


Nevertheless, this is not the first sit-at-home order to be observed by the south southerners and the south easterners as one was also declared on the 31st of May in honour of the billions of Biafrans who were massacred by the Nigerian government.


However, the state of violence and recurrent order to sit at home is one that is taking a major toll on the educational institutions of affected regions. With the advent of COVID-19 and the enforcement of a lockdown for close to a year, students in countries like Nigeria where technology is not advanced have been thrown into regression, lagging behind in their academics.


In a bid to cover up for the time lost during the lockdown, academic institutions sped up their calenders making the semesters shorter than they used to be. With this sudden change, students struggle to adjust, grasping at every opportunity they get to gather knowledge before their examinations. Unfortunately, despite their efforts, the recurrent sit-at-home order in these states causes them to miss important lectures.


Lamenting over the impact of the order on her studies, Amaka, a 300 level student of Anambra State University, Igbariam said: “Our exams are coming up [in the] first week of October so we have to cover a lot of things but with the sit at home on Mondays, we have no choice but to rush more.” 


She also stated that the order was detrimental to the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) students in senior classes as it is only the states in the south-east and south-south that are affected by it and these students are made to miss out on crucial classes needed for their exams.


Additionally, it turns out that the sit-at-home not only affected students studies but also the businesses of some students. Struggling to make ends meet, students juggle academics and business but with the sit-at-home declaration, their means of livelihood is hampered. Ada, a 200 level student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, who is also a chef, said that with the close of the restaurants, customers from far and wide were calling her to deliver food to them but she was scared and she could not go. She also stated that even when she wanted to purchase ingredients for her business, people selling them were not around and, therefore, she had to cancel orders for that day.


Nonetheless, students are not the only ones affected by the declaration as academic staff also voice their complaints. In an interview with Mrs Isi, an academic staff member, she said: “It has negative impact on me in the sense that the lectures I have to deliver on Mondays are truncated. Students being frustrated and even those in school are afraid.”


“Actually, I went to school last Monday but I didn’t leave early to get information from those who had already gone to school. And even when I was still in school, the peace of mind wasn’t there seeing videos of killings in Imo and other places.”


She further stated that civil servants, petty traders and those who live off daily income were heavily affected. She ended by asking the government to release Nnamdi Kanu so as to put an end to the sit-at-home order.


Notwithstanding the negative effects of the sit-at-home order on the educational body as a whole, some students remain unaffected with some in support of it. Onyedika, a 200 level student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University said: “The sit-at-home [order] did not affect my business because I do a flexible business. Classes didn’t hold last week because of the [order], and I didn’t really care because I can catch up on studies whether classes hold or not.” 


Going further, it was reported that the sit-at-home order to be held on the 16th of August was suspended to commence on days when Mazi Nnamdi Kanu would appear in court. 


Regardless of the suspension, some south easterners including students and lecturers were noted to have observed the order causing lectures to be cancelled once again and this begs the question: With the fear imbibed in these inhabitants and important lectures continues to be cancelled, what exactly is the fate of our educational system?


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