Connect with us

Opinions

Education Sector: CPS Rafiu Ajakaye replies Samurai of the Saraki dynasty

Published

on

On Monday morning, December 20, the social media was awash with an article titled ‘It Does Not Take 15 Years’. It was written by a leading samurai of the Saraki dynasty, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi.

Abdullahi, author, former editor, minister and commissioner, qualifies to be called a public intellectual by any fair standard. However, there is this thing called intellectual dishonesty. It is defined, per wiki.c2.com, as a ‘failure to apply standards of rational evaluation that one is aware of, usually in a self-serving fashion. If one judges others more critically than oneself, that is intellectually dishonest. If one deflects criticism of a friend or ally simply because they are a friend or ally, that is intellectually dishonest.’

For Mallam Abdullahi to be exonerated of intellectual dishonesty, then he would in turn be charged with ‘wilful ignorance’. Neither fits the persona he seeks to portray even as a member of the Saraki political dynasty. Having once read an article by the same fellow in which he dissected the reasons he thought they lost in 2019, it is only fair to charge him with intellectual dishonesty, not wilful ignorance. In that interview he granted Premium Times, he admitted that they truly dropped the ball and stopped short of saying they deserved all the humiliations that came with the 2019 shellacking. The volte-face he attempted in his ‘ _It does not take 15 years’_ passes for a survivalist attempt to warm himself into the heart of the emperor who holds the key to his political future.

The basis for his diatribe against Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq was because the Governor said it would take the next 15 years to fix the gaps in the education sector. I struggled to understand his grouse with that statement. Circa 2016, the former administration put funding requirements for the infrastructural gap in the state at N255bn. How much of that deficit — along with the deterioration in social and physical infrastructure that took place between 2016 and 2019 when they left — was bridged? Add the fall in the value of the naira to the mix.

In the newly launched Kwara State Sustainable Development Plan (2021-2030), deficits to be fixed in the social sector (education and health) are estimated at approximately N2trillion. That is 42 percent of funding requirement for the N4.7tr plan. Let’s work with the revised 2021 budget figures of N169bn and see who truly understands the dynamics of the issues. At 25% allocation to education and 7% yearly budgetary increase, for example, it will take a minimum of 15 years to meet the goal.

Since the Governor was speaking about fixing the deficits and putting basic things in place, his mention of 15 years gap-bridging window was in fact conservative and ambitious.

The former minister attempted to play down the link between physical space and (classroom) activities in educational development. This is quite embarrassing to come from a former education commissioner. As one of the thinkers of the dynasty, could this thinking that decent physical space (for learning) is largely irrelevant to be responsible for why they left public schools like penitentiaries? Scholars of pedagogy have written extensively on the dynamic relationship between educational space (physical structure) and (learning) activities. This is particularly truer for little children who are seriously impacted by the aesthetics of their environment. I implore Mallam Bolaji to humbly update himself on this serious topic. If he doubts the serious impacts of environment in how humans grow and behave, I recommend Tim Marshall’s Prisoners of Geography to him.

In his flowery discussion on the politics of UBEC counterpart funding between federal and subnational governments, he cleverly sidestepped the critical issue. The crime the dynasty committed was not so much about not accessing the funds. As he rightly argued, states do not have the same capacity. Some states (read Kwara) also preferred arming urchins to sinking any funds in the future of its children. The crime the dynasty committed was the criminal diversion of the funds given by the UBEC. That was what led to the shameful black-listing of Kwara for seven years, three years shy of a whole generation. Think about it. I read my predecessor Wahab Oba sweating to explain that they sought to pay back the diverted N450m in 2019. They diverted money in 2013. Blacklisted from 2014. They sought to pay back in 2019 after losing an election wholesale. Is God not great? You sef think am nah! What Mallam Bolaji and other stake-seekers in the dynasty’s prebendal politics do now is pure ‘ego defense’, that psychological reaction to uncomfortable truth. What they did not do, this administration did. We paid N7.1bn counterpart funds to receive the grants for 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2020. The effects of such action across Kwara State are glaring to the blind. Priority.

Mallam Bolaji boasted about his achievements as education commissioner. Why not? But there is hardly any appreciable fact to link those initiatives to improved education outcomes in the state. That is the ultimate of any education policy. In fact, many of those reforms were never carried through. They existed at best on papers. Whereas a certain education official himself allegedly failed a serious emotional intelligence test by slapping a teacher, recruitments done under the former commissioner’s watch were never merit-based. Teaching slots were part of political largesse under his watch.  One expected him, an advocate of good education, to at least issue a statement to congratulate the incumbent Governor they love to hate for recruiting 4,701 teachers without a shred of political interference. It takes courage and leadership to do that. On laurels, this administration has won several of them. But what truly matters is how the Kwara child fares, not any awards. Posterity will take care of that.

Regardless of Bolaji Abdullahi’s chest-thumping, two major developments exposed the underbelly of the rots in their system in 2019: the WAEC hammer on several schools in the state for widespread examination malpractices and JAMB’s report which raised the alarm that most UTME candidates from Kwara could not cope with its computer based test platforms. This pointed up a serious gap in functional education in the state, contrary to the grandstanding of Bolaji Abdullahi.

This administration does not pretend that all is well with the sector. Nor does it sit on the challenges. While we believe that fixing the physical space is key in educational development, we are convinced that that is not enough. That the Governor divorced politics from teachers’ recruitment, especially in an environment where job placements serve to burnish a politician’s credentials among your followers, underscores his statesmanship and deeper understanding of what is at stake. Besides, this administration recently held an education summit —  to which Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi was invited as a former sector player, though he declined. This gives the lie to his gratuitous claim about anyone having an ‘adversarial mindset’ and speaks loudly to the maturity and large-heartedness with which the Governor handles state matters. Honest Kwarans can tell the past from the present, particularly viewing things from 2003.

A major outcome of the education summit is the Kwara State Education Transformation Agenda, a fruit of which is Kwara State Education Trust Fund Law, which seeks to bring in more stakeholders into the sector. Another is the Kwara Leading Education Achievement and Reform Now (KwaraLEARN). Planned to begin early next year, KwaraLEARN will transform all government primary schools across the state into powerful public institutions using an innovative technology and data-driven platform, coupled with high-quality learning materials, effective training and ongoing coaching for teachers and school leaders, and technology-enabled support teams to create 360-degree support for learning outcomes. It is a five-year programme the administration plans to lead Kwara to inclusive and sustainable socioeconomic growth and mobility. In place of physically abusing a teacher, the Governor in turn plans to use technology to deepen a mutually-beneficial regime of accountability in our schools.

One understands that politicians are back to their game ahead of the next ballot. We expect that the dynasty and its foot soldiers will play dirty. They will seek to rewrite history. But hard facts await them, irrespective of their sophistry. What the Governor did was to speak to the reality of Kwara. He will keep saying it, while working hard to make things better. While he does so, he is not unmindful of the sayings of Lee McIntyre that ‘deniers and other ideologues routinely embrace an obscenely high standard of doubt towards facts that they don’t want to believe, alongside complete incredulity toward any facts that fit with their agenda’.

• Rafiu Ajakaye is CPS to the Governor

Opinions

[OPINION] ASUU Strike: A Pandemic To Ravage Anew – By Abdulsalam Abdullah

Published

on

Since 1960, Nigeria has had fifty-one (51) Ministers of Education and Ministers of State for Education, twenty-three (23) of whom were teachers at various levels prior to their appointment, fifteen (15) studied educational courses in universities and colleges of education, and eleven (11) have been seasoned educational administrators or university dons (Professors or senior lecturers).

Nigeria’s educational system has been on halt since February 14th, 2022, when the union president declared the start of a four-week warning strike in an attempt to send a final warning to the federal government, which has remained deaf to their demands.

But unfortunately,this will be the 16th ASUU strike since 1999 embarked upon by the union.

It’s scarcely 48 hours that the federal government persuaded the Airline Operators of Nigeria, a private company, not to carry out their threat to cease fly operations from Monday and to give them time to find a solution to their problem. They must settle the problem as soon as possible because they cannot afford to have flights suspended since, for the time being, they must fly from Abuja to Kano and then drive from Kano to Kaduna. They cannot go by road from Abuja to Kaduna due to insecurity, which is another  government failure.

The ASUU strike has become a habit and a corrosive display of shame. The strike has now become a means of group identification for ASUU. Since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, no previous administration has exhibited sincerity, political will, or action to cease this pointless show of force between the government and ASUU.

Recently, there has been a growing contempt for the ASUU strike. ASUU has lost public support each time they have chosen to go on strike, only to call it off once a few billion naira have been given for their earned academic allowance (EAA), while others remain a promise for the future that the government never fulfills.

This is the Mr Integrity government that ordinary Nigerians campaigned hard to put to power in 2015. Nigerians gave their widow’s mite, campaigned relentlessly, and remained up all night to preserve their ballots. And even after being elected in 2015, he was still accusing Jonathan’s government for allowing the 2013 ASUU strike to extend 6 months without negotiating with ASUU and instead spent money on Confab. That interview reassured us that the messiah has indeed arrived to repair Nigeria.

Since 2007, the Former President and current Vice President of Nigeria have been either a university lecturer (Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, 2007-2015) or a university professor (Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, 2015-date), indicating that they were former ASUU members and are well-versed in Nigeria’s educational challenges. Why they have failed to address the rot and retrogression in Nigeria’s education system remains a mystery.

This demonstrates that even ASUU members who have led Nigeria or the Ministry of Education are confused or lack new solutions to the current causes of Nigeria’s recurrent strike activities. Aside from inadequate remuneration and working conditions, as well as a lack of government funding for colleges, ASUU has done little or nothing to address other concerns that have plagued Nigerian universities.

There have been persistent cases of sex-for-grades, money in return for undeserving grades, witch-hunting of Nigerian students by certain instructors posing as ‘demi-gods,’ and corruption at all levels of university management and administration.

These factors have both contributed to the deterioration of Nigeria’s education sector. ASUU has failed to look within and combat these concerns among its members. While ASUU criticizes governments for being insensitive to the suffering of academics and being responsible for decades of degradation in Nigerian education, ASUU and its members have also been indifferent to the predicament of Nigerian students and have contributed significantly to the system’s failure.

We had no idea that we had just assisted in the installation of Nigeria’s worst administration. And here we are, with our messiah in command. I taught the government would learn from the COVID-19 experience and recognize the importance of investing in higher education. But it was in the past, and he set a new record by sustaining a 9-month ASUU strike in 2020. It was fantastic, and we missed an academic session as a result. I hope we are not on the verge of another 9-month ASUU strike in 2022, as we were in 2020. They cannot afford to suspend flights since the private sector serves them, but they can afford to close public universities because their children are not present.

Nigeria currently has the world’s second largest number of out-of-school children, primarily as a result of terrorism, and I’m confident that statistic will rise as several schools in Nigeria’s northern region remain closed owing to the actions of bandits, kidnappers, and terrorists.

The current ASUU strike has far-reaching consequences. The previous ASUU strike provided enough youths with the opportunity to participate in the End SARS rally in 2020. The government and ASUU cannot hold Nigeria’s education sector hostage because of inconclusive strike activities.

The government must implement the prior arrangement with ASUU and not back out. ASUU must remain steadfast in its demands, since the government and Nigerians would no longer tolerate frequent strikes.

ABDULSALAM, Abdullah Opeyemi
Twitter: @Budoz_PR
Phone: 09091604356 
abdulsalamabdullah1234@gmail.com

Continue Reading

Opinions

2023 Presidential Poll: The Saraki Option By Wahab Oba

Published

on

No election in Nigeria’s history will eventually be as phenomenal as the forthcoming 2023 presidential election. It will be phenomenal with respect to the nature of those who will eventually run and with respect to the role of social media influenced renaissance that is emerging on political activism. It will be unprecedented with respect to the fact that never in our history as a nation have we experienced this kind of economic and security challenges. Convincingly, the next leader will determine whether we go further down, or pull back and face the right road.

There are many other reasons why the 2023 election will be a great issue in the evolution of our nation and none of those reasons are clearly positive. The only positive thing perhaps about the election will be the fact that there are arrays of competent aspirants to signify the tran. Yes, there may be some presumably pretenders among the dramatic personnel, obviously, there are men of honour and integrity in the race to Aso Rock.

Hence, it is time that Nigerians pay more than the usual cosmetic attention to the kind of person who eventually leads us, going forward. We must allow ourselves to learn some bitter lessons from our decisions and how they have shaped the past eight years especially; a time when we literally allowed emotion to be the driver of our decision in choosing our president. Yes, our president because whether we like it or not, a people cannot progress beyond the vision of its leadership. While it is good to blame average Nigerians for all sort of wrong things, the reality is that once we get the leadership question wrong, we cannot get many other critical issues of nationhood right. That explains the experience of drifting that we are currently going through as a nation. We need a leader that can match the brake pedal and turn over journey on the right path.

Among those on track to get the job is Dr Bukola Saraki. It is not yet time to start comparing them, but no sincere Nigerian, desirous of a positive change for this nation, would look down on a probable Saraki presidency.

The kind of leader we need in 2023 is one who can take us through the furnace unscathed. Of course, that is no reference to a wild fire, but rather a way of looking at what it will take to make Nigeria great again. We need a leader who will not flinch as we go through a rebirth process; a leader who is not fazed by trials just as we saw in Saraki during his ordeals in the hands of political traducers in the 2015 -2019 election cycle. More than ever before, Nigeria needs a courageous leader who will not be derailed by challenges. As the President, 8th National Assembly, Saraki confronted exceeding political persecution by his party, yet unscathed, and yet remained the most successful Senate President we ever had.

Underneath his innocent mien is a man of steel. He is perhaps one of the most qualified among his peers with a natural ability to inspire and engender unity. Let us look at his natural biological evolution. He was sired by a northern father and a mother from western side of the country in a marriage that celebrates not only unity of the race, but of the faith in perfect harmony with the national etho. He was brought up seeing this mutual respect of the two factors that have divided Nigeria and saw how, when well managed as his father did at home, and in his politics, such factors would become pillars of strength instead of causes of distress. And we know this attitude to him is not a sermon to be accepted but a life to live as he has demonstrated it in the make up of his own immediate family as well as his inherited political dynasty. He is neither a bigot nor a passivist.

What of his age? It is a great factor in his favour; nay in favour of the Nigerian project. At 59 years of age, Saraki is at a vantage intersection between the young and the old generation. He actually has had huge youth followership over the years in his official engagement as he has demonstrated a commitment to working with the youth. He is lucky to belong to a generation that actively engages with technology for the 21st century and so can sit down and discuss metaverse with Generation Z but who can still dine with the older generation and share stories that were not written on slack boards.

His being from the Middle Belt is of great significance. That is a region of Nigeria that represents Nigeria’s unity and eliminates mutual suspicion among the various regions. The middle belt comprises the various regions, religions and ethnic identities but above all, it represents a melting point of all that is Nigeria. Giving the presidency to someone from the middle belt will play a pacifying role in the many years of deprivation and political neglect the region has borne as its sacrifice to the continued existence of Nigeria.

May Nigeria be great again

Continue Reading

Opinions

Soyonga, Societe Bank and the things around Bukola Saraki’s neck

Published

on

The evil man does live with them and even after them. The hands can still burn from the heat of (evil) pounded yam served 20 years ago.

 

These were the thoughts on my mind as I read through the article written by one Soyonga Umar on how his father and some of his friends lost their hard-earned savings to Societe Generale Bank’s bankruptcy in 1989. He made many damning allegations with certainty and poise only an insider could do. And just as I thought it would be fine to hear from the Saraki family on this perennial issue, I just saw a rather drab and empty article, apparently a rejoinder to his claims, being shared by Sarakites in Bukola Saraki’s defence. That cannot stand.

 

For the Sarakis it has been 33 long years, but Shoyonga remembered it like it happened yesterday. Like many who were direct and indirect victims of the incident, it has remained anguish that has failed to vanish. So, if he is to be engaged on these issues, only factual and logical explanations about the legendary scandal is appreciable. I feel this provides an opportunity for them and the people to know the truth of this story of pain, blood, and tears.

 

Olusola Saraki had set up a branch of the Societe Generale Bank in Nigeria sometime in the early 80s alongside his friend Chief Kutoye. He reportedly sourced funds from his friends in the National Party of Nigeria (UPN) who deposited their monies in his bank out of loyalty to their friendship and in support of his dream.

 

Soyonga Snr who was a retiree of NTA had also put his retirement savings in the bank. Other eminent fellows like Dantata and Sons also reportedly put in pension funds. Many of these people especially the poor, powerless people could not receive their money after the bank went under for strange reasons.

 

The issue here is that Bukola was the (de facto MD) detained in Alagbon he was the ED Managing Director of the bank. Soyonga holds strongly that the intention of the father and son was suspect and alleged that, with the manners of its investigation, Bukola and father had set up the unsuspecting friends and family to dupe them. I think these are really outrageous claims but they are not impossible.

 

For instance, why did the Sarakis allegedly remove $200m (Two Hundred Million Dollars) from the bank just before declaring bankruptcy?

 

Why did EFCC leave the MD and was chasing after the bank director for the fraud?

 

How did two European investigators of Societe Generale Bank die in their hotel rooms?.

 

Is it true that thousands of people have gone to early grave over this matter without their money being refunded?

 

From business to career and politics, Soyonga asked many questions. The disaster is that Sarakites have refused to answer them and instead went after Governor AbdulRazaq. I found that very funny. It is unwise to leave the issues raised by the author and resort to attacking the Governor on the account of his friendship with the author without restraint. That Soyonga had ever filed for bankruptcy is not a crime anywhere in the world. (even President trump filed for bankruptcy and went on to become American number 1 citizen) So, if the only reason they are calling the writer a convict is because he once filed for bankruptcy, then their education is open to question. I’d advise them to face the issues raised by the author and the author himself, rather than taking the Governor as their punching bag.

 

Now, I am getting curious, what is Saraki’s source of enormous wealth? What businesses or career is he into? Where are his companies located and how many people does he employ?

 

Bukola Saraki used 8 years in the senate 4 of those as Senate president, what legacy projects

 

If truly he did, why did Bukola sell the Kwara Public Park, a huge expanse of public recreation land to Shoprite, more so at a giveaway price?

 

The article ‘Olusola, Bukola, my father and me’ is timely. Soyonga said these issues are personal for him. He was wrong. These are state matters. It could not have been direr now that Saraki is gunning for the presidency. A serious explanation of his past stewardship in the public and private sectors is important to people in the interest of probity and justice. That’s the hallmark of democracy.

 

Now instead of the previous drab article released by the Sarakites, they are expected to come up with a detailed response to these allegations and questions if they truly want to help him. We can’t leave these issues for the tissues of the matter! They should kindly leave AbdulRazaq out of it and take this thorny thing off their master’s troubled neck first! If Saraki feels about this strongly … soyonga should be sued.. for defamation of character.

 

 

 

Imam Abdullahi, a public affairs analyst writes from Ilorin.

Continue Reading

Trending