BREAKING: FG Moves To Save Colleges Of Education From Collapse
Vice president and Northeast zonal coordinator of the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU), Malam Mohammed Bello Umar, said the union and the federal government have arrived at measures to address the challenges facing colleges of education in the country.
He identified some of the challenges to include paying suitable allowances to teachers and absence of salary packages that meet current realities.
Speaking with journalists in Bauchi yesterday, Mohammed Bello Umar recalled that this development was achieved as a result of the reconciliation committee that was formed by federal government under former executive secretary of the National Commission for the Colleges of Education (NCCE), Professor Kabir Ishaque with three other professors drawn from the university system and with representation from the federal government.
COEASU had embarked on a warning strike over what it described as lackadaisical attitude of the government in handling problems concerning Nigerian Colleges of Education.
Umar said it was not the intention of the union to embark on the seven-week strike, but after failed visits, lobbying and efforts made to draw the attention of the federal government to address the lingering issues, the union had no choice than to embark on the strike to revive education at the basic level.
At 80, I feel fulfilled seeing my students become governor, deputy gov, professors —Prof Igbeka
Professor Joseph Igbeka is an Emeritus professor of Agricultural Engineering at the University of Ibadan. In this interview by KANGMWA GOFWEN, he speaks about his achievements at 80, the place of technology in agriculture in today’s Nigeria, among others.
How does it feel looking back at your achievements at 80?
I am much fulfilled. I feel blessed. When I took my Ogbueshi title, I looked back at my life when they asked what name I was going to take for the title and I said, Onyechukwukwanuzor which means ‘anybody that God has made his path does not stumble’ and that is how I see my progress from when I was growing up to the point where I am. I must say that I am blessed as a Catholic because I love being a Catholic. I’ve been blessed with a good and loving family, my wife and my beautiful children. You know, as they say, if your home is not peaceful and enjoyable, there is no way you can be at peace yourself. So, I thank God for that. I am also blessed in my profession. I always say, if I come to this world again I’ll still be a teacher because that is the profession through which you touch many lives. So, I thank God for my profession being a lecturer and an engineer, and being surrounded by good colleagues in the department especially because we are like a family which was built starting with the late Prof Aboaba, who brought me from the USA to this place in 1977.
Where is the place of technology in agriculture in Nigeria today?
The place of technology in agriculture is mechanisation. I always say that the job of the agricultural engineer is to mechanise agriculture and that is what we have been doing. And when we talk of mechanisation, it’s not just tractors because when people hear mechanised agriculture they think it is just tractors. Tractors are part of it, but for big farms. Else, there are appropriate technological equipment that can be used and that is what India and China have been doing that has enhanced their agriculture. They started building small equipment to help the farmer and we have a lot of models that have been designed in Nigerian Universities that are lying fallow. The government does not want to take them up. If you go to the National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation in Ilorin, you will find different equipment there. The centre can develop and test, but the government just pays lips service, saying they will do this and that and all they do is order for tractors and that’s all. Mechanised agriculture will encourage young graduates and school leavers to go into agriculture. There are some of my students that have grown big in agriculture.
Nigeria, particularly the North Central, witnessed severe flooding during the last farming season. Will that impact the coming farming season?
Of course it will impact the coming season. In Nigeria, we have peculiar problems in agriculture. First of all, the greatest problem in that area, North/Central, North/East and North/West is insecurity then flooding. Though some parts in the south are affected, that of the North Central is much that it carries the whole farm away. Some of them lamented they couldn’t harvest anything from their farms. I think government should really do some flood control, especially in Kogi State — you find out when the flood comes it covers all the area and goes into the farm. So the government should be able to see that they do some flood control. A lot of work has been done by engineers in this area of flood control, but then again the government will pay lip service to it. In most cases, you will find some projects started and stop half way. The government should be up-and-doing as long as flood control is concerned. NIMET predicts what is coming, and they predicted for this year. I know government is asking people in the residential areas to evacuate but they’re not talking about their farms because we’re talking about agriculture. No, they’re not talking about their farms. Some of them will evacuate and the next thing their farms are all gone. So I think it is the goodwill of the government to make sure that money is put into flood control.
What are your thoughts on government’s denial on the impact of the flood on food supply?
I’m happy that everybody has noticed that. There are times when I ask: are those in government living with us in this world at all? You know when the flood comes it carries farm lands; you can’t say it doesn’t impact on agriculture. North Central is more like the food basket of Nigeria and if they can’t harvest because of flood or the flood has taken away all their crops then in the next season there will be no food. So they can’t say flooding does not impact on agriculture. In fact, part of mechanisation is also flood control. You know, in farms, they can construct channels to channel the water when they know the source of the flood. In agricultural engineering, we have an area of irrigation and drainage. These are the people who are in control. Make money available to them. But if you say it doesn’t impact on agriculture then that is very unfair. We can also find ways of harvest this water, store it and use it again during dry season.
How would you rate the outgoing government as regards agriculture?
I don’t see any impact in agriculture by this government. I think the best minister of agriculture that we have ever had in this country was Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the current AfDB President. And that was where we saw even technology coming on board as far as agriculture was concerned. And there was a lot of impact on agriculture then but unfortunately he did not stay long in that position. Maybe I can say the body is willing but the soul is not ready, because they will say by mouth they’re going to do this, they’re going to do that, and we clap for them, and at the end we’ll see nothing.
How do you feel when you see your students flourishing in their various fields, like the deputy governor of Lagos State among others?
People say the reward of a teacher is in heaven but we are seeing the reward now. Some of my students are either directors or professors, you know. The governor of Borno State was my masters student. I retired since 2008 but because I’m an emeritus professor, I’ve always been around. So when I see them progressing and making waves like that, it makes me very happy, especially in the profession. Since I became an emeritus professor, all the HODs in the department were my former students. The current HOD was my PhD student, he is a professor. So when I see them I just feel fulfilled and I’m happy. The time I was doing some consultancy with the ministries, there was no time I went there and did not see my former students as assistant director, director, chief engineer and a lot of them. So, I’m very much fulfilled.
What have you been doing that keeps you going?
First of all, I say the grace of God. And then I must say that, that grace has helped me with most of my doctors who have been advising me on what to do. So I give credit to them too. And especially one of my doctors said no matter what, make sure you take, at least take a walk for 30 minutes every day. When I was on the campus I used to walk around. But when I came here first, I used to walk through Akala road and come back with my wife but with the insecurity, I now walk around my compound and at least I tried to maintain it. And I take my medication accordingly and then keep strictly on my diet and also spiritually, with my God in peace.
Professors and academics are believed to be custodians of excellence, yet we saw some professors aiding corrupt politicians to rig elections, even in the just concluded elections. What can you say about that?
As they say that money is a devil. I used to tell my wife that every person has a price. If you give me one million now, it’s nothing to me. 20 million, no. I always tell people I’m satisfied with what I have and the way I live. I’m not looking forward to have 10 houses 20 cars on display. All I want is a comfortable roof on my head, children and my family and a good vehicle that can take me round. So, I think it depends on people. Everybody has a character. There are people who are greedy and would always want to have more. I got to a stage that I got those good consultancies after I was 75 and I told them I’m now old. There was one they offered that required travelling to the whole of West Africa, of course we knew what it is to travel with dollars Per Diem and this and that. I said no. I have a junior colleague, one of my former students, so I called him and said this is what you have to do, can I give your name? And he said yes. I said, okay, bring your CV and I vouched for him, he was my good student and now a professor. They accepted his CV and the gentleman did the job and did it very well. The report was fantastic.
There are people that went into INEC and did not get corrupt. So, in every profession, there are bad eggs — and getting the good eggs is difficult in Nigeria
Why we are banning Nigerian students, others from bringing dependants – UK
The United Kingdom (UK) had on Tuesday, May 23, 2023, announced that foreign students will not be allowed to bring their families who can either be their spouses, children and parents to the country.
UK’s Home Secretary, Suella Braverman said the restrictions will take place from January 2024 as she said the ban is only for foreign undergraduate and postgraduate students on non-research courses.
The UK government had given their reasons for this new restriction policy.
A main reason for this ban is because, British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak has been interested in cutting down the rate of immigration and he sees this policy as one that will go a long way in helping to achieve that. According to him, it will help to revive the British economy.
Another reason is that the UK’s Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), has said that Nigeria together with India and China has the highest number of students studying in the country which means a large number of non-EU members are migrating heavily into the country which Sunak’s government concluded it should be controlled.
Also the UK government is looking to cut the number of immigrants taking key sectors of its economy. Home Secretary, Suella Braverman had earler called for lower immigration and suggested more British citizens should be groomed to do jobs commonly done by overseas workers
Japa: Nigerians knock Youtuber over BBC interview
Criticisms have continued to trail the remarks of a Nigerian Youtuber, Emdee Tiamiyu, in an interview he had with the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Tiamiyu, who is known for advising Nigerians on studying in the United Kingdom, declared that many of them were not looking for new qualifications, but to start a new life abroad.
He said most of those who applied for schooling in the country only considered it an alternative means to escape from Nigeria.
He said, “The student route is more like an answered prayer. It is a big bracket that’s able to take a lot of people, the ordinary people.
“We’re beginning to see that a lot of people just hide behind the studentship. So the student thing is not real, it’s not like they need the degrees,” he added.
Tiamiyu, who is based in Birmingham, granted the interview in the wake of the new immigration rules that will prevent Nigerian students, and others studying in the UK, from bringing their families as dependants except under specific circumstances.
Under the new rule, which will take effect in January 2024, the UK will remove the permission for international students to switch out of the student route and into work routes before their studies have been completed to prevent misuse of the visa system.
Nigerians, who felt displeased by Tiamiyu’s submission said he had ruffled the chances of those who genuinely planned to study in the UK.
Others also described him as a clout chaser who was seeking popularity.
A Twitter user, Francis Ebuara, said, “Dear BBC, Nigerians have been made aware of a video showing your interview with one “Emdee Tiamiyu,” who claimed that Nigerians do not go to the UK because they need the degree. For the avoidance of doubt, your interviewee has spoken strictly for himself and not for Nigerians.”
Another user, Bizzle said, “What @EmdeeTiamiyu said in the interview was unhealthy!
He has really made bad history, and the internet will never forget it. Sometimes it is healthy to bridle your mouth than speaking in a happy state of mind. He was too happy to be interviewed and decided to blow the whistle.”
Another tweep, Daniel Regha, said, “Emdee Tiamiyu is a mindless clown. Nigerians are already being stigmatised, our country has a negative image but instead of correcting the wrong perceptions he deliberately threw Nigerians under the bus for views and cheap clout. Ignorance is a disease. Hope karma visits him soon.”
Also in his reaction, Omolomo tweeted, “Emdee Tiamiyu finally japa and all he could do was to block the same channel he used for those coming.”
Wanjukay also tweeted, “This Emdee Tiamiyu just made foolery of himself on #BBC . Nigerian students have immensely contributed to UK economy through post-graduate studies. Stereotyping and jumping to conclusions like this just to gain YouTube views is destructively greedy
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