Sokoto State will become the first among the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to grant citizens within its borders the right to education, if a proposed bill to that effect is passed by the State House of Assembly.
Known as the Right to Education Bill, the proposed legislation is an initiative of Governor Waziri Aminu Tambuwal, the immediate past Speaker of the House of Representatives who was sworn-in as the state governor last year.
According to the state’s Commissioner for Justice, Suleiman Usman, the initiative is in conformity with Chapter Two of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 on the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, which lists the right to education among the duties and responsibilities of all organs of government to observe and apply.
Section 18 enjoins governments to strive to eradicate illiteracy as and when practicable, by pursuing free, compulsory and universal education (including adult literacy) at all levels.
The import of this initiative becomes even more glaring in view of the fact that Sokoto State, as one of the educationally-backward states, was the only one in the country in which a local council known as Gudu Local Government Area had no secondary school until the state government established one only this year.
We hope the state government did its homework to cope with the scale of funding, logistical provisions, administrative challenges and socio-cultural reorientation that will be required, especially in that part of the country, to make this initiative a success when the bill becomes law.
It is a well-known fact that sound education is the greatest legacy a government or parent can bequeath to the youth and the citizenry because of the liberating impact of knowledge and learning. It is for this reason that we call on governments at all levels to emulate this ambitious venture and put education in its pride of place if we are serious about joining the club of the most advanced economic and socio-political entities in the world within a short time.
At various points in the history of this nation, political leaders who demonstrated the courage and vision of giving their people access to education, either through free or heavy state sponsorship of education, were able to produce human capacities that towered above those whose educational needs were neglected, in most areas of the human development index.
It is not a coincidence that the North, being the most educationally-underdeveloped, is also rated as the section with the highest poverty/destitution rates and the most violence-prone in the country.
We hope Sokoto State will successfully and sustainably implement this policy and thus encourage others to emulate them.