COMPETENCE TEST ROW: Pry six teachers who failed junior class’ exam want to continue to teach in Kaduna schools —Uba Sani
•Says El-Rufai appointed ‘strangers’ into critical positions after politicians failed to nominate qualified candidates
By Ben Agande, Kaduna.
Uba Sani, a presidential aide during the Obasanjo administration, is the incumbent political adviser to the governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai. In this interview, Sani speaks on why the state government must sack primary school teachers who did not pass competence test administered on them. He says that despite the opposition from some quarters in the state, El -Rufai will be re-elected in 2019.
The decision by the governor of Kaduna State to sack 20,000 primary school teachers for not passing competence test has sparked outrage with labour unions threatening industrial action. Must the government sack these teachers? Can’t they be retrained?
I think people have allowed sentiment to becloud their sense of judgement. Yes, 20,000 teachers are unqualified and unable to pass competence examinations. What I understand about this issue is that a class six teacher wrote an examination designed for a class four teacher and failed. This means that the teacher was never qualified to teach in the first place.
This made the governor angry and he threatened to retrench the teachers because it’s not about building schools or providing teaching materials but also impacting sound knowledge into the children.
When we came into government, the education sector was in a very bad shape.
The governor started by fixing old classrooms and building new ones while devising ways of increasing children enrolment. The number of children in school before we came into office was 1.2 million but, after encouraging them by removing tuition fees and introducing feeding into the school system, the number increased to 2.3 million. The NLC never complained.
Now that we said we want to replace unqualified teachers, the NLC is complaining.
The governor is not ready to bring politics into a situation whereby he would retrain unqualified teachers and also employ qualified ones. He is just trying to employ qualified teachers out of the abundance roaming the streets of Kaduna State.
What people fail to realise is that this government has done a lot to turn the sorry state of the education system in Kaduna around. Before we came into power, education budget was only 10 per cent but we increased the budget to more than 20 per cent and also increased health budget.
Apart from the issue of retrenching teachers, many politicians in Kaduna, especially in the All Progressives Congress, have accused the governor of side-lining them after working rigorously for the success of the party in 2015. They also accused him of appointing ‘strangers’ into government. Why did the governor abandon people who worked for his victory?
The governor has appointed into offices people who worked for his election. Many were appointed into positions that people did not even know. However, the governor also brought in some strange faces to work with him because they have the educational background to deliver good governance to the more than 10 million people of Kaduna.
Although he tried to bring in known faces by asking the candidates who won election and those they felt had the qualifications to do so, especially those at the forefront of the campaign, most of the names he got were not qualified to occupy critical positions in government. The situation forced the governor to look elsewhere for qualified candidates for the positions.
We cannot compromise critical positions in this government in the name of friendship. We have to be fair to the people, especially by providing good governance by employing the most qualified people into government.
The governor said he would rather employ people who were never part of the campaign but had the educational qualifications to occupy the critical positions in government than bring in friends who would cause more problems.
The APC in Kaduna is in a sort of crisis. What does this portend for the party in 2019?
I don’t think it is as bad as it has been put out by some people. I believe that in politics, there are bad times. I also believe that the APC in Kaduna is united despite the fact that the party faced rigorous elections where some members won and some lost. Some people felt they were not carried along at the beginning of the government; that is normal. But as time goes on, they will be carried along; it all depends on one’s expertise and the fact that our governor does not believe in ‘friendship’ in government but the quality of governance delivered to the people.
We believe we are doing our best to make the party even stronger. Like I said, we do not have issues with any party member.
El-Rufai was voted into office by the people who believe he has what it takes to remove the decay in the education sector, reverse the terrible state of the health sector and improve infrastructure which was in bad shape compared to other states created long after Kaduna had been created. I have no doubt in my mind that he (governor) is on the right track and I will tell you why.
This is the first time the rural people of Kaduna State are experiencing development. Going to the media to appreciate the good works of the governor is not the issue. The villagers who appreciate the works of the governor do not have the money to go to the media which is why you may not hear them talk.
Do you think the APC has any chance of winning the next election in Kaduna State?
Absolutely! Because over 80 per cent of the rural dwellers are happy with our government; what matters to the common man is that government is able to meet his basic needs, not politics. Another assurance we have is that in politics, what matters is the number of followers and respect a particular group has, nothing more, and to the best of my knowledge, the governor has both.
There is no love lost between your governor and the senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, and some people have alluded to the fact that you are being groomed to take over from the senator. Are you the governor’s preferred candidate for that seat?
My main concern right now is how to help the government of Nasir El-Rufai to succeed. When the time comes, I will make my intention clear. I have not said I am going to contest for the Kaduna Central Senatorial District seat. When the time comes, I will announce my move.