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Open Letter to President Muhammadu Buhari

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I salute your Excellency, in the name and spirit of common experience and shared humanity. Permit me to congratulate you on your recent victory in the 2019 national presidential electionsirrespective of the numerous ups and downs which befell your first tenure. Moreover, it is fitting that I congratulate you as the Executive President in spite of all the shameful intrigues that crowned your emergence as the leading father at the helm of the affairs of the Nation. Notwithstanding, congratulations for accepting in the first place to be an Executive turncoat and betrayer.

Before the election, the President of National Association Of Nigerian Students (NANS), Comrade. Bamidele Danielson Akpan, who fecilitated with you on your birthday and put immeasurable smile on your face by assuring you of millions votes from the Nigerian students. During this action, the Nigerian students were off from school due to the ASUU strike that lasted for about 3months. Initially, we thought his Aim and Objective was actually based on the unprecedented strike, yet he assured you of our votes without our consent.

In October 1st, 2020, the Nigerian celebrated her 60thanniversary of Independence. It is quiet abysmal, self-importantand megalomaniacal inclination of our leaders that nothing has changed ever since Nigeria got her independence. Hence, Nigerians have nothing to be happy for.

It’s so saddening that our elected leaders and occupants of political positions in the 3 arms of government are nothing but Judas Iscariot personalities.

It is also worrisome that after vowing and promising heaven on Earth to the Nigerian students about how Education would be well equipped, creating job opportunities and inculcating entrepreneurship skills across all institutions, yet the Educational and security lives of the Nigerian students have been jeopardized and unfortified.

It’s visibly and Crystal clear that there is no gainsay that ASUU Chairman, Mr Biodun Ogunyemi has the total right to fight for the welfare of his followers since Mr President has failed the well-being and the comfortability of the Nigerian citizens.

Well, according to Benjamin Disraeli, the first Earl of Beaconsfield did make a most poignant statement that lives on today: “Upon the education of the people of this country, the fate of this country depends”

With atmost sincerity and without being disabused of governance, I will love to say that our leaders do not know the quality and the worth of the political positions they occupy.

Over some weeks ago, the National Association of Nigerian Students, Ekiti State Chapter, led and paddled by Comr. Ogunleye Johnson, visited one of the security states command and had a lengthy discussion of the security and the economic change of the nation. Mr Yusuf Bichi said, the youths play a significant and crucial role in the system of government, and if things need be transformed, the knowledge contributions of youths are not to be set aside for the economic growth and development of the Federal republic of Nigeria.

It is on this note that many economics developmental researchhad been put into consideration by the students executives after a thorough surfing investigation. Hence, such solutions to the problems will be highlighted. Before that, let me quickly delve into a country that have implemented and utilized such technics and found it helpful in their economical integration.

Saving education to save Nigeria is no wishful thinking. Theworld abounds with countries who have put into use this strategy and experienced amazing results. Notable among such countries is Singapore, which is now reckoned as one of the most peaceful countries and one of the countries with the highest concentration of millionaires. It is no surprise that approximately 20% of the government spending goes into education.

At the end, it all boils down to simple logic. With improved standard of education and more Nigerians seeing education in the right perspective come better innovators and more entrepreneurs, active citizens who have no time for vices. When our educational institutions turn out graduates who are competent, employable and skilled enough to establish or start their individual enterprise, there will be a surge in Nigeria’s economy, because we will become more of a producing nation than a consuming one. We will no longer be overly dependent on crude oil. There will be more jobs, befitting of our youths and lucrative enough to make them shun violence and terrorism. The economy will thrive in a peaceful environment, attracting foreign investors and experts. Our nation will be secure, politically stable and recession will become a sorry tale in the past. But first, we have to save education.

Dr. Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State of the United States of America, once postulated that the quality of education of a nation is a direct function of a country’s national security. This relationship stems from the role education plays in providing the human capital needed in economic development, in enhancing the comparative advantage of the nation in the global market, in preparing the personnel that serve in the military and providing the knowledge base for technological training. Implicitly, the human capital of a nation is a derivative of its quality of education, and the quality of education is as important as the national security and economic sufficiency. Thus, it is necessary to look at saving education under the following sub-headings:

i) Reorientation on Education

There is a fascinating story of a Nigerian graduating student who, on his convocation, made a rather notorious statement. Excited that he was finally done with his degree programme, he announced to the utter discomfiture of parents and well-wishers that now that he had gotten his B.Sc certificate, he would never read anything again in his life, not even a lettered billboard by the roadside, let alone a newspaper!

There is an urgent need for reorientation among Nigerian youths as regards the definition of education. Education is an endless journey, not a destination. It is not just what gives you some decorated paper with which you can apply for jobs in some oil and gas company. No. Rather, it is the enlightening of the human mind and the acquisition of knowledge to be applied in solving the manifold problems of mankind. The youths must see education in this new light, and not as a boring customary rite or an irksome imposition by parents and society, for this would be pivotal in the quest to revamp our dear country. Therefore, the government and the mass media must do everything possible to disabuse minds of these erroneous conceptions of education. Less emphasis should be laid on paper work and more emphasis laid on brain work.

ii) Reformation of the Educational System

A little boy was once asked what class he was in by some reporters of Vanguard newspaper. As innocent as his answer was, it captured the confusion that has come to characterise the Nigerian education sector and its governing bodies. “They say I’m in Basic One, but all I know is that I’m in Primary One,” the six-year-old boy said.

Over the decades, like a pendulum bob moving back and forth, Nigeria has gone from one system of education to another. In 1982, the 6-3-3-4 system of education was introduced, substituting the previously existing 6-5-4 system. And because a “whole” former Vice President of World Bank for Africa region could not come without leaving an imprint on the history of education in Nigeria, be it positive or negative, Dr. Obiagaeli Ezekwesili modified the 6-3-3-4 system of education to 9-3-4 during her tenure as Minister for Education. Perhaps her successor, Prof. Ruqayyat Rufa’i, did not like the sound of that, so she proposed to the National Assembly the need to revert to 6-3-3-4 system but, of course, with a slight modification: 1-6-3-3-4.

It is time to ask Nigerian policy makers that Shakespearean question: What is in a name? Give a rose any other name and it will still smell just as sweet. Rechristening the system of education on every whim does not make it any better. If anything at all, it is a sheer waste of resources and what could have been productive time. The government should rather make the existing system work by adequate implementation. For instance, the essence of the six years spent in primary school is to acquire functional literacy and numeracy. The first 3 years spent in secondary school (JSS) is meant to impart introductory knowledge in Science, Art and Technology, as well as reduce unemployment by providing sellable and vocational skills. In the same vein, the university is supposed to produce professionals, graduates who are sound in mind and independent. But what do we have?

To save Nigeria from its present sorry state, it is exigent that our schools be made to re-emphasize the importance of vocational subjects as well as other courses that promote entrepreneurship. More practicals should be carried out, and our tertiary institutions should bridge the gap between “the town and the gown” by executing more projects that offer goods and services to the community.

iii) Earmarking More Funds to the Education Sector

On December 14, 2016, the federal government, as usual, disappointed the citizens of Nigeria yet again. But the disappointment in itself was not so much a cause for despair as the message of blatant disregard it passed to the teeming population of children and youths. At the National Assembly Complex in Abuja, President Muhummadu Buhari submitted the 2017 budget proposal, which had a terribly meagre 7.4% as its allocation for the education sector. This is a far cry from UNESCO recommendation of 26% of the national budget.

Although the Nigerian government continues to state its commitment to the education sector, a comparative analysis with the budgetary allocations of other countries, even in Africa, indicates that the government is not putting its money where its mouth is. Considering the bulk of work to be done in the sector, ranging from the outstanding allowances of the teaching staff to the acquisition of modern laboratories and facilities, it is very important that the federal government improve on the annual allocation for education in subsequent years. Matching UNESCO recommendation will be a good start.

Comrade Lasisi Ojo Samuel

Dir. Of Campus Affairs NANS EKITI

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