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Who Will be Peter Obi’s Minister of Education?

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Minister of Education

By Akachukwu Ifeanyichukwu

The public education sector of Nigeria is currently in a critical state as staff unions of federal universities have been on an unending industrial action for the last five months.

Federal institutions are dilapidated as they are poorly funded and the approved funds are rarely used for the approved task. If elected on February 25, 2023, the Peter Obi-Yusuf Datti Baba Ahmed-led administration will have to face the uphill task of rebuilding the sector from the foundation and this would be done by who he appoints as the Minister of Education if he is given the mantle of leadership.

During his tenure as Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi revitalized the education system of the state using strategic partnerships with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the World Bank, the Department for International Development (DFID) of the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU).

The state was the first to procure and distribute more than 30,000 computers to secondary schools, including 22,500 from Hewlett-Packard (HP).

The Managing Director for the Personal Systems Group at HP described the deployment as the biggest of such projects in the Middle East and Africa.

The Anambra State Government provided Microsoft Academies to more than 500 secondary schools, which the Head of Microsoft in Nigeria described as the biggest such deployment in Africa so far.

The State provided Internet access to more than 500 secondary schools, which were characterized by the Director of Galaxy Backbone as “incomparable to any in the country.”

More than 700 buses were given to secondary schools in the state by the government. Boreholes were provided in schools all over the state and lastly, numerous classrooms were built in all the 177 communities of the state. This led Obi to receive awards from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and other prestigious organizations.

Here is a short list of the qualified members of the Nigeria Academia for the possible post of Minister of Education:

Emeritus Professor Umaru Shehu (North)

A must-know name in the Northern region of Nigeria is Professor Umaru Shehu, a distinguished physician, academic, and administrator, who is the chairman of the Board of Directors of the Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria (IHVN).

Professor Shehu, who was educated at the University of Ibadan and Liverpool, is a distinguished fellow of the National Postgraduate Medical College. He was a pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic) of the Ahmadu

Bello University, Zaria from 1977-1978.

From 1978-1980, he was the Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and Chairman of the board of management of the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan between 1991 and 1994. He was also Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council of the Bayero University, Kano, and the University of Lagos between 1993 and 1999. He has also chaired the boards of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) and STOPAIDS.

A one-time president of the Academy of Science and consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO), Professor Shehu holds the prestigious national award of the Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR). A world-renowned scholar with many publications to his credit and membership in international and local professional bodies, Professor Shehu is a Professor Emeritus of Community Medicine, at the University of Maiduguri, Nigeria.

Professor Kayode Adebowale (West)

A popular name in the Western academia of the country is Kayode Oyebode Adebowale, a Nigerian professor and scientist and the 13th Vice-chancellor of the University of Ibadan. In October of 2021, he became the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, having formerly served as the deputy vice-chancellor (administration) of the school and as the Dean of the Faculty of Science in the same institution.

Prof Kayode Adebowale was born on January 11, 1962, and he is a native of the Gateway State, Ogun, in Western Nigeria. He had his primary education at St. Marks Primary School, Oke-Ijaga, Ijebu Igbo between 1967 and 1972 while his secondary was at Ayedaade Grammar School, Ikire between 1973 and 1978. He bagged his BSc in Chemistry in 1984 from the University of Ibadan at the age of 22. He received his Master’s degree and PhD from the same university in 1986 and 1991 respectively. He began his academic career as a Graduate Assistant at the University of Ibadan and became a professor of Industrial Chemistry in 2006.

He was once a lecturer at the Federal University of Technology. He has a record number of 137 published and peer-reviewed scientific papers, 14 conference papers, and 3 technical reports. He was formerly the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration), at the University of Ibadan.

Professor Aniebiet Inyang Ntui (South-South)

A name strongly involved in Nigerian academia is that of Professor Aniebiet Inyang Ntui, an international author in the field of Library and Information Science and the current university librarian of the University of Calabar.

Ntui holds a BSc (Ed), Dip (Computer Techniques), M.Ed., MLS, and a PhD in Library and Information Science. She has over 20 years of experience in the library and classroom of the University of Calabar, Nigeria. Professor Aniebiet is an Associate of the European Union Research Initiative – Europeana, the University of the West of Scotland’s Centre for African Research on Enterprise and Economic Development, and the University of Glasgow’s UK-COP 26 Universities Climate Network. She is also a Fellow of various international library associations and institutions. She has served as a Consultant of Information Management to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, United Nations Development Programme, and the World Bank. She is a recipient of the Nigerian Library Association, the 2020 Award of Excellence, and the 2021 Award of Honour for her contributions to the development of librarianship in Nigeria.

She is one of the Most Read Researchers in Nigeria according to information available on the Web of Science Site.

Who do you think will eventually become a member of the Obi-Datti cabinet if he is eventually elected as President of Nigeria?

Education

Oyo Government Absorbs 2,000 Teachers

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teachers in Oyo

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

About 2,000 primary school teachers initially seconded to the post-primary Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM) of Oyo State during the administration of late Abiola Ajimobi have now been absorbed by Governor Seyi Makinde.

The chairman of TESCOM, Mr Akinade Alamu, during the celebration of 2022 World Teachers’ Day in Ibadan on Wednesday, also stated that the state government has approved the promotion of civil servants in the state.

Recall that teachers, who teach in secondary schools across the state, had appealed to the Oyo State Government to either regularise their appointments as TESCOM teachers or revert their appointment as primary school teachers under the Oyo State Universal Basic Education Board (Oyo SUBEB).

At the event today, the Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mr Rahman Abiodun Abdu-Raheem, appealed to teachers to embrace the state government’s efforts in improving the education sector.

“It is pertinent to re-emphasise that the machinery of the state has the determination to transform the education sector,” he said.

Mr Abdu-Raheem said the state government unprecedentedly appointed 21 Permanent Secretaries/Inspectors General of Education and Permanent Secretaries/Tutors General to enhance effective monitoring of schools and service delivery.

He said Governor Makinde has put in place many activities to achieve his lofty ideas for the sector.

Also speaking, the Executive Chairman of Oyo SUBEB, Mr Nureni Aderemi Adeniran, said the board would continue to work for the welfare of teachers in the state.

“To whom much is given, much is expected; therefore, I appeal to you to key into the Government’s resolve to bring back the lost glory of the State in education by making sure our children excel both in internal and external examinations,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Union of Teachers, Oyo State Council, has honoured nine persons from the state. The Chairman of the union, Mr Raji Oladimeji, commended the state government’s various welfare packages, saying they have encouraged teachers to remodel the society and train students in the state.

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Education

ASUU Strike: Gbajabiamila Presents Recommendations to Buhari

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ASUU Suspends Strike

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

As part of efforts to resolve the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, has met with President Muhammadu Buhari to present to him the recommendations from the meeting he had with stakeholders in the past few days.

Mr Gbajabiamila held meetings with the leadership of ASUU and top officials of the federal government, including the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Mr Chris Ngige, who walked out of the gathering over comments by the ASUU president, Mr Emmanuel Osodeke, that Nigerians should not vote for those who kept their children at home for months.

Immediately after the plenary on Tuesday, the Speaker led a delegation of principal officers from the green chamber of the National Assembly to the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja.

Addressing newsmen after his meeting with Mr Buhari, the Speaker said, “After a series of engagements with ASUU and with people on the executive side, we’ve been able to come to some kind of decisions and recommendations to be made to Mr President for his approval.”

“As you know, what is on the front burner today, even beyond the politics, is that our universities, our lecturers, and our children are out of school.

“The House of Representatives decided to step in at that point four weeks ago, and we’ve had a series of meetings that lasted hours and we’ve been able to get both sides to shift ground to an extent, and that’s what we came to discuss with Mr President about those recommendations,” he added.

Mr Gbajabiamila also said he was hopeful that the crisis might soon be resolved as the delegation had a robust engagement with the President.

“Mr President, as usual, had a very good listening ear, he took the report of the House, accepted it. We discussed the details of the report at length, and he wanted to go through them himself.

“We have another meeting on Thursday between our good selves and Mr President for his final decision. We had a good engagement, with a very positive response.

“He asked us a couple of questions, in some grey areas which we clarified, and he accepted the reports, and he wanted a couple of days to go through it.

“We are working. We are hopeful that this (strike) will soon be a thing of the past. I know once this is agreed upon, the strike will be called off,” he said.

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Education

Education Sector and Nigeria’s Revolving Underdevelopment Doors

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Increase Funding to Education

By Jerome-Mario Chijioke Utomi

One recent occurrence that typifies the nation’s education sector as an area in urgent need of help is the current shoddy state of Ologbo Primary and Secondary Schools, Ologbo, Obarentin community in Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of Edo State, formerly called Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria Primary and Secondary School, Ologbo.

In addition to signalling the gory tale of poor leadership, neglect and outright abandonment of responsibility by the Edo State government, the pictures and accompanying commentaries diverted attention from real threat deserving of healthy and appropriate fear, the federal government’s protracted inability to resolve their impasse with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). It is more than anything else the ugly awareness at the school sowed confusion that portrays the Edo state as a state where leadership has drained people’s will and is now left with weakened rational character.

Expectedly also, many have risen in staunch defence of the Governor; saying that blame in the present circumstance may not be the smart thing to do; for when the verdict is passed on someone, it blocks the possibility of knowing who the person is and definitely creates biases, sentiments, prejudice, and also makes the mind become impervious and closed towards either seeing the good sides of the person or the bad sides of the person.

To others, the Governor should in the interim be excused because when it comes to making decisions or pursuing purposeful initiatives, leaders naturally fall victim to the trap of unexpected limitations such as inadequate funds among others.

To the rest, achieving sustainable development in a sector such as education is a systemic thing that takes time. Therefore, the Governor needs to be allowed more time to perform before subjecting his performance to critical scrutiny.

Whatever the true position may be, the truth is this piece’s latest condemnation of Governor Obaseki’s poor leadership habit is both natural, neutral and perceptual.

The reason is simple. Experience via observation has shown that in Nigeria, particularly in the Niger Delta region, leaders are never mentally prepared for the task of leadership. They seem to forget that the more preparation, planning and activation of the execution process they make, the better they perform in the task of leadership.

Supporting the above assertion is the awareness that when one spends time thinking about how we approach leadership in Nigeria and asks important questions about how leaders in Nigeria set their priorities, time and funds, it becomes easy to situate the fact that the hallmark of poor performance in Nigeria is not Obaseki specific.

Take, as an illustration, a while ago, in a particular intervention, this author highlighted pictures of a similar shoddy state and wicked neglect of Oyoko Primary School, Abavo, Ika South Local Government Area of Delta state.

Like the Ologbo Primary and secondary schools situation, the referenced piece underlined disturbing pictures which showed visibly distressed structures with fallen ceilings, windows and doors. The piece concluded by concluding that from the pictures and accompanying commentaries, it cannot be characterized as an overstatement to describe such a ‘scene’ as deplorable, dehumanizing, troubling, in bad light bracingly in contravention of the international best standards and most importantly, a reality that all well-meaning Deltans including our dear Governor should worry about.

Broadly speaking, there are so many reasons why this author is particularly interested in bringing to the fore these poor courses of action/ inaction chosen ahead of logic by the public authority to address the nation’s education sector; their definition of the problem, the goals to be achieved, or the means chose to address the problems and to achieve the goals.

By analysing each of these elements, in turn, it becomes easy to understand the essential ingredients that made great nations what they are today, as well as answer questions as to why others, such as Nigeria, are unsuccessful.

To explain this point, it is believed that policies, plans and strategies are fundamental to the progress and development of countries, yet, right from independence, the problem with education in the country very much lies with underfunding, payment of lip service to, and inconsistency in policies driven by several panels set up by the government to recommend measures to enhance the quality of education in the country.  This problem is not so much with the recommendations of the various panels but their poor implementation by those entrusted to do so.

If not bad policy and poor implementation, how do we explain governments’ inability to heed the United Nations Educational Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) budgetary recommendation on education? What other expression shall we say of a country’s education where researches are not adequately funded and yet, the President allowed hundreds of millions to go into replacing his plates and cutlery yearly? And what shall we expect from an educational ministry headed by someone who is not an educationist? This may however not be the only explanation.

As to what should be done, we must recognize two realities.

First and very fundamental, that is like in a business where no organization can grow consistently faster than its ability to get enough of the right people to implement such growth. likewise, we must admit that with the education sector’s present state, it will be difficult if not impossible to develop disruptive or constructive concepts that can shatter set patterns of thinking and provide solutions to the nagging challenges in the country until policymakers consider education as the bedrock of development; that with sound educational institutions, a country is as good as made -as the institutions will turn out all rounded manpower to continue with the development of a hyper-modern society driven by well thought out ideas, policies, programmes and projects. But such a tendency is clearly different here.

Secondly, policymakers must admit the fact that our children enjoy the right to education as recognized by a number of international conventions, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which recognizes a compulsory primary education for all, an obligation to develop secondary education accessible to all, as well as the progressive introduction of free higher education/obligation to develop equitable access to higher education.

The nation must stop playing ‘casino’ with funding of the sector, and in its place, come to the realization that it is our collective responsibility to ensure that our schools work and our children are properly educated at the right time and place.

As to closing the nation’s revolving underdevelopment door, there is an urgent need to rework the university system to meet the manpower demand by the industrial sector as a strategic consequence of this failure has made Nigerian universities and other tertiary institutions in the country continue to turn out, every year several thousands of graduates that the industry does not need. This is made worse by the fact that there is a nation where uncalculated importance is attached to the possession of university degrees as against the possession of skills necessary for self-reliance and national development.

Utomi Jerome-Mario is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), a Lagos-based Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). He can be reached via Jeromeutomi@yahoo.com/08032725374

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