Atiku Abubakar: Inflicting The Inflicted And Comforting The Comfortable, By Haruna Mohammed Salisu
In 2011 when I graduated as a diploma student at the federal polytechnic, Bauchi, a friend told me about American University of Nigeria, Atiku’s University based in Yola, the Adamawa state capital. Looking at my result, he encouraged me to apply for scholarship at AUN, arguing that I might succeed in bagging its scholarship offers after passing its interviews.
I wrote an application and attached my result and other relevant documents, visited the school myself, but guess what? I was disgraced out and told that I followed the wrong procedure. In fact, I was nearly tortured by security men who were ordered to take me out immediately. I was eager and prayerful to get someone who would listen to me and advise me on the right steps to take to earn AUN’s scholarship.
The person who earlier advised me to apply for the scholarship knew how I struggled to pay my school fees and take care of my mother simultaneously. After the humiliation at AUN, I cried and left. I returned to my friend and told him about my encounter with AUN’s officials. He reluctantly advised me to visit the university’s office in Abuja, but I politely declined and told him not to worry, assuring him that the God that helped me finish this school never dies, He will certainly help me succeed.
I applied and got admitted at the Bayero University, Kano to study mass communication. I went through the same struggles, paid my school fees and took good care of my mother concomitantly. Despite the excruciatingly rigorous academic navigation coupled with the struggle to feed oneself, I managed to graduate as the second best student out of a number of 165. As I write this piece, I’m also waiting to serve the country come January 2017.
The recent comments attributed to the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar about public universities’ students did not come to me by surprise. Atiku was quoted by the Guardian Newspaper as saying “I was in the University of Zik in Awka in Anambra State on Wednesday on the invitation of the university. There is no student in public universities that can speak English in an error-free manner like the head boy of my secondary, who just finished addressing us now.
“When the head boy of AUN Academy, Abdullahi Sani, started speaking, I was thinking it is one of the lecturers in AUN, but only for him to introduce himself as the head boy of AUN Academy”.
I mustn’t wait to be told that Atiku was directly and without equivocation referring to me as one of those who speak terrible English—that despite the rigorous and painstaking academic upheavals I went through, I’m still brainless in both learning and character. That Abdullahi Sani, is by far more intelligent and behave morally well than I do – for his ability to speak good and flawless English like his AUN’s lecturers.
First, let’s concede for the sake of argument that Atiku’s Abdullahi Sani, for speaking flawless English is more intelligent both in learning and character than all of us who went to public universities. Is there any empirical evidence that whoever speaks good English is more intelligent than someone who’s English is “error-driven”? If our English is terribly disgusting as Atiku suggests, would you lay the blame on us or on those who looted our public treasury thereby aiding the dilapidated and ill-equipped tendencies of our universities? Are the likes of Atiku not the culprits that recklessly siphoned our monies into their private pockets consequently contributing to the suffering of students and their lecturers in our public universities? How is AUN academy affordable to the sons and daughters of the hoi polloi when its tuition fee for a single term is enough to pay for my entire 8 semesters in Bayero University Kano? How do you expect me to speak good English when the likes of Atiku are the same shenanigans that contributed in bedevilling our educational sector that is supposed to produce competent graduates? For God’s sake, how do you expect me to be intelligent when I was traumatised and disgraced out of AUN just because I followed the wrong way in applying for scholarship?
How would I speak good English and be “intelligent” when as a criteria for me to bag scholarship at AUN, I needed to know someone?
Secondly, Atiku’s unguarded comment against the economically disadvantaged Nigerians is not new. It was the same Atiku who boldly told Nigerians in an interview that God doesn’t answer their prayers. That Nigerians are wasting their time praying to God to give them good leaders. Atiku’s message was clear—so long as he has money to induce voters and probably hire thugs, he will win elections at all cost and no amount of prayers from Nigerians will stop him—because the Almighty doesn’t listen to Nigerians any longer. His recent comment however, is a reaffirmation of his belligerency.
Thirdly, on the issue of morality, that we are not only unintelligent, but equally bankrupt and immoral, and that Abdullahi Sani is more moral than we all are. Atiku should be reminded that morality is a relative term, and even if we are to restrict its definition within the purview of our cultures and religion, AUN’s students are more immoral than we are going by accounts of their behavioural callosity. Behold, some of my lecturers are visiting professors at AUN. On one occasion during class presentation, one of my lecturers commended my class for exhibiting team work and ethical moral conduct during group assignments. He lamented how on different occasions he has to intervene in settling serious disputes among classmates at Atiku’s AUN whenever group assignments were given. Political differences of their parents resonate in class and hardly will lecturers unite them even to collectively do group assignments. Not only that, to proof how morally bankrupt the students were, they answer calls and disrupt ongoing class lectures and their lecturers watch helplessly without any repercussions because the lecturers are not empowered to punish bad behaviours.
That kind of immorality will never go unpunished in our public schools. Some lecturers send their students out of class upon allowing their mobile phones to ring in class—and it make us behave well and respect our lecturers—a good conduct that is lacking at Atiku’s AUN.
Fourthly, since Atiku’s AUN students are more intelligent than all of us at public universities, what have they innovated to help boost the socio-economic and political development of Nigeria? Remember, the likes of Atiku whose children supposedly got the best education than all of us are supposed to be the drivers of innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation. But unfortunately, with all their “better education” and “good English” their parents still lobby for juicy slots for them at CBNs NNPCs, NCCs, and other top government agencies at the detriment of the commoners. Why wouldn’t they provide jobs through creativity and innovation – a supposed result for bagging quality education? Why are they occupying juicy offices, to continue like their parents, embezzle our national wealth? Atiku should be reminded that the children of the poor who attended public schools with their “bad education” are still the ones leading in innovations, not only in Nigeria, but the whole of Africa.
Fifthly, the likes of Atiku with their provocation, rejection and condemnation of the poor –are persistently inflicting the inflicted and comforting the comfortable through tactical isolationism. Just observe their lifestyle critically, they isolate and reject the poor. Will Atiku ever allow the son of a poor man come close to one of his daughters talk more of proposing them in marriage? Look at them very well, who are their sons and daughters getting married to? You dare not come close to their children because you are unintelligent and cannot speak English in an “error-free manner”. Your crime is that you were born poor, attended the wrong university, and met the wrong lecturers to teach you the wrong English –pure and simple.
Finally, I have tremendous respect for Atiku and was thinking he would be an alternative come 2019, but I’m forced to make a rethink, and would continue to dig and highlights how dangerous he would be if elected president—because should these kinds of comments continue, his pugnacious rejection, condemnation and isolationist’s tendencies as Nigeria’s President are eminent.
Haruna Mohammed Salisu is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University Kano. He can be reach at 08063180608, @haruna_babale or firstname.lastname@example.org