Across the world, there are about 617 million children and adolescents at primary and junior secondary levels that are not achieving proficiency in reading and basic mathematics; the minimum literacy scale set by the UNESCO.
Sub-Saharan Africa hosts the highest percentage with at least 202 million of such population, translating to about 9 out of every 10 children between the ages of 6 and 14. This number is a combination of both out of school children as well victims of poor quality education.
These statistics may be just a tip of the ice berg, in northern part of Nigeria as we home the highest out of school children and rated lowest in quality of education.
To say quality of education in Nigeria especially here in the north is at its lowest ebb is an understatement. The story of the teachers whom the fate of our little children lie upon is nothing but a disappointment.
I have had interactions with teachers and was opportune to be part of a teachers’ upgrade training, so I can authoritatively state that some teachers are not only unqualified but are absolutely not TRAINABLE. A teacher must have attained a certain level of aptitude to be able to receive retraining. Unfortunately, the same teachers are also products of our decades of decayed public education system. Yes, Public Education.
While the children of the elites are gracefuly learning from their qualified but under-paid private school teachers, public school teachers are paid only to corrupt the virgin minds of the children of the less privileged.
Thus creating an army of schooled-illiterates with no skills to guarantee future productivity. Hence the choice to either ignore the multiplier effect of growing a cycle of poverty that will continue to increase as the population of the poor is increasing exponentially while their rich counterparts are busy planning their families.
Sacking hundreds of teachers is a painful and hard decision for a political administrator, but what makes a good leader akin to a doctor prescribing bitter but effective pills is his ability to take difficult but necessary decisions even when it posses negative effect on the leader’s political fortunes.
Although the effect to the state economy is near neutral since there is no statistical difference between jobs loss and jobs created rather a probability of at least getting 10 000 business start ups among the sacked teachers that are due for retirement benefits.
To demonstrate that, a little maths will do.
I was thought by a very good mathematics teacher (in a public school though) that minus one plus one equals zero or (-1)+(+1) =0. So should Kaduna state government disengage 22 000 under-qualified teachers and replace them with another 22 000 qualified teachers, it will translate into no direct effect on job loss/creation. And if they add a few thousands in the event of replacement, they will be counting the marginal figure as pluses.
It amazes me how people scream on top of their voices that 22,000 under-qualified teachers were penciled for sack while turning blind eyes on over a million children taught by these very unqualified teachers. Having access to school is one thing and having the minimum education from same school is another. These poor and enthusiastic children going to school every day but not learning to read and solve basic mathematics are not achieving standard literacy level. How does an attempt to improve the quality of education become an ‘Anti-poor’ policy? Who is more vulnerable, the under qualified teachers or little children?
Civil service in Nigeria is unfortunately considered a form of social security net that serves only to guarantee food on our tables ‘hanyan cin abinci’ rather than career made of professionals for state services. What ever happens, what ever wrong you may do, what ever money you divert, what ever abuse you may have done, you hardly loose a job working for any tier of government. Not even education, security and health sectors are not free of under-qualified personnel.
Until we start to see the education sector as a pillar of sustainable development and work towards overhauling the system in totality for improved productivity as Africa’s must populous country, we will be converting potential human resources for development into potential liability.
And achieving Goal 4 (High Quality Education for All) of the Sustainable Development Goals will remain a mirage. It is arguable but established; educational attainment of a country’s population determines her GDP.
Abdulkadir S. Abdulkadir is an advocate of social justice wrote from Bauchi, Nigeria.
I am not an Atikulate neither an Atiku supporter, I am also not in PDP and not in support of Atiku presidential ambition for now, because I am a keen supporter of a north central presidency in 2019.
Who Is El-rufai? He is that smallish brilliant guy who graduated with a first class degree from Ahmadu Bello University, (ABU)Zaria, yes! same A.B.U founded by Ahmadu Bello he (el-rufai) accused of been a local un-nationalistic regional centred politician.
The same el-rufai who performed beautifully well In FCT and for that Kaduna citizens gave him a shot at the Governorship but under his nose shiites were murdered in hundreds.Yes! El-rufai who told angry citizens to jump to their death, the same him who insulted Obasanjo and even claimed Yar’adua died because he fought with him, only fell short of saying he killed Yar’adua. I guess you know him now.
El-rufai in a sober voice of rattle, said Atiku is only out to contest for president that Is why he left APC, so what with that? Atiku Is qualified just like so many other Nigerians in fact Atiku Is better qualified than even the Buhari el-rufai is trying to hide under to hit Atiku, no Nigerian living today has contributed to democracy like Atiku.
Atiku fought and defeated the third term agenda created by el-rufai and Obasanjo, if not, Obasanjo would still have being President till today(God forbid).
It was glaring in el-rufai’s voice that the defection of Atiku was a major setback but he also struggled to put up a volte face and said Kwankwaso defeated Atiku at the primaries in 2014. Yes! of cause, but he also forgot how many times Buhari himself lost elections.
El-rufai said they Governors have endorsed Buhari for 2019 forgetting that they, the Governors too, will face the biggest battle of their political life in 2019, not to talk of Buhari. Come to think of it, on whose behalf did the governors endorse Buhari for a second term bid, we know it was done to get more tranches of the Paris club refund to fund their lavish life style.
El-rufai seems to be living in 2015, when the battle for the Presidency was between north(3 zones) plus south west (1zone) versus south south(1zone) plus south east (1zone). The maths has changed.
In 2019 the Presidency will be a slug fight between pure northern candidates, the sentiments will be different, the dynamics will also be different.
In the north Kwankwaso and Ganduje fight will divide kano, Gombe is still in PDP controI, firmly in the hands of PDP, but before then let’s go back to Kano, the state that gave Buhari the largest vote and has always supported him since his foray into politics and serial contest for presidency, Buhari has not visited Kano since his inauguration 30 months ago, kwankwaso from Kano who was governor in 2015 that worked out the votes also wants to be President and he has a right to so desire just like Buhari himself, many loyalist of kwankwaso have been so sidelined and they are just waiting for 2019 to take their own pound of flesh on Buhari and Kano Governor Ganduje.
Taraba is a strongly PDP state, Benue and Plateau, the similar dynamics will play out there for obvious reason, the herdsmen, farmer’s clash has filtered away their trust in APC and Buhari, just like the Boko Haram insurgency filtered away our (northerners) trust in PDP and Jonathan in 2015. ( even though facts would later emerge to the non- complicity of leaders and the parties) those states will be going to the polls in anger against the Government.
Niger, Kogi, Nassarawa and FCT these state have dissolved a their fanatical support for Buhari and APC to 50:50 chances for Buhari and APC mostly for lack of performance by their Governors and the abysmal representation by the legislators, in Kogi Salaries are being owed, a civil servant reportedly committed suicide recently, in Niger, civil servants are disgruntled with a huge cry of marginalization, poor power supply despite hosting 3 hydro power dams and a fourth is under construction, poor federal infrastructures like roads, non- completion of Baro port and worst of all, skyrocketing cost of food and essential commodities.
In Kwara, Saraki is waiting to take revenge for the humiliation he faced at the code of conduct trial, while people of kwara are also waiting to take revenge on Saraki, recent Local government election crisis is a snap shot of what to expect from kwara.
However it turns out Adamawa, Bauchi and Gombe from the north east will learn bulkly to the side of Atiku because they also claim they have never tasted the presidency forming a huge reason why Atiku emerged as northern consensus candidate in 2011 against Jonathan, Save Borno and Yobe where Buhari will have a huge support base for his above average performance in the dismantling of the insurgents network.
Northwest is Buhari and APC’s strongest support base but kano is sharply divided, Buhari’s home state, Katsina APC is facing real challenge because Shema did very well as a Governor for the state while same cannot be said of Masari.
Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara are most likely still going to be dominated by Buhari and APC.
South South and South East, these two regions are waiting to take their pounds of flesh from Buhari, South South, for truncating what they will call (our time) at the Presidency, south east in solidarity to a neighbor. Do also not forget that in 2015, Ameachi was governor of Rivers and worked very hard for APC, now Rivers is with Wike of PDP and Wike will double or triple Ameachis effort for PDP.
South West, the most sought after bride of 2019 elections, opinions are sharply divided in the south west, Tinubu is finding difficult to understand what’s happening in Abuja, but he is still hanging on because of the enormous cost he incurred in putting the current government in place. The southwest is certainly will renegotiate the merger and anything can come out of there.
So what was el-Rufai thinking when he was passing his political judgement, he has forgotten too soon that even if Atiku will not win, he has the magic wand to stop a raging incumbent, he did to Abacha, to Obasanjo, jointly and severally did it to Jonathan what makes el-rufai think Buhari is unstoppable? El-rufai and Buhari who couldn’t eve declare their assets publicly saying those who will follow Atiku are those who are corrupted and love money, where did they get their own wealth from? Wake up!
YAHAYA MOHD USMAN
Journalist and politician based in Minna
Good health and well-being is an integral part of human existence, especially the specie of human creature that is vested with the responsibility of procreation. Little wonder the Goal 3 and 5 of the United Nation Sustainable Development Goal come with strong advocacy for “Good Health and Well-being” and the “Empowerment of all women and girls across the globe”.
Traditionally, the female gender is seen to face a lot of challenges both health and economic, which relegate her to all sort of vulnerability and abuses like child marriage, sexual abuse, teenage pregnancy, female genital mutilation and poverty. All these are constituent factors that lead to increased mortality rate.
Currently, the Nigerian maternal mortality rate stands at 576 per 1000 live birth. Although, the United Nation is working towards achieving a target less than 70% maternal death by 2030 globally. This will require a reduction rate of at least 7.5% annually. Hence, the quest to nip this scourge in the bud becomes our collective obligation.
Statistically, about 23% of Nigerian women aged 15-19 years have begun childbearing of which 17% have had their first child and 5% are pregnant with their child. Also, 32% of teenagers in rural areas have begun childbearing as against 10% in the urban areas of the country.
In the South-South region of Nigeria, Cross River State has the second highest incidence of Teenage Pregnancy. Out of a 103 girls between the age of 15-19, 17% of them have had a live birth, 1.4% are pregnant with their first child and 18.4% have begun childbearing- Nigerian Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS). Owing to this, there is need for intense advocacy against this practice in the region.
Teenage Pregnancy is a serious canker worm that has eaten deep to the fabric of our societies. Even in this contemporary age, the prevalence is ridiculous! This social menace comes with a handful of consequences, critical among them is Maternal and Child Mortality, Interrupted Educational Attainment, Improper Care of the baby and others.
Maternal Mortality:- Adolescent girls who get pregnant in their teens are less likely to get adequate health care so they are faced with challenges like premature birth, stillbirth, obstetric fistula, severe bleeding, infection, self induced abortion and so on. However, most of these complications are curable or preventable but because most teens do not receive support from their families, they are less likely to access proper prenatal care, especially those in the remote areas.
More so, most pregnant teens are still developing and so do not have the nutritional strength to nourish themselves properly let alone a growing baby. This leads to raising of a malnourished baby. In addition to this, the hostile attitude that teen mothers get from their families and friends make them more likely to be emotionally derailed and be in isolation which could lead to hypertension and/or postpartum depression.
Interrupted Educational Attainment:- Study shows that teen mothers are at a higher risk of being school drop out. Only one-third of teen mothers obtain a high school diploma. Teenage pregnancy has proven to be an impediment to educational achievement of the girl child.
An adolescent girl who conceives at a tender age may likely not go back to school because of the stigmatization that comes with having a baby while in school. Asides this, most of these girls are from less privileged homes, so they have little resources available for their personal upkeep let alone that of the baby. Unfortunately, the society blames only the girl for this incidence, ignoring the fact that there are two parties involved in the reproduction of a baby.
Improper Care Of The Baby:- Usually there’s no plan or preparation for the welfare of a teen mother’s baby. The unpreparedness that comes with having the baby, destabilizes the mother and renders her almost helpless as to taking full responsibility of the new baby.
In search of greener pastures, a good number of teen mothers leave their babies in the care of their mothers or extended relative who has little or nothing to take care of the growing child. This however leads to the child growing up without strict supervision or parental care. In the end the child (if a girl) may end up treading the path of her mother by making the same mistake and it gradually becomes a generational problem.
The way out of these precarious situations is a quality education. It is the sure means to eradicate teenage pregnancy. By education, we mean teaching adolescent girls all about sexual and reproductive health so that they can make the right choices. Based on religious and moral consciousness, African parents find it difficult to engage their children in sex education with the fear that it could encourage them to be sexually active. Unknown to them that the world has passed that primitive stage.
So whether or not they agree to talk to their children about it, the children already know, in fact to a great extent. Why hesitate then?! Parents must help their children, especially girls understand the potential consequences of unprotected sexual intercourse and the complications that come with it.
Also, ending teenage pregnancy through education could mean improved opportunities for girls to be educated. Research shows that “girls who are poor, poorly educated, or living in remote areas are at greater risk of becoming pregnant than those who are wealthier, well educated and live in urban areas”.
This implies that with education, teenage pregnancy can be curbed. The longer a girl stays in school, the less likely her chances of becoming pregnant as a teen. This is because she is preoccupied with educational activities, her aspiration is heightened and does not want anything to hinder her dreams.
Conclusively, education has proven to be a solution to so many social problems and this is one of the problems that can be curbed through it. Girls in rural areas should be encouraged to further their educational pursuit beyond secondary level and be suffice with necessary information on the dangers of early involvement in sex.
Imam-Lawal Ummulikhaeri is a graduate of History and International Studies at the University of Ilorin and former Vice President of the Unilorin Students’ Union. She’s currently undergoing her National Youth Service Corp in Cross River State Nigeria. She’s passionate about improving the welfare of girls and women across the world. She tweets @khayr_khayr and Instagram with the same handle.
The only place to begin is the beginning. Shortcuts cut lives short. When a person or a people do not work with a vision; life goes in disarray. Education is in a state of mess in Nigeria, not because there are no policies but because all concerned parties will not run by the dictates of the existing policies.
Now, have you observed that children of the common men who have only struggled to bag a degree in Nigeria and cannot afford a master’s programme return to tailors’, barbers’ and stylists’ shops after the NYSC programme?
We can safely say unemployment and unproductivity are the major reasons for this new phenomenon. Now to the important question: WHAT IS WRONG WITH EDUCATION IN NIGERIA? Policy implementation!
It is no doubt that Nigeria is a great country at the level of policy making. Our 6-3-3-4 educational policy which was restructured as 9-3-4 is one that can engender development in any country.
The policy simply says that at the end of the first three years in secondary school, a test and good counselling which will reveal students’ ability should help determine who proceeds to the senior secondary school and who proceeds to the vocational/technical school. At the advent of the 6-3-3-4 system, a number of vocational and technical schools were founded in each state of the country for those who will function better in the psychomotor domain (i.e., using their skills).
Nigerians must realise that it is not all children that are wired for school or formal education. What all children need is the basic education which ends in basic 9 or jss 3.
The following questions are now pertinent:
Are there still counsellors in secondary schools who help children determine if they are better off in the cognitive domain (working with their head) or in the psychomotor domain (working with their hands)?
Will Nigerian parents accept that their children will be better off in the psychomotor world and let them proceed to acquire handiworks after JSS3?
What is the government doing to make other forms of education aside formal schooling attractive to young people and their parents?
Are our technical/vocational schools still in good states?
The ‘NO’ response to all of these questions is the reason behind unemployment and unproductivity. A child that is wired to function technically or vocationally will make nothing out of studying any university course. S/he will graduate and be unable to get a job or be unable to do it well.
It doesn’t end there. Polytechnics which also are for people with technical knowledge have also been societally reduced to institutions for people who are unable to get into universities owing to poor policies and bad implementations. So those beautiful ladies and handsome guys who should have become independent people if they had been well counselled after JSS3 are now returning to tailors’ shops and barbers’ shops for what they are originally cut out for.
Would you ask me the way forward? Just three things:
1. Young people should pay attention to what they love doing and let it guide their life pursuit.
2. Parents should pay attention to their children’s potentials and encourage them to work with such special gifts.
3. Government should implement our educational policies and let other forms of education aside schooling look attractive too.
God bless Nigeria!
(2017) Ganiu Abisoye Bamgbose (GAB)
It would not be too far fetched to postulate that Atiku Abubakar began eyeing yet another presidential bid as early as May of 2015.
Could have been imagining himself being the one taking that horse drawn victory ride, as he watched PMB in the swearing in ceremony. That is the nature of the beast called “unhealthy” or “unchecked” personal ambition.
Every move Atiku has made since then has been calculated to fulfilling that one aim. The surreptitious lend of support to similarly minded politicians in APC, in masterminding a “political coup” in the leadership of the senate then. The systematic and very convenient enabling of his own so called “sidelining” by the Buhari administration.
What could be seen as Atiku’s political “suaveness,” ironically, are the same exact traits that continue to undermine his political career.
Eight years as a Vice President has added no political equity, nor has that record been of any advantage in negotiating favorable terms for the man, certainly not politically.
Neither has Atiku’s success as a business man and philanthropist translated into being seen as a leader by the wider society.
Deserving or not, his name has never been, and considering this lastest move, will probably never be, the first that comes to mind, when Nigerians think about leadership.
Atiku conspicuously runs a huge deficit, as far as trust, integrity, honesty, courage, and especially dependability. These qualities are indispensably foundational. When they are absent, the result is what we saw in the leadership, those six years preceding president Buhari.
Atiku Abubakar is one of a small group of politicians everyone, (within and outside APC) know and regard as having a PDP heart and soul. No matter where they roam, PDP is home. And that is not intended as a compliment.
They have several general characteristics, (believe it or not, including “charm”and “charisma”.) Most notable however, is that they can pass off as benevolent or generous, even to other politicians, but in reality, every move they make is a carefully calculated one, toward fulfilling their personal political ambition.
Unfortunately, absolutely nothing else takes precedence over that wild ambition. Not party, and certainly not country.
We have to acknowledge Atiku Abubakar has a very insatiable appetite politically, but is quite pathetically predictable.
To mention but a couple (of the numerous) reasons why he inspires no confidence.
More to come…
I am @SusanHenshaw50 on twitter
“A stitch in time, saves nine” is a phrase which means, a little effort expended sooner to fix a small problem prevents it from becoming a larger problem requiring more time and effort to fix later.
Terrorism is the unlawful indiscriminate use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political, religious or ideological aims. The first use of the word was in the 18th century, precisely during the French Revolution when intimidation and violence, including mass executions of innocent citizens, were employed by the state to compel obedience and loyalty. A century later, terrorism began to be associated with non-governmental groups.
Since then, this activity has proliferated to involve increasing number of groups and attacks that have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives; the biggest being those of September 11, 2001 carried out by Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda in the United States of America. In that attack, four passenger airlines were hijacked and deliberately crashed into the World Trade Centre in New York resulting in the death of about 3,000 people and over 6,000 injured.
Terrorism remained an unknown concept in Africa until in 1973 when an American and Belgian envoy were assassinated in Sudan. Thereafter, it was confined to countries such as Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and those along the East African coast, until much later when it found entry into West Africa, with Nigeria leading the fray.
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact origin of terrorism in Nigeria. The country has been plagued by several incidents of civil unrest and ethno-religious crisis since gaining independence from colonial rule, however the killing of Mr Dele Giwa, by a letter bomb in 1986 is regarded as the beginning of terrorism. Since then, there has been isolated cases of terror across the country at different times in various magnitudes.
In the South where there has been perennial tension between foreign oil corporations and a number of minority ethnic groups, armed militant groups emerged in 2003 who engaged in violent destruction of oil infrastructure, bunkering, kidnapping and killing of expatriates.
In the East, agitations for a separate state of Biafra which began in the 1960s have resurfaced from time to time under the championship of different groups which the Nigerian government doesn’t hesitate to label as terrorists.
In the northern part of the country, there has been several incidents of sectarian violence from time immemorial, more recently in Jos and series of bombings and killings in Maiduguri, however a car bomb explosion in August 2011 in a UN building in Abuja, marked the terrorist incident after which an organised group, Boko Haram, would claimed responsibility.
The group’s name which translates in English as “Western education is forbidden” was founded as a religious study group in 2002 by an Islamic extremist, Mohammed Yusuf. After his arrest and execution in 2009, the group grew to become the world’s deadliest terrorist group, claiming over 100,000 lives and displacing about 2.3 million people internally and externally to neighboring countries.
These developments have made terrorism currently Nigeria’s greatest security challenge forcing the country to launch counter-terrorism interventions. The efforts which began first with armed militants in the Niger-Delta have yielded significant progress. Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua granted amnesty and an unconditional pardon to militants who would surrender themselves and their weapons, and embrace a change of livelihood.
Over 30,000 armed youths enrolled for the programme which led to a significant reduction in terror activities in this area. Now, even as the programme has been terminated by the present administration due to alleged corruption and paucity of funds, the country continues to count it’s gains. A military operation tagged “Operation Crocodile Smile” has been launched against militants who have returned to the creeks while efforts are being made to sustain development in the region.
In the South-East, the quest for secession led to the Nigerian civil war between 1967 to 1970 wherein over 3 million deaths were recorded. The latest debate and movement in favour of awakening the thought of secession has been smashed by another military operation, Python Dance, with the championing organisation proscribed.
The country has also make inroads into quelling the crisis orchestrated by Boko Haram in the North-East. Although efforts were slow initially which culminated in the loss of 7500 lives in 2014, the highest casualty figure worldwide that year, significant advancements have been made especially during the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. Improvements in strategy, arms/ammunition, soldiers’welfare packages, and collaborative efforts with armed forces from neighboring countries have seen Boko Haram decimated into factions, only capable of isolated guerilla attacks of soft targets.
From the disastrous heights of 2014, Nigeria has recorded its second consecutive year of reductions in deaths attributed to terrorism with an 80 per cent drop, the biggest decrease recorded by any country in the world. This is according to the 2017 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) report released about a week ago. It reads, “Boko Haram killed over 12,000 people in Nigeria through terrorist attacks committed between 2013 and 2015. However it was responsible for only 762 deaths in 2016; which is a decline of 81 per cent from the previous year.”
Despite this decline, Nigeria still ranks third amongst the counties worst hit by terrorism worldwide and this is down to perhaps a shocking revelation that is probably being underrated and overlooked by many, including Nigerian government. The GTI which is a comprehensive study analysing the impact of terrorism for 163 countries, covering 99.7 per cent of the world’s population and underlining the key global trends and patterns in terrorism in the last 17 years have identified a new and emerging face of terrorism in Nigeria.
According to the report, even with the decline in attacks by Boko Haram, Nigeria will likely continue to face terrorism as 13 separate groups undertook attacks in 2016, top amongst which are Fulani herdsmen extremists who have been involved in violence across the country especially in the North-Central states. It reveals that Fulani extremists killed over 2,500 people in Nigeria countries between 2012 and 2016, and undertook more attacks and were responsible for more deaths than Boko Haram in 2016.
These notwithstanding, the Nigerian government has continued to put up a lackadaisical attitude towards addressing the issue of rampaging Fulani herdsmen across the country. The government has consistently ruled out the use of military might to subdue their attacking force.
The Minister of Interior, Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau, retd, while answering questions on a Channels Television programme last Sunday said deployment of the military to combat the Fulani herdsmen menace was not an option because, the situation has not overwhelmed the police yet.
According to him, “This is a non-military issue that borders on law and order. It is not every security issue that you call in the military. It is the responsibility of the police to maintain peace… The police are equal to the task. If you have to deploy the army, then you are going above board.”
It’s surprising how the government adjudges the deployment of the army against a group that carried out more attacks and killed more people than one of the deadliest terrorist organizations in the world as going overboard. It is however consistent with the government’s history of “fire brigade” approach to pertinent issues of national interest.
Long before terrorism found its roots in Africa, when it was still a budding experiment in the middle-east, it was said that erstwhile Al-Qaeda co-founder and renowed terrorist, Osama Bin Laden envisioned and identified Nigeria as the future of world terrorism.
This however fell on deaf ears as the leaders of the country were unconcerned. Likewise, issues have consistently been raised concerning the indiscriminate movement of herdsmen and cattle across the country and the havoc they wreck on farmlands to no avail. Recently, Fulani militants ranked behind Boko Haram as the fourth deadliest militant group in the world after claiming 1229 lives in 2014, today they are more deadly than Boko Haram. Tomorrow will definitely be worse if nothing tangible is done to solve this problem immediately.
In conclusion, as concerted efforts have yielded fruit in the fight against Boko Haram and militants in the Niger-Delta, it behooves of the Nigerian government to learn lessons from past mistakes and apply due diligence and attention towards fighting this new face of terrorism in the country, Fulani herdsmen extremists, before they becomes overwhelmingly monstrous and insurmountable. Like they say, “a stitch in time saves nine”.
Usha Anenga is a Medical Doctor and sociopolitical commentator. He writes from Makurdi, Benue State.
Before the recent altercation between the Nigerian Police and the Peace Corps of Nigeria over the legality or constitutionality of the establishment of the latter as an organisation, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalung had granted me an interview at a function in London early this year during my studies.
Mr. Dalung told me that the Peace corps, in different countries, is a globally recognised non-governmental and youth-based organization which focuses on working with the youth in exploring and enhancing their potentials for greatness towards harnessing and redirecting their productive energies for national development.
The Minister disclosed that since the law establishing the Peace Corps in Nigeria had been passed into law by the National Assembly, he anticipated a healthy collaboration and supervisory oversight of Ministry of youth on its activities. He said peace corps scheme is fashioned around a volunteer corps in some countries where young people serve their country by acquiring experiences to be able to fit into the system.
One of the challenging job requirement in Nigeria is the demand for years of working experiences where some employers would insist on at least three to four years of working experience before hiring a graduate. Therefore, the youth, upon graduation, become unemployable due to the discriminatory requirements.
The peace corps intends to address the challenge of youth unemployment by engaging young graduates into working environments where they could gain the basic experiences. It is only through selected services that they can acquire the necessary skills and experiences to fit into available jobs.
Dalung also raised his concern over those stringent and seeming impossible requirement. He said “I am a person not disposed to the requirement of experiences imposed on young people while seeking for jobs because the headmaster was once a school boy before becoming a teacher. There must be a take-off point in life.”
Surprisingly, the Peace Corps of Nigeria has been in existence for over a decade as a non-governmental organization but ineffective due to stiff resistance and rejection from some security agencies who see PCN as a threat to their operations.
The constant attacks on Nigerian Peace Corps from other security agencies, notably the Police have affected the anticipated engagements of 500,000 teeming youth. Recently, the National Commandant of the Corps, Dickson Akoh, was almost stripped naked by the police in public glare.
The headquarters of the organisation in Abuja was also sealed by men of the Police Force after raiding the premises and arrested the commandant and 49 others. The action was despite a directive of Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, who declared the actions of the police as illegal, unconstitutional and ordered that the office be unsealed immediately.
Several interventions of spirited organisation for the police to see reason to allow the PCN be have not been successful. Recently some youth-based groups under the auspices of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) forced open the headquarters of the corps, but yet the police men were adamant.
However, while the police are still harassing and intimidating members of PCN, the United Nations has granted seven slots to the Officers of the Peace Corps to attend and participate in major United Nations meetings and conferences, including that of the General Assembly.
Rather than addressing the security challenges of highway kidnappings, herdsmen attacks and armed robbery, the police force is chasing shadow by undermining the activities of an organisation that would address unemployment and insecurity. This impunity must stop.
It is necessary to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to assent the bill of the Peace Corps of Nigeria to enable the organisation to commence its operations in earnest. There are a lot of benefits derivable from the commencement of operation of the Nigerian version of Peace Corps if the bill becomes law.
Mr. Dalung had alluded to the fact that the law establishing the PCN would come to effect when he said that “I’m confident that being a father figure who is passionate about youth development, President Muhammadu Buhari will assent to the bill that will set the tone for another platform of engagement for young people into rendering services to the country through the peace corps of Nigeria.”
Can Mr. President do the needful on the Peace Corps of Nigeria now?
Gidado Shuaib is a corps member serving with the Niger State Government House.
It was on a snowy evening last year in Munich that I received one of broadcast emails containing some policy statements from Mr. Oseloka H. Obaze.
As usual with him, I was super impressed and wrote him asking “I wish you will present yourself soon for the service of Anambra State, you have so much to offer the least you can do for Nigeria is to help govern your State”. By this time, I had no idea he was already consulting. I had arrived Marrakech for COP22 when I received another email containing his interview where he said, “Anambra State has been hijacked”. I could hardly wait to get back to Nigeria to ask him one on one “Sir, are you running?”. When I eventually arrived, I headed to his consultancy office to pop the question and he answered in the affirmative, I was really delighted.
It was the leader Nigeria has been yearning for that Anambra will be getting after such a good time with HE Peter Obi who he was going to succeed before being dubiously disqualified by a section of the APGA leadership who felt his emergence won’t serve the interest of their deep pockets.
Obaze began his campaign from the very grassroots where he formed a movement named Obaze Grassroot Movement (OGM) which was instrumental to him clinching the party ticket as the PDP candidate. He campaigned hard and well. The electorates warmed up to his message. He walked the streets, markets and villages personally convincing the would-be electorates.
But it turned out the result completely did not reflect the hardwork he had put in. Let me say that the result as announced by INEC is not a reflection of the actual votes cast. There is something strange about this election that probably only some INEC staff and top leadership of a few political parties know. In the history of Anambra State and perhaps Nigeria, no governor has won the entire Local Governments in the State, 21 of them in this case. Not even Peter Obi who is almost worshiped by the masses in the State won as much.
His Excellency, Willie Obiano is yet to attain the popularity or achievements of Sen. Chris Ngige talk more of an institution in HE Peter Obi and this is quite in the public domain, how come the election result is telling us something different?
In every election anywhere in the world, top politicians have strongholds. No matter how much they are hated, you can’t win them in their strongholds. How come the incumbent won Oseloka Obaze, Tony Nwoye, Osita Chidoka and Godwin Ezeemo all his top contenders in their own Local Governments? Sen. Chris Ngige normally wins his Idemili Local Government while Peter Obi has his Anambra Central Senatorial district which has seven Local Governments under sufficient control, this time; they lost their very own Local Governments. How possible is that? It is certainly not a landslide unless we are becoming deliberately foolhardy. INEC should be worried that this happened; there are many questions with no answers.
Granted that some political parties shared money to induce electorates but there is a level to which money buy you votes. No matter what happened, PDP was expected to win the two Local Governments in Onitsha as the city in addition to their love for Peter Obi enjoyed a huge portion of the PDP campaign. They were in Onitsha almost on a daily basis. What really happened?
There are allegations that the card readers where already loaded with 50 percent voters information some two weeks before the election and the voters card used is said to be those of the State civil servants which the government had demanded three months before the election as a requirement for payment of salaries. It is alleged that those cards were cloned for this purpose which now accounted for over-voting in all the Local Governments in the State as they struggled to reconcile figures. If this is actually true on investigation, it would never be possible without close connivance with INEC staff. This should be very well investigated. We can’t continue with this stark rape of our democracy.
However, it was an incredible experience actively participating in the 2017 Governorship election in Anambra State working with Mr. Oseloka Henry Obaze. An astute gentleman and a first-class diplomat whose virtues lived through the entire campaign team within such a short period of time. I remain ever proud to be associated with him and this campaign. If this election was to be repeated a 100 times, I will only support Obaze all the time. In him, I found a unique opportunity to place Anambra State far above other States in Nigeria. I was not just looking at what it would mean for ndi Anambra, I was looking at how Obaze’s emergence will help transform the situation of South East Nigeria.
There’s a lot of interest in helping this region, but the question of who to trust is keeping them at bay. The diplomatic community has repeatedly held audience with him on the situation of the South East. At some point in one of such meetings which I was privileged to sit-in, the Consul General of one of the two biggest economies in the world was so impressed that he wondered, “Mr. Obaze, you’re sure not contesting for the President of Nigeria?”. It is a big loss to Anambra State and indeed, South East Nigeria.
Chiagozie Udeh, a Climate Activist and Policy Development Associate, writes from Awka.