South-West Deciders Must Not Make Boko an Haram By Oyewole Michael Rolex
As the Secretary of the Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM), Chief Obafemi Awolowo in a memorandum Co – signed by Mr. Ernest Ikoli, the Chairman Nigerian Youth Movement demanded three things from the Secretary of State for the colonies, Colonel Oliver Stanley when he visited Nigeria in September 1943, which were;
- THAT THE GOVERNMENT OUGHT TO FIND THE MONEY FOR FREE EDUCATION.
- THAT THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD CREATE 200 ANNUAL SCHOLARSHIPS FOR THE BRIGHTEST STUDENTS IN NIGERIA TO STUDY ABROAD IN ALL BRANCHES OF STUDIES- AGRICULTURE, INDUSTRY, COMMERCE, SCIENCE AND ARTS.
- THAT THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD FORMULATE AND CARRY OUT PLANS THAT WITHIN FIVE YEARS, FREE MEDICAL FACILITIES WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE TO ALL MEN AND WOMEN THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY.
In 1955, Awolowo started overseas scholarshipolarship and within a period of four years expanded to 2000.
Awo’s Action Group (AG) in its mission statement published on the 24th, April 1951 outlined the party’s objectives. The second of which was ” The Education of all school going age and the general enlightenment of all illiterate adults and illiterate children of shool going age”.
Are they truly following the footsteps of Chief Obafemi Awolowo?
It is worthy of note that there was fierce opposition of this policy on education by political opponents in 1954, coupled with the slim resources available in the confers of Government. Funny, political opponents could only present positions that nothing good emanates from free schemes, and even tagged the education policy as ‘Utopian policy’. As at 1954, the total western Government revenue was estimated in the fiscal at only 5,000,00 pounds for both capital and recurrent expenditures. As little as this resources were then, he endured via the help of his competent, scholarly and haughty (Awo’s usual way of describing him) minister of Education, Prof. S. O. Awokoya that the policy not only became a reality but also grew stronger and better as years got by. A time when there was no oil boom. South west deciders has no excuse whatsoever in not making Education at all level free.
Today, most our known leaders enjoyed from Awo’s free Education policy. Chief M K O Abiola was a beneficiary too. A lot whom would not have ordinarily seen the four walls of a classroom are today erudite scholars and policy deciders. Question we must ask them is that; have they (Deciders, leaders in the helm of affairs, kingmaker, policitians) made efforts to transcend free education they largely benefitted from unto this generation and that to come? I grin when most of our contemporary leaders lay claim, mostly publicly to be of Awo’s tutelage and legacies. Obviously, they are in large contract to this claim (s). Evaluation of the cost of Education in all Universities in the southwest proves other wise to their claim of emulating Awo’s style of leadership. This is an important swivel to this discuss. Many of them often hide under the guise of low allocation from the Federal Purse and that Government can no longer fund Education, yet they grow flowers worth milions of naira, engage in trips in tune of millions of naira, build recreation centres that costs millions of naira among many other frivolously en backed projects. But, they find it difficult to spend less in subsidising education, giving of mass scholarship to study abroad and yet will lay claims to be of Awo’s legacy. How many of our deciders even have kids in public schools? Awo’s children all attended public schools, Segun and Tola attended Ageni Methodist School, Ibadan while Ayodele and Tokunbo went to Demonstration school also in Ibadan.
I am most intrigued by the recent development in the Northen part of Nigeria, I think they are up to something or they have woken up to realize the importance of Education or Awo’s true spirit has reincarnated in Northern leaders! Thousands of students, mostly youths are sent abroad on yearly basis to acquire Education and exposure to modern ways, on scholarship basis. I doff my heart! I dare to say that in few years, if the trend continues, then the South Western who has deprived her indigenes of cheap and accessible education might intellectually be on the back seat. The Easterners are by nature business oriented and peripatetic people who can be visibly noticed doing trade in all parts of the nation. This is more or less a trade mark, an average easterner would love to lean the trade of business more than to acquire education. A little child is already put in a shop all alone to administer and attend to customer, which mostly is excellently done. A feat some university graduates cannot achieve. South Western deciders must as a mater of urgency wake up to this clarion call because drop outs ( due to exorbitant fee hike) are fast flooding the streets. As put by Henry Brougham that “To educate a Nation makes its people easy to lead but difficult to drive, easy to govern but impossible to enslave”.
In advanced Countries, private companies, individuals and the entire public fund and support education and academic research work. Our deciders would only gather friends and cronies to dinner just to raise money to seek elective positions, for political campaign. Why can’t they also do same to raise funds to properly make our institutions function properly and competitively with Schools abroad? More so, to subsidise the cost of tuition fees. It is disheartening that deciders in Southwest only harness connections and intelligence when they are the first beneficiary. Statistics has shown that in the last recent years, that the no of admission seekers into higher institutions of learning in the South Western states has reduced drastically with the exception of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba – Akoko in Ondo State. Professor Akin Mabogunje opines that ‘free education did not imply that no one would ever have to pay for it but free access to education whether their parents could afford it or not’. South Western deciders must as a matter of urgency wake up to this clarion call because drop outs ( due to exorbitant fee hike) are fast flooding the streets. As put by Henry Brougham that “To educate and Nation makes its people easy to lead but difficult to drive, easy to govern but impossible to enslave”.
During Awo’s admisstrative era of seeing to the affairs if the western region, his passion, desire, sincerity of purpose, zeal and unwavering enthusiasm in making Education free was conspicuously noticed by various communities in the west. Inevitably, this gave rise communities exploring means of aiding Awo’s vision via building schools, etc. We as a people from the generation of intellectuals should vociferously stand against all policies that makes education difficult to access by the common man. And, endeavour to throw our unflinching support for/on policies and deciders in the southwest who has sincerest interest on free education and scholarship schemes. The deciders of today and potential southwest deciders must consciously imbibe the word of Bryant McGill that “Life has a way of shinning on people who stand in the sunshine of kind actions”. We quote and eulogise Chief Obafemi Awolowo almost every day many years after his demise. Indeed, all his kind actions are still shinning.
Youth in this region are not lazy, or are they recalcitrant. They posses thirst and has strong zeal to acquire education, because they are from an ancestors of learned mind and erudite scholars. No wonder we are often referred to as the ‘book’ of the Nation. Our deciders should exploit all reasonable means to make education cheaper and more scholarship schemes accessible and available in the interest of our future as a Yoruba sect and for posterity sake.
South West leaders (leaders) should not engage in means that will make Boko (School) an Haram (Abomination).
Thomas Jefferson says, Knowledge will forever govern ignorance.
Oyewole Michael Rolex
writes from Ado-Ekiti.
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