The Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal (PEPT) sitting in Abuja, last week, threw out the petition filed by the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, against President Muhammadu Buhari over the February 23, 2019 presidential election.
Buhari was the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the election.
The tribunal held that contrary to Atiku’s petition that Buhari was not qualified to contest the election on the basis of his educational qualification, the president was eminently qualified to run for the election.
The Justice Mohammed Garba-led five-man panel, also, in a unanimous judgement that lasted for almost nine hours, threw out the entire petition of Atiku. The tribunal reasoned that the petitioners – Atiku and PDP – failed to prove all their allegations beyond reasonable doubt.
Among other things that came out of the ruling of the tribunal were that contrary to APC’s claim that Atiku was not a Nigerian by birth, he was a Nigerian; that tradermoni, the masses-oriented Federal Government’s welfare programme, did not amount to bribing the electorate; that Livy Uzoukwu, Atiku’s lawyer, was recognised at the Supreme Court and that Atiku’s petition cannot be dismissed as demanded by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
It is a few days after the verdict. By Nigeria’s constitution, the courts are the final arbiter in any dispute. Currently, the court has ruled against Atiku on his petition at the tribunal level, but we are aware that he has another window at the Supreme Court to further his case, fault the ruling of the tribunal or demand a review.
The former vice president either has the option of accepting the tribunal ruling and move on or going on appeal at the Supreme Court.
We are of the view that whatever option he chooses remains his right. We cannot forget in haste that President Buhari won the presidency on his fourth attempt. The three previous ones he lost in 2003, 2007 and 2011, he went all the way to the Supreme Court to pursue his cause. He did not succeed. Rather, it was in 2015 that he was able to unseat the government of President Goodluck Jonathan to become president.
Until Atiku exhausts his right in this case, he is still within the legal means.
That is why we think that some of the utterances that have followed the ruling, particularly from APC, should not come up at this time. We do not, for instance, find the comment of the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, that Atiku should apologise to Nigerians over the tribunal matter as appropriate.
We are aware that in 2011, when Buhari lost the presidential election to Jonathan, there was bloodshed in some states of the North, including Bauchi, where many corps members were murdered in cold blood.
Nigerians rose to condemn such barbarism on citizens over an election. After that, Buhari still went to the tribunal and lost. He did not apologise to Nigerians over the time spent at the tribunal to challenge former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, the late Umaru Yar’Adua or even Jonathan. Nigerians did not demand apologies from Buhari because it was believed he was within his rights.
By the same token, the National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, had boasted that the party would defeat Atiku and PDP, even at the World Court. While we can pass that as a confidence statement from Oshiomhole, we do not agree with the tone of arrogance the statement was laced with.
APC might think that it has a water-tight defence against Atiku, but such statements, coming when the Supreme Court has not ruled on the matter, smacks of overconfidence. We are aware that the Supreme Court’s decision is final and cannot be appealed against. Although, history does not favour Atiku, when viewed from the prism that no Nigerian president has even been removed by the courts, we are also mindful that no Nigerian president was defeated in any election until 2015, when Jonathan lost to Buhari.
That is why we call for caution. Even on the side of PDP, it is important that decorum is maintained in the language used over the ruling. PDP cannot expect to get any justice at the Supreme Court by running down judges of the Appeal Court, who did not favour it. It is not cast in stone that the tribunal would favour PDP, neither is it a right that the courts must unseat Buhari. It is entirely a decision of the court based on the facts and arguments before it.
We strongly believe that even if Atiku goes to the Supreme Court and loses, the world would not come to an end. It did not come to an end for Buhari, after three attempts. What matters is Nigeria and the spirit of sportsmanship, knowing well that there is another day after the ruling.
We implore both APC and PDP to show humility with the ruling, bearing in mind that Nigeria is the main issue. It is not a personality contest. It is about the interest of Nigeria, which is and should remain paramount to all players in the political game.
Oyo govt’s education reform to the rescue
Piqued by the dwindling fortune of the state education sector, which is characterized by high figure of out-of-school children, the administration of Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State has put in place reforms that will redirect and refocus the sector for optimal performance
- Parents: Scrapping of N3,000 school fee, a right step
New education reforms and policies that will deliberate rescue the ailing education sector, address the nagging challenges in the school system, reposition and rejig the sector for the overall development of the state, have been initiated by the Oyo State Government.
The reform is to tackle poor school enrolment, charaterised by high figure of out-of-school children; poor budgetary allocation; shortage of facilities, decayed infrastructure, low teacher morale, inadequate qualified teachers, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) crisis, poor attention to technical and vocational education, which are some of the challenges confronting the state’s school system.
However, worried by these challenges and the urgent need to address them headlong if the state is to make any appreciable progress in education, the state government-led by Governor Seyi Makinde has re-enacted the free education policy once enjoyed by the people of the Pace Setter State.
The first major step taken by Governor Makinde in his rescue mission embarked upon to savage the rot in the state’ education, was the scrapping of the N3,000 school fee charged the students in public secondary schools by the immediate past administration of Senator Abiola Ajimobi.
Announcing the return of free education at primary and secondary school levels in the state during his inauguration on May 29, at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium (former Liberty Stadium), and the cancellation of the N3,000 school fees, which had hitherto deprived many children from going to school, stakeholders hailed the action as a welcome development that will go a long way to savage the system.
Meanwhile, the governor’s decision was not unconnected with the abysmal state of education in the state, as revealed last year by a data consulting firm, StatiSense, which reported that Oyo State was the leading state with the highest out-of-school-children figure in the South-West geo-political zone of the federation.
In the report, Oyo State had 463,280 out-of-school children, placing it as the only state among the 16 states in the North with the alarming education standard.
The report, however, painted the rot in the sector, despite the N2.5 billion spent on construction of three model schools, and renovation of 100 secondary schools across state at a total cost of N2 billion by the former administration.
Through the renewed vigour of Governor Makinde-led administration, the government disclosed that the state had returned over 34 per cent of the out-of-school children population to school.
Speaking on the fresh moves, the state Commissioner for Education, Prof. Kehinde Sangodoyin, who disclosed this, however, added that the government was working towards mopping the rest of the out-of-school children back to classroom before the end of the year.
As part of the state’s rescue mission, the Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education (SUBEB), Dr. Nureni Adeniran, had during the inauguration of the 11-member ‘Enrolment Drive Committee on Basic Education’ last week, said that the enrolment drive was geared towards addressing the out-of-school children phenomenon in the state.
This will create the needed awareness on the need to address alarming figure of out-of-school children in the state. This drive would adopt different strategies targeted at communities in the state, so as to increase enrolment in public schools,” he noted.
Adeniran further explained that the enrolment drive would ease the achievement of effective implementation of Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA) in Oyo State, saying: “The government through the committee would embark on intensive mobilisation drive of policy makers, parents, community leaders and other stakeholders for that purpose.”
Poised to reverse the trend and to achieve a viable education system, Makinde had reviewed upward the state 2019 education budget passed by the former governor by jerking up the percentage from the previous reported three per cent of the total budget to 10 per cent.
Piqued by the poor sectoral budgetary allocation, the governor had also promised to raise the allocation to 12 per cent as from the 2020 fiscal budget.
Under education financing of the state by the immediate past administration, the state House of Assembly had reviewed downward the N285 billion proposed by Governor Ajimobi to N182 billion, describing the amount as unrealisable and unduly bogus.
But, to ensure the realisation of better education for the children of the state, Governor Makinde shortly after the distribution of free textbooks to students in his alma mater, Bishop Philips Academy, Ibadan, said that he would take the state to an era where education would be well-planned, structured and well-funded.
“I enjoyed the same gesture from Oyo State Government in 1980. So, what we are doing today is not new. They provided for us chairs, tables, rulers, pencils, and mathematical sets. We need to reclaim the lost glory of Oyo State and reposition it among the comity of states of the country,” the governor pointed out.
On the low performance of the state in the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE), the governor, however, expressed optimism that the state would have a better rating in next year’s West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and the National Examination Council (NECO) given his administration’s current interventions in the education sector.
Going by the sectoral data of the state, Oyo State presently has about 500,000 pupils and students in the about 3,000 state-owned schools, which include conservatively 324 secondary schools and 1,576 primary schools across the state.
However, New Telegraph learnt that prior to the cancellation of N3,000 school fees in secondary schools across the state, which brought a great relief to many parents, who could not afford to pay the N1,000 per term fee, many children had dropped out of school for apprenticeship training while several of them took into different trades such as bus conducting, and selling in traffic to eke out a living.
As meagre as the N3,000 is, some teachers, who lauded the reform policy of Governor Makinde’s administration in the education sector, recalled that many students were being sent out of school and examination hall due to the inability of their parents to pay.
The teachers added: “But, enrollment of students has, however, increased in the last few months as many of them, who had earlier dropped out, have now returned to school to join their peers at the beginning of this new school session. The alarming figure of out-of-school children has also reduced drastically.
“Apart from scrapping the N3,000 school fees, Governor Makinde has also cancelled the policy of using teachers employed by the Parent Teachers Association (PTA). For long, the teachers were being paid through internal levies on parents in order to assist the government in schools where there are insufficient teachers. Now, the governor has asked the principals of the affected schools to bring the list of PTA teachers for consideration for full employment.”
Over the past years, New Telegraph learnt that sundry charges were levied the students, including N500 some principals collected from students for collection of school certificates, but which Governor Makinde had also stopped forthwith in the system.
However, in order to instill discipline in the students and improve the deplorable rating of the state in WAEC and NECO examination results, the state government has commenced the distribution of free textbooks on all subject areas and between six and seven notebooks to a student.
Besides, the government has also introduced a two-hour extra lesson from 2 to 4p.m for three days a week.
Under the policy, the teachers will teach the students between these hours and on Saturdays between 9a.m and 1p.m, while special lessons will be taught by teachers who will be rotated among the schools.
Also, New Telegraph learnt that teachers who engage in Saturday lessons will be paid a special allowance for the extra job.
Meanwhile, under Governor Makinde’s education reforms, machinery has now been put in motion to ensure that principals receive their schools’ running grants regularly, which were not being released by the past administration, without putting the burden on parents.
Similarly, the governor has donated his salary to the state pensioners’ fund towards making life worthy of living to the pensioners.
Indeed, with this gesture, the governor said that the backlog of pension arrears owed the state pensioners running to billions of naira would be gradually defrayed.
Today, workers in the state, especially in the education receive their salary, as well as pension on the 25th of every month.
This policy of paying salary on 25th of every month has been christened ‘GSM Day Without Network Failure’ and currently the government is not owing any outstanding salary as the two-month salary owed primary school teachers by former administration had been cleared by the present administration to give impetus to teachers’ performance and quality education delivery.
Given the various reforms many parents have continued to withdraw their children and wards in droves from private schools to public school, which are non-fee-paying.
In the tertiary education level, Governor Makinde has promised to leverage on the state-owned higher institutions to midwife the development of the state.
Therefore, the governor has commenced action to review upward the 25 per cent subvention being allocated to the institutions by his predecessor, a development which culminated in series of industrial action in the past.
In the policy considered by stakeholders a burden on students and their parents, as well as the management of the institutions, the immediate past government had ordered mangers of the state-owned tertiary institutions to generate 75 per cent of their funding internally to run the institutions.
While receiving the reviewed 2019 budget, the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Adebo Ogundoyin, however, commended the governor for approving the release of 100 per cent subvention to all state-owned tertiary institutions to pay the workers’ salary and other entitlements.
The state government has also promised to pay the institutions’ subventions in order to raise the bar of higher education in the state, even as the government has banned payment for common entrance and admission forms for students seeking admission into the state technical colleges and schools of science.
On the crisis ridden Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, which has remained a pain in the neck of the state, the governor has promised to address the challenges and return stability to the institution owned jointly by Oyo and Osun States.
Underscoring the critical role of technical and vocational education in the development of the country and to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Governor Makinde’s administration is given the technical colleges, spread across the state proper attention, with a mandate to their Councils to fast-track rapid development of the colleges as well as ensure smooth academic calendar and industrial harmony in the system.
Under Mkinde’s reform, the First Technical University (Tech-U), Ibadan, established by the administration of Senator Ajimobi has continued receive a boost.
He also assured the university management of his administration’s support to make the institution an enviable citadel of excellence in terms of vocational and engineering services.
To access the Universal Basic Education Board (UBEC) Matching grants in order to enhancing the development of basic education, the governor had also pledged that his administration was poised to pay the state’s counterpart fund so as to access the sum of N2,724,516,373.70 outstanding with UBEC.
According to Adeniran, “this will go a long way in assisting the Governor Makinde-led administration in its effort at enhancing qualitative education delivery in the state.”
The SUBEB chair, who, however, insisted that the state would leave no stone unturned in ensuring that every grant for the promotion of education in the state was accessed, pointed out that “government will ensure that Oyo State Universal Basic Education Board benefits from every unaccessed fund with UBEC, which would be channeled into the development of education in order to further boost enrollment in public schools across the state.
Another salient aspect of the state government’s education reform is infrastructural development, under which the government has completed some abandoned school structures by the previous government, such as the model schools in Isokun, Oyo and Eruwa, among others, while dilapidated structures are being rebuilt and renovated to give the schools facelift.
On the proliferation of sub-standard private school, the Governor Makinde’s administration has vowed that the system would be washed clean of such shenanigan in the system.
Towards this end, the SUBEB chair said that a Task Force on unregistered and substandard private schools would soon be inaugurated to arrest owners or operators of such schools with a view to restoring sanity into the sector.
“There are many private primary and secondary schools springing up everywhere in the state without the approved and regulated standard,” he noted, saying all these excesses would be curbed in the system.
“The owners or operators of such schools should be ready for our Task Force, which will visit their schools very soon. We are going to reposition the state’s education sector better than it had been over the years,” the former Commissioner said.
UNILAG alumni unite for national development
Old students of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), under their umbrella body, the University of Lagos Alumni Association will between October 18 and 26 return to their alma mater to celebrate the golden jubilee of the association.
The 50th anniversary celebration, which had already been kicked off on Sunday, October 13 with the Annual General Meeting, has as a theme: “Driving Nigeria’s Sustainable Development Agenda,” centered on the importance the association attached to national development through sustainable development goals.
While addressing journalists at a media conference organised to unveil activities lined up to commemorate the anniversary, the National President of the association and Chairman of Channels Media Group, Dr. John Momoh, said the anniversary lecturer: “How Nigeria Can Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030,” would be delivered by the immediate past Director-General, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), former United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy For All, Dr. Kandeh Yumkella.
He also told journalists at the Alumni Jubilee House, Akoka Campus, venue of the media parley, that the lecture would be discussed by key personalities, experts and policy makers, including the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulure.
Other activities to commemorate the anniversary include a Jumat service at the university Mosque on Friday, October 18; Thanks-giving service on Sunday, October 20 at the Chapel of Christ The Light; while exhibition by notable names in Nollywood, fashion and music, as well as the anniversary lecture are billed for Thursday, October 24.
According to Momoh, the grand finale of the anniversary, which is the Distinguished Alumni Awards and Dinner, where a selected few notable alumni and friends of the association would be honoured, would hold on Saturday, October 26, at the Lagos Continental Hotel, Vitoria Island, Lagos.
However, underscoring the key role of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the overall growth and development of the nation, especially in the critical areas of poverty reduction and provision of security, the association reiterated that SDGs should be seen as a national objective.
According to the Chairman, Programme Sub-Committee, Dr. Waheed Olagunju, there is the need for government and private sector to come together for the country to succeed in the 17 goals of the SDGs.
Dr. Momoh, expressed delight that the vision of the founding fathers of the 57-year-old institution had been actualised and faithfully followed over the decades.
While he also pointed out that the partnership with the university had been mutually beneficial, albeit some minor challenges, he said the theme of the celebration was centered on the importance the association attached to national development.
At the conference were the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe; Chairman, Programme Sub-Committee, Dr. Waheed Olagunju; Dr. Lukman Adeoti; the Chairman of Golden Jubilee Organising Committee, Mr. Temitope Smart; Chairman, Public Sub-Committee, Mr. Ime Ufot; and the National Publicity Secretary, Mrs. Regina Chris-Ogbodo, among other members and officials of the alumni association.
A renewed hope, support for teachers on World Teachers’ Day
As Nigeria joined the rest of the world to celebrate this year’s World Teachers’ Day, a stakeholder and education provider, Bridge Nigeria, has lamented that only about 20 per cent of young Nigerian adults, who have completed primary education, could read and write.
Worried by this development, the organisation has launched the #TeachersTransformLives campaign, which is to raise awareness of how teachers can be well supported and developed to help children develop even in the most challenging places and environment.
The campaign, which was launched as part of activities making the day at the Yaba Office of the Bridge Nigeria, according to the Managing Director, Mr. Oladapo Olarinmoye, is to highlight teachers in various communities, whose experience of teaching has been transformed due to a programme of training and support.
“Teachers demonstrate firsthand that teachers on the front line of this silent teaching crisis can change lives and improve outcomes if supported effectively,” he noted, saying: “Teachers play significant role in shaping young people’s lives and the future of their countries and so teaching is the most important job in the world.”
Olarinmoye added: “Every teacher needs adequate support and professional development and many teachers are not getting that. The risks for not doing this right could not be higher. That is why we are launching a new campaign to highlight the important role of teachers and how appropriate training and support can enable them to improve learning outcomes even in the most difficult environment.”
According to him, since the introduction of the World Teachers’ Day by the United Nations 25 years ago to galvanize global efforts to help teachers, millions of teachers are still without the requisite support and training needed to succeed.
Consequently, more than half of young people in the world, he noted, had not attained the basic reading and mathematics skills required to build prosperous future for themselves and their communities.
On his part, the guest speaker, Rotimi Eyitayo, the CEO, Team Master Global, stated that when teachers have the right training and motivation, their potential would become performance.
“The substance of the teacher is what makes the teacher great,” he reiterated, saying there was the need to support teachers to enhance their potential for high performance and productivity.
Also, the Academics Director at Bridge Nigeria, Rhoda Odigboh, however, said that teachers could be more effective if they were adequately equipped with the resources, techniques and support aimed at improving learning outcomes.
She said: “We know how to deliver better teacher training and support leading to more effective classrooms. Unless governments and others take urgent action, the UN goal of quality education for all by 2030 looks very bleak and difficult to achieve.
“There remains a global shortage of over 68 million teachers, making the learning crisis both a
quantity and quality issue for communities, governments and every sector helping to address the challenge.”
The high point of the event was the launching of a yearly award for teachers of Bridge Schools, as part of moves to reward excellent performance, as well as promote quality teaching, commitment and dedication among the teachers.
Meanwhile, some of the teachers working on the front line of the global learning crisis had explained how they are becoming stronger teachers and how training and support had made them agents of positive change in their communities.
Commissioner lauds teachers, school for winning FG education awards
For their excellent performance in the education sector, no fewer than three private school teachers in Lagos and a school, Mrs. Elusaki Agnes Iyabo, Ikuseyidunmi Pius Bababo and Adeniyi Oluwasegun and Government Junior College, Epe have won this year’s edition of the 2019 President’s Teachers and Schools Excellence Award (PTSEA).
The award, which took place at the Eagle Square, Abuja, was instituted by the Federal Government to reward excellent teachers and schools for their exemplary performance in the education sector.
According to the state Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo, who disclosed this while addressing teachers during the 2019 World Teachers’ Day celebration at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Sports’ Complex, the feat was achieved as a result of priority attention the state government is paying to the development of the sector through provision of facilities.
“We have professionals and qualified teachers to attain greater heights in delivering quality education to our future leaders,” she noted, commending the teachers and school for their dedication and commitment to teaching jobs, as well as to the growth of the sector.
The Commissioner added: “No society can achieve meaningful development in delivering quality education without placing premium value on its teachers. I must confess that only Almighty God can reward your efforts and pray that your labour will not be in vain. Considering your roles, contributions and importance, our teachers must receive and enjoy the rewards for their labour first here on earth, and then in Heaven.”
The Commissioner, however, assured teachers in the state that teaching profession would be made more attractive under the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, which has promised to increase budgetary allocation to education, deploy technology driven template to drive the sector, employ more teachers, upscale regular training of teachers, as well as create a conducive teaching and learning environment.
She also lauded the leadership of the state wing of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) for ensuring proper cohesion, solidarity and welfare of teachers in the state.
While reaffirming that the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) set aside October 5 every year as the World Teachers’ Day, with the aim to celebrate the invaluable contributions and roles of teachers’ in providing quality education to the children, Mrs. Adefisayo, described the theme of this year’s celebration “Young Teachers, the Future of the Profession” as appropriate and apt, as it addressed the need to take a critical look at the teaching profession from a perspective of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
“This is for the purpose of repositioning the profession for optimal performance in this present age that global attention is being shifted from resource-based economy to knowledge-based economy,” the Commissioner added.
Dignitaries at the event include the Permanent Secretaries/Tutor Generals of the Six Education Districts of the state; the Chairman of Lagos State Civil Service Commission, Mrs. Taiwo Oyemade; Mrs. Bunmi Oteju, who represented the SUBEB Chairman, Mr. Wahab Alawiye King; Chairman Teaching Service Commission, Mrs. Olabisi Ariyo; Director, Education Quality Assurance, Mrs. Bisola Seriki Ayeni; and the NUT Chairman, Otunba Adedoyin Adesina, among other stakeholders.
Institute advocates ‘change management’ in school curriculum
A call has gone to the Federal Government to rejig the nation’s education curriculum to include the teaching of ‘Change Management’ from basic education level to tertiary institutions.
The call was made by the Registrar of the Institute of Change Management (ICM), Mr. Joseph Anetor during the induction of new members into the institute in Lagos.
According to him, mere ability to read and write has become gross insufficient to navigate the present age of information technology and artificial intelligence, and therefore, it is important for students to hone their skills to become change agents from the early stage of their education.
This was as he noted that change was needed by everyone in order to adapt to the challenges of an ever-changing and complex society, saying the mission of the institute is to build skilled and competent change management specialists, organisations and institutions.
Anetor said: “It is also to create value and make a difference across all sectors of the economy, provide the needed support to individuals and corporate organisations. As the saying goes, the only permanent thing in life is change. The world would never stop evolving and changing.
“Therefore, the institute will continue the search for the best ways to prepare human and institutional capacities to enable us to take advantage of the benefits of the emerging changes to avoid any attendant risk that may accompany them.”
No fewer than a total of 15 new inductees were admitted into the various cadres of membership of the institute.
Meanwhile, in his keynote address, entitled: “Leading in a volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) world: The Change Management Imperatives,” Mr. Tayo Ayoola, a management consultant, said the society today was characterised by its volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.
He hinted that contemporary society was moving at nearly the speed of lightening which required today’s professionals to keep a step ahead of the unexpected and react in a timely manner; stay on course despite constant surprises and lack of predictability; steer one’s operations through complexity, chaos and confusion and be able to take decisive actions.
However, Ayoola urged professionals to think global, but act locally, noting that success in a VUCA world would require setting laudable goals, relying on technology and being flexible, as well as to be adaptive, among others.
12,000 Nigerians in U.S. colleges, varsities – Consul General
The United States Consul General, Claire Pierangelo, has said that about 12,000 Nigerians this year alone are studying in the United States.
He disclosed this during the 20th EducationUSA College and Career Fair 2019, which is being organised by the EducationUSA Nigeria since 19 years ago to introduce Nigerians to U.S. colleges and universities.
With over 4,000 accredited higher education institutions and over 600 courses of study in the United States, the Consul General, who said that truly there was something for everyone, however, added also that the college fairs had directly contributed to an increase in the number of highly qualified Nigerian applicants to U.S. institutions.
“When you study in the United States, you will receive a quality education and be competitive in the job market. The U.S. higher education institutions go beyond theory to offer international students practical training and jobs on campus while studying,” he said.
He further explained that graduates of U.S. institutions were in high demand because of the experience they acquired through internships, jobs, and volunteering, saying that education is a great catalyst, one of the main ingredients in fulfilling people’s dreams.
Pierangelo, who lauded parents, educators, and students who were at the fair to learn about the many higher education opportunities existing in the United States, promised that they would not be disappointed.
He said: “Today, you will have direct access to admissions representatives from a diverse group of colleges and universities in the United States. You also have two of the most passionate EducationUSA Advisers on the continent.”
Nigeria, the Consul General noted, has most of the foreign students in the United States from Africa, saying the U.S. Department of State supports EducationUSA fairs around the world.
He listed some notable alumni of the U.S. colleges and universities to include Chimamanda Adichie, who obtained a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University, and a Master of Arts in African Studies from Yale University; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who received a PhD in Regional Economics and Development from MIT; Obiageli Ezekwesili obtained a MPA from Harvard University; Liyel Imoke received a LLM from American University; Ndidi Nwuneli received a MBA from Harvard Business School; Onyeka Onwenu earned a Master of Arts in Media Studies from the New School; and Banky W, who obtained a Bachelor Degree in Industrial Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Who are the victims?
In his analysis of how ordinary Nigerians or common citizens kill and maim one another because of ethnicity, religion and politics while the elite emerge unscathed at the end of every conflict, Prof. Sani Abubakar Lugga, the Waziri of Katsina, raised the poser above, which is the title of the 2017 book: “who are the victims?”
With graphic photographs of dead, decapitated, debased and displaced people and a long nominal list of hundreds of victims of ethnic, religious and political conflicts in Plateau State alone as a microcosm of Nigeria, the author stridently drives home the message that ordinary Nigerians, especially the youth, should not allow the fire-spitting, divisive and bigoted leaders to sway them into taking negative action because the common people are always the victims of violence.
Since the period between 1451 and 1870 when 15,026,000 male and female slaves from West Africa were forcefully transported via the Sahara Desert and across the Atlantic and Indian Oceans to dehumanisation, the ordinary people have been the victims of conflicts, not the kings and the nobles. The Niger Delta militancy, the Boko Haram insurgency, the political violence and ethno-religious conflicts that have ravaged Nigeria in the past few decades have resulted in the death and displacement of ordinary citizens, who are the constant victims.
The author concludes the book on a pungent note while also raising four fundamental questions. According to him, “Nigerian Ordinary Citizens who are drafted as political thugs or religious and ethnic militia should stop allowing themselves to be used as gunpowder. Religious, ethnic and political leaders and elites normally trigger the conflicts from the comfort of their fortress homes and woo ordinary citizens into battle. Those who get killed, maimed or arrested by security agents are the ordinary citizens, as the planner-leaders and elites and members of their families never take part in the actual ‘war’; there would never be victims!”
His final questions addressed to those who fan the embers of conflict and violence in Nigeria, are: why do Imams and Pastors not come out, join and lead in religious conflicts; why do political leaders not come out, join and lead in political conflicts; why do Tribal Leaders not come out, join and lead in ethnic conflicts; and why do Leaders and Elites push Ordinary Nigerians and their children to the war-front and take themselves and their children away from the actual battlefields?
On the basis of the foregoing, it is in the interest of ordinary Nigerians, the youth especially, to resist the chicanery of the public figures and social media warriors whose antics are to lead Nigerians into fighting one another on ethnic, religious and political grounds. Those who do that are conflict entrepreneurs who are wont to benefit from gun business when the bubble bursts. They are those with dual passports who can easily jet out of the country with their children at the drop of a hat.
Though the Boko Haram insurgency has proved that even the rich also cry and all the elite are not immune to the consequences of violence, the fact still remains, as Prof. Lugga posits, that the masses are the victims. Why then should the victims work with their victimisers to oppress, repress and suppress their fellow victims?
To be a Nigerian is to be an original victim of the many vices and problems associated with bad governance and poor leadership. To complicate the matter further is to induce violence or conflict so that even the ordinary air being enjoyed will be difficult with disruption and destruction life’s ecosystem. In essence, everyone is a victim altogether as the line and the fowl that perches on it are uncomfortable.
As victims, ultimately, it is in our collective interest that Nigerians embrace and promote peace education. Peace education, according to UNICEF, is the process of promoting the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values needed to bring about behavioural changes that will enable children, youth and adults to prevent conflict and violence, both overt and structural; to resolve conflict peacefully; and to create conditions conducive to peace, whether at an intrapersonal, interpersonal, intergroup, national or international level.
To embrace peace education, Nigerians must prioritise discipline, character and the virtue of loving one’s brother as oneself regardless of religion, ethnicity and politics.
Board to stakeholders: Support on-going reform in education
The people of Bayelsa State have been advised to support the ongoing reforms and programmes of the Restoration Administration of Governor Seriake Dickson in the education sector.
Chairman of the Bayelsa State Teacher Training Registration/Certification Board (TTRCB), Dr. Mrs. Stella Ugolo, who gave the advice during the opening ceremony of the third batch of the state’s teacher training programme and presentation of awards, which took place at Toru-Orua, also noted that that the novel idea of redeploying 2,000 civil servants from their respective ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to be trained as teachers to teach as part of moves to address the acute shortage of teaching staff in schools was a commendable policy.
The Board’s mandate, she added was to provide an effective and well-structured Continuous Professional Development (CPD) programmes for teachers and those that are newly entering into the system.
She added: “Under the programme, successful trainees after the training will be registered and certified as competent and qualified to teach in the state’s primary and secondary schools for a period of three years.
According to the Chairman, the board has successfully completed two training programmes where in the first batch 285 redeployed civil servants were trained.
The guest lecturer, Prof. Kolawole Adeyemi, advised other state governments to emulate Bayelsa State in creating similar agency to coordinate teacher training, registration and certification for the purpose of enhancing quality of education in their respective states.
In the lecture entitled: “Towards Quality Assurance for Adequate Education Delivery in the 21st Century School,” Adeyemi, however, noted that quality of education in the nation’s education system was far below standard.
“The teachers’ continuous professional development has been globally accepted as the vehicle for upgrading teachers for the 21st century schools, and any government, either state or federal that keyed into the programme would be ahead of others in this millennium,” the lecturer said.
I’m leaving behind a healthy council – WAEC registrar
After seven years in the saddled as the Registrar of Council of the Wes African Examinations Council (WAEC) at the Headquarters of the regional examination body in Ghana, Dr. Iyi Uwadiae last week gave his scorecard as the 12th Registrar to Council.
Uwadiae, who was appointed the Registrar in 2012 for a fiveyear tenure, and was granted a two-year extension at the expiration of his tenure in September 2017, will bow out of the Council last month. Giving the stewardship of his seven years tenure in the Council during a teleconference media interactive session at the WAEC International Office, Lagos, he expressed conviction that he was leaving a healthy Council in terms of policies that will reposition the system, deployment of technology for the council operations, as well as in the areas of infrastructural development and the fight against examination malpractice. But, despite, the Registrar said the Council had been working hard and fighting a good fight to eliminate and deal with the menace of examination malpractice, he, however, regretted that it had not been easy in terms of resources by member countries.
“We are fighting the fight and we have done a good job in arresting examination cheats, and deploying mechanism to curb malpractice, but in has not been easy in terms of resources to use by member states,” Uwadiae said. While highlighting some of the major activities of the Council, including the development projects initiated, advanced or completed in the various member countries during his tenure, he attributed the success of the Council to other dedicated principal officers that formed the formidable team which has continually moved the Council’s wheel of progress forward.
“Together, we constantly pursued the course of better performance in all existing operations and broke new grounds where we found it expedient to do so,” the Registrar recalled, adding that they took up the challenge of terminating the seemingly endless sojourn of the Headquarters in the premises of the Ghana National Office and boldly implemented some difficult initiatives, which saw to the completion of the 15-year-old Headquarters Office Complex project in December 2016.
On the Council’s strategic plan, he hinted that efforts were put in place to intensify effective communication and interactions with all stakeholders across the sub-region, even as he added that such efforts, paid off as the relationships between the Council and the various member governments and their functionaries improved tremendously, giving room for stronger ties among the nations, better cooperation with relevant ministries, departments, agencies, wider collaborations on diverse educational matters and excellent service delivery to the stakeholders. According to him, to satisfy the educational aspirations of stakeholders in the member countries, the Secretariat successfully introduced additional diets of WASSCE and BECE for private candidates.
Uwadiae said: “We introduced in the private candidates’ examinations a facility for admitting onthe- spot candidates, who were unable to enrol within the designated registration period. We also created Attestation of Results, which is a replacement as good as the original, to alleviate the challenges faced by former candidates whose original certificates are missing or destroyed. “We remained focused on full migration into digital administration of examinations and the march towards this ultimate goal progressed significantly.
To this end, WAEC-owned CBT installations have continued to spring up for use by the Council and public/private institutions/organisations while emarking software and equipment have been deployed for the marking of selected subject papers.”
Uwadiae joined WAEC Nigeria in 1985, and was promoted to Deputy Registrar in 2003, and subsequently appointed the Head of Nigeria National Office (HNO) of the Council in 2008 for over four years, before he was named the Registrar of the Council, with Headquarters in Ghana in 2012. The Registrar, however, hinted that WAEC had come out with indicators that could be used by relevant organisations or bodies to determine the quality and standard of the education system or otherwise, saying such data could be used to judge whether the quality of education is high or not.
He also called on member countries to pay their dues regularly to the Council in order to meet its obligations, saying in order to satisfy the educational aspirations of some stakeholders in the member countries, the Council successfully introduced additional diets of WASSCE and BECE for private candidates. Uwadiae added: “We were relentless in the deployment of technology in the Council’s operations and activities. With the use of technology, we built tighter security around our examination materials and conduct, as various gadgets and software were deployed for identification of candidates, capturing of data and detection of irregularities at examination centres.
“Constrained papers were also introduced to stifle cheating at our examinations. We successfully reduced the period for the processing of the results of WASSCE for School Candidates from an average of 84 days in the past to barely 45 days, and the compression is still on going.”
UNN VC restates commitment to lift varsity, sets stage for growth
Barely 100 hundred days in the saddle as the Vice- Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Prof. Charles Igwe, has laid the foundation for the regeneration of the university to be technologically driven and academically robust, as an institution which is capable of promoting enterprise and entrepreneurship. This was as he re-echoed his inauguration speech that his leadership strategy would be an integrated development model anchored on the sustainable development goals.
Igwe, who spoke of his administration’s commitment to keep his doors open to ideas, suggestions and the sharing of the university challenges, however, demonstrated the determination to pursue the development of the university; accord priority to the welfare of staff and students; build on the achievements of his predecessors and to entrench a regime of consensus where members of staff of the university would be encouraged to re-dedicate themselves anew and contribute to the progress of the university.
This, the Vice-Chancellor said, was being done with a view to taking the university to the next level of development. Igwe, the first alumnus to be appointed the Vice-Chancellor of the university has undertaken actions that not only showed the compass of his roadmap and proved constructive in the daunting tasks ahead, but also accentuated the events of his first hundred days in office.
“Though, hundred days is a fleeting time in a five-year administration, it is also a good time to start looking at the direction an administration is headed,” he noted, saying: “We shall ensure and sustain infrastructural development and foster healthy private public partnership, attend to ongoing and abandoned projects, as well as enthrone maintenance culture and environmental cleanliness.”
To many stakeholders in the university project, especially Mr. Charles Anekwe, the President of Odenigbo General Assembly, Nsukka, Prof. Igwe has also demonstrated a spark of enthusiasm in his careful assessments of projects and programmes in the university, and their reorganisation for greater impacts as launching pads and clear indications of sustainable future for the ivory tower.They, however, added that Prof. Igwe had brought his administrative acumen and wealth of experience to secure additional revenue streams for the university by ensuring that the university’s economy is supported by private sector.
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