El-Rufai and his teachers: Feeding us the poison pill

Following the recent threat to sack 21,000 teachers in Kaduna State by Governor Nasir El Rufai, we are greeted with threats from the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) for a nationwide strike on account of the governor’s actions: mainly on circumstances surrounding the conduct of the test and second for ulterior motive behind the sack order.

This piece is not about Kaduna State’s teachers, the governor or the threats of the labour congress. It is simply asking every Nigerian who in expectation of some basic level of performance to think about the prospects of being ripped off by a so-called professional to render the service for which he or she has claimed payment.

These teachers are paid as professionals. When the Labour congress decides to go on strike in protest, is it in defence of the scam? Are consumers now saying it is no longer a fraud for a quack to render services as a medical doctor and get paid along the way? Are consumers saying that it is fine for a person with no engineering qualification to take up the job to build a multistorey building that will collapse down the road? Is the consumer saying that it is fine for a fake to take up the job of a lawyer attempting to argue a case in court on behalf of a client for a fee or not? The eerie silence amongst other professional groups and guilds of chartered practitioners may not be questioned but it would appear that this speaks of the country before us today.

Surely, if this is the type of society we have built for ourselves, it is about time we stood up against the scam. As for the reason for this anomaly, many could be adduced. Even “Free Education” which should not be carried out by quacks, is only free to the extent that the direct consumer is not paying but not to the society because someone is bearing the cost of this service much as many more are paying the high price of mediocrity. There remain countless questions as to how the consumer can be protected in a society so accommodating that it would tolerate a janitor attempting to deliver service as an accountant because he or she needs to feed a family.

Nigerians should no longer think that discussions within the Nigerian geographical space are heard only by Nigerians. Even discussions at family meetings are now in the global public space which has a huge impact on our ability to attract foreign participation in our national development. If the stand of the NLC is that it is better to have so many people employed than to embark on the rigorous task of finding professionals, few as they may be, to do the jobs, it is a scam all over again on anyone who is paying for their wards to get an education. More than just being paid for it, a key attribute of a profession is that people are engaged in that for which they have obtained some acceptable level of qualification more so the job of educating others in the 21st century.

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