By Prince Charles Dickson PhD
“My kind of loyalty was loyalty to one’s country, not to its institutions or its officeholders. The country is the real thing, the substantial thing, the eternal thing; it is the thing to watch over, and care for, and be loyal to; institutions are extraneous, they are its mere clothing, and clothing can wear out, become ragged, cease to be comfortable, cease to protect the body from winter, disease, and death.”― Mark Twain
The easiest and most attractive national past time now seems to be buck passing especially with the bunch of leaders that we have, that can hardly peel a banana nor wash an already white handkerchief. Not many of us want to take responsibility for anything, from personal, to family or national life.
The blame is on the system. We do not need to create demons out of our leaders because they are already specimens of demons, so we hang our sins on them appropriately and inappropriately too. And unfortunately their behaviour has made it easy for the critic to descend on them.
We at most, talk, write and discuss the Nigerian myth with a sense of fatalism. If everyone thought as much as I did about justice and fairness, life would be better. I am a critic, but I am also the critics’ critic, the unrepentant believer that the best way to keep government on its toes is to keep harping on their flaws so they can improve.
Often I say I believe the things I write on, are important for our nation as they are for other nations, but when it appears tome Nigerians especially those in authority do not react to these issues as people in other lands do, I repeat them in new essays to remind old readers and recruit new ones to participate in the continuing dialogue.
Sadly this is Nigeria where nothing works and no one cares, when it works, it is because someone’s interest is about to be served or being served not the people’s interest. We talk about our institutions despairingly. Our leaders do not watch network news any longer except when their faces would be there on occasion of their sons/daughters’ wedding or such. They do not need the newspapers anymore because it is full of their lies, or paid adverts negotiating with bandits with full paparazzi accompanied while the military causes mayhem in another section of the country.
Government bashing is now a national past time and every drinking joint, and suya spot that is kidnap free has a sitting parliament with an expert on every and any issue but we forget that no matter the input if the politicians and actors in our national scene have questionable lives both on personal and domestic level, nothing will change, the best government policy cannot change the individual. It is because the policies are formulated on a bad foundation and by people with warped thinking—like full amnesty for murderers in the same land were kidnap carries a death penalty.
There are so many issues to grapple with, ranging from security, to unemployment, poor governance, and health, but at the heart of it all is a failing and falling education. Alvin Toffler said, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. In a phrase we are in trouble, cause we are doing none.
So did you see that school in Niger state, the one where the boys were abducted from, they say it’s a science school? Did you hear the governor of the state that has two ex-presidents say most schools in the state have not seen painting in 40years?
Have you heard of teachers in Plateau, Ekiti, Ogun and in Edo that refuse competence tests to the point they go to industrial court?
Did you know in Bauchi state, a teacher who went to Teachers’ College in Katsina-Ala said the school was located in Katsina state not Benue state? In Ogun state, a benevolent governor had to forgive teachers that forged qualifications and age declarations.
Did you know ASUU was on strike for almost a year, and the same universities after resumption, and with NASU on strike, are writing exams? Do you know we have refused to provide basic infrastructure, and a conducive atmosphere in schools, qualified and committed teachers who teach their subjects effectively and guide students to become exemplary in their studies?
Whatever happened to the old school inspectorates’ system?
We are there acquiring all manners of certificates from B.sc, MBA, PDP to APC, yet a man who emerges from the university as a chemical engineer is looking for a job, when we need several million chemists or is it Business Administrators, who cannot administer their lives. Our education lacks orientation, a mind orientation, we are saddled with graduates with the odious idea that to get a job you must hold a certificate.
Today what is the value of the education given to a young man who is doing his mandatory service year or lives in a guinea worm infested area and yet is incapable of causing a revolution in the lives of the villagers by transforming their drinking water into healthy supply?
Please what is the use of education given in physics to a young girl when the lights go out, she does not know what to do to get light again. I know a Nigerian who added a Boys Scout Merit Certificate aspart of his educational certificates…
What we have today, in spite of innovations and the bold attempts to re-orientate it, remains, orthodox, slow foot, and myopic.
Our system has been abused, misused, disused and left in a state of disrepair. Show me a leader, a politician with so called popular mandate and I will show you an Oga at the top’s wife with her own private Montessori and international schools with fees from the outrightly outrageous to the unbelievably murderous, and off course they patronize themselves. It seems but a fact that the act is intentional, because you educate the children of today and you guarantee a future for tomorrow. But the reverse is the case; they educate their kids, by all means necessary and guarantee a future, a continuous oligarchy of crooks.
We are a nation of largely intelligent illiterates so we do not bother about statistics, we have scholars who have built reputation for ‘xeroxing’ texts of others word for word as handout on a‘buy and pass basis’, that is when the teacher is not Mr. Lecturer insists that Bimbo must go the whole length of her skirt to pass.
The critic’s anthem would be my end to this essay, it is one that has always inspired me by H.G. Wells—“We are going to write about it all. We are going to write about business and finance and politics and pretences and pretentiousness, and decorum and indecorum, until a thousand pretences and ten thousand impostor shrivel in the cold,…we are going to write about wasted opportunities and latent beauties, until a thousand new ways of life open to men and women. We are going to appeal to the young, and the hopeful, and the curious against —the established, the dignified and the defensive…”
After all we are told that whether the cat is white or black as long as it kills the rat, why bother. So, in managing our education, has Mr. Buhari failed us…The best answer to a critic is prove him/her wrong, unfortunately that is one area government and those that are part of it are not versed in… They just arrest you. We are closing schools in many parts in the North because of insecurity, we are closing in Ekiti because of unpaid taxes, but we never close anything for politics, no money to raise our educational standards but we pay ransom as government policy, oh ye Nigerians who has bewitched thee, the answer, only time will tell.
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