There is an adage that it is not an offence when the accomplishments of someone is told and propagated. The appointment of Professor Garba Dahuwa Azare as Director General, National Teachers’ Institute (NTI), Kaduna, is not only a blessing but a success story. Prior to his administration, the previous leadership of the only teacher-training institute in the country had put it under siege and impunity. This created myriads of corrupt-oriented hitches too numerous to mention.
Azare’s leadership first implemented the new duty Tour Allowances for staff, which hitherto was not implemented by previous administration despite a federal government circular to that effect.
Also, the out-gone management refused to effect 2015 promotion of staff, but Azare did the 2015 and 2016 promotions of all staff. Again, he eliminated the entrenched culture of not allowing staff to grow through the service.
Previously, whenever there was a vacant position, an outsider was brought to fill the post.
When Azare assumed duty, he changed NTI’s organogram, placing staff according to their qualifications and experiences, and even introduced a department of Quality Assurance and ICT, saving the institute a lot of funds which were expended in the guise of Quality
Assurance Assessors under the office of the former DG. It gives the NTI staff opportunity to do their jobs, which were assigned to some people from outside, it serves as internal check mechanism that police the whole activities of other departments and fourthly it minimizes irregularities, corrupt tendencies and laxity among the institute’s staff and students. Thanks to Azare’s vision and expertise.
During the previous management, the culture of drain was entrenched, as accountants were doing the job of education officers. A lawyer in the institute worked as education officer, instead of being in the legal department. An electrician was posted as an education officer. In fact, the previous management had created what it called ‘Centre Desk Officer”, an administrative head of NTI Study Centre, as a punishment den, for those in the bad book of the former director general. Assistant directors were posted to some states as desk officers, to serve under their juniors who were state coordinators. With the coming of Prof. Azare, these negative trends were immediately stopped. All the brain drain postings were reversed. The centre desk officers’ positions were not only left untouched, but appropriate and relevant staff are now manning them across the country. Thanks to Azare’s mission and vision of how NTI ought to operate.
Prof. Azare met a landmine of backlog of staff allowances unpaid by the previous administration, which he succeeded in settling due to his prudence, sense of justice, honesty and accountability. Had he come with intent of amassing wealth, he would have found himself in financial troubles. He, without hesitation, embarked upon settlement of all debts of Course
Facilitators allowances in over 260 centres nationwide. Almost 70-80 percent of the debt allowances are now paid, with the exception of those that have problems with their bank details.
Previously, NTI state offices in many states and zones were using plastic chairs and operating under canopies, but Azare’s management has supplied befitting desks, chairs, writing materials and in some cases office accommodation, while many were renovated, thus creating conducive atmosphere for both teaching and learning. The process is still on-going.
Another landmark feat of Azare is the increment of centre desk officers examination allowances from N 30,000 to N60,000. When he assumed duty, he abolished flamboyant lifestyle in office. He eradicated motorcade convoy of official vehicles, moving along with bodyguards and the impunity of placing junior above senior officers in almost all departments. In essence, he changed the mindset of NTI staff by intermingling and interacting with all categories of staff, which was not the practice before him.
Still on welfare, Azare has reviewed staff in-service training programme effective from September 1, 2017 by taking full payment of all applications, registration and school fees
of all categories of staff. Projects of those undergoing Ph.D in arts/education now get N200,000 while those science have N300,000. Staff undergoing Masters’ Degree in either arts/education are paid N100,000 for their thesis while those for science get N150,000. Higher National Diploma (HND) and undergraduate degrees in arts/education get N20,000 for their dissertations while science are paid N50,000.
Azare’s management has commenced discussions with the Center for Environmental Education (CEE) Ahmedabad, India, for the introduction of Environmental Education through the Open Distance Learning (ODL) system. Dr Shivani Jain and Dr Pandya Prathesh were the two CEE Resource Persons who arrived the country for the Green Teacher (GT) Materials Development Workshop held from September 11-15 at the institute, in conjunction with the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), and Federal Ministries of Environment and Education.
At the opening ceremony, Azare said the GT Nigeria Project is intended to create awareness among the Nigerian public about climate change as a result of natural and human activities. CEE, based in Ahmedabad, India, is a centre of excellence which has been working under the country’s Ministry for Environment and Forest to facilitate environmental education in India in the last 37 years. It is a resource agency that facilitates taking information and experiences from India to the outside world, which was one of the reasons for collaboration with NTI with the support of COL.
As part of his feats, Prof. Azare has visited the FCT Minister, Malam Musa Bello, seeking the return of the institute’s land, allocated to it by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), but later reallocated to the Institute of Public Affairs, Abuja.
In his reaction, the minister congratulated the DG on his successes and effort of reviving the NTI, while assuring him of his ministry’s effort to solve the land problem. These are some of the feats so far recorded in just one year by Azare as the DG of NTI. A sign of Good Friday is noticed from Wednesday.
Kakaki, a journalist and media consultant, writes from Kaduna