President Muhammadu Buhari has berated what he terms as corruption in the education sector in the country.
Expressing his disdain for the unhealthy practice, the President said that corruption undermines educational policies, investments and creates an unfriendly learning environment for young people.
Tellingly, the President said that corruption in the education sector undermines investments, beclouds funding and make people focus their attention only on budgetary allocations yearly made to the sector.
Specifically, the President said that university lecturers are complicit in undermining government’s investment in the education sector through their involvement in corrupt practices.
The President, equally, berated the lecturers who have been strike now for “flimsy reasons” for eight months for what he describes as their needless strike action.
“Incessant strikes, especially by unions in the tertiary education sector, often imply that government is grossly underfunding education,” he said, “but I must say that corruption in the education system, from basic level to the tertiary level, has been undermining our investment in the sector and those who go on prolonged strikes on flimsy reasons are no less complicit.”
The President spoke while declaring open the Fourth National Summit on Diminishing Corruption in the Public Sector at the State House.
The President said, and he was right, that the efforts aimed at measuring financing in the education sector should include total yearly budgetary expenditure on education at the federal and state governments’ levels.
The Summit was organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation (OSGF) and the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB).
The President said: “The 1999 Constitution places a premium on education by placing it on the Concurrent List, thereby laying the responsibilities of budgeting and underwriting qualitative education on both the Federal and State Governments.”
Of course, like the President pointed out, the corruption taking place at the nation’s education sector and the quantum of resources expended in the sector by the federal and state governments should, ideally, not be underestimated.
Yes, Nigeria is a country with a massive, growing population and an eye towards the future. There is a hunger for education as the ambitious youth of this country try to climb through the ranks.
However, before we can tackle the problems bedeviling the education sector, some of which have been identified to by the President to be needless, flimsy strikes and corruption, the country has to get a view of the deplorable situation in the sector.
In historical terms, every country that modernised experienced growing pains. For example, the European industrial revolution was famous for its malnourished, overworked and unhealthy working conditions. Schools were either unavailable or restricted for those who could not pay their way to the top.
Of course, it is sad that, currently, many schools in Nigeria don’t provide even the basic opportunities for learning. The education sector is characterised by weak governance and ineffective implementation of policies and plans compounded by a lack of transparency and accountability. Teaching standards are low and there is little motivation for teachers to improve.
Sadly, too, the level, quality and standard of education in Nigeria has witnessed a geometric drop in the past two decades and this unfortunate trend has made the country the leading nation of origin of students from Africa migrating to other parts of the world in search of quality education.
However, the deplorable situation plaguing the education sector must be halted soonest and by the Buhari-led administration which, in all seriousness, appears better suited to develop the sector.
For a start, all levels of government in the country should understand the need to better fund education. They should understand, too, that investment in knowledge pays the best interest.
The importance of education to a nation cannot be over emphasised. In most parts of the world, education is regarded as a fundamental human right, not in Nigeria.
Education is one of the basic criteria to measure the growth and development of any nation. If you want to destroy a nation, kill its education. Our governments should not, and must not, kill our education through bad and disjointed policies and underfunding.
The operators of education system, including teachers, must also not be allowed to destroy the education system through corruption and needless strikes.
No doubt, corruption in Nigeria affects every sector of the government including the education sector. Taking bribes is practiced not only by politicians but also by people in the education system, especially school authorities.
Funds meant for the education infrastructure, payment of salaries, maintenance and running of schools and institutions are being diverted and mismanaged by those entrusted to handle same.
Also, the collection of bribes by lecturers and teachers is not a secret anymore. According to the report by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), corruption is endemic in Nigerian universities today and there is a lack of political will to deal with it.
The Buhari-led administration must, therefore, summon the political will needed to deal with the monster that has for long hindered the nation’s development if the President is, indeed, committed to restoring the lost glory of the education sector.
Thankfully, the President has said that the federal government will continue to fund education within realistically available revenue, and urged stakeholders, including the media, to, equally, advocate for transparency in the utilisation of money and other resources generated by education institutions.
On the release of train hostages…
President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed happiness with the release of the remaining 23 kidnapped train passengers held in captivity by Boko Haram terrorists.
In a reaction to the news of the safe release of the hostages in line with his earlier directives, the President said the nation owed the military and all other security and intelligence agencies a debt of gratitude for the successful conduct of the operation leading to the release of the hostages.
He said security agencies have shown outstanding capabilities over this period that the whole world will not fail to take note of.
“This country’s Armed Forces are as good as any. Given needed support and encouragement as we have been doing, there is no task that they cannot accomplish,” he said. “I commend them for this remarkable outcome.”
Gunmen blew up the tracks and attacked the train traveling between Abuja and Kaduna, killing few people and kidnapping dozens in one of the most high-profile attacks this year.
“All 23 kidnapped victims of the ill-fated Kaduna train mishap released,” the Minister of Transport, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, said on Twitter.
A team had secured the release and took custody of passengers “held hostage by Boko Haram terrorists following the attack on the Abuja to Kaduna train,” a statement issued by a military committee said, without giving details on how they were freed.
After halting the high-speed train, the gunmen opened fire on coaches before herding passengers from the train’s VIP section into the bush.
A week later, they freed one hostage, a bank executive, as a goodwill gesture for the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan. Groups of other train hostages had been released after negotiations earlier in the year.
The Kaduna train attack was one of several major incidents this year underscoring the challenge facing the country’s overstretched security forces.
Officials have become increasingly concerned that militants are cooperating for pragmatic reasons with criminal bandit gangs in some parts of the country, who are motivated by profit rather than ideology.
Nigerian military is battling on multiple fronts: a 13-year jihadi insurgency in the North-east, criminal militias in the North-west and separatist tensions in the country’s South-east.
In expressing satisfaction with the successful deployment of both kinetic and non-kinetic processes leading to the eventual safe release of the remaining hostages, the President also congratulated the families of the victims for having them back alive.
However, while the report of the release of the passengers is heartwarming, Nigeria needs to do more to guarantee security of its citizens who have witnessed the perpetration of different forms of insecurity in recent times by some lawless people.
The security crisis seizing the country these days is kidnapping for ransom.
A year ago, the spotlight was on violent conflict between farmers and herders. Before that, it was Boko Haram. Even earlier, it was the tensions in the Niger Delta, and so on.
As Nigeria lurches from one violent conflict to another, the country’s leaders and its international supporters become easily, and perhaps understandably, fixated on the latest manifestation of insecurity.
The larger problem, however, is that none of this will ever change unless the focus turns more firmly and consistently to the thread that runs through all of that upheaval, notably, the absence of governance in most states of the federation.