Sunday, 21 January 2018

Osinbajo, Obiano vow of justice

Police hold suspects

Survivors relive day of horror

Anambra State Governor Willy Obiano yesterday described  Sunday’s  killings at  St. Philips Catholic Church, Amakwa, Ozubulu during Mass as a gang war that spilled to the state from an African country. 

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and Obiano vowed yesterday that the perpetrators of the crime would not go unpunished.

Obiano upgraded the death toll to 12 from the 11 announced by the police on Sunday.

The governor gave an insight into the killings in a broadcast to the people.

Also yesterday, some survivors relived their ordeal in interviews with our correspondent.

Obiano said: “What happened in Ozubulu yesterday was a tragic dimension of a long battle between two business partners who are from the same town. I have been fully informed that this dangerous conflict has been going on for a while in the country where they both live outside Nigeria before they decided to bring the conflict home.

“This explanation, I believe, has erased the fears that the incident may have been caused by either some terrorist organisations or some members of some groups of agitators in the country.

“Wat happened in Ozubulu was neither a terror attack as we know it, nor a violent action by some agitators. We are dealing with a dangerous gang war that has spilled over to Anambra State from another African country. But this is the last time it will happen under my watch”

He added that “The people directly and remotely involved in this crime are known to the law enforcement agencies. But no suspect, no matter how highly placed, is above the law. So, we have taken bold steps to bring them to book and restore the peace and tranquility that Anambra State has enjoyed since the past three years.”

Some survivors relived their experiences at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH), where doctors are battling to save their lives.

The wife of a man who was believed to be the target of the gunman, Mrs. Caroline Ikegwuonwu, 40, is one of the injured at the hospital. Her husband, Mr. Chief Akunwafor Ikegwuonwu, was shot dead by the gunman who then turned his gun on other parishioners.

Okoye Patricia, 46, and her 20-year-old son, Odinaka Okoye, are also hospitalised as a result of bullet wounds.

But one of those who missed being hit by the bullet, 24 year old Mary Cynthia Ndulue’s brother, Samuel Ndulue, has his legs riddled with bullets.

Cynthia’s escape was “miraculous”, she said, thanking God for His mercy. She regretted that her brother was affected in the shootings.

Anambra State Police Commissioner Mr. Garba Baba Umar announced yesterday in Awka that the command had arrested some suspects over the killings.

Umar did not give the number of suspects in police net, but he assured residents not to panic.

Hospital authorities described survivors’ condition as  stable.

All was calm yesterday at Ozubulu. Residents were going about their normal businesses.

But the chairman of Ekwusigo Local Government Area, Ikenna Ofodeme, said they were not ruling out political influence in the tragedy as it is a governorship election year.

But he ruled out any terror link to the attack in which 12 persons died and 27 others were hospitalised.

He said the Obunadike family lost three persons. A member of the family, Mr. Joel Obunadike, told The Nation that he lost his uncle, his brother’s wife and her niece during the attack.

He was in tears. Ofodeme called on security agencies to wake up to their responsibilities. He praised the police commissioner and Assistant Inspector General of Police (Zone 9), Umuahia for their prompt response to the problem.

One of the community leaders in Ozubulu, Chief Timothy Nwadike, said what happened at the community was a national calamity.

He is the President General of Egbenma Ozubulu. He said the community would not allow anybody or group of people to destroy the peaceful community.

Another community leader, Chief John Ejimkonye, 70, told The Nation that what happened in Ozubulu was the handiwork of bad people.

He said everybody in the community, nay Anambra, had been in shock since Sunday. They are praying to God not to allow such a thing to happen again.

However, they refused to talk on the alleged feud between two suspected drug barons in their community, adding that only God could intervene in the calamity that had befallen the area.

At the hospital, Patricia Okoye, 46, and her son, Odinaka, said they were still in shock .

She said she saw the gunman who came into the church and started shooting, adding that it was later that she saw that a vehicle was stationed outside with other members of the gang in it.

Mrs. Ikegwuonwu, whose stepson is alleged to be one of the drug barons in the community, said she was short of words to describe the incident.

As she was struggling to talk, an elderly man bent down and whispered something to her. She stopped.

Chinasa Chukwueloka (25), another survivor of the attack, said the incident was too fast for anybody to give account of it.

One of the senior nurses at NAUTH, who preferred not to be named, said about six of the injured had been transferred to another place because of the extent of their fracture, adding that 12 of the victims were retained at the hospital.

They were transferred to the Accident and Emergency Complex.

Former Governor Dame Virgy Etiaba, who flew in from Lagos, was seen commiserating with the victims.

She described the shooting as “barbaric, satanic and inhuman”, adding that those behind it would not escape God’s punishment.

A former Commissioner for Health and pro-life activist, Prof. Linus Amobi Ilika, noted that though there had been shootings of Ozubulu indigenes living in South Africa and their bodies brought home, but the shooting of worshippers at St. Philip Catholic Church was an abomination against the land.

Ilika also said there was no evidence that High Chief Nnamdi Ikegwuonwu, who built the church where the lone gun man shot worshipers, was involved in drugs. He described him as a philanthropist.

Ilika, who was one time secretary general of Ozubulu Development Union, said the stories making the rounds that Chief Ikegwuonwu was in drugs business and may have offended his business partners, was untrue.

Ilika said the community does not know the young man’s trade, adding: “He has not been charged or arrested for such offences”

“There is a spate of shooting in South Africa and they brought down the corpses of our people living in South Africa.

“The person who built the church resides in South Africa. There is likely to be dispute and struggle among them but I cannot say exactly what the issues are.

“But for whatever it is there is no justification for assassinations and invasion of a place of worship to commit such mass killing of innocent worshippers,” the former commissioner said.

Perpetrators won’t go unpunished, says Osinbajo

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has assured that the perpetrators of the heinous crime at the St. Philip’s Catholic Church Ozubulu in Anambra State on Sunday would be brought to justice.

A statement by Senior Special Assistant on media and publicity Laolu Akande said Osinbajo had been receiving regular updates on the status of investigations regarding the atrocious and mindless acts of violence, which resulted in the death and injuries to some Nigerians..

The statement also said that the Acting President had been in touch with Anambra State Governor Willy Obiano, the police authorities and other security agencies on the matter.

Prof. Osinbajo also condemned the despicable acts of violence, and commiserated with families, relatives, friends of the victims, the entire people and the government of Anambra State.


Published in Headliners

The police in Anambra on Sunday confirmed that a gunman killed eight worshippers and injured 18 others in an early morning attack on St. Philip Catholic Church, Ozubulu, Ekwusigo Local Government Area.

The Commissioner of Police, Mr Garba Umar, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Awka that the remains f the dead had been deposited at Nnamdi Azikwe University Teaching Hospital Nnewi.

Umar also said that the injured were taken to the hospital.

He said that preliminary investigations by the police revealed that the attack was carried out by a native of the area.

“From our findings, it is very clear that the person who carried the attack must be an indigene of the area.

“We gathered that worshippers for 6 o’clock Sunday mass at St. Philip Ozobulu were in the service when a gunman dressed in black attire covering his face with a cap entered the church and moved straight to a particular direction and opened fire.

“The man after shooting at his targeted victims still went on a shooting spree, killing and wounding other worshippers,’’ he said.

The commissioner said information available to police showed that the attacker was speaking undiluted Igbo Language at the time he was firing at worshippers.

Umar said though no arrest had been made but that the police already learnt that the attack followed a quarrel between two natives of Ozubulu residing overseas.

Describing the act as sacrilegious, the commissioner of police said it was wrong for the perpetrators of the act to extend their quarrel into the church.

He added: “such conduct shows the people behind the act do not fear God.’’

He said the police had launched a manhunt on those behind the act and gave an assurance that everybody behind the act would be brought to justice.

Umar described any insinuation that the attack was carried out by Boko Haram elements as false and urged the people to go about their normal businesses.

He said the police were on top of the situation.’’

Published in Headliners

The recent meeting of the governors from the South-West in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, marks another watershed in the annals of the region. It is another strategic thinking by a region that is known for leadership with vision, a virtue that distinguished the South-West from its peers.  Coming at a period when the country is facing very harsh and tough times and challenges, the meeting underscores the general belief among the people that the region needs to be rescued, especially against the backdrop of terrifying security challenges and a parlous economy that was hitherto the envy of other sections of the federation.

That the meeting, organised by the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN), was attended by the governors and not representatives amply showed the urgency and desirability of a collective will and effort, since it takes a whole to make a serious impact, given the nature and manner of suffocating challenges. From massive youth unemployment to incessant threat from bandits and herdsmen as well as collapsed infrastructure, the South-West is writhing under a heavy burden.

Their decision to create a joint task force and joint actions on security threats to guarantee the safety of lives, property and prosperity of the people of the region, foster competitive advantage and establish a Western Nigeria Export Development Initiative (WENEDI) to drive the export potentials of the region is ennobling.

What is required now is for the governors to fully demonstrate the commitment, will and capacity to walk the talk. This is the only way to convince the people that there is a new dawn that is meant to build institutions that would restore the lost glory of the region, as encouraged by the political leadership of the zone through integration at post-independence Nigeria.

Part of the beauty of federalism is the principle that empowers the federating units to explore the factor of comparative advantage, which is at the heart of the prolonged clamour for restructuring of the country. Therefore, the current initiative by the governors is avowal on the imperative of a synergy to pool resources together towards exploring the bond of commonality at all fronts. Sadly, the Ministries of Integration which some of the governors individually created at the dawn of the DAWN have been scrapped. We strongly believe that is not good enough.

It is also imperative that the governors should be more pragmatic in tackling the issue of security. There is nothing wrong in all the governors in the zone adopting the template set by the Ekiti State government on grazing bill, as herdsmen constitute the greatest threat to security of life and property now.

One way to immortalise the Director General of DAWN, Dr Dipo Famakinwa, who suddenly passed on recently, as well as buoy the policy of integration is by the South-West states collaborating in the area of agriculture. The success and impact of the Lagos and Kebbi states in the production of rice reveal the huge potentialities of such collaboration among states in the South-West, which is blessed with clement climate for all year-round farming and cultivation. Thus, we recommend that  western states should work together on agriculture based on the comparative advantage in the growing of specific crops.

Published in Parliament

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, Friday, paid a personal visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at Abuja House, London.

Special adviser on media and publicity to the President, Femi Adesina revealed this on his Facebook page.

According to Adesina, Archbishop Welby and President Buhari are friends, who share deep respect for each other.

He said Archbishop Welby was delighted to see the rapid recovery President Buhari has made from his health challenges, noting that it was a testimony to the healing powers of God, and answer to prayers of millions of people round the world, adding that, “The cleric pledged to continue praying for both President Buhari and Nigeria.”

Adesina said Buhari responded by thanking Archbishop Welby, whom he noted had always stood by him at critical times, and wished him God’s continued grace in his spiritual duty of leading the Anglican Communion worldwide.

It will be recalled that when former British Prime Minister, David Cameron described Nigeria as a “fantastically corrupt” country ahead of an anti-corruption summit in London in 2016, Archbishop Welby had retorted: “But this particular President (Buhari) is actually not corrupt.”

The Archbishop later personally received the Nigerian President at Lambeth Palace, London, and had also paid a goodwill visit to President Buhari in March this year, during his medical vacation.

Published in News & Stories

Like day and night, it is impossible not to have an opinion about Lai Mohammed. Love him or hate him, the Information minister has struck a chord in recent times with his statements about protecting the Nigerian cultural industries from losing money to foreign lands in the name of production and sponsorships.

“We will amend the NBC code to ensure that our Premier League improves. We will make sure that in the Code, if you spend one million dollars to support a foreign football club like Manchester United in Nigeria, you will not be allowed to air that programme unless you spend 30 per cent of that money to promote Nigeria’s league,” said Mohammed at an industry meeting in July.

However, sport industry voices have remained silent even when the minister spoke about something that has troubled them for a long time. It is clear that Nigerian corporations love to associate themselves with football. And the brand of football they like to piggy-back on is not that which is played locally.

It is European football, that shiny product, like a well-polished 2017 Lamborghini Aventador gleaming in the sun. The English Premier League, that behemoth of cultural imperialism, has so captured our imagination that our country spends billions annually to get its fix. Like Marx’s opium, the EPL has become our poppy, seeping into our national vein without let.

An industry research states that Nigeria’s top 15 sponsors will spend 110billion Naira ($343m) between 2016 and 2019 on servicing their relationships with European football properties. The Nigerian Breweries has agreements with five clubs – Arsenal, Real Madrid, Juventus, PSG and Manchester City, while Globacom has had a long-running agreement with Manchester United. Big Nigerian corporations sponsor the broadcast of the EPL, Uefa Champions League and Europa League while Etisalat (now 9Mobile) is a keen sponsor of tennis broadcasts.

While Mr Mohammed has called for higher taxation against companies that spend money on sponsoring sports programmes and overseas clubs, not one statement in support has come from the sports minister, Mr Solomon Dalung. Dalung, who has overseen one of the most turbulent periods in Nigerian sport with several athletes failing to find funds to compete internationally, has abandoned his constituency, in this debate, after the political interference in sport federation elections last month.

What Mr Mohammed has called for is not new. Countries have regularly fought to protect their local cultures from cultural imperialism. Canada in the 1950s and ‘60s insisted on placing a quota on foreign programmes that could be shown on television. This was to avoid the Americanisation of their values by the giant neighbour, the USA. China kept the world out during its Cultural Revolution until it was strong enough to re-engage with the West. And it came out better.

European football, an increasingly global business, is taking too much of our resources. While the British left us with flag independence, we have become stuck onto their football, a form of sport cultural imperialism. What must we do to get out of their grip in order to create our own industry just like the entertainment industry left the shadow of American music?

Sport, unlike entertainment, is regulated by the government. This is one of the major impediments to the growth of the sector as administrators run it like bureaucracies. However, many of the problems we have in our sport have also been self-inflicted. The loss of influence by national TV, the NTA, mixed with its archaic ideas about sports broadcast rights, means even the Nigerian domestic league cannot be seen by the majority of our citizens. It has been the purview of the South African company, MultiChoice, to create value for our league by paying for rights and screening it to a few million subscribers. With SuperSport dropping the NPFL over the last few months and putting more money into buying EPL rights, we are left without our league on TV.

Who is to blame? A poor self-esteem which abandons the local but chases after the foreign. Many of our children cannot speak their mother tongue. We abandon our local customs, we fail in passing traditional values down the line, these are all failings on our part dictated by the mega cultural forces that are stacked up against us. 

Is protectionism the way to go like Minister Mohammed has proposed? The United States, the biggest economy in the world, has a president that has called for greater protection for its citizens by pushing for higher tariffs on imports from Europe.

Perhaps it is best to also find what works for us. One change is mandatory though: we need to change the way our sports are run; where administrators sit on government allocations without a care in the world to turn profits. As long as we lose our best players to Europe every month, we will continue to look abroad for football entertainment. And so the businesses will put their money where the highest numbers of eyes are.

If they eventually get higher taxes, perhaps companies will end their spending on sport altogether. After all, it is not compulsory to spend their hard-earned money on domestic football that has not created enough value and captured the imagination. Nigerian sport can learn a lot from the entertainment industry whose sheer power of innovation has revolutionised our cultural offerings to the world.

Published in Parliament

Stuttgart have confirmed the signing of free agent Holger Badstuber, who once played in their youth teams, on a one-year contract.

Badstuber, 28, was at Stuttgart from 2000 until 2002, before joining Bayern Munich and making his senior debut in 2009.

The Germany international won five Bundesliga titles with Bayern and lifted the Champions League trophy in 2013.

Badstuber has been badly affected by injuries since late 2012 and, despite returning to full fitness last season, was loaned to Schalke and Bayern announced that he would leave the Allianz Arena when his contract expired in the summer.

He told his new club's official website: "No one should ever forget their roots, and I haven't.

"VfB Stuttgart was and is something very special to me, and the club had an immediate impact on me emotionally. The region, the fans, the mood of optimism... I can hardly wait to get stuck in."

Stuttgart's director of marketing and sales, Jochen Rottgermann, added: "In Holger Badstuber, we have secured the services of a player with exceptional quality.

"We are delighted that he will be wearing the VfB jersey in the future."

Published in Sports

THE Police yesterday disclosed that 20 suspected kidnappers and one civilian were killed during the rescue operations of abducted pupils of Lagos State Model College, Igbonla, Epe.

Commissioner Fatai Owoseni stated this at the Lagos House, Alausa, during a joint press briefing on the release of the pupils.

He said three kingpins, including the mastermind of the pupils’ kidnap, Bright Idubo Adeniyi and a notorious militant, Oniweyi Eyelabo alias America, were killed in two operations.

Owoseni also explained that the civilian who was killed was a member of the Joint Task Force, adding that eight policemen and four members that took part in the operations were wounded.

He said: ”As long as you have human beings in a society, there must be security challenges. Government and security agencies acted swiftly in this incident. We were not letting out information to avoid criminals using same.

”We have talked against celebrating whether ransom was paid or not. We do not want to glorify crimes. If we start talking about it, we may be sending wrong messages to the public.

”It is pertinent to mention that security agencies did everything that was needed to be done. I want to acknowledge the roles played by the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) and governors of the Southwest region.

Continuing, he said: ”The response to this kidnap was very swift. It was combination of so many factors. The abduction took place on May 25. There were a lot of things that were done underground that we did not want reported to avoid jeopardising the safety of the victims.

“It would interest you to know that the kidnappers were many in number. The person who led the kidnap was one Bright Idubo Adeniyi. Immediately after that operation, security agencies stormed into action.

“The first thing we did was to ensure that the children were not taken off the areas we could monitor. The kidnappers in three boats, tried to move the children away. In the course of doing that, they ambushed Marine Police operatives and volunteers who knew the terrain very well.

“Two of their three boats were sunk and 17 of them killed that day, including Adeniyi. The security operatives were cautious with the third boat because it had the children in it.

“The kidnappers went further with a view to frustrate efforts of security operatives and the government by attempting to attack Marine Police posts in order to steal our gunboats.

“Specifically on July 18, they ambushed a Marine Police post with a view to steal gunboat. That operation was led by ‘America’ and he died in that ambush with two others. We must tell you that the criminals launched the offensives and the government and security operatives handled everything that needed to be handled.

“We also engaged the parents. Where we needed to engage psychologists, we did. It also led to the Acting President reassuring the parents on the release of the children. I can tell you that this is one operation the criminals will know that the government is responsible and they cannot dispute whether the government has the capacity to secure its citizenry.

“We have just started. This is the beginning. The security operatives with the support of the governors of the Southwest, has demonstrated the commitment reached in Abeokuta for a joint security team in the region.

“The criminals should know that there will be no hiding place for them in the southwest. People involved in criminality would be made to face the wrath of the law.”

Earlier, Lagos Deputy Governor, Dr. Idiat Adebule, who received the children on behalf of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode from Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN) of Ondo State, said the state would intensify security in public schools before resumption.

She said: “I will like to commend the police and other security agencies for ensuring that the children are back. We plan to have comprehensive medical check-up on the children and they will be debriefed in collaboration with other stakeholders.

“We are going back to the drawing board to ensure that all that need to be done in terms of security before the resumption of schools are done.”

Akeredolu said the combined efforts of South West governors and security agencies led to the release of the pupils, adding that the role played by the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, was incisive.

Published in News & Stories

What seems to be sounding louder by the day is the call for restructuring by various interest groups in Nigeria. The impression the agitators are giving is that the country is structurally lopsided to the extent that something urgent should be done, if the various ethnic, tribal, religious, economic and political interests are to continue co-habiting harmoniously. The issue now is how sincere or genuine are these agitations for restructuring? Over the years, the need to restructure the federation has been at the front-burner. Recently, renewed agitations followed disturbing activities by secessionists as well as the various threats given for Nigerians to quit parts of the country, issued by other different groups avenging their angers on the perceived imbalance and displeasure over the state of affairs in the country in terms of allocation of resources, appointments, environmental degradation, human right abuses, dominance of the Federal Government over states, power sharing parameters and the unity of the nation.

To address the concerns raised by those calling for restructuring, there is need for the various federating units to develop according to their resources and at their own pace without being slowed down by others. The process of restructuring would involve changes in the distribution of powers, responsibilities and resources, which is contrary to what is provided for under the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended); a product of military regime that arrogates a whopping 68 items to the Exclusive Legislative List alone, unlike the 1960 Independence Constitution that had 44 items on the list while the 1963 Republican Constitution equally granted the regions 50 per cent of their resources. In line with what true federalism should be, the Federal Government should rather concern itself with highly sensitive and critical sectors like currency, defence, immigration/customs and foreign affairs while devolving other sectors to the federating units.

The various interests that had clamoured for restructuring strongly believe that the current structure is nothing but a recipe for anarchy, insecurity and instability. In other words, a restructured nation would make the federating units explore the resources in their domain, considering the fact that there is no state in Nigeria that is not endowed with arable land for agriculture or mineral resources that could make them self-reliant and capable of transforming the lives of the people, if well utilised. This was what the country experienced, development-wise, during the era of regionalism, where there was healthy competition among the four regions Northern, Western, Eastern and Mid-Western governments brought about optimal harnessing of resources for development. In the past, agitations for restructuring had been championed mainly by segments of the nation, notably southerners, but over time, other Nigerians, cutting across other geopolitical zones, have clamoured for the imperative of addressing the structure of the country in such a way that the federating units would be more functional, premised on the principle of comparative advantage unlike the current arrangement, whereby states had become completely dependent on the Federal Government.

For instance, the Western Region, under the leadership of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, successfully laid the foundation for development in commerce and industry by creating an efficient Western Nigeria Development Corporation, the parent of the present-day O’dua Investment Company; revolutionised the production and marketing of cocoa by farmers; reformed the local government system; improved the Western Nigeria Civil Service; implemented the first free primary education programme in Africa; introduced and managed the first Free Medical Service programme in Nigeria for children up to the age of 18; established the first television station in Africa: the Western Nigeria Television (WNTV), Ibadan, in 1959 the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife), among others. Apart from the Western Region government, monumental achievements were also recorded by the other regional governments. But what do we have now? It is unfortunate that today, most of the states in the country appear unviable and under-resourced to deliver good governance, as they depend almost entirely on monthly allocation from the Federation Account, the bulk of which they expend on salaries and other recurrent expenditures, leaving out capital expenditures that should actually drive development.

From the foregoing, any opportunity that would bring about positive change and better the lot of the people should be embraced. Therefore, if the call for restructuring is going to turn things around for the better, it is worth trying. But looking at the agitations from another perspective, those calling for restructuring, simply because they have been at the receiving end in the current power equation, should not be seen as being patriotic in their agitation. Those who belong to this category are made up of mainly politicians, who belong to several groups and affiliations. They appear to have joined the call for restructuring for three reasons. First, is to protest their exclusion from governance. In other words, they are using the agitations to vent their anger and obvious irrelevance under the current dispensation.

Secondly, some of the agitators are joining the call to acquire cheap popularity. Those who belong to this category do not have a clear idea of what restructuring actually means and how to attain it. They are simply part of the advocacy to elicit publicity and undue attention to themselves alongside the group they represent. Thirdly, we can refer to those belonging to this group as those warming up for the 2019 general elections, who merely are using restructuring to launch their political campaigns and to situate themselves better for the task ahead. Those belonging to this third group include new political affiliations and politicians that are desperately seeking relevance because the present arrangement and configuration may limit their chances to achieve their political ambition, in 2019. I have used the above scenarios to illustrate that not all agitations for restructuring are genuine and sincere.

On the way forward, efforts should be made to lay the foundation for a truly federal structure through constitutional amendment. The Federal Government should initiate the process without further delay, by putting in place a body that would fashion out the modalities without compromising the existing legislative framework, already provided by the National Assembly. On the likelihood of making use of the recommendations in the 2014 National Conference, one of the tasks to be carried out by the new body is to examine the confab report and make suggestions on the useful portions. I do not subscribe to the idea of adopting the report in its totality. Similarly, I do not also believe that the report should be archived. Rather, sincere and practicable recommendations should be adopted. Hence, there is need for government to decipher and carefully separate the wheat from the chaff in the growing agitation for restructuring.

Kupoluyi wrote from Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB

Published in Parliament

Education is in dire straits in Nigeria. More than 10 million children are out of school across the nation. The federal budget always falls short of the requisite 26 per cent recommended by UNESCO for developing nations. It is a well-known fact that “education is power,” but Nigeria continues to treat the subject of education with abject levity.

It is against this grim background that one welcomes with profound happiness the book Realities of Nigerian Education written by Chief Sam O. U. Igbe, the Iyase (Prime Minister) of Benin Kingdom. A retired Commissioner of Police, Igbe was a colonial era civil servant and a trained school teacher of yore. He is indeed a master of the subject, and pointedly laments that the family, the community and the society at large have obviously abandoned “the responsibilities to ensure strong educational foundation for their children.” Education standards keep falling given the unprincipled politics played by the mandarins of government. Chief Igbe submits that there is a crying need to review the National Policy on Education to take care of the identified deficiencies in the system. This way, a purpose-driven system of education can be instituted through the potent instruments of appropriate curricula and syllabi.

In his foreword to the book, Prof. Mon Nwadiani, former Dean of the Faculty of Education, University of Benin, stresses that “this book is largely informational, educative, inspiring and soul searching as to where, how and why we got the business of educating the citizenry wrong. The unique value of the book is the presentation of strategies aimed at enhancing the quality and relevance of education in concert with the spiritual nature of man ceteris paribus.”

According to author Igbe, “Education is the most prized contrivance by mankind to better his lot. Of all the living creations, only man has developed this means of passing his values, skills and attitudes to succeeding generations. Educational development began since creation, and continues throughout the life span of mankind.” He believes that the “governing class will definitely need self-cleansing to achieve these educational objectives.”

In Realities of Nigerian Education, Igbe starts out with what he terms “Indigenous Education” wherein it is incumbent on the home, the neighbourhood and the community to provide the foundation for the education of the youth. He then delves into formal education as promoted by the early Church Missionary Society (CMS), the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society, the Baptist Mission, the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Mission.

The CMS established the first Teacher Training College in Abeokuta in 1859, an institution that was later moved to Lagos in 1867 and then to Oyo in 1896 where it became known as St Andrew’s College, Oyo. The author incidentally undertook a Pivotal Teachers Training Course in St Andrew’s from 1954 to 1956.

The Baptist Mission established a station in Abeokuta in 1850 and founded the Baptist Training College at Ogbomosho in 1897. The United Presbyterian Church of Scotland established its mission in Calabar in 1846 and then founded the celebrated Hope Waddell Training Institute in 1905. The Roman Catholic Mission opened its station in Lagos in 1868 and founded St Gregory’s College in 1876.

Igbe deposes that the early colonialists did not participate in the pioneering activities of these missionaries. “It bears repetition,” he avers, “that they (colonialists) were preoccupied with the problems of subjugating the inhabitants of the newly acquired colonies, and the subsequent activities of having to procure commodities for the fledgling industries in their home countries.”

It was in 1882 that “the first Education Ordinance was promulgated to introduce some control and supervision into the educational efforts of the missionaries.” Yaba Higher College was established in 1932, and in 1948 the “Education Code was passed establishing a three-years Education Diploma Course for students who passed the Cambridge School Certificate, and thereafter, passed the entrance examination to the Yaba Higher College.”

Igbe in Realities of Nigerian Education then undertakes a crucial dissection of Special Education in regard to Autism, Slow Learning Disability, Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders, Educational and Behavioral Disorder. The vision and mission of the National Mathematical Centre are ready grist to the mill of Igbe’s appreciation of education in Nigeria. The need for technical and vocational orientation to conquer joblessness in Nigeria cannot be gainsaid.

The author ups the ante on the question of the National Policy on Education from the time of the Regional Education Laws to the military era and the democratic epochs. The role of the teacher is indeed pivotal whence the urgency of proper teacher education. His understanding of teaching strategies and methods can hardly ever be bettered.

The modern technological gizmos of today do not escape the attention of Chief Igbe in Realities of Nigerian Education, as he writes: “The Jet Age with all its breathtaking breakthroughs in mechanical, technological, electrical and computer engineering, and the seeming fictitious science appliances have now evolved into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

Chief Sam O. U. Igbe has written a very crucial book in Realities of Nigerian Education which ought to stand the teachers and the governmental authorities in good stead toward moving education in Nigeria forward. His rallying cry should reverberate across all the geo-political zones of Nigeria thus: “The youths in their various ways must become part of the necessary specialist national labour force as Jet Age Nigerian academics, technologists, technicians, scientists, and the diverse hard work experts gearing to distinguish themselves to make the name Nigeria unforgettable in this age of educational adventures.” Chief Sam O. U. Igbe deserves celebration for writing the timely book, Realities of Nigerian Education.

Published in Parliament

After almost two decades of energy sapping combat with corruption, Nigeria, from all indications, is still in quandary on how to effectively tame the menace. Today in Nigeria, corruption stands tall and rotund, gnawing at every effort made to subdue it. Both the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the sister Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) seem to have lost track, leaving corruption to rear more hydra heads.

The two main anti-graft agencies created to fight corruption over the years do not seem to have a co-terminus approach in their war against the incubus. Sometimes, they work at cross-purposes. The EFCC, for instance, is seen to be impressionistic and egregious in the war, using the media as a tool, all along. On the other hand, the ICPC appears stoic and laid back, convinced that it could advance in the war against corruption by mere system overhaul and prevention. All the same, little results continue to trail every initiative they had put in place. Before the advent of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, corruption became virulent, holding a promise to make Nigeria history.

Months ago, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed invented an idea of how Nigeria could dig pitfalls around corruption and make it fall, at least gradually. Nigerians laughed their heads off when he came up with a catch phrase; “Change begins With Me.” He had little audience since a disproportionate number saw his idea as impracticable having hitherto, been treated to the effusive and gratifying impact of corruption. But Lai Muhammad was not acting in isolation of the expanded agenda by the government of President Buhari to battle corruption headlong. Now, that effort has started resonating positively in different corridors, and most veritably in agencies like the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB).

A week ago, JAMB dominated the media space with reports about being parsimonious in handling its finances for the just concluded 2017 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UMTE). JAMB was reported to have remitted the sum of N5 billion into the federation account being the amount it saved from the conduct of the examination. Nigerians found the feat very incredulous; believing that no agency of government had been that transparent. JAMB is simply demonstrating responsiveness to the anti-corruption posturing of the present government. The idea is that other agencies of government must be on the cue to initiate their ways and means of advancing the war, using different techniques.

If JAMB appears to have woken up suddenly with a foul mind against corruption, the starting point should be traced to the Registrar, Professor Isaq Oloyede. The Registrar, once the former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, is an instant fighter of corruption. The legacies he left behind at the University of Ilorin speak volumes. Since he assumed office as Registrar, he has laboured to impress it on JAMB stakeholders that a new era where the agency’s funds must be judiciously utilised had just set in. His vows to bring a new order in JAMB ruled by efficiency, financial prudence and transparency were mocked in familiar quarters. But he meant business. At every point, he had dared saboteurs who seemed determined and desperate to subvert his every good steps and efforts. Today, his commitment to “Change” and insistence on leading by example has started paying off.

Before the 2017 UMTE, the Registrar had expressed aversion to the idea of raking in the sum of N7 billion from sales of registration forms and blowing the sum of N6.8 billion in the conduct of examination. He vowed not to spend more than N500 million for the 2017 UMTE and managed to do just that, leaving JAMB with an excess of N5 billion.

The spokesman of JAMB while analysing the cost saving measures by JAMB for the 2017 UMTE said, “Before now, JAMB budgeted for the sum of N7 billion. But this year, we have been able to prune down the cost very drastically, limiting our spending to N500 million. JAMB may not spend up to that in 2018 since it is expected to improve on the template from this year to attain this goal.

In his address to stakeholders of JAMB at a recent meeting for reviewing the conduct of the 2017 UMTE and preparations for the following year’s exam, the Registrar explained the reason he had chosen to lead by example. He alluded to the Change Begins With Me mantra of the Federal Government, stressing, Change Begins With Me campaign is not only a slogan, it is already a way of life which we believe in and which we have adopted as our guiding principle.

JAMB is not only excelling in the area of prudence, accountability and transparency. The Board has started re-inventing the future of Nigeria by curbing corruption maximally at the level of writing of examinations with more of candidates being inculcated with the spirit of hard work, self confidence and adequate preparations before every examination.

Years before now, examinations written in Nigeria at all levels had been characterized by brazen malpractices. Schoolteachers had been in collusion with invigilators and parents to allow impersonators write examinations for academically deficient students. Female students had severally been caught stuffing exam answers in the innermost part of their bodies, and had recourse to blackmail when exposed. There are reports of magic centers too, which no invigilator or examination official dared to visit during examinations, mostly JAMB, WAEC, NECO and others. The effects have been disastrous for Nigeria. Those who exploited the weak examination systems had secured employment into sensitive places, using the old power of corruption. Today, the system of Nigeria hardly runs unless oiled with brazen and sickening touch of corruption. JAMB has started changing the narrative, just as the 2017 examination it conducted was reported to be 98 percent free of malpractices.

In the 2017 examination, JAMB simply deployed Information Technology to halt corruption and all forms of malpractices. Its closely knitted synergy with GSM networks providers made this easy. Before the examination, JAMB created 642 Computer Based Test centers (CBTs) to administer examination for over 1,722,236 candidates, the highest ever in the history of the Board. Each of the CBT Centers had CCTV cameras to track down registration and examination malpractice within and outside exam halls. In the process, it was easy to weed out Centers that indulged in irregularities and malpractices. Today, all candidates must register under the lenses of the CCTV camera just as the footage is uploaded to the Board Headquarters for close monitoring and future references. Indeed, there is nothing stopping JAMB from improving on the feat it attained this year.

If other government agencies must learn from JAMB, their focus should be on necessity for immediacy in execution of plans and table-tables. For instance, JAMB has already set machinery in motion for conduct of the 2018 UMTE. In reviewing its omissions and successes during the last examination, the Board is planning to spend far less than N500 million to conduct the next UMTE. By implication, JAMB is expected to remit more than N5 billion into the federation account next year!

In essence, leading by example as demonstrated by an agency like JAMB is an unassailable way of re-inventing Nigeria. Individuals, groups and most especially government agencies should start emulating JAMB to change the narrative about Nigeria being irredeemably corrupt.

Samuel, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Abuja.

Published in Parliament
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