WE would leave pure politics today and look at residual fallouts of pure politics, add distorted thoughts and poor governance culture and you are there. It is important I say this: activities concerning politics remain the main issue, because it is the pivot on which every other thing revolves. Name it, economy, healthy social living and interactions are byproducts of good politicking and the art of sound organization. The Buhari administration is in place, just as we have governors in the 36 states, all doing their things. Like I keep saying, this is governance hour and I think they all deserve our undiluted support, even when they make mistakes. I don’t want to believe hat there is a leader who would ascend to power and deliberately want to hurt himself even though what we see at times baffles many. Yet, I insist we must support them, show understanding, make suggestions and correct them in love not with the attitude of wanting to destroy or pull them down. When we waste four or eight years as the case may be, it means a lot in the life of the people and in the destiny of the nation. More than that, I believe every government should make it a priority to create the kind of atmosphere that would enable it excel.
Today’s topic is on another plank of national development; it is about the education of the upcoming generation we often like to describe as the leaders of tomorrow and yet will not leave the stage for them to blossom. The funny thing is we say this and almost always we refuse perhaps deliberately to take corresponding actions that would tally with our prescription. It is an established truth, not just a fact that what we make of the new generation determines what the future would be like; this is true for the family, corporate entities as it is for a nation. It is in the realization of this golden truth that I have said so many times on this page that people who desire to establish a healthy nation, one that would be competitive in the comity of nations, won’t just allow their youths to grow unguided into adulthood, in fact they virtually “create” their citizens. This is where education, orientation and if you like indoctrination, becomes very pertinent. Society builders have since established that education is the shortest route to development, transformation/enhancement and bridging disparities of all kinds. How much of these do our leaders know?
Our leaders claim to know the above and in fact they parrot it so often, but do a critical review of their policies, you find out that they are not in full grasp of what the position means, or that they know but do not have the know-how to bring it to reality. This is the misfortune that has graced our path and stayed with us for so long. What do I make of our leaders in the 80s, both the military and the civilians? They got into power on the mantra of being saviours but their policies were neither innovative nor progressive. There was nothing to show that they knew that true saviours birth new ideas and create new standards of honour and morality so that the bonds of society are straightened beyond the present. Most of their actions defiled logic and imaginations. Between independence and the mid-80s our development model was the welfare system, government executed her responsibility just as individuals and organizations did, and in terms of education the three built and ran their schools and all of them competed in terms of quality and it was affordable, the system synchronized with the federal order, those years things worked very well and parents where proud they were giving their children the very best of education.
Suddenly, our leaders decided to go the way of madness and before we knew it, what we knew was no longer what it was and everything began to fall apart; from nowhere we began to hear of government takeover of schools including privately owned ones that were doing very well. It was as if the government did not know what to do or that they had so much money and did not know what to do with it. None of them with all the education they had, had the foresight to know that such a policy may go with lowering of standards. We were not through with this when we began to hear about the downplaying of what was known as Higher School (HSC) and Colleges of Art and Science and their substitution in some parts of the nation with School of Basic Studies. It was widespread in some parts of our country and I wouldn’t want to go into debate whether standards were lowered or not, what was clear was that it was a deliberate policy to achieve parity at all cost with areas branded “educationally advantaged.” It was a discriminatory policy, it promoted and benefited a section against many others, in the process balkanizing the nation and leaving behind deep a gulf. It was on this dream and foundation that the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board was established.
In line with its foundation and shortsighted vision, JAMB by its activities from Day One has lived up to its billing: with JAMB catchment areas under which a university was supposed to concentrate its intake to area of location came into our educational lexicon, the same for cut-off points but in this case we have a situation of differentials, cut-off mark for an applicant from Sokoto is different from the one from Abia or Edo and what is most agonizing for the youths is the fact that some were required to score far higher than their counterparts from other areas to gain admission for the same course. If this is not apartheid, someone should tell me what else is. A child who suffers such discrimination would never throughout his life understand why he should be a true citizen of Nigeria, love others and be a patriotic citizen, yet we lament the frequent conflict between one ethnic group and the other. The activities of JAMB is even not cheap, you require N5,500 to get the form, N700 to process and N1,000 paid at the Computer Based Test (CBT) centres; it is possible JAMB collects the money from candidates in addition to its statutory allocation as a parastatal and am sure nobody has asked how they spend the money collected from hapless students.
What was bad was that JAMB and the universities did the same thing but the Federal Government has done the right thing by asking one to stop. What is wrong is that they asked the universities whose traditional responsibility it is worldwide to select their students to stop. This is wrong. Before JAMB, the universities did their thing and that was in line with university autonomy. It was bad politics that brought the distortion and the aberration must be done away with especially now that our leaders are obsessed with commercialization and privatization. University should use what they have to make money but within reasonable limits; so we can talk of controls in this aspect of finance so that education is not priced out of the reach of the vast majority.