If it was a civil society group or an opposition party that declared that only 28 pupils were enrolled for Common Entrance Examination in Zamfara, we would have screamed ‘bad belle.’ Politicians would have waxed another album about detractors and enemies of progress.
Even I would have gasped in disbelief, but it was a statement from someone who should know and has no reason to be an ‘enemy of progress.’
It was the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, who let the shameful cat out of the bag: only 28 candidates from Zamfara State registered for the 2018 National Common Entrance Examination. An entire state with 14 local governments, 14 local chairmen, scores of councilors and dozens of commissioners could round up only 28 pupils to attempt to move from primary school to unity schools across the country. So, where were all the other pupils gonna go, private secondary schools? Or were they just gonna graduate and dance home with primary school leaving certificates and that’s it?
As at 2009, Zamfara had 1,408 public primary schools, a 7.62% improvement on the 1,058 the state had in 2005. Let us assume not a single growth had happened since 2009, one pupil per school would have produced 1,408 pupils for the Common Entrance exam, right? So, what happened? What is going on in Zamfara? Have children stopped going to primary school or all the families have embarked on mass or corporate family planning? Were the schools closed down or the teachers sacked? Does Zamfara have a Commissioner for Education? There are dozens of other questions I’d rather not ask here.
Twenty-eight pupils are more than you should have in a classroom in a public primary school. At least in my time we were more.
But before you conclude that this is about taking Zamfara to the cleaners, stop right there. Zamfara government and people are already stewing in the shame and embarrassment of the Minister’s disclosure. I won’t rub salt into their wound. I’m more interested in how I think Zamfara got to be the laughing stock statistics on national education index. And the people have been voting every four years, like the rest of us too. That brings us right back to the power of your PVC again.
Who have you been voting for all these years? Are you proud of where you are, where Nigeria is?
There are politicians who have been in our political space since 1999 and they want to be there forever. Wanting to be in political office until you are old and bent is not in itself a sin or a crime as long as the voter is better for it. If your representative, governor or whoever, has served you well, by all means, keep using him. But if you have grown thinner and he fatter, then you need to kick his fat backside to the curb. I mean, actively kick him to the curb. Not by sounding off on television talk-shows or on social media platforms. Yes, we, you and I, need to get involved, reposition ourselves so we can reposition our nation.
It’s not fair the kind of Nigeria we seem to be set to bequeath to the next generation; a nation where education is neither quantitative and qualitative, a nation where 30-year-old able-bodied young people are still being fed, housed and clothed by their parents, a nation where 5,000 kilowatts of electricity is considered an achievement. The Nigeria our children will inherit is that one where they wished they’d never been born and one where they try to ensure their children are not born in.
Should we just throw our hands up and let everything slide into the drain? There are two choices we have; resist and endure. We can either lie back and endure the unending rape or use our last breath to fight the rapist and, preferably, castrate him. We cannot continue to be this 57-year-old-man who has to be constantly told to have a proper bath. We cannot remain with leaders who think our economy is just fine because it has oil. What oil, this dying commodity? Electric cars are already here and they don’t need our oil. When everybody starts driving electric Toyota, Kia, Hyundai, Nissan and Mercedes Benz, what will happen to our precious oil then? Even the militants and oil thieves should start learning new trades because that line of business is folding fast.
We need to queue behind visionaries, not moneybags, who insist they are leaders. How are we supposed to continue to follow people who prefer to continue to repair a 40-year-old car instead of changing it? They load us like pineapples into the 40-year-old car year in, year out, and tell us everything will be fine. How? Who drives a 40-year-old-car every day, as his only car? That’s the best way to describe the dizzying Turnaround Maintenance of Nigeria’s refineries. Vintage cars are for show-offs, occasional spinning. They are relics, museum pieces, not vehicles for long distance trips or school runs. All those turning around our refineries, ask them if they have ever driven a 40-year-old car in their life?
Of course, we can all decide to stay on the sidelines and curse those who have the courage to get involved. The party primaries are here again. Let’s go in there and be part of it instead of thinking all we need is a voting card and staying back to ensure the votes are counted. Let’s join the parties, at the base, at the grassroots level. We do not even have to run for office in 2019. It’s good enough that we are part of officers and delegates who’ll choose those who will emerge at polls. Let’s go to the ward level and wrest power from those who can be bribed with N5000. Let’s choose leaders who have second addresses, not the ones who want to die in office.
Imagine a ward level EXCO of APC or PDP that has Nigerians like Femi Falana, Nike Akande, Gbenga Adefaye, Muda Yussuf, Opeyemi Agbaje, Issa Aremu, Ijeoma Nwogwugwu, Chidi Odinkalu, Oby Ezekwesili and other successful professionals. Imagine the kind of people they will help us choose as local government chairmen. They have established sources of income, names and addresses we already know. We need to choose people who want to give back to the country that made them, not those who see political office as ATM to which only they have the PIN. And that is why I’m getting worried about credible Nigerians coming out and joining parties where they’d just be the only big fish and also wanting to be president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria right away. This is not a joke. This is not a Nollywood movie. There is a reason it is called a political office. You have to do the politics before you can do the office. Having a million followers on Twitter does not translate to political mark and mileage. Let’s get real and stop playing to the gallery. We need all the good people we can round up. No jesting. No notice-me-dance, please.
We are either ready for this serious business or we are in real trouble. The states currently need regular bailouts to pay salaries of civil servants. Imagine when Nigeria can no longer pay salaries of doctors, teachers, street sweepers etc. Just imagine it.
Are you still sitting down there waiting for the investors-pretending-to-be-leaders to choose what the next four years of your life should and would look like?
From my mail box
In one word — DARKNESS –the title of your last piece, you summarized the state of the nation and if anyone was still wondering what you meant, your first imagery-laden paragraph painted a vivid larger-than-life picture of our unfortunate country, Nigeria.
If you had decided to sign off after that first attention-grabbing paragraph, you would still have said it all.
I am, I can say, a diehard fan of your regular piece in SUNDAY SUN. The piece you titled DARKNESS, is more or less an open letter to our PMB. The write up penetrated to my bone marrow.
I am not from Benue State or any of the states where the killing is going on but I am greatly pained with the mindless killings worsened by ‘siddon look’ approach of those who are elected or/and are paid to secure us. It is a pity we are finding ourselves in this situation and at this time and age.
Keep on informing them and I pray they have time to read. You are MEE (May Ellen Ezekiel) of the blessed memory resurrected in our time.
Ehbeyreh (Newsite, Satellite Town, Lagos)