David-West’s striking points:


“What pains me is that, our politicians, top civil servants, traditional rulers, etc attended public school” 


If you happen to come across an elderly man weeping, take another look at him very well. He is likely to be Prof. Tam David-West, renowned professor of Virology, one-time Commissioner of Education in old Rivers State, Nigeria’s former Minister of Petroleum and Energy and later, of Mines, Power and Steel.

He is weeping for our bastardized education system. Recently, the Education Review ran into him literally weeping (going by the sound of his tearful voice), on a podium somewhere at the University of Ibadan, on the current strike embarked upon, nationwide, by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), a strike which has paralysed academic activities across university campuses and caused great setback in our academic calendar.

We asked the man whose interventionist stance/actions are well-known and well-documented in our nation’s political history, why he was weeping. His answer:

Anti-poor policies

“Government (Federal, State and local) in Nigeria today operates anti-poor policies and they are not bothered about public education,” he said. “Funding of public education is not given the proper priority it deserves because the children of those in government and their friends are being trained in private schools in Nigeria and abroad with looted public funds.

Nigerians must know that the politicians, top civil servants, traditional rulers and their cronies of contractors and patrons were beneficiaries of public education. Also some of them set up private schools and universities in Nigeria and abroad with looted fund from public coffers. That is why none of their children are in any public school in Nigeria. This explains why they are not bothered when public primary, secondary and tertiary institutions are shut.”

State of the nation

On hearing this, you felt like offering him your handkerchief to wipe his tears with. “For the first time, we have graduates at the helm of government but it has not brought a change and development to the state of the nation, he remarked. This shows that it is not the degree that makes you a good leader but the lives you are able to affect positively.

I’ve made a calculation of how much government spends on education. Although they voted 25%, they do not spend up to 10% every year of the resources allocated for education.”

Cry, cry for your beloved country, you seem to hear him say as he adds. “Around the world today, Nigeria spends the least on education but we spend the most on salaries of lawmakers. My brother, Ebele Jonathan, has 10 jets. What bothers me is, if this country is good, it is good for all of us. Our children should be better than us. Federal government illegally spends eight trillion naira every year on themselves.

The Fashola connection

“If we do not invest on education, the country is finished; we are rated as one of the poorest in education around the world. For the Finance Minister to say Federal government cannot pay the money they willing signed with ASUU, that sounds rude and shameful to the country.

When President Obasanjo engaged Okonjo-Iweala and she was paid in dollars, she was not sorry for the economy at that time. I see no reason why any lawmaker should earn more than a professor. As things stand today, a Nigerian senator can employ President Barack Obama four times.

But the best policies are the policies directed at the masses. We have the lowest minimum wage among all the countries of the world, yet Nigerian government cannot pay the N18,000 minimum wage.

“The case of Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola of Lagos State is the most striking example. He enjoyed free tuition at the University of Benin, without which he would not have been educated.

Yet the same Governor Fashola turned Lagos State University (LASU) into a high cost fee paying university from N25,000 to N320,000, thereby throwing children of the poor who voted for him and who his government has refused to pay the N18,000 minimum wage, out of university education.

The new crusade

“It is time for Nigerians to rise up and defend their right. ASUU is fighting a noble cause. ASUU says improve education. I mean, this is the most responsible crusade everybody should support. Only a vagabond government toils with education and we must not allow a vagabond government in this country.”

All these have, obviously, combined to make David-West a very bitter man today. In his bitterness, he thinks not only about the cause of the strike but its colossal costs.

Strike implication  

“The implication of all these strikes is disruption in academic calendars, falling standards of education at all levels, a high level of general insecurity and a bleak future for the current generation and the Nigerian Child,” he notes. “How many nations of the world could afford to have its universities closed for about 50 days? You consider the budgetary allocation of some countries of Africa like Ghana 31%, Cote D’Ivoire 30%, Uganda 27%, South Africa 25.5%, Swaziland 24.6%, Kenya 23%, Bostwana 19%, Morocco 17.7%, Lesotho 17% and Tunisia 17%. With Nigeria’s 8.43%, we are the lowest and this is not a sign of responsibility. This is why we say Nigerian government is not responsible enough. The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch without doing anything.”

The way forward

As the short chat comes to an end, you ask him the way forward. “Government appointees should have their children attend public schools in Nigeria,” he said. “Governments in Nigeria must fund education in line with international standard of 26% and make education tuition-free at all levels.

Funding education adequately means the repair and building of new infrastructures (classrooms with audio-visuals, furniture, hostel, electricity, water etc) in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions and the provisions of up-to-date facilities. Using stove to carry out experiments in the laboratory instead of Bunsen burner is not conducive for learning.”

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  1. David-West and his crocodile tears did not start today. You can deceive some people for some time, all the people for some time, but certainly not all the people all the time. . . What did this ejike aturu awusa do when he was commissioner of education ? As Minister he drank tea and took wrist watch from Stinnes

  2. certainly david west is not shedding “crocodile tears” if okon understands the meaning of the term. says prof. david-west “a nigerian senator can employ president barrack obama . . . .” this is a shame in a country that also boasts of 126 million citizens who do not know where the next meal is coming from; no naijaria university made the list of the 400 best universities in the world, why? corruption has become a metaphor for naijaria; without education it means no plan for the youths and of course no plan for the elderly only for the politicians and their cronies. prof west is right for passionately decrying the situation. wish he had done so more vigorously and that he has been joined by all the sans and cans and cbcns and pfns and senior apostles and general overseers and eminences and lordships and all those purveyors of religious garb in naijaria. foot note: is it true that in the midst of all this the self-designated “dame”, as in, the garrulous, semi-illiterate, ill-mannered, ill-bred “impatience jonathan” is given one billion naira for feeding? all this call for naijarians to get on with a revolution. the silence of religious leaders and civil liberties organizations is gradually looking like complicity.

    • I did not want to respond to your soliloquy but on reading another post of yours on the current strike by ASUU, I have found that you really love “revolution”. In that other comment of yours, you said ASUU should have initiated revolution than going on strike. Here you are proposing a revolution as panacea to all the problems of this country. Please let get serious with our comments in this forum and not use words loosely. Do you know the real meaning of revolution and what it takes? I want you to go read the book “ETHIOPIA: THE COUNTRY THAT CUT OFF IT’S HEAD” and come back to engage some people in this forum intellectually on your revolutionary fantasy. I hate rhetoricians like David-West and I hope you are not one!

  3. God will bless Okon for his steadfastness in documenting past events which had eluded the likes of Odogwu_Aganaga and cos.
    Collecting a wristwatch and a cup of tea as gratifications while in office as petroleum minister David West ought to know that corruption is a deadly cankerworm that it spreads like wild wind . He taught his predecessors in office till date the wicked trade. His involvement with Stinns remains a case study to good Historians.
    What about his MT Tuma purchase ? People preaching modesty without clear conscience . He bought a vessel for the country at a rate of #543 million naira within his period same vessel was refurbished under him with a sum of #773 million naira in Brazil’s dry-dock . Back to Nigeria , the oil vessel was sold at a paltry cost of #10.5 million naira. The new breed politicians are only learning from them. Is he shedding crocodile tears to Odogwu, Ejike aturu awusa , Dele Udele the vulture , uncircumcised kola Amodu and MR GREEN/VEGETION?
    A man that betrayed his nation in no little measure and still continue betraying his blood brother being the first citizen of this nation is not a surprise issue to all well meaning Nigerians.

  4. Odogwu_Aganaga on

    hei, owerri, imere akpo ole? you are right in insinuating that “he who must come to justice must have clean hands.” to the issue at hand which you did not broach: is it true or false that the salary of naijarian elected officials far exceeds that of barack obama, the president of the richest nation in the world? (economist of london) 2. is it true or not that president barack obama feeds/maintains his family from his modest salary, while jonathan’s wife takes one billion naira from the public treasury for feeding/maintaining their family? 3. is it true or false that 70% of naijarians i.e. about 126 million people are destitutes who do not know where the next meal is coming from (imf estimate)? is it true or false that today naijaria is so badly polarized ethnically that “there is no basis for one naijaria” (yakubu gowon, 1966)? is it true or false that no naijarian university made the list of 400 good universities in the world (iec survey)? is it true or false that there is no plan or even a vestigial intention to fight corruption which has become a second nature to naijarians? is it true or false that naijaria is steadily plummeting into a veritable state of nature?–no thought about the up-and-coming; no care for the aged; nothing to show for the enormous wealth accruing from the oil except one or two super trillionaires. it is a shame! and is owerri saying that a sovereign national conference is not necessary to discuss these stomach wrenching issues . . . hei owerri, iwu onye umuneke ngor???????


  5. Odogwu , ari mu nma ooooooooo. Awum nwa afor Owerri . Nwa anyi mu wu Onye Ngor , ebe ikporo aha. Nde woooo.
    My brother Odogwu , all what you have highlighted therein are in order. It is a fact but I expected more Honourable Nigerians like Prof Soyinka , Akpakoba , Falana and Dr F. Fasehun to preach this message so that people of like minds like your good self , Okolie Emeka , Sunny Akhigbe , Okon , Chief HERO, Boney London can come in for better discussion .
    Have it in mind my brother that these challenges are there before this gentleman GEJ came on board to steer the affairs of this nation. How can the gentleman GEJ solve our problems again with all the distractions handed down to him? BH incursion , intra party wrangling , high altitude of rumour mint and hatred for nothing syndrome against same person much are expected from as a leader?
    Distractions from low and high places all in the name of criticism simply because he has no brother to defend him. Same people make jest of him as a man that had only 1.7 million brothers and sisters at his back. Any human being that has blood and water flowing in his or her veins will have nothing else than to back GEJ because this man today has been victimised to an unbearable state.
    Lets reflect properly, is these problems not in a existence before GEJ? Can he attend to these demands within his two yrs in office?
    Is he the one that created office of women affairs? Is GEJ’s wife inferior to other past First Ladies the nation had? Is state Governors wives not living above board in their respective state? Why must GEJ’s wife case more pronounce as it has never been done before? Is GEJ, holding Nigeria not to conduct any forms of referendum ? Nde wo! Ime la gbasara okwu gi .

  6. Tam David West is not shading tears for the under privileged Nigerians, rather he is still angry that he is no longer in the mix. The question every reasonable Nigerian should be asking is why these politicians suddenly support the average Nigerian when they are no longer holding any political office. The moment Mr. West gets another political appointment you will no longer hear his voice. He will immerse himself in the looting and stealing frenzy until his cup runneth over. Anyone who has participated in the past in making Nigeria what it is today has no moral right to shade tears for her. Having said that I can see why OKON calls it crocodile tears because it is not from the heart. Also the Lion of Ala Igbo – Owerri is right, it took the North and the South West more than forty years to bring Nigeria to the ground, therefore anyone expecting a miracle from GEJ within two years in Office is nothing but a dreamer considering the fact that the mafia is still alive and kicking!

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