It’s baffling and frightening. Very frustrating. The sad manner in which policies are conjured in this clime.

It’s like a brain wave. Our rulers rely heavily on impulse. That is the way they reign on us. They treat their jobs with levity. Perhaps due to ignorance, incompetence or both.

The reason they churn out critical policies recklessly. In mere verbal pronouncements! The policies they neither contextualized nor interrogated at any level. They don’t care a hoot.

Gbam! Like a thunderbolt, they force the policies down our throats. “What comes over them?” You wonder into thin air. It is odd. But it happens this way. He suddenly staggers out of the bad side of his bed. Deeply troubled with nightmares.

In that terrible condition. And with a confused thought process. He opens his mouth to utter whatever crosses his crude mind. And that which he vomits becomes an ordinance.

That’s how we have been piloted in these past times. The reason we are drifting. Our bearings are amiss. Simply put, we’re being ruled by instincts. At the whims and caprices of our rulers.

Issues not in any way contemplated. In many cases, not even cross-questioned. All the same, are imposed on us as a roadmap, blueprint. We are made to run with it; invariably ruined in it.

So it was with the Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman. Dateline: Abuja, Monday, April 22, 2024. He was naïve. He just wanted to say something. In the process, he stirred up the hornet’s nest.

His job that morning was simple. Monitor the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME). It was conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB).

That was his brief. Nothing more. But as uncomplicated as the brief was, he opted to veer off course. He sent shivers down the spines of candidates and parents alike.

He told a baffled nation. That the Federal Government intends to shift university entry age upwards. And it would be by two solid years. That’s from 16 to 18 years.

Mamman didn’t certainly minister well that morning. Instead, he chose to go off the mark. He deviated for the wrong reason. Something in him urged him to fumble. And he did tumble, to our chagrin.

He exposed his warped thought process. Yes. Laced with delusion and illusion. He presented himself as being confused. His argument reflected all these.

He insisted that the 18-year benchmark “is in line with the 6-3-3-4 education system.” So? He said admission should not be given to candidates below 18, since Nigeria operates the 6-3-3-4 education system.

The Senate was quick to raise the alarm. It feared the minister was leading the innocent public astray. He needed to be called to order. Adeyemi Adaramodu is chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Publicity. He was on hand to advise the minister accordingly:

“There is nothing like that. When the prospective students bought their forms, there were no such conditions.

“That condition cannot be initiated along the line until the current set of candidates have been successfully attended to. Minimum age requirement for university admission is not yet a law.” And that is the truth and the fact.

He was not done yet: “By the time the Senate resumes, whoever wants to bring that one out to make it a law will now bring it. Then the procedures will take place. So far, it is just a mere comment. It is not law yet.”

And that sealed it. At least for now! But that opened a floodgate of reactions. The National Parent-Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN) would not hear the minister out.

Its deputy president, Chief Adeola Ogunbanjo, told Daily Sun: “We want it to be left at 16 years. Some of these students have talents. How do you develop talents? Government should not put any age limit. If a girl or boy is talented, he or she should be encouraged.”

Exactly. You don’t need to kill talents and scholarships. Neither do you have to retard them. They desire all the encouragement at this early age. We shouldn’t fail them as a nation.

Come think of it: The brains and scholarships Mamman earnestly seeks to waste, retard and bury are many. Exemplars: These UTME results are astonishing and astounding. You will marvel at the results. It was a record set.

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All the 30 students sat for the last UMTE. They are of Eucharistic Heart of Jesus Model College, Asa Dam Road, Ilorin, Kwara State. They displayed a rare feat.

All scored 300 and above. What a model college indeed! Fasesin Ayomiposi led the brilliant pack with 355! It was an academic stunt to behold and cherish with relish. But this is nauseating to the education minister.

Many of them are underage by his reckoning. Yes! He’s right, by his yardstick; they are not yet 18 years old. So? He wants the fine, uncommon intellectual prowess lost. All to his retrogressive university admission age limit. They must be rubbished, he thought to himself.

The reason the Association for Educational Development (AFED) threw itself into the battle. It queried Mamman: “What happens to millions of 16-year old students that write WASSCE yearly?” Very pertinent and challenging question. Mamman is yet to respond.

AFED president, Mr. Emmanuel Oji, then issued a stern warning: “If the policy is not implemented in a way that takes into account the needs and aspirations of younger students, it could potentially have a negative impact on their educational and career prospects.” Nothing is truer!

Expectedly, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was more radical: Its coordinator, Lagos Zone, Prof. Adelaja Odukoya: “In Nigeria, where the Advanced Level/HSC has been cancelled, is the minister saying students who complete their secondary school education at the age 16 should use the two years gap as yahoo boys or bandits? What is the empirical and scientific basis of this unfortunate proposition?”

He’s undaunted. He spits fire: “The truth is that the government, in line with the dictates of its imperialist patrons at the World Bank and IMF, is desperate to devise strategies to shut out Nigerian youths from gaining university education.

“The World Bank and IMF are resolutely against Nigeria’s production of thinkers and inventors, the bedrock of all development, which is what university education represents. But prefers Nigeria’s embrace of vocational education, which represents the ‘hewers of woods and fetchers of water.’”

You won’t agree less with Prof. Christian Ezeibe, Associate Dean, Students Affairs, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN): “The emphasis should not be entry age. When you go to Canada, USA and UK, you will see young people who are PhD holders, engineers, software developers at a very tender age.

“Rather, government should solve the problems in the educational sector and ensure quality and affordable education for all Nigerians, as well as stability of the academic calendar, especially in public institutions.”

He told Mamman: “You can’t build a mansion in the sky. You must start from a foundation. People are already in secondary school and others are already writing WAEC and JAMB. Are you going to tell them to wait till they turn 18 before they can be admitted into a higher institution?”

Chief James Nwafor, retired senior civil servant, saw it in another perspective: “There must have been a deliberate attempt to slow down certain segments of the country in the interest of the others. Our policies are always meant to favour some to the detriment of others.” Dare to fault him if you can!

Of what use is the policy that will set us back forever? I suspect. This is further implementation of the so-called educationally disadvantaged states blueprint.

This time it won’t work. It has hit the rocks. It’s dead on arrival. We refuse to oblige Mamman the luxury of having his way. He ought to listen carefully. And attentively too!

We cannot be stepped down for you to step up. No, no, no. That sordid era is gone for our collective good. The viable and doable option here is restructuring. And the parliamentary system of government is it!

It sufficiently guarantees everyone to develop at his pace. It worked wonders for us in the past. The templates are there. We can reset them to suit our present circumstances.

We can’t pretend about it. The centre is saddled with too much power. It ought not to have been allotted most of the powers in the first instance.

The single holder of such enormous powers can be mean and reckless with power. He can easily become a monster. Even without him knowing. We have had similar characters as office holders in our ugly history

Devolve these powers downwards. And you will see miracles happening at the speed of light. There will no longer be an inordinate urge to rush to the centre. It will make Abuja unattractive to those with ulterior motives and hidden agenda.

Then genuine leaders will be thrown up effortlessly, showcased and celebrated accordingly. We would have shut out and cut down outright looters. “Reigners,” “ruinners,” rulers and their ilk would have been buried.

The perfect reason we’re not comfortable with Mamman’s vomit. His university entry age is retardation. It’s a huge spanner in the works. He must not be given breathing space. That will be a monumental calamity.

If our pace is “too fast” for his liking. He should choose what to do, fast. He either belongs in or belongs out. That option is entirely his cherished prerogative. Very exclusive to him alone.

He wants to kill the enthusiasm in the younger generation. He forgets this is the ICT age. Where nobody waits for nobody. You have your space. You are at liberty to explore and exploit it. The manner you deem fit.

Just maintain your lane. And you are good to go!