Of ASUU, Fintiri and self-control
By Hassan Gimba
Two issues have spurred me today. The first may have some significant risks, but the second is undoubtedly risky. Firstly, I want to lend my voice to the ongoing imbroglio between the federal government and university teachers’ union, otherwise known as ASUU.
It is unfortunate enough that the grass, in this context, university students, have been at the receiving end of this unending brabble between these two elephants: one a mighty imperious federal government and the other, a vital lecturers’ union. For sure, there has been no government since 1999 that has shown willingness to bow to ASUU or give education the sort of budget the United Nations’ prescribed. Conversely, there has been no ASUU administration since then that has not called out its members to drop the chalk.
It is on record the current federal government, on its way to defeating an incumbent in 2015, promised to make our education sector the envy of all. Perhaps ideas or perceptions change when one is in government. Perhaps when out of government, one views things from a dreamy, above-the-cloud idealistic prism that turns into smoke with the reality of being in power and looking at things from a better angle. Perhaps that was why between 2015 and 2019 the government and ASUU were never on the same page. This is even though, as an-out-of-government current affairs analyst, the minister of education, Malam Adamu Adamu, was the best friend ASUU could have.
But in government, the friendship between the minister and ASUU has been strained because they have never been able to reach a common ground. When 2015 to 2019 ministers – even though it is almost the same set now on board – were thanking the president during their valedictory meeting with him in May last year, Malam Adamu told the president: “This is very important; I hope this occupies your mind, the next cabinet and perhaps the party. The ministry of education should not get less than N1 trillion.”
Two years earlier, at a retreat, the presidency held for ministers, the minister had called on the president to declare a state of emergency on education in Nigeria and to increase the government’s investment in the sector substantially. Lamenting that education was seriously underfunded in Nigeria when compared to other sub-Saharan African countries, he asserted that the government must spend more to achieve its goals as a change government. He was adamant that to meet the 13 campaign promises the president made to Nigerians on education, the government needed to spend at least one trillion naira yearly on the sector.
For sure, those currently in government and the ASUU leadership enjoyed the best of education Nigeria could give her citizens in their time. From close to free meals, accommodation and tuition, the libraries, workshops and laboratories were up to date. Therefore they all know what ought to be obtainable in the universities.
However, I want to think there is too much reliance on the government that is busy looking for the funds to service its handlers. If Nigerians, in most cases, provide for themselves what the government should, ASUU must devise ways to sustain and improve the university system through partnerships with corporate bodies, multinational organisations and individuals.
Understandably because they are overwhelmed each year by applicants, they do not court applicants which first-class universities all over the world do, including giving scholarships to top brains. Over-reliance on easy money from the government has made the universities tepid. Advanced countries rely on universities for their breakthroughs in various fields.
It is high time they took the matter by the scruff of the neck and treated education the way it should be. We have seen universities owned and run by Nigerians with almost a hundred per cent Nigerian student population thriving in neighbouring countries. But many believe that were those universities to be uprooted from the ground they are sited and brought to Nigeria, they would flounder. And in retrospect, were one to be taken out of here and transplanted abroad, it would prosper.
ASUU must see to it that Nigerian universities become self-sustaining. It is the only way out. And that is only possible through consultancies, innovations, manufacturing, floating various businesses, etc. These are easily achievable through meaningful partnerships. But as long as the university system remains wet-nursed from the government’s feeding bottle, then the FG-ASUU dogfight will linger unabated. And with such brawls almost all the time, it is only our education sector that will keep on nose-diving and our youths’ future put in peril. This reminds one of a Nigerian university lecturer who went to America to teach in a primary school but had to be disengaged because they said he had learning disabilities.
Having a self-sustaining university system will guarantee real growth, make the universities come up with first-class researches and innovations and propel them into the class of elite institutions of learning. We will have graduates that will answer their names, and the nation will have a solid foundation for development.
One of the best and most potent advertisements of the 80s, which became an icon of advertising creativity, was the one by Pirelli, a world-leading Tyre Company. In 1994, adopting the slogan “Power is Nothing Without Control”, the company’s successful advertising campaign showed legendary American athlete Carl Lewis – a multiple Olympic gold medallist – as a sprinter on the starting blocks wearing soon-to-be-legendary red stilettos. However, the significance of the ad is what matters because it was telling us that without a moderating influence, power can be more destructive than constructive without sparing even the person wielding it.
It is in this respect that the second issue I want to talk about comes in. This, of course, is at the risk of a threatening phone call which may be backed by action. Yet, I want to call on Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri to exercise control over his executive powers as the governor of Adamawa State. He was speaker of the state’s House of Assembly and acted as the governor of the state for a time. Therefore, he is not a newcomer to political power, and it is not expected that he would descend so low as to make threatening phone calls to antagonists.
At the peak of the mayhem that led to the looting of palliatives in the state, a state stakeholder, one Gambo Bello Nakura had accused the governor of complacency. Riled by such accusations, Governor Fintiri, in an audio message that went viral, called Nakura and the exchange that followed was not dignifying of his exalted office. Steven Maduwa, his associate, followed suit by threatening to slaughter Tom Garba, a journalist in the state!
Now, as with everything about us, or with power universally, some associates read the body language of the leader and then act accordingly. Some don the characteristics of the principal and behave likewise. For us, it is to do more with some pre-colonial behaviour which is still with us. We do not question our traditional elite; in some instances, they are treated like demigods. They can confiscate any man’s wife or land and woe betide anybody who dared to question their actions for people will accuse him of insulting “a God-sent leader”.
Our political actors have taken over leadership now. Yet a political office is a great honour that comes with significant responsibilities. The well-being of everyone is tied to the mindset and mentality of officeholders. No one who cannot control the power associated with it or hold their tongues when necessary deserves to lead. This possibly is why many people, including Professor Thomas Adeoye Lambo, OBE (March 29, 1923 – March 13, 2004), have suggested mental checks on those desiring to contest for political offices.
Lambo, a Nigerian scholar, administrator and psychiatrist, is credited as the first west-trained psychiatrist in Nigeria and Africa. He worked at the World Health Organization between 1971 and 1988, rising to become the agency’s Deputy Director-General. He suggested that “all political leaders should be subjected to an annual psychiatric examination while they remain in office”.
Professor Wole Soyinka amplified the professor’s opinion in 2006. The Nobel Laureate advocated an annual psychiatric test for those at the helm of affairs to determine their state of mind. In a paper entitled: ‘Thinking The Unthinkable’, Soyinka recalled the former WHO Deputy Director’s recommendation and said: “Most nations recognise the sad fragility of the human mind, and understand that even the mind of political geniuses can break under strain, that the latent seeds of insanity in all of us may actually come to bloom under the strain of existence, how much more when burdened with the enormity of power.”
Someone once said that “madness, with all its variants, is a familiar, though often imprecise affliction. It is a favourite weapon of the gods – as in the myths of Pentheus and Dionysus, Nebuchadnezzar and others – whose fates were couched in that ancient saying: whom the gods will destroy, they first make mad”.
But the question in the minds of all reasonable people is, should people bear the brunt of their leaders’ insanity, or should they be spared that before the havoc is done? It will be a good idea to enact a law that prescribes the psychological evaluation of aspirants before they even become candidates. However, in the interim, it will also not be out of place if governors can set up a mechanism for peer review and peer counselling.
Former Anambra State Governor Peter Obi, then Nigerian Governors’ Forum’s chair, worked tirelessly to institute a culture of peer review among states to enhance even development. Still, his colleagues were not interested in leadership accountability. Under the scheme, all the governors were to visit every state to assess the developmental efforts of the governors and how they were tackling challenges, which they could learn from or emulate. He started with his state, but after visiting Anambra State, all the other governors chickened out. They wanted to behave as they liked with their states’ resources. They didn’t want any control – in the form of discharging the responsibility of responsible governance – on the enormous power they wielded.
Some people can apparently be overwhelmed by the power to the extent that they cannot control themselves. Such people will ultimately be a curse to the people they lead rather than a blessing.
The overwhelming insecurity in Nigeria, Terrorism Veiled As Bandits, By Haruna Yusuf
The overwhelming Insecurity In Nigeria, Terrorism Veiled As Bandits, By Haruna Yusuf
In defiance of government determined attempt, the security position in Nigeria, is fast deteriorating and degrading the country’s image, indeed, the pettifoggery between the insurgents, Nigeria government and the killings of Nigerians in the Northeast has taken more than in a holocaust. Then kidnapping, banditry and armed robbery. Boko Haram insurgents have been constituting havoc in the northeast for more than a decade now, they’ve rendered millions homeless, hundreds of thousands orphans, Jobless and subjected millions to adject poverty and left them at the expense of good Samaritans and the merger fund of government.
The Boko haram insurgents are still perpetrating untold damage to the northeast, especially Borno state the worst hit and still hitting by the terror group and leaving them in disarray and clouded future, though before now, the northwest was relatively peaceful compared to the northeast that was like nightmare to the people.
Even though the northwest is poorer, worse governed in some areas, and has lower levels of both human and capital development, the major factor that led to these rising kidnapping and banditry in the northwest is injustice and equity couple with unemployment, though, before now, it was happening but was rare and once a while or maybe on target, not until the population of unemployed youths and miscreants found out to be the most paying and lucrative business to go about.
The recent abduction of school boys in kankara community, katsina and Niger states, the greenfield university students and government secondary schools in Kaduna respectively, the vulnerable farmers in zamfara on a daily basis, these are more examples of the deplorable state of security in Nigeria. Notably, the unprecedented increase in violent attacks in the southeast, west and south south is defying the sustained narrative among analyst that, there is no safe place in this country, for now.
The previous abductions and maiming of chbok and Damboa girls and schools across the northeast and the recent kankara, greenfield and government secondary schools in Kaduna bears the operation footprint of Boko haram insurgent in both times, that has perfected the act through previous heinous atrocities of abductions.
This episode stocks to the terrorists perpetual attempts to form alliance with foreign pact in the northwest to continue the kidnapping, robbery and banditry, while Boko haram remains the coordinating center.
The porousness of Nigeria borders is the cumulating factor that brings about the rising insecurity in the country. Believe you me, i doubt much if Nigeria government has the complete data of its citizens and the demographic map of her borders, especially the roots of the borders that links the country to neighbouring countries, like Niger, Chad, Cameroon and the river basin, all the Government knows about is, locations of oil in the Niger delta and riverine areas.
The porous nature of these borders heightens the potential spread of terrorist and banditry activities into the northeast/west of Nigeria, from neighbouring Burkina Faso, Mali, Sudan, Libya and Niger. The border is so vulnerable to be infiltrated by terrorists and bandits, it is more compounded making Sambisa forests idle places for meeting and operational bases for Boko haram and all forms of crime and criminality easy.
Come to think about the verse nature or landscape sambisa forest constitutes. Sambisa forests can be infiltrated via many routes, it has a route through Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and taraba among others, and the forests is the best hideout and place that can contain all forms of arms and ammunition deals.
The growing terrorism in Niger state in the country’s north central region has led Abubakar Shekau the “acclaimed” leader of Boko haram to give credence to the fighters from the northwest who he so claimed have proven their allegiance and commitment to the group, communities in northwest and north central Nigeria, lacking state protections, the becoming increasingly vulnerable to these cumulating threats. To be continued….
What Have We Done For The Next Generation?, By Hassan Gimba
What Have We Done For the Next Generation?, by Hassan Gimba
Our next-generation may not know what our generation knew, may not have what we had. We have failed to give them what the previous generation gave us. The peace and tranquillity we knew, the comfort and ease we had, the security and brotherhood we enjoyed, the careful laying of the foundation for our future we witnessed – all these we have failed to transfer to the next generation because we have thrown away the baton.
The problems of Nigeria are such that you get lost when talking about them. Where do you start from? The betrayal of confidence by leadership that much hope was placed on? Or is it the systemic and systematic decay in its affairs? The “me first” attitude of its people that see the country as milking cow? Our lack of seriousness over what we should be serious about?
In Chinua Achebe’s book The Trouble With Nigeria, published in 1983, he professed that the only trouble with Nigeria is the failure of leadership. He wrote that with outstanding leaders, Nigeria could resolve its inherent problems, such as tribalism, lack of patriotism, social injustice and the cult of mediocrity, indiscipline, and corruption.
However, Joseph F. Mali, in his A Quiet Revolution: Some Social and Religious Perspectives on the Nigerian Crisis, thinks differently. He thinks corruption and failed leadership are not at the heart of the Nigerian crisis. He opined that though corruption and misrule have done terrible harm to the country; they are by-products of something in the same way smoke is the by-product of fire.
The real trouble with Nigeria, says Mali, “is the lifestyle of profound selfishness the people and their leaders have in common”. And the nation still bleeds because of this evil, he said. Unless Nigerians cure this (disease), he maintains, no system of government is likely to succeed. “In vain do Nigerians seek political solutions as long as selfishness remains their credo!” Since Nigeria’s problem is moral, Mali insists, the remedy must also be ethical. He proposes A Quiet Revolution as a cure for Nigeria’s ailment. This revolution is not a silent coup to overthrow the Nigerian government. It is not a French-style rebellion with masses on the streets and peasants in the country put an end to centuries of absolute monarchy. Rather, the Quiet Revolution is an interior change, an individual transformation. As long as this change has not happened, Mali declares, it will be difficult to repair and restore Nigeria.
This is quite in tandem with the Qur’anic verse that says Allah (SWT) changes not the condition of people until they change what is in their hearts. Here, the verse is widely quoted out of context by people wanting to give their idols in power excuses. People don’t just wake up and at same time say: “We must change.” He always gives them someone who sensitises and organises them by leading them as their guide. Such a person is the leader; even the greatest revolutions and mass uprisings in history have guides, so it still comes back to the question of leadership.
God sends prophets to lead people to cleanse their hearts and become new. One by one, people change internally and get transformed individually, as Mali said, and collectively a changed society is born. There is always one who is the society’s mirror..
In July last year, I wrote on this page “God raises the living out of the dead and brings forth light out of the dark, He raises from among a people their type who leads them from deprivation to well being. Out of the palace of the Pharaoh, He raised Moses (AS); out of the family and society of idolaters, He brought forth Abraham (AS), and out of the heathendom of Arabia He revealed Muhammad (SAW).
“Chaka the Zulu founded the Zulu Empire and led them for twelve years before he was assassinated on September 22, 1828, He moulded his people into a dominating fighting force never seen before in southern Africa. Mao Zedong, known as Chairman Mao, was the founding father of The People’s Republic of China and laid the foundation of what China now is. You can go on and count leaders who changed their people and their countries’ fortunes by leading by example. Cuba’s Fidel Castro was one; we also had Muammar Gaddafi from Libya, Dr Martin Luther King who raised the consciousness of Blacks, Dr Muhammad Mahathir of Malaysia and Mahatma Gandhi of India.
“These leaders raised the consciousness level of the people and changed them to better human beings, by being what they wanted their people to be. They did not look their people in the face condescendingly and patronisingly, point a finger at them singing “change” while they indulged in the vices of yore. Mao viewed such leaders as “swollen in head, weak in legs, sharp in tongue but empty in belly.”
Perchance this is one reason in 1999, years after he published his work, and despite Mali’s treatise, Achebe still maintained that Nigeria’s problem is that of leadership. He had returned to the country after a decade overseas receiving treatment for a back injury sustained in an automobile accident. At his home in the South East, he met with Cunliffe-Jones to discuss the Nigerian crisis. Achebe’s view had not changed at all. He reiterated his old message: “If poor leadership caused the problem then, it is still the case today.”
Someone once explained our social and political reality: “those in power enjoyed the oil money while most other Nigerians languished in poverty. The masses, he said, could be described as innocent sufferers, like the biblical Job, or the Suffering Servant of Yahweh. (Nigerian masses) watch their leaders ruin the nation but could do nothing to stop them”, he concluded.
Unfortunately, the quality of leadership seems to dwindle, deteriorating by the day despite Nigeria being more populated than forty years ago when Achebe wrote his political polemic. We have more professors, more PhDs, more professionals, more intellectuals, more exposure, more enlightenment – more everything. Yet we have regressed so much concerning providing quality leaders and leadership in the country.
Because of this dysfunction in providing formal leadership responsive to yearnings of people, tribal quasi-irredentists and jingoists have appeared on the landscape, setting the agenda.
The South-East produced Zik of Africa, Eton College-trained Ojukwu, Kingsley Mbadiwe of the Timber and Calibre rhetoric and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary fame. It also produced Alex Ekwueme, intellectual giants like Chuba Okadigbo, etc. Now it has a Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
The South West sired Obafemi Awolowo, Adelabu Adegoke, Lamidi Adedibu, MKO Abiola, Lateef Jakande, Adeniran Ogunsanya, Pa Adekunle Ajasin, etc. But now it is Sunday Igboho after Ganiyu Adams.
The North? The North that produced Aminu Kano, Hassan Usman Katsina, Shehu Shagari, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Waziri Ibrahim has no one now, sadly. It has been searching since the demise of the Sardauna of Sokoto 56 years ago.
The lack of leaders who love this country has been our problem. While current crop of leaders had the best of everything, they have not improved on what they got for those coming after them. The great public school system that groomed them is no more. They prefer to send their children abroad for tertiary education and private schools for their primary and secondary education. The American government recently said about 14,000 Nigerians pursuing graduate and undergraduate degrees across communities in their country spent $501 million (about N190 billion) last year. And this is just America!
The public health system that took care of them while growing up is a shadow of itself as private hospitals and clinics have taken over. The leaders now indulge in medical tourism, spending billions of naira in hospitals abroad. In 2016, Price Waterhouse Coopers in its report stated that Nigerians spend $1 billion annually on medical tourism. It also said that 60 per cent of it is from oncology, orthopaedic, nephrology and cardiology patients.
When the world was virtually locked down this time last year because of Covid-19, the average Nigerian patiently waited for conditions to ease. He believed that having realised our incapacity, Nigeria will witness massive developments in its health and education sector and an aggressive drive on food production. Good leaders would also think that way.
It is unfortunate our generation has not replicated for the next generation what last generation did for us. Instead of even giving them peace to do for themselves what we failed to do for them, we are bristling and threatening to push them into turmoil. Turmoil and uncertainty. We better retreat because the path we are treading will not stand us well in the books of posterity.
If we have failed in taking care of their welfare, we should not fail in securing their lives in a united Nigeria and giving them peace to thrive.
Boko Haram: Be Proactive Rather Than Reactive, Group Urges Military
Boko Haram: Be proactive rather than reactive, group urges military
By Madu Mohammed,, Maiduguri
A group known as the Borno Emirates Concerned Citizens Forum has appealed to the Federal Government and the Military in particular to be proactive in tackling the deteriorating security situation in Borno and Yobe states.
Briefing newsmen at Press Conference held at the NUJ Press Centre, Maiduguri, yesterday the Chairman of the group, Zanna Hassan Boguma said the military should be proactive rather than reactive by changing their strategies to end the war against Boko Haram.
The forum also appealed to the Borno state government to rethink over the resettlement of internally displaced person’s taking refuge at various IDPs camps within and outside the State with the renewed and increasing attacks on towns and villages by the boko haram insurgents .
Zanna Hassan Boguma said “, It is apprehensive to note that the recent escalation of insecurity in Borno and Yobe States are frightening..The spade of attacks by the dreaded Boko Haram Insurgents in recent times has evolved to ridicule the security formations in the Northeast sub-region.
The Borno Emirates Concerned Citizens Forum expresses with dismay, over the recurring attacks on military formations, and the subsequent eviction of constituted authorities in Damasak, Geidam, and Minok by the dreaded Boko Haram Insurgents.”
“There is need for a thorough investigation and reorganization of the security architecture. The time of shifting blames on civilians is over, because looking at the
recent mass exodus in Damasak and Geidam, our people are helpless and no living soul will invite such wrath upon themselves.” the forum stressed.
The Forum believe the missing links and relax in security watch is to be blamed and that the repeating same tactics by the security formations is strengthening the insurgents.
“We are calling on the security agencies to as a matter of urgency have a rethink change security measures to avoid further deterioration. It is glaring that the nation’s security outfit is drifting and the wider it becomes, the more bad elements seize the opportunity to create a non-refillable vacuum. “
The forum further called on the Presidency, to immediately
summon a national security meeting to address the lingering and resurfacing of insecurity in the country while anticipating to submit a memorandum on the need to reintroduce the Joint Task Force to support the overstretched military in the restoration of peace in the land.
“We also want to suggest that the presidency inaugurate a state security council that comprises independent bodies couple with heads of governments and security leaders in the States of the Federation. The council should have a direct link to office of His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari.We further suggest that the constitutional role of Traditional Authorities be revised to have a say on issues related to security and other prominent issues”, Hassan said.
The forum argued that disregarding the traditional system and the subsequent adoption of foreign administrative style has created a vacuum that leads to the current state while equally appealing to the NSA, CDS, IGP, DG DSS, to be on their toes ahead of these criminals all over the country.
“If at all the NSA will address the
Nation by telling us that there were many prominent Nigerians including very highly positioned Traditional Rulers involved in so many acts of criminal activities, What are they waiting for, they should be fished out and dealt with accordingly”, Boguma added
The Chairman said that the encounter in Mainok was pathetic but preventable, admonishing that the Super Camp Strategy be revisited by decentralizing the formations to spread on four
cardinal directions, saying that ‘”doing this, we believe the enemies cannot have the capacity to attack at the same time and at forefronts. We also wish to suggest the camps should increase the number of OUTPOST formation to serve as an alert mechanism to those in the camps. “
“Enough of losing our brave soldiers to these mad murderers. We call on all well-meaning Nigerians to embark on massive invocations
for peace to reign in Nigeria. We call on the Muslim faithfuls to adequately utilize the blessed month of Ramadan to pray for Nigeria”, Hassan said.
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