Filed under: Life And People,Political Issues |

Governor Aminu Bello Masari


In what seemingly appears (going by reaction of Nigerians) to be an unprecedented taboo committed in the Nigerian nation, Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s ‘worthy crusade’ on Kaduna State unqualified school teachers has for months continued to trigger debate and generate divergent opinions across Nigeria. Initially, I had no intention of giving my own take on the issue, until recent dismissal of the Commissioner for Education of Katsina State by Governor Aminu Bello Masari, that now I am tempted to write this piece.

Upon firing the Commissioner, Governor Masari gave only a sardonic reason for his action–that the 2019 politics is drawing closer; and for this reason he deemed it wise to get rid of the Professor, thereby creating a space to bring a more politically active somebody into the cabinet, according to Daily Trust report of 29th December, 2017. To me, the reason given by the Governor is a gaffe that does not befit his personality and the coveted office he occupies. His motive ought to be hidden, at least for the sake of political euphemism.

Although I do not have political weight or intellectual prowess and pedigree to change the perception of many Nigerians who have a negative view on the Governor El-Rufai’s controversial policy, anyway, I am at liberty to express my opinion regarding the hot issue, as a conscientious Nigerian. This ‘carefree’ stance or attitude of most of our leaders as now confirmed by Masari is a handy point of reference that Nigerians might take as a vindication of El-Rufai. And perhaps this will douse the smug of aspersion and odium with which he has been tainted. Every beneficiary of sound education will now see the two Governors in two opposing contrasts–a hero and a villain. Who deserves what name is a matter of rational argument, not sentiment.

Where one is trying to eradicate the rot and decay in the education sector and sanitize it, the other is ignoring the sensitivity of the sector, and the worse of it he is politicizing appointment into its no1 office. What a painful damage! For days now I have been watching with keen attention to measure reactions that would consequently trail Masari’s decision, but to my surprise it seems that people’s lips have been sealed. What an ironic society do we live in? We claim to be economically, politically and socially conscious of our society, and yet we appear to be motionless on this issue. Are we not educationally conscious? Is this not an irony of our claimed civilization?

It is not, as might be thought by many people, that I am defending my political benefactor. There exists neither blood nor political relationship between Governor El-Rufa’i and I. I am an indigene of Katsina State, and politically I am a PDP card-bearer to the bones. No string attached! I am just calling a spade what it is, in respect of the matter–which requires an objective view devoid of politics. The outcry generated by El-Rufai’s issue and our massive silence on this recent one of Masari have begun to make me think that public goodwill to government’s policies and programmes is the costliest virtue to take to heart by a greater percentage of Nigerians. Otherwise, the El-Rufai’s action would have been seen as a timely revolution, applauded and massively supported by all right-minded Nigerians.

But unfortunately bad faith has stirred sentiment in some cowardly members of his same APC. They have engineered a looming confusion in the State, which has transcended to virtually all nooks and crannies of the country. What I do not understand in their agitations is why should the unqualified teachers who do not have even the slightest confidence in the system they operate themselves, they do not enroll their children into the system, not be sacked. What is wrong in shoveling out the 21, 000 unqualified teachers only to replace them with 25, 000 qualified ones? Unless the critics are sanctifying the teachers as holy saints whose displeasure is a sacrilege to God and the public, nothing could reasonably give cause for alarm or raise of eyebrows.

One only weak ground of the critics’ argument is that sacking the school teachers will bring about mass unemployment and consequently intensify social insecurity in the State and beyond. They cling to this, no more! Where they appear to be myopic and shortsighted is their failure to weigh the number of the teachers against the unquantifiable number of children that will benefit from the enterprise. They so woefully fail to envisage the danger that lies in the generation of children raised in a ‘formal illiteracy’ presently being administered in our public schools in the North.

Anybody who travels to the Southern part of Nigeria ought to have known that in comparison between their education system at basic and secondary levels and what is obtainable here in the North in terms of standard, one can bet that ours is at the lowest ebb. Majority of us we are deceiving ourselves by turning a blind eye to the reality of the situation that threatens education in the North. Where we are supposed to centre our outburst, we applaud. Where we are supposed to praise, we castigate.

Recently when the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and other stakeholders connived to cold-bloodedly kill our university education, by fixing the cut-off mark for admission into university to 120, I expected a bigger uproar than that with which the infamous 2012 fuel subsidy removal was massively condemned. On the contrary, my fellow Nigerians thumbed it up, perhaps only a few did not. But now they are pouring curse on this Governor who is motivated by clarity of purpose, as beneficiary of sound education–the product of qualified teachers.

El-Rufai’s policy is a good one, condemnation of which I view as disservice to the nation. I really admire his determination and tenacity in the face of adversity, blackmail and sabotage. The blackmailers lack any good argument to discredit the sanitary policy of the Governor. What they leverage on is that they will hold him to ransom by using the infamous (to them) policy to cost him re-election come 2019. In my take, I urge him to place premium on the salvation mission he has started, rather than on his re-election. If he implements it to the end, re-elected or defeated, the posterity will give the verdict–either to call him a hero or to call him a villain. I am sure someday he will be vindicated.

I am calling, in a strongly resonating tone, on all Governors of Northern States to emulate him as a matter of urgency, or else the cancer in public education system in the North continues eating the future of our children. What is worth doing is worth doing well. Carry on, El-Rufa’i. You deserve commendation. You are a hero! Masari, you are a villain!

Umar Faruk Said wrote from Funtua.
He can be reached via: [email protected]