Off El-Rufai’s Free Education, UNICEF and Boko Haram | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Off El-Rufai’s Free Education, UNICEF and Boko Haram

Posted: Oct 26, 2015 at 12:18 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


By Erasmus Ikhide

IT’S been one controversy after another since Malam Nasir El-Rufai assumed power on May 29 as the Governor of Kaduna State. He has disappointed many and ingratiated himself into the hearts of many more with equal fervency. As an inexplicable enigma some people’s perception of him are shadows, echo and foil!

El-Rufai earliest clashed with his people dates back in July when he sought to reclaim public schools by demolishing illegal private structures in schools premises across the state. True to type, he acted to his announcement and commenced the demolition of some private houses built within the premises of public institutions in an effort to reclaim all government’s lands that were illegally taken over by individuals. Before you could spell El-Rufai, over 93 buildings have been raised to the dust!

Call it exhibition of extremely unpleasant ill temper, if you like. Never mind that the demolition exercise was carried out on erring house owners who did not comply with directive of the state government through the demolition agency. Nevertheless, a great number of the people are of the opinion that the  land reclamation efforts is in the larger interests of the people of the state. That government lands, institutions and schools are criminally allocated to private individuals in and outside of government explains the failure of our public education system. The costly mushroom private schools that dot every street of the city are hardly any better.

His second stiffly with the Kaduna electorate has to do with the ban on hawking and street begging, which the governor said was a countermeasure. Governor El-Rufai ordered the ban of hawking and street begging following July 7 bomb blast at Sabon Gari Local Government Secretariat in the state that killed 25 people and left 32 others injured. A suspected female suicide bomber had sneaked into the secretariat and detonated an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) strapped to her body on that fateful Tuesday morning while civil servants were undergoing staff verification.

Then, the heavy clampdown: the governor further warned all beggars and hawkers to stay off the streets until further notice, warning that any of them found on the streets would be arrested, until these measures are relaxed. In addition, the government reiterates that the ban on commercial motorcycles popularly known as ‘Achaba’ remains in force. It was a major wrath against the (The Talakawas) army of downtrodden of his foot soldiers who were throwing spit into the air and collecting it with their faces while his governorship campaign lasted.

How about the latest inflated fury of jailing parents who will not made their children available to be educated? Can he escape the tight fix, since Boko is Haram? Thundering at the “State of Emergency Education submit” a few days ago, the governor quipped: “My government would soon commence the arrest and prosecution of parents who allow their children to engage in street trading rather than being in school”. Governor El-Rufai said the arrests would take effect once the full implementation of the free primary and secondary education policy in the state takes effect.

“We shall soon commence free feeding of primary school in January, 2016 as soon as it is captured in the 2016 budget. The increase in the number of students enrollment has also made us to introduce morning and afternoon shift in our schools. “Measurement of uniform for both primary and secondary schools has commenced. After all these, parents have no excuse to allow their children and ward to hawk. We shall also commence prosecuting erring parents. “Whatever we spend on education we shall see its effect in 20 years”, he intoned.

Malam El-Rufai studied and holistic summation on education as we have it in State of Osun is coming at a time U(nited) N(ations) I(nternational) C(hildren’s) E(mergency) F(und), UNICEF is hosting this year’s International Day of the Girl Child in Abuja titled, “The power of the adolescent girl: Vision for 2030″. It’s not a coincident that the federal government is baffles at the latitude of Boko Haram to induce and recruit large following at the same time.

The UNICEF 2013 National Demographic Health Survey indicated that there were about 20 million adolescent girls in Nigeria and there was very low education rate among them, especially those in the lowest wealth quintiles in the society. In Nigeria, 60 per cent of the 10.5 million children out of school are girls. Data indicates that among other factors, one reason for low enrolment and retention of girls in schools, especially in the North, is the lack of female teachers in the rural areas.

In response to this, UNICEF, with funding from the United Kingdom Department for International Development and counterpart funding from five participating states, started the Girls’ Education Project. The Girls’ Education Project Phase 3 aims to achieve one million enrolment of girls into school by the end of  2020. The project is currently running in five northern states of Bauchi, Katsina, Niger, Sokoto and Zamfara. Since implementation commenced in 2012, the project had contributed to the enrolment of additional 360,000 girls in primary schools in the five states. UNICEF efforts, though commendable, is a drop in an ocean given the number of Boko Haram female bombers and the ever increasing numbers enlisting into the bloodletting movement on a daily basis.

The Vice President, Prof Yemi  Osibanjo on his own told the United States Special Envoy on Counter Terrorism Communication, Rashad Hussain, that “For some strange reasons, something that appears so completely mindless and almost insane gains currency in a way that gets regular recruits,” wondering “why the completely mindless ideology gains the kind of currency that it gains.”

It will not be out of place if the Presidency take a look at the rot in our education up North, follow by religious distortion and manipulation and the Northern elders’ tacit support for Boko Haram. We cannot pretend that the wide gap between the leaders and the led does not exit. The neglect of agriculture in the North and the closure of production industries is partly at the heart of the insurgency. It will be self-deprecating to think that there have been no human right abuses; social and economic injustice, joblessness, poverty, electoral violence that leaves arms and ammunition in the hands of unemployed youths, porous and unguarded boarders, absence of conscious deliverable governance in Northern Nigeria.

There is every reason to believe that Malam El-Rufai is not far removed from the solutions to the crises plaguing Kaduna State and the North, despite the unusual style of his unconventional politics. The demonic militia movement that is threatening the fabrics of the nation, the religion of Islam and humanity can easily be crushed if the North governors provide can basic education and employment for the army of the unemployed youths roaming aimlessly on the streets.

To curb the  pervasive insurrection and the wave of violence and bloodshed ignited and sustained by the insurgency all the nineteen Northern governor must borrow a leaf from governor El-Rufai. As Malam El-Rufai said, “Whatever we spend on education we shall see its effect in 20 years”. The reason Boko Haram, like a terminal cancer, has eaten deep into the marrow of the nation is the lack of forethought by our northern leaders who, over years, allowed the monster to fester.

The reason the North has remained abysmally backward, utterly stagnated and virtually arid as much as the Northern weather is firmly rooted in the generation of damaged political and military leadership who ran and ruined Nigeria and the North aground. The reason there is semblance of normalcy in the Southern Nigeria is partly attributed to the education legacy of the late Sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo that made basic education compulsory and free.

The manipulation of Islamic religion and its realities in the here and hereafter in human life by the radicalised Islamic Mullah has not help the cause of moderate Arabism in Nigeria. Instead of providing basic education Northern political leaders in collusion with the Muslim Clerics  resulted to the manipulation of religion for political ends; instead of investing in public schools being products of the same system, they choose to build their own private schools and send their children abroad to be educated; instead of providing and creating jobs, they opted for political patronages and handouts, instead of revitalising the industries they settled for importation of goods.

One can only but imagine what is to become of such swart of massive space rather than mayhems, bloodletting, and savage terror. The murderous ideology of Boko Haram has everything to do with the decay of our value system; the messy and  unregulated public school system and the absence of incentives, capable of inducing children to go to school. The erosion of public school system, lack of quality teachers and materials across the country without exemption is partly responsible for the leadership failure bedevilling Nigeria as a country. Until I am convinced otherwise, the time tested axiom that a nation cannot be greater than the sum total of her own teacher, subsists.

Erasmus Ikhide, a Public Affairs analyst write in from Lagos, Nigeria.