By Nura Jibo
Let me start by saying that I am not holding any brief for the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities(ASUU) because I was its victim of strike for three (3) years. I am not holding any brief for Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Education and government either, as I very seriously hate their mishandling of Nigeria’s education sector.
Today, I write as a concerned individual who believes in teaching and providing free education to Nigerian and global citizens.
Hence, I write this as a classroom teacher that taught in a Nigerian State’s Polytechnic for three (3) years as a volunteer lecturer. I did not collect a single Kobo or Naira from that college throughout my volunteerism teaching at the College of Business Management. I only wanted to pay back what I had taken from the excellent teachers that made me who I am today.
Therefore, it is very pleasing whenever I reflect and have a flashback over certain moments that contributed to my making, particular via the teaching and mentorship of my amazing teachers.
Indeed, I sometimes feel very disgruntled whenever I see a certain Minister of Education who once upon a time advocated through his long essays in Daily Trust stable a 30% allocation of Nigeria’s budgetary provision to the education sector. However, that Nigerian Minister now develops a thick skin on resolving this simple yet terrible antecedent by hiding under his Ministerial gown to suffer and implicate an already ailing system!
The issue is simple: It is either the likes of our laconic and apt Prof. Farooq Kperogi amplified that Minister’s writing prowess beyond or above what he is, or he’s exaggerated as someone with firsthand knowledge of Nigeria’s education system. I am unsure whether writing long pieces of literature in the name of Friday columns and reeling towards power qualifies one as an expert to lead a very large and delicate African educational system.
Therefore, I believe mastery of achievement so-called via writing newspaper columns or “Definitions in Humour” does not preclude one from being considered a novice and a toddler in leading an education system that is deliberately beleaguered in the name of politics. The way the Minister portrays himself as a man of God by writing all sorts of educational polemics in Nigeria, one would not have expected less from Nigeria’s presidency that offered and entrusted such a complex Ministry in the hands of a chronic accountant who never had a clue or better put never practised and excelled in his profession – Accountancy! But that’s Nigeria, where many people get away with its sensitive positions provided they can write pep and glib talks and share with the dull and ignorant.
To quickly put the record straight, Nigerian leaders should refrain from allowing people to assume public office because of their writing prowess or mastery of oratory language. The duo are clearly very different and distinctive in acquiring or having a practical knowledge of teaching and education.
I shall come back to this point later if time permits!
Indeed, three things made me raise my concern about ASUU Strike and the exaggerated disappointment from the Federal Government. First, the ASUU’s demands on an improved education system in the country. Second, the students’ extravagant hopes of acquiring a Nigerian education that is today by far less and very low in quality. The third is the bastardizing of the education sector by political leaders in Nigeria.
Indeed, there are three global measurable indicators in gauging an education, whether it is qualitative or not. One is the availability of state-of-the-art teaching facilities. Two, stability in academic programmes. Three, quality of teaching staff.
In Nigeria, none of the three(3) is available at the moment because the teachers and all university lecturers are already frustrated by the Nigerian political leaders, that are mostly half-baked or uneducated.
The level of frustration is deliberate, though! And the way things are going, it is better and advisable for all Nigerian students to come out and demonstrate en masse by matching to Aso Rock villa to express their displeasure on the denial of their rights to education by Mr President and his education cabinet. As they do that, they should make the Nigerian government aware that the monthly salary of a Nigerian professor is not more than a primary school teacher’s salary in the UAE and other serious countries that left Nigeria far behind.
A professor in Nigeria today earns an average salary of N400,000 to N500, 000 per month. His yearly earnings are approximately N5-6 million. This is equivalent to what is being paid to an Engineer engaged as project manager (PM) every month in the UAE.
This is not to talk of a primary school teacher in Nigeria who lives a typical hand-to-mouth life by surviving on a N23,000-N37,000 monthly salary with many family demands at their disposal. And considering the chaotic nature of a Nigerian state with no end in sight!
Truth is: the Nigerian State can more than afford to pay its teachers and university lecturers global standard salary(s) the way COUNTRIES and regions in the UAE, such as Dubai, Bahrain, Oman, etc., are paying their teachers competent and befitting salaries because Nigeria is ten (10) times richer than Dubai, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain etc.
How can one expect any good to come out of Nigeria’s education system that is not ready to discharge this global standard?
The irony is that: the Nigerian education system is one that shamelessly cannot afford to recruit, engage and pay teachers global standard salary(s). It prefers to absorb graduates under Npower and pay them a stipend of N23,000 per month. At the same time, the political leaders steal the public funds and waste away the Nigerian nation by burying it in global shame. Therefore, the corrupt tendencies of Nigerian political leaders and their timid behaviour(s) of stealing public funds in the name of democracy will continue to put the country’s education system in untold hardship by killing it ultimately. And as the country continues along this path, it should be ready for more Boko Haram and kidnappers ad infinitum.
Nura Jibo, MRICS, PQS, MNIQS, RQS, was a volunteer visiting teacher at a Polytechnic in Nigeria for three years. He can be reached via email@example.com.
Thank you Mal Nura for this wonderful insight. Hope you will profer a lasting solution(s) to our current myriad of educational set backs.