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Funding Public Education In Nigeria: Towards An Alternative Financing Model



Funding Public Education In Nigeria: Towards An Alternative Financing Model

By Tunji Olaopa
Everyone is still reeling from the multidimensional effects and consequences of the eight-month industrial actions embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). Even though the industrial action has been suspended, the non-abating face-off between the federal government and ASUU has once again brought to the front burner critical issues about the role of education in the total governance calculations of the Nigerian government; and specifically, how we can begin to think about the funding of education in Nigeria. For eight months, the public sphere has been set alight by several discussions on ASUU and the strike option, the intransigence of the federal government, and the relationship between education and human capital development. There have also been a lot of agitation about the effect of the long-drawn out face-off on the emotional balance of those involved, especially the students; as well as the larger import of determining the patriotic quotient that will help rally efforts in building Nigeria.

I bring to this conversation, my fond experience as deputy director and head, policy division of the Federal Ministry of Education and national coordinator, education sector analysis/strategy program for Nigeria from 1999 to 2002; and lately, in 2021, chairman, technical working group (TWG) set up by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and Planning that developed the Education and Human Capital Development component of the current national development plan, post-ERGP being currently elaborated into a perspective plan (2023-2060). In the UNESCO Education for All Report (2000-2015) titled the “Dakar Framework for Action,” which I had the fortune of participating in as a Nigerian Delegate, the World Education Forum recommended that six percent of a country’s GNP should be voted for education, while between 15% and 20% (which the popular press put at 26%) becomes a fundamental threshold for national government to earmark for the funding of education. This is in line with the Framework’s declaration that the major challenge facing education, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, is the failure of governments to give education priority in their national budgets. Unfortunately, in the last six years Nigeria’s budgetary allocation to education has not risen anywhere close to 10%. And so, in the World Education Forum ranking for 2022 involving 140 countries, Nigeria is missing in the top ten African countries—Seychelles, Tunisia, Mauritius, South Africa, Algeria, Botswana, Kenya, Cape Verde, Egypt, and Namibia in that order. Seychelles is the only country in Africa to achieve the UNESCO EFA goals, with 69.3 points that placed it at 43rd position out of 140 countries.

Crisis State of Nigeria’s Education Sector

The entry point for this conversation for me is a situation analysis of the crisis of the education sector in Nigeria. Whereas private schools and universities are bridging gaps in terms of access and quality, the cost of private education is prohibitive to majority of applicants (with only 1% of eligible candidates catered for), thus putting a disproportionate demand on public education institutions. Poor learning environment with dilapidated infrastructure in classroom/lecture rooms, often overcrowded and overstretched, made worse by poor maintenance provision and culture. Science-based facilities are running ‘dry lab’ for lack of reagents and tools to conduct physical/real experiments, as laboratories and workshops are old with inappropriate furnishing and consumables absent in most. Deterioration of hostel facilities due to overcrowding, overstretched lavatory, kitchenets and poor sanitation.

Overall, public education institutions face an existential crisis; a situation where public schools and colleges are failing by every parameter: content, curriculum and pedagogy; infrastructure/technology for learning/school management; funding and sustainability; quality assurance; teacher professionalism and teacher education; certification, relevance and employability.

And in terms of the economics and required investment in education, Nigeria will require significant investment in the sector if it is to meet the requirement of access and quality education that will power a diversified, growing, inclusive, sustainable, globally competitive strong economy, and serve as a knowledge hub to the country. With the current country’s expenditure on education far less than the 15-20% or the speculated 26% by UNESCO, the government needs to back up its stated prioritization of education sector with requisite funding, at that, in keeping with the constitutional mandate to provide quality education as a right of the Nigerian child. In addressing the issues of access and equity, Nigeria needs to implement strategies that exponentially grow it carrying capacity at all levels, expanding its impact, especially in terms of enrolment in Basic Education where the private sector has closed gaps over the years often in the process excluding many through tuition. TVET needs to be repositioned given its potential to productively engage the largest segment of the ‘youth bulge’

Across board, rehabilitation and/or construction of new facilities in schools is needed to create a conducive, secure and healthy environment for learning, and respond to the demands of post-Covide-19 new normal. Even where education budgets are increased, the trend in which the recurrent component captures 60-70% of expenditure, does not allow for requisite investment in education infrastructure and the soft contents. And so, since pthe choice of this topic was inspired by my statement at an earlier event organized by this same association titled Rewriting the Fate of Public Schools: Old Students Associations to the Rescue, it is only proper for me to restate my core arguments in that submission, if only to create a context for its iteration in current conversation.

In that statement, I had observed that, i) resuscitating the education sector requires a framework of creative innovation that supersedes the attention often given to the urgent need to increase budgetary allocation; ii) that beyond the resolution of the education funding challenge, the state needs to depoliticize education reform in general, through the institution of a technical-rational approach to education policy making and problem-solving in Nigeria; iii) education requires far more sophisticated governance, leadership and managerial models and acumen in engagements by governments and education administrators with stakeholders, to pursue education funding and governance models that draw significant buy-in to assist in connecting budgeted resources to other alternative investment sources and availabilities for revitalizing the education sector.

And iv), there is a compelling need for old students associations to rethink the modus operandi they had worked with, in favor of a shift from hands-on/out approaches that focus predominantly on infrastructural development, so equal attention is paid to critical systemic and structural reengineering of public schools within a spirited concern for sustainability and impact of interventions; and v) at that, to ensure that old student associations interventions do not provide excuse for governments to abdicate responsibility. Also, so as to prevent non-sustainability of the efforts and reform fatigue that might arise from the same set of people being taxed, year in year out, in pursuing the challenging responsibility.

The option of returning old mission and popular schools to old original owners remain another self-justifying option to reinforce the option of public-private partnerships which has limitless alternative funding models. The point overall is that intervening in one’s alma mater cannot be a haphazard consideration done from the perspective of philanthropy. It must be structured in a synergistic manner to reinforce government projects in schools. It thus must be backstopped with strategic communication with government on the significance of shared responsibility in repositioning schools, with interest taken to focus also on soft issues that drive impact as; standard and quality assurance, teacher education, professionalism and capacity development, learning infrastructure and teaching aides, scholarship schemes, digitized library, sporting facilities, quiz and debates, value-shaping religious instructions and activities, and many more

READ  ALSO: How To Revive Public Schools – Tunji Olaopa

Towards Alternative Funding for University and other Tertiary Education Institutions

ASUU has been consistent in its agitation for the revitalization of public universities, and the government’s commitment to education. However, it is high time that the belief about government’s capacity to fund education be subject to critical qualitative and quantitative analysis. My suspicion is that even if the federal government could achieve the 20% threshold commitment to education funding (which will be very hard to achieve given the huge national infrastructural gaps that must be bridged to create required incentives to grow the economy), the current rate of rot and decay in the educational framework of Nigeria, as well as the loss of overall efficiency, infrastructural leakages in public education institution, as well as pervasive corruption would not demonstrate any improvement. This requires a fundamental rethink, especially on government’s and ASUU’s fixation on a one-size-fit-all budgetary funding model.

There is no one any longer that doubts the fact that human capacity development requires a high-quality education. And such a qualitative education is not only expensive to get, it is also very capital intensive to fund. This is where both the federal government and ASUU require a rethinking of modalities. On the one hand, how possible is it to keep up the agitation for government to keep funding education within the tight and terrible global and national economic dynamics? It would seem disingenuous to keep insisting that tuition should not be paid at all to get quality higher education. And on the other hand, it is also time for the realization to sink in, with the clear fact that it is now next to impossible for the federal government to think it can solely finance public education outside of several creative alternatives that displace the government as the dominant stakeholder. We got to the shameful and protracted eight-month strike because both the government and ASUU refused to deconstruct the model of the government as the sole financier of education. And with that model, the World Education Forum just served us the rude consequence.

In the larger matter of governance in the state, the government has been forced to come to terms with the expansion of the governance space to allow for the timely and significant contributions of nonstate and nongovernmental forces and actors. And this is essentially because government recognized that it does not have the capacity to bite more than it can chew. The same logic is apposite in the case of the financing of public universities. It should be time now to revisit the autonomy clause in the understanding of universities in Nigeria. University autonomy demands that universities run their own affairs, with government contributing some percentage into a funding mix that is carefully calibrated into an education financing model. The idea of university autonomy also further speaks to other issues, namely, the categorization of university, funding alternatives, fund management, etc.

All across the world, and especially in the OECD countries, there is now a consensus on the need to expand the funding sources for higher education, with the government being just one out of the many sources of funding. It is also now accepted that those who benefit the most from education—those who receive it—should also bear at least some part of the cost. Thus, even though across the OECD education is publicly funded, the proportion of government expenditure allocated to funding from primary to tertiary level dropped between 2015 and 2019. This is because government yielded to a diversification of the funding sources. In 2019, for instance, an average of 59% funding for non-tertiary education came from the central government (with the rest decentralized), and 88% for tertiary education. And more than 31% of the transferred funding came from the private sector (and about 10% for non-tertiary education). And also, across the OECD in 2019, an average of 5% of the total fund for tertiary education is transferred to the private sector. And countries with the highest transfer of cost of funding also have high tuition. For instance, in Australia, United Kingdom and Ireland, the transfer of cost exceeds 18%, and annual tuition for a bachelor’s degree also exceed $5000.

Government funding either goes directly to educational institutions, or it is done through the subsidizing of scholarship, loans and grants. Government also funds universities through student enrolment that ultimately increases efficiency among the universities. The evidence in the OECD points at a cost-sharing formula that cascades from the central government to the state and the local governments, as well as drawing from the private sector and the students and their families as well. This cost sharing formula allows for the expansion of access to education without in any way sacrificing academic quality or the capacity of disadvantaged students to benefit. This also allows the universities, within the ambit of institutional autonomy, to generate their own funds while decreasing their dependence on government support. In the final analysis, it saddles the institutions with the responsibilities of being more responsive to students’ needs.

Across the African continent, the funding of tertiary and non-tertiary education depends heavily on the central government, with regional variation depending on the economic status of the country. While African governments spend at least about 5% of GDP on education, the continent is the worst in terms of education spending efficiency, compared to Europe and North America, and even Latin America. Public spending on education is often constrained by weak public resource collection capacity, as well as decreasing international development assistance, microeconomic and growth instability, huge debts, weak tax administration and very large informal sector. All these, and especially in the case of Nigeria, points at the urgency of policy creativity that will highlight the designing of financing model for education that allocates the state’s scarce resources efficiently and equitably. Such models will have to focus on maximizing merit-based dynamics that will enhance education, without undermining equity, especially with regard to disadvantaged students. No matter the financing model that is adopted, the educational experience of all students must be enhanced, no matter their background, learning capability, gender, economic and income profile, ability or disability, or racial and national differences.

Categorizing Universities following US’ Tier 1 to Tier 5

We alluded earlier to the possible imperative of categorizing universities based on functionality. In the United States, for instance, just as universities are categorized into five tiers. Tier 1 colleges and universities—like Harvard, Yale, Rice, Stanford, etc.—are the most difficult to get into, with admission rate below 10%. Tier 2 schools are seriously competitive but less so than the tier 1, and they have admission rate below 20%. Examples are Boston, Tufts, Georgetown, UC Berkeley, Georgia Tech, Emory, Tulane, NYU, etc. The tier 3 schools are not as competitive with regard to admission, since they have a rate that is below 35%—Virginia Tech, Lafayette College, University of Florida, etc. This frame for the different categories of universities can also be determined around clusters that denote whether they are high-tuition or low-tuition; or whether they are general or specialized. Each of these categories of universities can then be shored up with financing options ranging from student loans scheme, education banks, scholarship, bursary awards, and so on.

This is where the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) comes into the fund management framework, but in a more enhanced and rehabilitated form. For instance, one significant defect of TETFUND is its inability to autonomously generate and manage the funds it collects through investments, for instance, in bonds. This is where TETFUND could aim to become the hub for the public-private partnership that should serve as a veritable source of funding to complement government effort at sustaining a qualitative education profile. With the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) Act already in place, the fault is with tertiary institutions not exploring and exploiting the various PPP templates available—design-build, management contract, lease-and-operate contract, design-build-finance-operate, build-operate-transfer, buy-build-operate, build-own-operate, build-own-operate and transfer; donor-financed/funded-transfer.

Indeed, the presence of private enterprises on university lands can also be a source of revenue. Or certain infrastructures, like student hostels, can be managed privately in ways that takes the universities’ mind off the responsibility of maintenance. TETFUND therefore becomes a dual-purpose organizational framework: on the one hand, it stands as the repository of government’s increasing efforts to supplement its funding of public education through non-budgetary options like exactions from specific economic viable cum competitive sectors. On the other hand, TETFUND serves as the regulatory hub for the management of the funds emanating from the concessionary relationship between a university and the private sector in a PPP relationship. In all, TETFUND becomes the arrowhead for funding allocation to tertiary institutions based on competitive parameters, like student enrolment, internationalization, and research and development.

This is where alumni, or old students, associations become critical addition, as non-profit and private funders, to the alternative financing sources that enhance the quality of education in Nigeria. In this regard, one must first note a significant correlation between the functional relevance of alumni associations and universities’ relationship with their students. There surely must be a relationship between the quality of education a student derived from a university, and her willingness to give back to her alma mater, post-university. A university that invests in the existential welfare, academic achievement and future orientation of a student is one that can then hope to benefit from endowments. The recent endowment of $1m (roughly N417million) by Mr Philip Ozuah to the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, is all the evidence of the relationship between an alumnus and the funding/endowment of the university that is needed. Mr Ozuah channeled the donation through the Ibadan College of Medicine Alumni Association Worldwide (ICOMAA-WW).

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One could surmise that Mr Ozuah, a 1985 graduate of medicine, represents a generation that benefitted from a period when qualitative education and university-student relationship were the norm. From the 1990s, tertiary education had commenced a nosedive that probably also affected the functional significance of alumni associations. In other words, with increasing decline, especially in academic quality and infrastructural provisions, students no longer could generate the requisite pride that keep them bonded to the memories of their stay in the university, and mobilize their enthusiasm to keep supporting the school. Thus, alumni associations are founded on exceptional undergraduate experiences that metamorphose into school pride and lifelong bonding.

The significance of the alumni associations not only strengthens a university funding source, it also serves as a framework for mentoring, effective administration, policy creativity within secondary or tertiary education, as well as the provision of scholarship. Most important for me is how alumni associations could also be incorporated into the governance of tertiary institutions, for instance. University autonomy, as we have demonstrated above, requires that a school becomes creative in managing its administrative and governance dynamics in ways that complement the efforts of a government in terms of funding. Incorporating alumni associations and corporate bodies into the governing boards of schools and tertiary institutions ensures that these schools benefit from the insights of those who have decided to commit their resources and wisdom into making these institutions qualitative and relevant.

READ ALSO: No Bobo! No Zobo! (Part 3)

The alumni associations, apart from serving as an alternative funding source, also becomes a fundamental stakeholder in pushing the status of a school or tertiary institution in its quest for government or private sector funding, especially through TETFUND and other fund management organizations. With a formidable governing board, a university, for instance, could qualify for any of the following funding parameters: (a) performance-based model which allocates competitive funding based on outstanding research, teaching and community development in ways that stimulate excellence and growth; (b) cost-sharing model that lowers financial cost of education through the spreading of such cost among different funders and stakeholders; (c) contextual-peculiarity model allocates funding to a university based on its contextual needs, circumstances (Ahmadu Bello University will qualify for such funding on its need to research into deforestation; University of Nigeria, Nsukka will qualify based on the circumstance of erosion in its region, etc.); (d) host-proprietor-user model (similar to the cost-sharing model) draws all beneficiaries of an educational service and the location of an educational institution into its funding.

Nigeria has a lot to do to recapture the initiative in pushing education to the forefront of her search for development and economic growth. With an adversarial industrial relation and a debilitating public education that has pushed private institutions to the fore, the situation is indeed very dire for the future of human capital development. And yet, there is still hope to the extent that the alumni associations can push themselves into the fray as the instigators of further reflections on alternative option in the financing of public education institutions. Public educational institutions in Nigeria, from the primary and secondary to the tertiary are far from providing high-quality education as they presently stand. And it is exactly that qualitative education that the government and relevant stakeholders must make concerted efforts in providing if Nigeria is to achieve public education spending efficiency that pushes its development agenda.

READ ALSO: Excellence In Education In The Context Of Pan-Africanism And Digitization

. Being Lecture Delivered at the 2022 Annual General Meeting and Re-union Dinner of Olivet Baptist High School, Oyo National Old Students Association Held at NOSA Hall, Olivet Heights, Oyo on Saturday, the 12th of November, 2022.

.Olaopa is a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, and  Professor, National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies 

(NIPSS), Kuru, Jos .


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Where Are The New Notes?



Where Are The New Notes?

By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
It was with mixed feelings that Nigerians first received the news in October last year that the federal government was redesigning certain denominations of the nation’s currency. From December 15, 2022, the new notes would be in circulation, the CBN governor Godwin Emefiele promised. It was also announced that by January 31, 2023, the current N1000, N500, and N200 notes would no longer be legal tender. Government explained that some unscrupulous politicians had accumulated billions of naira in private vaults and would deploy the illegal funds to compromising the general elections scheduled to start on February 25th. What has become of those billions?

Owing to the level of distrust between the government and the people, conspiracy theories surfaced with ‘stupendous alacrity! The Minister of Finance did not help matters when she openly disassociated herself from the new policy announcement. She asserted that her ministry ‘was not consulted before the policy was announced and she believes the policy is wrongly timed’. CBN Governor countered by saying that he did not need clearance from the Minister to initiate new policies, adding that he was accountable to the President.

This aspect of the controversy was only laid to rest when President Buhari’s spokesman Garba Shehu issued a statement that ‘the president said the CBN’s decision had his support and he is convinced that Nigeria will gain a lot by doing so! The government explained that the policy would compel persons who had stolen monies and had hidden same in vaults, septic tanks, and warehouses to deposit same in the banks before January 31. Limits as to how much could be deposited per day by individuals and corporate bodies were specified. The National Assembly had tried on different occasions to make the CBN extend the deadline. They have not succeeded so far. What exactly is going on?

READ  ALSO: How Nigerians Keeping N2.7 Trillion At Home, Others Caused Naira Redesign – Emefiele

Suddenly, Emefiele became a target of arrest for possible prosecution by EFCC. A narrative that he was a financier of terrorism was pushed into the national space. He was accused of massive corruption. Push backs came from counter forces. Emefiele was being persecuted because he had hit the big money bags in society with a harsh policy. It was reported that Emefiele was on the run like a common criminal. A court refused to grant an order to EFCC for the arrest of Emefiele. The general question on the lips of everyone was: what exactly is going on? While this charade was ongoing, news came that the CBN governor had secretly returned to Nigeria. Men of the DSS raided the governor’s office but did not arrest him. Another report came out that the Chief of Defence Staff had deployed soldiers to guard the embattled governor. Two arms of security fighting a battle of arrest and protection? Who gave orders to the Army? Who gave orders to DSS? Is the president aware of the madness at large? Who wants the head of Emefiele and why?

The uncertainty and controversy around the CBN governor are unsalutary. In other climes, the economy would take a nosedive. Perhaps because the economy is already sick, there is nowhere to fall into. He that is down, like the Nigerian economy, needs fear no fall! But there is great confusion in the land that foreign investors no doubt would be watching out for what would happen next. Emefiele himself had got himself into many controversial actions, one being his attempt to contest for the office of the president while heading the Bank of bankers. It seems that because he is in the good books of the powers-that-be, no harm can befall him.

It’s a few days to the deadline. There are still many questions. The most important question right now is: where are the new notes? As a corollary to this question, why are the banks reluctant to dispense the new notes? Is it true that some Point of Sale (POS) operators have the new currency while banks claim they do not have the same currency? How much has entered the banking system since the October announcement? How can the banks be monitored for compliance? What are hard hit politicians planning to do next?

READ  ALSO: CBN Extends Withdrawal Of Old Naira Notes Deadline

APC presidential candidate Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu recently cried out that the currency and fuel scarcity was met to sabotage the February elections. Buhari has asserted that he wants to leave a legacy of free and fair elections, not tainted with money. He has somewhat withdrawn himself from the political fray and directed that money should not be allowed to determine the winner. Some irony here. Our president now wishes to distance himself from the system which gave him the presidency and sustained his rule for some eight odd years. How the politicians will react is not clear yet. But it is possible to become a statesman after experiencing the rot of the system at close range.

For the common man, the main question is: where are the new currency notes? I am yet to set eyes on the N200 notes. I didn’t have access to the N1000 note until two weeks ago. This has exacerbated the level of desperation in the land. Suddenly changing the currency has its advantages especially if the security of the nation is threatened. One of the first groups to ask for extension of time was Miyetti Allah. They claimed that because they keep a lot of cash, they would need more time. Fittingly the government has stuck to its guns. No compromise. Kidnappers and bandits who keep huge sums collected as ransoms from their victims must be caught in the web.

The Central Bank of any country is insulated, should be insulated from politics and politicking. It ought to be the last economic institution standing tall even when all others collapse. But the CBN under Emefiele has been hijacked by powerful interests who do not have the common good at heart. Emefiele symbolizes that takeover. History will judge him harshly. But for now, Mr. CBN Governor, let hapless and hungry Nigerians have access to the new currency. If the CBN is unable to enforce its directives to the banks, it will be because the bankers see that institution as a weakened and weak one that can only bark without the capacity to bite. Let us end the uncertainty now!

. This article was sent in before the Central Bank of Nigeria on Sunday, January 29, 2023 extended the January 31, 2023 deadline for the withdrawal of old naira notes from circulation.


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Post-2023 Policy Advisories: Youth Unemployment  And Job Creation



Stoic Philosophy, Resilience And Nation Building Project In Nigeria

By Tunji Olaopa

In this piece, the focus of my policy advisory will be on the critical connection between education, unemployment and job creation as fundamental elements in the transformation of Nigeria’s economic growth and development. And this is crucial because of Nigeria’s low-employment intensity and its collateral effects on the non-inclusive growth of the national economy. Over the years, so much analytical ink has  been spilt over the largely uneven, unbalanced and socially non-inclusive growth trends of the Nigerian economy, deriving essentially from the unimaginative monocultural dependence of the economy on oil. This is further aggravated by several deep-seated structural debilitations at the heart of national low development policy performance over the years. I have in mind, first, the crippling national infrastructural deficit which is now estimated at $100m yearly, and requires $80billion in financial commitment over the next ten years to build up. There is also, second, the cost and ease of doing business. In the 2022 ranking by the World Bank, Nigeria currently stands at 131 out of 190 countries. This simply implies that the regulatory environment for doing business in Nigeria is not friendly enough to boost the economy. Nigeria’s heavy dependence on the oil and gas sector is also inhibiting because it is not a labor-intensive sector in terms of its production process and the dynamics of its capital formation. 

READ ALSO: You don blow!

All this has grave implications for the chances of the Nigerian economy to achieve a robust diversification through a multi-pronged and strategic policy rethinking of the developmental components. The resolution of this problematic is inherently connected with the governance imperatives of a restructured Nigerian federation that has the capacity to harness the non-oil resources of its federating units based on comparative advantages. It is easy for the reader to immediately discern how such a critical move, especially the unbundling of the agricultural sector, can easily alleviate the lingering unemployment tension. This policy challenge has consistently been crucial to the social inequality which has instigated the unbridled draining of human capital made up of essentially young Nigerians who cannot be blamed for choosing the Japa option in privileging their life prospect rather than be undermined by a state that is not rethinking its potential.  

READ ALSO: Tribunal Sacks Adeleke, Declares Oyetola Osun Governor

What is also immediately certain is the significant role that education and training will play in arresting the drift in Nigeria’s human capital and workforce dynamics. This is because the challenge of unemployment is complicated by (un)employability as a result of various levels of skills deficiencies and mismatch. And this not only demonstrates the defectiveness of the educational system skewed in favour of formal certification, but also points at the urgent need for an education reform as a critical part of the larger development equation in driving Nigeria’s progress. On the other hand, and also quite unfortunate, the informal education sector is not only disarticulated, the policy innovation that ought to creatively reconnect it as a structural base for productivity has been scant and far-between. And when successive governments have been earnest in their investment in technical and vocational education and training (TVET), it has also been to the detriment of the proper structural reprofiling of the traditional apprenticeship system and non-formal training models as equally fundamental elements in the education provisioning that generates productivity and human capital for jumpstarting Nigeria’s development. And this is not to say that even TVET itself has been properly grounded since there is still a serious gap between the available opportunities and the skills and competences the education made possible. 


We are then sensitised to the creative policy direction that the new administration needs to pursue—an urgent and comprehensive re-articulation of the education sector in ways that (a) strengthen the formal education and certification process to fit into the industrialization objectives of the Nigerian state; (b) connect the formal and the informal education sectors together on a continuum of learning and training; and (c) leverage the traditional apprenticeship, informal and vocational training and formal certification into a reprofiled human capital development policy. Such a proactive policy strategy will surely be a significant complement to the Nigeria’s 6-level National Vocational Certification Framework (NVQF) which links the education and training systems in terms of industry and competence-based qualifications. This has the advantage of facilitating a strategic collaboration between the higher education and industrial dynamics in Nigeria; in terms of connecting the dots between theoretical and practical realignment to rejuvenate the workplace for national development. The trajectory of the Students’ Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) is also lamentably stalled due to the total lack of synergy between students inchoate theoretical learning and workplace demands. 


So, while the incoming administration crucially needs to start mapping the policy framework for a proactive education reform that will connect learning and training to human capital development, at another fundamental level, there is also the critical imperative of land reform as part of the development reflection. Here, land reform relates to leveraging land and agriculture as development complements for rejigging job creation and youth employment. This calls for the meeting of governance and constitutional reforms to facilitate land reform as a legitimate means of aggregating and expanding the means of production that Nigeria needs to achieve economic growth. The focus of this governance and constitutional alignment is the repeal of the Land Use Act of 1978. This has an immediate relevance of freeing up land use in ways that aggregate it for economic development. The Act contradicts all the critical norms of land use for economic growth anywhere on the globe. And its logic is only due to the lopsided unitary federalism that is suffocating developmental initiatives. Whereas land is supposed to belong to local communities in terms of customary and legal dynamics, Nigeria’s anomalous federalism gives all lands to the Nigerian government. And this becomes an immediate constraint on the socioeconomic dynamics of national development.    


It not only undermines the subsidiarity principle that engineers the grassroots as the context for a people-centered development initiative, it also fundamentally ties landholding to the tough and debilitating environment of doing business in Nigeria. Unfortunately, however, when farmers—the fulcrum of any agricultural resurgence—fails to hold the titles to the lands they farm, then the agricultural unbundling will be affected in ways that prevent their being coupled to the governance reform to activate development. More important still, as Hernando de Soto argues, in most third world countries, land and other critical resources for development are held in “defective forms”. In other words, “houses built on land whose ownership rights are not adequately recorded, unincorporated businesses with undefined liability, industries located where financiers and investors cannot see them.” The problem of this observation for farmers and agricultural investors in Nigeria is therefore that any land that is not properly documented cannot be capitalized for investment and national development. 


We then turn back full circle back to the governance challenge of the ease of doing business in Nigeria that links landholding to the surveying and regularizing land use for investment purpose. Nigeria needs a land development policy, with an institutional framework, that frees up land use for investment and development purposes. But in the long run, the land reform must be insinuated into a broader and more comprehensive local government/governance reform that will tap into the larger objective of restructuring of Nigeria’s federalism and all its debilitations. At this point, we have a confluence of reform fundaments—democratic governance, national development, local governance, federalism and education. And they are all intertwined into a policy framework that the next administration must be willing and politically courageous to hold together. Federalism speaks to a local government/governance imperative that instigates grassroots development founded on social capital and the subsidiarity principle. When development is genuinely taken to be about the people, then its dynamics must emanate from below, and within a rural and local governance context that unbundles the growth possibilities that could radiate democratic governance. This includes the traditional and informal apprenticeship system and the non-formal vocational training that could complement the formal educational training for the harnessing of Nigeria’s human capital for development. 


The Igbo apprenticeship system is a good case in point. This singular example brings to the fore how a local innovation can serve as the nexus for developmental policymaking. It is an educational initiative that brings a solid entrepreneurial spirit into the development equation. This provides a leeway for undermining the vicious cycle of unemployment, while also redirecting focus away from the government as the sole provider of everything. And this is just one example, among many, of how the government can harness the social capital and subsidiarity represented in the local government arrangement that has already been, to all intents and purposes, excised from the federal dynamics and the framework of stultifying centralization. 


The next government has a lot on its plate already. And what must be done must be dictated by the agonies of Nigerians who have had to suffer too much for the simple fact of being born into a country that lacks developmental leadership. The flash point of the urgent policy intelligence and direction are already clearly outlined in painful reliefs in the lives of Nigerians. Unemployment is not something that can be subject to bad politics that kills Nigerians. This is the politics that past governments have played. The next government cannot afford to do the same.      

 .  Olaopa is a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, and Professor, National Institute For Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos.


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Readers’ Showers Of Encouragement



Readers’ Showers Of Encouragement

By Tony Afejuku
It is time for me to wake up in the New Year in my waking mind to catch the pictures of the unseen and seen inhabitants who help to make this column the stuff of dreams. These inhabitants are my readers whose words see me any time they come to me or are called up by music of words, showers of encouragement, that help to seize and define the column.
My readers help me to see and feel the beauty and truth, ever bright, ever potent, ever lovely, in the things I set my mind to all the times it tip-toes to the rosy sky with its lure of some-thingness. I quote now select readers:

On ASUU and the “conquistadors.”
Professor Ademola Da Sylva
TA, our TA! Your resilience is amazing, your uncommon focused energy and optimism have continued, so far, to serve as essential fuel that keeps the ASUU collective struggle steadily on course, and very assuredly to the expected end. There are tricksters and there are tricksters: when a trickster-character attempts to make a society worse than he meets it, the trickster always ends up unwittingly, burning its own boat! Ditto the Speaker of HoR under reference, a chief trickster indeed, and his current ruling Party. No country’s leadership treats its academics this shabbily and disdainfully with impunity without serious short-term and long-term repercussions. Any further delay on the part of the society in taking decisive actions against these clowns and self-styled “conquistadors” could lead to a permanent and further irreparable damage to Nigerians’ warped psyche, and any meaningful development in the country. TA, the payback time is surely nigh. Cheers.

Professor Ademola Da Sylva
TA, our TA, ageless and timeless! When this current ASUU struggle shall be over, predictably victoriously, and hopefully pretty soon, either the principalities in the current government like it, or not, your adorable portrait, and name written in bold gold, shall surely adorn a conspicuous place in the nation’s Hall of Fame!; but the tricksters, interlopers, who constitute themselves, lately into a bunch of elitist-Boko Haramists, shall similarly have their names in the nation’s Hall of Shame! Kudos for an essay well thought out, and lucidly crafted! My 2 Kobo appreciation! Cheers.

Professor Ibrahim Bello-Kano
Ha! Ha! Ha! You nailed the imbeciles once more. You’re quietly gathering a reputation as the Jonathan Swift of terrorist academic journalism or is it you as the columnist-academic-Professor terrorist? A student of mine said sometime ago that he would soon begin imitating your writing style. I told him in response that he should wait until he has mastered the language well enough. It’s not easy for a PG student to imitate a Professor!

Anonymous Reader
Dear Mr. Afejuku, good morning. I am always eager to read your write ups. You are among the three highly rated journalists in this country. I have learnt so much from you in both content and form. I am an Associate Professor in the Arts Faculty in UNICAL. Keep feeding our brains and minds with your grip of the language, your knowledge and your expertise in journalism. God bless you immeasurably. The unfortunate thing is that you are speaking to minds that are depraved and have been inhabited by demons. Demons know nothing but wickedness and oppression. However, there’s always a day of reckoning, where the chicken will always come home to roost. Thank you profusely, Sir. Accept the expression of my esteemed regards. Have a useful and fruitful week ahead, while I await your next write up, Sir.

READ ALSO: Pele: World King Of Football Had Warri Ancestry

A Reader from the Diaspora
Good afternoon, my dear Brother. Thanks for your usually brilliant piece. It is obvious that the intent of the Buhari administration is to drop the ASUU file for its successor. Perhaps a bilateral conversion with each of the leading presidential candidates should be considered. Have a Blessed day and weekend.

Anonymous Reader
Good morning, Sir. I appreciate your thoughtful article on the trickster beggars, and I love the inclusion of the allegories from the erstwhile FIFA World Cup, where professionals behaved like true professionals, upholding the integrity of the game by employing the best human and electronic resources to get the best out of the game. In our national climate, the different interest groups and personages in government and not in government, who begged ASUU to call off or suspend the strike, suddenly went mute. Even press and media personages involved in the begging charade are now fully engrossed in the flimsy stories of distraction created by the CBN sector and the Naira. The courts, which were employed by the FGN to force the lecturers to pick up their chalk by force, have ceased from advocating for the truth regarding the debilitating decay in the educational segment. A handful of those columnists, like you, who maintained a respectful distance and wrote about it truthfully, decently, genuinely, are now vindicated for writing objectively and absorbingly about the subject of begging and taking a stand. CONUA or whatever the alleged traitors of academics are called, are allowing themselves to be used to be playing a nauseating game against their mother union and colleagues.
SSANU members did not get their due for listening to the beggars. Now we are all waiting… Waiting… waiting…, while the present administration prepares for their swan song by inflicting financial pains on the populace with un-thoughtful money policies.

On Pele: World King of Football
Professor Owojecho Omoha:
Were you there at the invention moments of capture theory? You theorize the admiration of King Pele to recapture the attention of the world on coach Izilien. This vibrancy of your memory lives in poets, and only poets memorably work passionately to capture the attention of readers, the way you do, Afejuku. The year has begun with your poetry. Hold further passionate lyrics till you capture the attention of the world on Nigeria, when Coach Izilien and the rest of us shall dance gracefully turning backs on the criminals in February. This happiness makes greater sense, when you shall turn the attention of the world on Nigerians who survive the dark years in our history.

On Pele’s Warri ancestry
Professor Owojecho Omoha
A true African writer must be traditional in spite of the burden of modernity, from the ancestry, and again, back to the traditions that we know. This piece scores high on both points.

Suyi Ayodele
Passion and passionate passion! Now to our Waffi enclave. Pele was a Waffi Boy? This is a bad suspense and only a poet does that! I have started counting the day, to next Friday! Good morning, Sir.

Suyi Ayodele (On Pele’s Warri ancestry)
Nobody, I repeat, nobody can dispute those revelations. I sat in divination sessions with my late uncle. Reading this piece brought back graphic images of those times. The Ifa priest was right, is right and will eternally be right. This is one of your best I have ever read. How did we abandon that plain religion, IFA? And about your younger brother, pity that you folks did not do what Ifa prescribed. It is always like that with Ifa, the Atori Eni ti o suhan se (The repairer of humanity). I would have personally ‘bewitched’ you if you have not written this! VINTAGE AFEJUKU!!!!!

READ ALSO: Pele: Coach Izilien Revises His Memory

Professor Olu Obafemi (On Pele’s Warri ancestry)
This is a very fascinating treatise, especially because of its crisscross transcendent of the abstractive ineffable to the physical/archaeological referents. The narrative’s rhetorical strategy is suspenseful with the capacity to provoke insatiable yearnings for the remit of the story. These days Africans in the Diaspora are Evoking DNA identity/Descent retrieval. Unfortunately, Pele has left.

Professor Sony Awhefeada (On Pele’s Warri Ancestry)
This is thoughtful, enriching and instructive. I wish you published this when Pele was alive he would have come home. And how is your younger brother now? I am really moved.

Nonso, Owerri resident (On Pele’s Warri ancestry)
Good evening, Afejuku. I am totally intrigued by your write up on Pele’s Warri ancestry. I am enchanted with the eloquence of your pen that glides through the white sheet of paper and the attendant satisfaction that gladdened my heart to have stumbled upon this great literary work. Allow me to say that the article is un-putdown-able and the accuracy of the Divine revelation of the Ifa Priest should be announced to the world. Who knows? Or may-be Pele’s offspring may be interested in knowing the tree they were carved from … Thank you for the great work.

Professor Dan Chima Amadi (On Pele’s Warri ancestry)
Good, good historical touch. I could not stop.

Roland Uyimulam Aleshi, from Calabar (On Pele’s Warri ancestry)
Greetings, Mr. Afejuku, I read your well researched write-up on Pele’s Warri ancestry. You impressed me a lot with useful information and updates on Pele’s Warri ancestry ties. Well done.

READ ALSO: On Pele’s Warri Ancestry

Professor Mabel Evwierhoma (On Pele’s Warri ancestry)
I agree (from personal experience) that the art of divination is a means of finding out deep truths. We could know more, from such researches, but how can they be untainted by the factors of selectivity and monetary inducements? – May we know that which will not lead to perdition.

What do I say other than to thank my readers and readers, listed and un-listed, whose words charm me beyond any measurable afflatus? My nib gives applause to your lovely music of words – whose peroration I charm myself to let be.
Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.

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