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Media Reporting Of Educational Excellence And Matters Arising

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Funding Public Education In Nigeria: Towards An Alternative Financing Model

By Tunji Olaopa

It is now axiomatic that Nigeria embodies fundamental contradictions that define the extent of her predicament. This predicament is a multidimensional one that revolves around the inability of Nigeria to make a developmental headway of her existence since 1960. For sixty-one years of statehood, Nigeria is still to make a  headway with her development in spite of her immense natural resources. The Nigerian state is demographically youthful in a continent that is itself in its demographic stage of youthfulness. And yet, Nigeria’s youth unemployment rate is one of the highest on the continent. And finally, Nigerians constitute one of the highest achieving ethnic groups around the world, and the most educationally distinguished, for instance, in the United States. And yet, this does not translate into any significant human capital dynamic for the Nigerian state.

Recently, after the conclusion of the Big Brother Naija reality show, the winner of the show—Laycon—went home with a whooping N30m in cash, as well as other assorted goodies. And the media went into a frenzy of reportage over the winner and his celebration by Ogun State as her youth ambassador. Nothing is absolutely wrong with that really, at least going by the huge budget and promotion that the sponsors put into the programme. The issue is that if Laycon enjoyed so much social awareness, especially on social media and even in the traditional media, then the likes of Dr. Matthew Aneke, a former postdoctoral award-winning researcher in carbon capture and biomass gasification, Andrew Akala, the African Awardee for research excellence in space science, or Yusuf Olalere who graduated first class and the best graduating student of the Nigerian Law School in 2020 or even Ogwubie Chkemzi Praise, who got the 2020 WAEC result, should also be celebrated in some measure. None of these got the media coverage even in the shadow of what Laycon got. And none of them certainly went home with anything that reflected societal measure of appreciation of the value of their contributions. With this gross disparity in human capital appreciation, as well as the media reportage of human capital achievements, we arrive at another critical dimension of the Nigerian predicament. However, we must give kudos to the media on the growing trend to profile first-class graduates, even if more within concerns to sell the papers than as grand narratives.

The art of celebrating achievers is however not a new one. Indeed, over the centuries, it has become a distinct mark of civilizational renewal; an act of encouraging courageous invention, unorthodox creativity and foresighted innovation. From artists to entrepreneurs, and from scientists to writers, the society recognizes the intrinsic worth of unique achievements that break frontiers and move the boundaries of the society forward. Indeed, productive innovation, ingenious research findings, scientific breakthroughs, thought-provoking bestsellers, outstanding achievements, etc. are valued by the society as the sources of the novelties and knowledge required by the society itself to keep renewing its boundaries. No wonder Maya Angelou was very ecstatic about it: “How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!”

However, celebrating achievements cannot be for its own sake. Neither does it exist solely by itself in a vacuum. On the contrary, celebrating achievers is factored into a society’s and nation’s understanding of itself and its objectives. And this is even all the more so in the case of educational and academic excellence and its relationship with a nation’s understanding of the role of human capital in national development. Indeed, recognizing excellence becomes meaningful if it is part of grand national human capital development and knowledge capital formation value chain. In other words, any state with a purposeful and strategic development plan immediately recognizes the definitive role that human and knowledge capitals play in initiating a performance and productivity curve. And this implies not only factoring education into national development but also factoring educational and academic excellence into such human and knowledge capital development. This implies fundamentally that a reality show winner will not get more celebrated than academic A-graders.

One significant aspect of the Singaporean transformation story, as narrated by Lee Kwan Yew, involves creating a strategic socialization ecosystem within which A-graders can cultivate long-lasting relationships that are aimed at regenerating the excellence that Singapore believes plays a huge role in her national transformation hinged on an incentivized human capital made aware of the significance of the knowledge economy and the urgency of placing Singapore right within its dynamics.

Whether we like it or not, this is one of the exigencies of the 21st century that farsighted states must factor into their national reflections. This has been my reform thinking for many years—the strategic place and role of an innovative education reform in national and institutional transformation, and the need to rethink and rejuvenate human capital development through a deep reflection on Nigeria’s higher education dynamics. Anyone old enough will understand the historical narrative behind the sociology of encouragement and incentives that attended brilliant students, and specifically the role that parents and the society placed on functional education. When I was growing up, being a whiz kid came with certain expectations of societal recognition and assistance in all forms. However, a whole lot has happened to our sociology in ways that have occasioned the negative reevaluation of values. Crass materialism, nepotism, and a rentier mentality have led to the emergence and establishment of a culture of “something for nothing” that undermines the spirit of deferred gratification. Nowadays, competitions for positions have become too politicized to be founded on merit. Not even the hallowed ivory towers have been immune from the rat race. Thus, we have now found ourselves at a significant point where we have those with no demonstrated academic orientation making claim to having a doctorate, and when someone is introduced as a professor, one needs to do a forensic investigation of the person’s intellectual quotient.

For example, at a recent Edo State performance review conference, I had highlighted in my keynote presentation the need for Governor Godwin Obaseki to do an overall total strategic anticipatory view of the revolution his education reform is creating in Edo. Governor Obaseki’s EdoBest educational initiative has deployed all manner of educational reform innovations at the primary, secondary and technical levels to achieve an all-round qualitative learning and competency objective facilitated by teacher education reform, quality assurance and an enhanced learning environment that bring out the best in the preparation of human capital development. The problem, however, is that when these students graduate from their reformed learning experience, they will be forced to find places in several of Nigeria’s tertiary institutions that are not so founded on institutional reforms and sound education philosophy. This implies that we will not arrive at a desired human capital development rehabilitation that will undergird Nigeria’s national development even if different states, like Edo and Kaduna States, are doing their utmost best to transform their education and academic spaces.

READ ALSO: OneBank Digitises Peer-to-peer Lending For Family, Friends

How might we then begin to rejig this whole social and institutional anomie that has engulfed Nigeria’s development effort? How do we restore values and standards that are  critical to developmental culture? How might we restore competency-based human resource management in public sector institutions even with required allowance for diversity management and affirmative action? The broad goal is to generate a policy-based reflection on what education philosophy can backstop Nigeria’s engagement with the emerging knowledge economy and national development planning. And then to factor in how such a philosophy can generate an ideological basis for a total-system-wide primary, secondary, tertiary educational dynamics that link the federal to the state in a coordinated human capital development dynamic. And where best to jumpstart such a critical national trajectory than within the nation’s media as the custodian of the public sphere of national conversation on what is right and good? The implication of being referred and canonized as the fourth estate derives from the media’s sociopolitical influence to not only frame political discourse but to also generate deep advocacy on issues that matter.

The media’s capacity to shape national discourse places on it the responsibility to project significant questions about Nigeria’s developmental status, and the critical elements that are missing. Such an ongoing discourse will then put into proper national, and even ethical, perspective the relationship between the media and national development. Indeed, a serious discourse on human capital development will place a proper mold on issues, and situate each element in the human capital framework in their place without neglecting one for the other. The proper reportage of educational and academic excellence becomes the first condition for kicking off national reflection on Nigeria’s seriousness with becoming a developmental state, with a focus on reengineering her human capital dynamics. The media’s contribution derived from profiling excellent performers rather than pandering to sensationalism that sells news items. The profiling and reportage then serve as the critical opportunity to raise critical issues about a system that produces A-graders without the supporting institutional dynamics to transform them into a critical mass of human capital required to rejuvenate Nigeria’s economic and infrastructural development visions. We need a national discourse not only on a pragmatic education philosophy that puts competency at the foundation of education, but also on what supportive structures of national qualification framework can serve as the crucial foundation for skills pricing, national talent management, knowledge management strategy, etc. These issues are critical for any attempt to structurally and institutionally reengineer and rebrand Nigeria’s national development profile and value reorientation in its desire for global competitiveness.

The point is to get our priorities right, and the media owe Nigeria the national duty of signaling the critical issues that ought to remain in the limelight. Getting Nigeria’s human capital development right commences from giving proper attention to those achievers whose small achievements constitute the first steps in their journey towards becoming the human capital Nigeria requires.

 

Prof. Olaopa is a

retired Federal Permanent Secretary

& Directing Staff, National Institute

For Policy and Strategic Studies

(NIPSS), Kuru, Jos .

tolaopa2003@gmail.com

tolaopa@isgpp.com.ng

 

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Opinion

Readers’ Showers Of Encouragement

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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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Opinion

BREAKING: Gbajabiamila Threatens To Arrest Emefiele Over Old Naira Notes’ Deadline

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BREAKING: Gbajabiamila Threatens To Arrest Emefiele Over Old Naira Notes' Deadline

Five days to the deadline for the old naira notes to cease being valid, Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Godwin Emefiele is still in trouble over the policy.

House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila on Thursday threatened to order the arrest of Emefiele to appear before the committee investigating the old naira notes withdrawal.

Gbajabiamila said this on Thursday after the Majority Leader of the House, Ado Doguwa informed him that Emefiele and others shunned the invitation to a meeting on Wednesday.

Responding to the statement, Gbajabiamila said he would not hesitate to order the Inspector General of Police, Akali Baba to issue an arrest warrant to compel Emefiele to appear before the committee.

READ  ALSO: Old Naira Notes Deadline Stays – Emefiele

Gbajabiamila added that the House ought to adjourn today to prepare for the elections, however, they will stay back to resolve the currency swap crisis.

“I will, pursuant to the authority conferred by Section 89 (1)(d) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Order 19 (2)(1) of the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives, not hesitate to issue a warrant to the Inspector General of the Nigeria Police Force to compel the attendance of the CBN or Managing Directors who fail, refuse or neglect to respond to the summons by the House of Representatives,” he said.

He also stated that Emefiele’s deadline is not consistent with section 20 of the CBN Act, noting that the banks are compelled to accept the old notes even after the expiration of the deadline.

The Presidential candidate of the APC, Bola Tinubu, who is believed to be The Godfather of Gbajabiamila, also spoke against the policy on Thursday during a rally.

Tinubu alleged that the policy is targeted at his presidential ambition.

 

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You don blow!

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You don blow!

By Toyin Falola
My name is Toyin Falola, and I am an active member of the Association of Nigerian Pregnant Men (ANPM). We eat and drink every evening at our clubhouse. You can tell from the size of my stomach that I don blow. The Secretary of ANPM, a chief with a stomach twice as big as mine, don blow pass me. He is well connected that he can invite ten governors in the country to attend our annual gala. Men who don blow, as well as elegant don blow first ladies, honour us. Their drivers sit inside their cars, praying to become like us while they receive free AC to calm their bodies wey too dey hot. The Secretary and I look smallish than our Vice-President, who finds it difficult to climb into his jeep because he don blow well well.

Our President, our Oga patapata at the top, lives in affluence. I don’t know why I am afraid of him. He too get power! Plenty plenty power!! Whenever the President falls asleep, small girls steal from his wallet, and he does not even notice it. Sometimes I fear for the girls. What if one of them gets unlucky one day, and Oga wakes up to catch her in the act? But the girls seem not to send. They want a way out of their sapa situation. They steal from magas like my President, use the money to finance their japa plans, then some weeks after they get to the abroad, they post pictures on social media, and a barrage of comments follow: See as you fresh like today bread! Omo, you don blow!

If you are not a street guy like me or unfamiliar with the language of the street and slang, you might find all the slang phrases in the preceding paragraphs unusual. Communication and language are two interdependent concepts that hardly exist separately. Language is ineffective if it cannot communicate with another person. The indigenous languages of the regions that subsequently became Nigeria are very different from what the colonialists imagined them to be. The notion that Africa was a “dark continent” before European contact has been refuted and proven false by scholars and through our cultural developments even after independence. Before colonialism, Africans were not only able to communicate, but they also used complex languages to interact with one another and with events.

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However, culture is not static, and one of its characteristics is the capacity to adapt to new situations and times. For context, words are borrowed from one language into another. For example, the Yoruba call onions alubosa, a Hausa word. The creation of Pidgin English, which deviates from the native English language and is increasingly common in other Anglophone-speaking West African countries, might be attributed to acculturation and the desire to improve communication and make languages simpler.

Even though the term “you don blow” is derived from the English language, it can be used in various contexts. Three words, three ideas. The pronoun “you” is used to directly address the listener or refer to individuals in general. The word “don” can be used in the present, past, or future tenses in pidgin English to replace the words “have, had, or has.” Examples are I don go (I have gone) and I don chop (I have eaten). The last word in the phrase You don blow can refer to either expanding air from one’s mouth or destruction by an explosion.

Nigeria boasts of an abundance of highly skilled and noteworthy people. The country is recognized as a talent hotspot in many spheres of human endeavour, including entertainment. Despite the challenging circumstances militating against young and brilliant individuals and inadequate leadership and infrastructure for nurturing such talents and people to develop and build the nation, Nigerian youth have been breaking through to international spotlights. These exceptional ones work as hard as they can with the limited resources at their disposal to achieve success and greatness, and when they finally do, dem don blow.

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Let me further take you there. If someone says to you on the street, You don blow, it can be for various reasons. For those of us who are street kings, the first thing that will come to mind is that we have succeeded, and are now famous, trending, or the rave of the moment. This is well-versed in the entertainment field. Being famous or trending in the entertainment industry is associated with wealth and success due to the perks that come with it, such as sponsorship deals and money from social media engagements. Therefore, when an entertainer from a lowly background becomes well-known, he don blow. Olamide Adedeji, better known by his stage name “Badoo”, is a Nigerian rap artiste born and raised in Bariga, Lagos. He is just one example of a musician who has succeeded and become a global name despite coming from a lowly background. When next you see Don Jazzy, Badoo, Davido, Wizkid, and Burnaboy, greet them well well as dem don blow pass you.

Do you know some people believe you can hardly blow in the village? This is why people who live in rural or village settings find all means necessary to move to the big cities, even if they have to live in the “trenches” before they blow. The population of Nigeria’s major cities, such as Lagos, has exploded because many people, especially young Nigerians, believe that moving to an urban area is the first indication of success or achievement. Blow.

Another strategy that Nigerians believe will help them blow is to japa, our new alubarika. Due to the widespread problems affecting the country, such as unemployment, insecurity, and financial hardship, Nigeria is facing a brain drain in all sectors as young and older people emigrate. As a street person, you might think someone don blow if you hear they have relocated abroad or have gone to study abroad. Japa can make you blow, even bloat you! If you can successfully navigate the immigration process to leave the country, you’re good to go. Two months after you land in Saskatchewan or Houston, you have acquired a Highlander. Take many photos and post them on Facebook, include some Instagram videos or jump on some Tiktok trends, and you don blow!

You can blow a matter with your big mouth. This indicates that a secret has been revealed or that more people are now aware of an issue that only a few people were meant to be privy to. If such happens, it means the matter don blow. To blow in academia is to become a big brand and a well-established scholar, winning grants and carving a niche for yourself in research and other academic engagements. Professor don blow. If you become a Vice-Chancellor, you don blow pass all others! Shey VC wa kere ni!?

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However, to blow in Nigeria, you need “grace”, which has been attributed to providence or blessings from God. Even if dem cut soap for you, you fit no blow if babu grace. In such a situation, keep at your hustle and be grateful for each day because, as Asake sang in “Dupe”, “cause you no get today no mean e too far” (https://youtu.be/sWj-zEuH4Lg) . Relax, you sef go soon blow, and when you do, just play over and over Kizz Daniel’s “RTID” for thanksgiving: https://youtu.be/ElgKinpsqYI.

Falola is a Nigerian historian and professor of African Studies. He is currently the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin.

 

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