Connect with us


Rewriting The Fate Of Public Schools In Nigeria: Old Students Associations To The Rescue



How To Revive Public Schools - Tunji Olaopa

Tunji Olaopa

Let me begin this statement by deeply appreciating Dr Kunle Ogunmola, a past president of OBHS-NOSA, who eminently deserves to be the guest speaker at this maiden Distinguished Olivetian
Lecture Series (DOLS). He is my egbon, and I pay homage to his stature and his wisdom, part of which we will drink from today. Like so many others, Dr Ogunmola is a role model to those of us
who were younger than he is and who were a level lower than he was at Olivet Heights. He was especially so to those of us from the Oyo-Afijio axis. He remains a consummate achiever not only
for his many performance strides in the public service, but, equally, for his many development
initiatives and community services.

Having served as the resident electoral commissioner in Lagos for close to a decade as well as a
national electoral commissioner for two terms, Dr Ogunmola is qualified to address the topic of this lecture. And this is fundamental at this period when Nigeria approaches another period of
democratic succession. The electoral dynamics of the Nigerian state, like the currently problematic electoral bill, have a lot to say about the future of democratic consolidation in Nigeria. And I am certain Dr Ogunmola will have some significant insights for us to chew on. We just have to listen, learn and engage him to the fullest.

In my earlier musing about my alma mater, titled “Olivet Heights and Wale Okediran: Rewriting the Fate of Public Schools in Nigeria,” I had challenged the Wale Okediran-led Olivet Baptist High School National Old Student Association (OBHS-NOSA) on the herculean task before it. Apart from the critical commitment to raising the bar of the school that gave the OBHS-NOSA its most
immediate responsibility, I argued that OBHS-NOSA has another crucial responsibility: being at the forefront of an advocacy campaign that will focus attention on the state of public schools in
Nigeria. I noted specifically that “We can no longer continue with a piecemeal approach to individual development in Nigeria, from individual Nigerians to individual public schools. We
need a better approach. And the starting point is to achieve consciousness building across the nation.”

And this challenge became urgent within the context of the increasing rot that has almost brought the public schools and the entire education sector in Nigeria on its knees. From the primary to the
tertiary levels, the story of gloom remains the same. We are building an army of human capital that are not sufficiently set to transform Nigeria’s infrastructural deficit.

READ ALSO: Olivet Heights And Wale Okediran: Rewriting The Fate Of Public Schools In Nigeria

The second reason for the significance of the challenge derives from the need to throw open the task of rescuing the education sector to all willing stakeholders in a collective drive to salvage Nigeria from the grip of underdevelopment. Nigeria’s pubic schools have truly lost their glories. These are the same schools that have produced the cream of nationalists, poets, scholars, professionals and managers who have all impacted every facet of Nigeria’s national life. Now the narratives have changed.

Resuscitating the education sector in Nigeria requires a framework of creative innovation that
supersedes the attention often given to the urgent need to increase budgetary allocation. Beyond
the funding matter, government needs to pay critical attention to issues of political commitment that will not unduly politicize the need for reform. Attention to deep analytics and data will also become essential in optimizing the available resources and allocation to the sector. This is where
government needs to urgently pay attention to matter of governance, leadership and managerial
sophistication that will allow it to pursue an education funding and governance models that draw significant stakeholders — from parent-teachers association to private businesses to old students’
associations — into buy-ins that assist government in connecting its available resources to other
investment sources for revitalizing the education sector.

Of all the nongovernmental efforts to resuscitate the functional efficiency of public schools, one
must commend those of old students’ associations. Imagine all such associations conscientiously
take charge of the development of their schools. The consequences would be enormous. However,
there is a need to rethink the modus operandi that these associations work with if such efforts
would not be in vain. There is, indeed, no doubt that there are so many well-endowed old students’
associations that have enormous financial resources and elite clout, and have mobilized the same in lifting their alma maters out of the doldrums. Unfortunately, such hands-on/out approaches have been anything but systematic. In other words, the investment to redeem the schools have been essentially infrastructural, without due attention to the critical systemic and structural
reengineering that speaks to infrastructural development of the schools on the sideline.

READ ALSO: Lead City University: The Leap of Success – Toyin Falola

The usual attention is to bifurcate the responsibilities, and leave the systemic reforms for the government to handle. Experience demonstrates that government is either too overwhelmed by the development and governance imperatives or is too disingenuous to face the demands of crumbling education to do what we all expect of it. The implication is that the investments of the associations in their alma maters end up not meeting the targets envisioned.

At the first instance, since reform interventions and investments bring the associations head-to-head with the government, some significant cautions are required that will guide the change
management dynamics involved in the interventions. The most significant of the concerns has to
do with the possibility of government abdicating its responsibility in the face of the commitment of the old students’ associations. This is further compounded by several issues having to do with
jumpstarting the reform interventions in the first place. For instance, there is possibility of non-sustainability of the efforts through reform fatigue arising from the same set of people being taxed, year in year out, in pursuing the challenging responsibility. In some cases, the intervention of the associations might just be restricted to some fundamental and strategic need to facilitate a
transformation of the business or management models for administering the schools. For example, there might be the need to return the schools to old or original owners, or the initiation of a programme of public-private partnership between the government and either the old students
associations or relevant private organizations.

In its 4-Year Strategic Plan for the Development of the Education Sector (2011-2015), the Federal Government recognized the failure on its part to facilitate the participation of the private sector and nongovernmental organizations through the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). Intervening in one’s alma mater cannot therefore be a haphazard consideration, or an investment done from the perspective of philanthropy. On the contrary, it must be a reform issue phased into a series of significant steps and processes. This is what would really make the interventions of the
associations a definitive game changer. The key dynamic is that the reform intervention must occur in a synergistic manner that will not allow the associations take over the responsibility of government. This will involve initiating strategic communication with the government on the
significance of shared responsibility in repositioning the schools. Once this initial agreement is settled, then the associations can then initiate a school-wide needs assessment, or better still utilize existing ones. Several of such assessments abound. For instance, the Education Sector Analysis -ESA (2006), of which I was the coordinator when it was initiated between 1999 and 2002, contains a significant analysis of the state of primary, secondary and tertiary education in Nigeria. The challenges involve funding, dwindling facilities, data issue, accountability, community
participation, curriculum renewal, professional development, and many more.

READ ALSO: Ibadan: My City of Fame 

Let me highlight three crucial issues that old students’ associations can benefit from in their reform intervention. The first is governance and managerial issues. This cuts across the ESA. The management of a school has a lot to do with the business model and philosophy that will determine the objectives and direction of the school. Any infrastructural renewal outside of the assessment of the business model will amount to nothing. The second issue concerns standard and quality assurance. This has to do with the professionalism of the teachers and the staff training dynamics and framework that will facilitate it. It also concerns the curriculum development mechanism that will generate qualitative learning achievement for the students. The third issue concerns critical learning infrastructures that not only further managerial matters and quality assurance in teachers’ professional development, but are relevant in redefining a twenty-first century school anywhere.

These include a digitized library, sporting facilities, scholarship schemes, quiz and debating culture, value-shaping religious instructions and activities, and many more.

From my vantage point as someone who has gone through the rounds in the public service, the old
students associations, like OBHS-NOSA, do not only have a critical role to play in rewriting the
fate of public schools in Nigeria, they also have a strategic direction to take in ensuring that their interventions are not merely cosmetic attempts and philanthropic gestures that only superficially
poke at the surface of the fundamental issues bedeviling the schools rather than digging to the depth of the predicament. The idea is to be strategic partners with the government and other stakeholders in rescuing the public schools from their seemingly inevitable destruction.

Being opening remarks by Olaopa, retired Federal Permanent Secretary, and Professor, National Institute For Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos, ( as Chairman at the maiden edition of the Olivet Baptist High School, Oyo, National Old Students Association Distinguished Olivetian Lecture Series held at Lead City University, Ibadan, on Wednesday, 23rd February, 2022.


Read more authentic news on our social media platforms

Continue Reading
Click to comment


Professor Ayo Olukotun, My Eyuze



Readers’ Showers Of Encouragement
Prof Tony Afejuku


By Tony Afejuku

My bosom friend, Professor Ayo Olukotun, a man and personage for whom I placed considerable respect, who died recently, was committed to mother earth last Friday. The ever-delightful Professor Kayode Soremekun, the immediate past Vice Chancellor of Federal University Oye-Ekiti pointed my attention to this in his tribute to Professor Ayo Olukotun symbolically captured in The Punch newspaper of Friday, 27 January, 2023. After reading his tribute on the very day Ayo Olukotun normally appeared on the back page of The Punch as a five-star columnist, I nodded my head in painful pain. Kayode Soremekun’s tribute essentially captured aspects of our friend’s public life, and I gave some long thought to our departed humanist of humanists’ hurried committal to the brown earth of Ibadan which was not near his homestead, geographically speaking, in Egbe Yoruba of Kogi State. Was an injustice done to him in his prompt burial in Ibadan of cultural and poetic seven hills?  Perhaps circumstances of his demise compelled his remains to be committed to mother earth in Ibadan of JP Clark’s “broken china in the sun.” (How my memory is failing me as a result of my emotional state!) The one who was supposed to get back to me for accurate information on and about the event did not when I was putting my words together. Another common friend and my friend’s course-mate at Obafemi Awolowo University (formerly University of Ife, Ile-Ife), did not divulge this information in his similarly public picture of my friend in his The Guardian’s roaring tribute of Tuesday, 31 January, 2023. I am of course referring to Barrister Alade Rotimi-John who was one of the early bringers of our gone hero’s demise to my poor attention. The other person was Suyi Ayodele, Tribune’s Tuesday ace columnist.

 READ ALSO: CBN Orders Banks To Pay New Naira Notes Over The Counter

Before Soremekun’s and Rotimi-John’s well-crafted tributes found me, Professor Olu Obafemi’s great elegiac poem of immortal diamond had galloped and gasped to me. The poem by our National Laureate, a Nigerian National Order of Merit winner, clearly made its mark on my mind. The privately circulated poem to a select audience was one in which Professor Olu Obafemi tried successfully to crowd Olukotun’s career with conquest in Olukotun’s years and years of eventful events. I never knew that Obafemi knew Olukotun until I read his afore-said poem entitled “Ayo, Omo Olukotun, Odabo!”

Professor Olukotun’s “Yagba homestead” and ancestry and scholastic biography right from “Titcombe College, Egbe in Kogi State” up to the “forest of Knowledge” in Ile-Ife and beyond as “hero of the Globe” were/are movingly and movingly rendered in the poem. But why was the dazzling adventurer “Okun, Son of Jege” committed to the red soil of Ibadan when his eyes finally and eternally closed? I tried in vain to reach Professor Obafemi, another worthy friend, and  my friend’s close kinsman, for an answer. All I got was prophetically rendered in the poem as follows: ”It is doubtful that this adventurer into/the forest of knowledge/Shall return to these shores again.” Another common friend, Professor Ademola Da Sylva, who knew Ayo in their Ife days, was similarly moved by Obafemi’s elegy.

    Professor Ayo Olukotun was no Professor Ayo Olukotun to me. He was simply to me – until he breathed his last breath Eyuze as I was to him Tone Baba. We first met in 1977 in Zaria now in Kaduna State. We were lecturing colleagues (Graduate Assistants – later Assistant Lecturers) at Ahmadu University. He was my tightest pal. Our other tight friend was the sociologist/criminologist Basil Owomero (a fellow Graduate Assistant) from Ozoro town in Isoko-land in Delta State. Basil died a pretty long time ago after earning a doctorate in Criminology. Of the three of us I am the only living one now. As I am reflecting on this confusion of thought, emotion, and vision of our then years a void stares at me pitilessly. The vastness of the then years of youthful youthfulness up to when we left Zaria at different times blurs and time becomes hollow. I am in the moment of writing remembering only one or two or three things of the happy and unhappy events we shared. 

    I remember that Eyuze Baba brought Adebayo Williams and me together. Adebayo Williams is now a Professor of Literature and a novelist and columnist of no mean repute. He and Eyuze were together as under-graduates in those years of tempestuous student unionism of patriotic patriotism when Eyuze made hay and held sway in Ife as President of the Students’ Union. But it is not this I am recalling and remembering. I am recalling and remembering… I am recalling and remembering Bayo Williams’ visits in his ever-faithful Passat to Eyuze (and then eventually to us) from Kaduna (where he was teaching at Federal Government College and at the same time working on his Master’s degree in Ife as we were doing in Zaria) when we dreamed dreams of Nigeria and our tempestuous love affair with your country my country our country. We dreamed the dreams of writing and of how to help this country to constitute ethical or moral or whatever science and knowledge of growth to shape it and humankind. Each of us endeavoured to adopt the method which would make him the peerless master of positive criticism of our country. Then we really had and held lofty dreams of enlightened patriots as young as we were with the whole world before us. Until he died Eyuze did not betray the dream and did not deviate from its anatomy.  Our man was a stammerer and stutterer in private conversations but in his public speeches and lectures he was a brilliant and very brilliant orator and analyst of acute dialectical proportions who always was an orator’s orator. He always reminded me of the late famous socialist novelist Professor Festus Iyayi of the University of Benin (who famously led the Academic Staff Union of Universities in the military era that in hindsight is hundred percent better than this civilian democratic regime of rotten rottenness). And in Professor Olukotun’s shining and shiny writings you would not notice any stammering and stuttering. Let me refrain from citing numerous examples. Eyuze was simply and more than simply audaciously brilliant and courageously courageous. He stood on a very high moral ground which his elegant writings are evidence of.

    What else am I remembering? When I was leaving Zaria finally, with my all-what-not, Eyuze accompanied me to the Mid-West. This attests to the measure of our tight friendship. We spent three days together in Sapele and Warri before we travelled back together in order for me to tidy up my disengagement from Ahmadu Bello University. I can write a treatise on the pure geometry of our healthy relationship. But it is immaterial now. Yet let me say this. In later years, in much later years, after we were fully committed to marital duties – with the vagaries of our politics and economy not helping matters – the cruel wind and breeze of boisterous Nigeria roped, wrestled, beat bare our friendship but we never ignored the generosity of our closeness through ample calls. In one of those calls I related the gloriously memorable one night I spent with him in the Lagos Daily Times estate/quarters he was staying in then as an editorial staff  member of that once famous global newspaper before he was a faculty member of University of Lagos. He enjoyed it all then. I can imagine how he and our elderly GG Darah, who is also now a Professor, cordially and graciously – and very warmly, welcomed me to the editorial office when I visited Kakawa! Or is memory failing me again? No, no, no.

    Is there anything further I want to recall about Eyuze? Of course, there are many more things to say about my kind and joyfully-minded Eyuze. But I must hold my breath here. In despair, of course. And my despair is not the vigorous pleasure of despairing. Our gone revolutionary humanist was every revolutionary’s humanist. He should not have left us now. But his time was surely up. I say this as a revolutionary mystic and peace activist – if you permit me to say so.

Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.

Continue Reading


Witch Persecution And Dream Experiences In Nigeria



Witch Burning, Impunity And Abuses Linked to Witchcraft Beliefs In Benue State
Dr Leo Igwe

By Leo Igwe

The Advocacy for Alleged Witches welcomes the arrest of a young man, Joseph Friday, who allegedly murdered his father for witchcraft in Akwa Ibom. The development represents some of the best ways the police could help end impunity and beat back the tide of witch-hunting in the country. The suspect told the police that the father used to appear to him in a dream. He said that the father would hypnotize him before depositing a spell in his body. Mr. Friday said, “My Father used a charm on me; he appeared in my dream and hypnotized me. Whenever he appeared, something like a tortoise entered my body, and I would start to behave abnormally”.

READ ALSO: Obi, Kwankwaso May Join My Presidential Campaign – Atiku

Akwa Ibom is one of the states in Nigeria where witch persecution is pervasive, and abuses linked to witchcraft beliefs are widespread. As in this case, many cases of witchcraft accusations are linked to dreams, mystical interpretations of dreams. It will take more than arresting suspects and perpetrators to end these savage acts.

In Akwa Ibom, people are taught to take their dream experiences seriously. They believe or are made to believe, that those who appear in dreams are witches or agents of the occult. People are taught that dream experiences are revealing; they disclose potential harm and harmers. So people believe that their dreams point to what would happen to them or their families. So, whenever a person sees someone threatening or attacking them in a dream, they confront, attack, or kill the person when they wake up. Some people have noted cases where they have seen people pursuing them with a machete, or pressing their chest in the dream. And they felt horrified upon waking up. People who see others in a dream prefer to expose and kill them before they wreak further havoc. People take the dream experiences as real-life experiences. Incidentally, this mistaken idea of dreams is real and dangerous. And as this case has illustrated, the mystical idea of dreams leads to horrific abuses.

To end witch persecution, Nigerians need to change their attitudes towards dreams. Nigerians should understand that dreams are natural, not supernatural phenomena. Dreams are a stream of images and sensations that well up in the mind whenever a person is asleep. They have nothing to do with witchcraft or magic as popularly believed. People dream because their brains are not dead. Dreams are rooted in thoughts and imaginations that the mind entertained while awake. It is grossly mistaken to attack or kill someone based on another person’s dream experiences.

Dr. Igwe is an executive director of the
Advocacy for Alleged Witches.

Continue Reading


Where Did All The Money Go?



Mike Hunder

By Mike Hunder

For eight straight years, the Buhari administration had been turning up the “no money” rhetoric.  Added to the puzzle, at a time when oil-producing countries were reaping sustained windfalls from high oil prices, at above $100 per barrel on average in 2022, following the Russia-Ukraine war, the NNPC made zero remittance to the federation account for most of the year. 

Now, a series of striking revelations have contradicted the administration’s “no money” claim, at a dramatic speed.  

READ ALSO: Emefiele Assures Nigerians Of Banks Accepting Old Notes After Deadline

First, the Auditor General, in a 2022 letter to the Senate revealed that “a total of 17,877,705 barrels of crude oil valued at $1,020,969,281.12 (over one billion, twenty million dollars), were exported between 2016 and 2020, without proper records. This perhaps explains the non-remittance of funds by the NNPC into the federation account that characterized the administration. 

Second, things got so bad that, the then Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, locked horns with NNPC over shortchanging the government on several occasions. In one instance, in June 2018, there was a standoff between the National Economic Council and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), when the then Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, pointedly accused the NNPC of short-changing the government.  She declared NNPC’s account to the federal accounts allocation committee (FAAC), “unacceptable” and asked that they render the full account of the “missing billions”!

What happened there after?  The “deep state” clipped her wings, with allegations that she forged her NYSC certificate. Three months later, she resigned, and life went on.

Another revelation came to fore on the floor of the Senate in December 2022. That about 100 federal MDAs failed to account for the sum of #1.9 trillion naira from 2017 to 2021, despite several invitations. More shocking, most of the agencies involved, report to the presidency. This included the State House, Presidential Fleet, Ministry  of Finance, the armed forces, Police, Accountant General office,  NEMA, Ministry of Defence,  Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta Affairs and many others.

The fourth was a bigger problem than many first thought. The CBN embarked on unfettered “printing of money” for the Buhari administration since 2015, in repeated disregards of the laws. Under the CBN Act, “ways and means” facility (a code for printing money for government), should not exceed 5% of the previous year’s revenue of the government and must be paid within the financial cycle. Then again, Section 38 provides that, “ways and means”… must be refunded before the collection of another one.” Yet, the Buhari administration kept collecting “ways and means” from the CBN, without making a refund, in a zeal not seen before, hitting #23.7 trillion by December 2022.

When the Edo state governor, Godwin Obaseki, first spilled the beans about CBN’s printing of money for the federal government back in April 2021, the government denied it. Now, realizing that the “ways and means” account, cannot possibly be kept way from the public beyond May 2023, the president has sent a request to the Senate to give it a second life. Asking for a legislation to restructure it, and pass the repayment to future generations over a period of 40 years! Added to the puzzle, the request contained no records of how, when and what the #23.7 trillion was spent on.

READ ALSO: Dele Jegede In Conversation With Prince Yemisi Shyllon

Until recently, the administration claimed that Nigeria does not have a debt problem, but a revenue problem. Then, it embarked on constant external borrowings, increasing external debts by 300% between June 2015 ($10 billion) and June 2022 ($40 billion), without a corresponding increase in foreign currency earnings.  Now, Patience Oniha, the director general of the Debt Management Office, when appearing before the House of Representatives to defend the 2023 budget, revealed that Nigeria does have an external debt problem. To the extent that Moody’s and Fitch downgraded Nigeria to a Category ‘B’ economy in 2021, the international market has closed its doors of borrowing against Nigeria, making it difficult for the country to borrow.

On top of this, fell the huge national debt stock, at seventy-seven trillion Naira.

Thus, an ugly spiral has developed: huge sums of money that are unaccounted for, constant external borrowings without a corresponding increase in foreign earnings – and a gigantic national debt of seventy-seven trillion Naira, completes the circle!

In the current climate, what is puzzling to people is, where did all this money go? Many who have defended the administration on financial prudence, now say they cannot go beyond this caricature. Then again, post-May 2023, things will probably get worse, before they get better. So, now comes the hangover! 

*Mike Hunder, an economist and business-training consultant based in Lagos, is a former General Manager at Union Bank Plc and Oceanic International Bank, respectively. He can be reached at:

Continue Reading

Top Stories

%d bloggers like this: