Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Nigerian Leaders are Boko Haram!

So much has been written in the last few days about the recent saga of the Maiduguri-based sect that was referred to as Boko Haram (roughly translated ‘Western education is forbidden’), their violent clash with the police, and the extra-judicial killings that saw individuals already arrested being killed without so much as a trial, and the Minister of Rebranding going on international media to justify this aberration to the ‘Rule of Law’.

I do not intend to offer any opinions on that issue. I leave that to the likes of Disu Kamor of MPAC and Reuben Abati of ‘The Guardian’, and I believe time will expose more facts on the issue.

However, I intend to look at the larger issue of a nation that seems to derive satisfaction from denying its citizens (even the willing ones ) access to education and enlightenment. Yusuf and his followers were alleged to have waged a physical and violent battle against western education.

However, our leaders have been waging a battle against education for as long as I can remember. How best to forbid education than to kill the system, starve education of funds and create a system that churns out educated illiterates, and provides no jobs for even those who survive the system!

I am a product of the Nigerian education system, and I can remember strikes going back to my early years in secondary school. Back then, primary school teachers took no part in strikes as their rewards were still ‘in heaven’. However, I am told that these days, even day-care teachers embark on strikes to press home their demands.

Despite the strikes, I finished secondary school at the young age of fifteen years. Even though I had one of the best WAEC results and entered the University on my first JAMB attempt, I did not graduate from an Engineering course until eight years later, yet I never failed a single course. A colleague of mine who left for college abroad had finished his PhD by the time I finally got ushered out into the labour market.
But its only gotten worse!
Quoting Deolu Akinyemi on his widely read blog,,

“For the first time since I have also been aware of it, ASUU is staying off work for a just course. It’s no longer the selfish manipulations of the government by lecturers for salary increases, it’s negotiating a bigger investment into education. ASUU is asking the government to investing in educating the minds rather than providing amnesty for them when they have become irreparably damaged. ASUU is questioning why Reps and Senators get to earn more than $2,000,000”
I say; A nation where the Education Minister goes on a lavish birthday splash while the tertiary institutions are shut down due to strikes really shows that our Leaders are Boko Haram!

Deolu continues further ;
“The case of the Kogi teachers is also troubling. The students became teacherless six months ahead of WAEC and the teachers gave them the opportunity of sitting for it. Last year, 13% of students passed WAEC with credit in Mathematics and English Language and three other subjects. What will this year be? These warehoused generation of students caught in the no man’s land between Secondary Schools and Universities, their older ones trapped in between NYSC and getting a job, and the many who are trapped within the tertiary institutions without really being there. With these many frustrated, and unhappy youths, and a country that pays so well for militancy, can we say the Government is in Control? “

I say; Our Leaders are Boko Haram!
Paraphrasing a comment from the same blog mentioned above;

Nigerians are not asking for much. All we ask for is functioning power, safe transport and education. We’ll do the rest ourselves. The clowns up there are fighting Lagos for being a state that has created and funded new LGAs legally, claiming victory over militants while oil facilities get bombed daily, taking up multiple-point agendas without resolving one….the amount of cerebral mediocrity on display is absolutely galling! And in the midst of all this, the President goes on a 3-day trip to Brazil while the country is burning?

A country has serious challenges yet the president can afford to go to Brazil on a three day visit? We have obvious challenges, yet the president is concerned about the number of local government in Lagos state that her citizens are not complaining about?

I say; Our Leaders are Boko Haram!

A nation where students prepare for exams with candles because the leadership is yet to declare an emergency in the power sector; where a huge part of the budget is devoted to procuring generators for government buildings , and even the structures we have in our schools are falling out of decay and neglect?

I say; Our Leaders are Boko Haram!

I recently attended a business summit in Houston organized by the Nigerian Muslim Association of Houston, and I remember one of the speakers lamenting that he had just returned from a trip to a suburb of Russia to discuss the use of solar energy ; this is a suburb that has only 1 hour of sunlight daily for only a few months in the year, and yet Nigeria, blessed with the abundance of sunlight refuses to harness such potentials, and continues to give the same excuse of inadequate megawatts due to lack of water in Kainji Dam.
I say; Our Leaders are Boko Haram!

In the end, hundreds of articles may be written about the recent sad incident in Maiduguri, but until the leadership of our nation shows a sincere attitude to providing qualitative and effective education along with the infrastructure to support the delivery of that education in a conducive environment, and an enabling environment to utilize the products of that education, we shall continue to have a situation where , to borrow Luke Onyekakeyah’s words “…graduates from our schools are unemployable because they were not taught to be independent. The result is that thousands of other youths are discouraged from going to school and have lost faith in education...

This is the real Boko Haram situation!

Idris Ayodeji Bello