Plateau State at 47 celebrates ‘Forgiveness Day’
Governor Simon Bako Lalong (CON) being assisted by his Deputy Prof. Sonni Gwanle Tyoden, SGS, Prof. Danladi Abok Atu while Sultan of Sokoto and traditional rulers watch the unveiling of the Gazette on creation of Districts and Chiefdoms during ‘the Plateau State at 47 and the Forgiveness Day’ celebration yesterday at the Rwang Pam Township Stadium, Jos. Photo: DANLADI DUK
Commissioner inspects work at NUJ Secretariat
Commissioner for Information and Communication Plateau State, Hon. Dan Manjang has expressed satisfaction with the ongoing renovation work at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Plateau State Council Secretariat Jos.
Hon. Manjang stated this while inspecting the level of work at the council secretariat in Jos, last Wednesday.
He said the work at the secretariat was long overdue, saying that the work would have been completed before now but due to some challenges, the contractor was unable to finish the work before now.
He said it was because of the slow pace of work that Governor Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau State had to come and see the level of the work for himself.
Hon, Manjang described the total overhauling and renovation work as part of the rescue mission of Governor Lalong led administration in the state. He added that government also needs to do the needful by releasing necessary funds to the contractor handling the work, so as to avoid any further delay on the remaining work which will soon be completed.
The commissioner maintained that the Lalong led government has not had any challenges with the media on the Plateau. He pointed out that the media has continued to remain very supportive to the government, adding that they have equally enjoyed cordial working relationship with the media.
Commenting on the Lalong legacy projects across the state, Manjang explained that they may not be able to finish all the projects, but would not relent in their efforts towards ensuring the completion of some of the projects before the expiration of the present administration’s tenure.
Hon. Manjang disclosed that about 3 of the Lalong legacy projects have been taken by the Federal Government for the establishment of Federal Institutions. This include: Government Secondary School (GSS) Ajikamai now converted to Federal Polytechnic Shendam; GSS Dengi now to be used for the proposed site of the Federal College of Education, Dengi in Kanam LGA; while GSS Riyom is also going to be used for the proposed site for School of Law, Jos.
NUJ Chairman, Plateau State Council, Mr. Paul Jatau thanked the commissioner and his team for coming to inspect the level of work at the council secretariat. He affirmed that the work is now in serious progress. He said that with the speed of work, they are hoping that work will soon be completed and put to use for its members.
Mr. Jatau told the commissioner that the council would continue to maintain the existing good or cordial working relationship with the present administration in the state at all times. Earlier in his remarks, the contractor handling the project, Mr. Yarima Balami while briefing the commissioner on the level of work said that the work on the building has reached 97% completion while the landscapping work is now at 95% completion.
Lalong appreciates service, sacrifice of fallen heroes
Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State has appreciated the services and sacrifice of the Nigeria fallen heroes who fought to keep the country together.
According to the governor, the nation’s fallen heroes played a critical role in peace operation within and the outside the country where some of them paid the supreme price.
Governor Lalong gave this commendation while receiving the Coordinating Commandant General, Brigadier General David Yaljaba who paid him a visit at Government, House, Rayfield, Jos, Monday.
Lalong commended the Nigerian Legion for the introduction of Corps Commissionaires to curb insecurity, intelligence gathering and other social vices especially among students.
Lalong who represented by his Deputy, Professor Sonni Tyoden, said the Nigerian Legion should be supported in order to bring their wealth of experience to bear on the security challenges in the country and assured of close collaboration to enable them perform their role effectively.
Coordinating Commandant, Nigerian Legion, Brigadier General David Yaljaba had said they were on an advocacy visit to create awaress on the new security outfit which was to serve as a support to the role of the Nigerian Legion in complementing the military.
He said the corps of commissioneres was established in the western region in line with the act establishhing the Nigerian Legion of 1962 which now has a total number of 10000 personnels with private companies in the South-East and South -South as their major employers while the North-West and North-East were yet to embrace their services.
General Yaljaba said the establishment of the corps commissionaires was to serve as source of employment for dependants and children of fallen heroes to provide intelligence and curb cultism among other vices in schools.
He explained that the corps of commissionaires could be trusted and relied upon to complement the military having trained by the military.
Lalong bags title, supports Irigwe communities rehabilitation
For working to secure peace in Irigwe land, Plateau Governor, Simon Bako Lalong has bagged a traditional title as “Ambassador of peace”.
The Governor was decorated with the traditional title by the Paramount ruler of Irigwe land during the 2022 annual festival of the Irigwe people of Bassa Local Government Area, tagged the “Otu Rigwe” held on Saturday October 8, 2022 at the Rwang Pam Township Stadium Jos.
Speaking as Special Guest of Honour at the event, Lalong said there is no alternative to peace and commended the traditional ruler of the Irigwe people, The Braa Ngwe Rigwe, Rev. Ronku Aka for working for peace with the Fulani’s.
He tasked the Irigwe’s for vindicating him by embracing his peace Philosophy urging them to continue the positive stride by taking ownership of the peace agreement they signed recently on 13th June.
While assuring that he will ensure that work resumes on the Miango/Kwall/Vom road project and the housing estate cited in the Local Government, the governor advised the people to watch out for crisis merchants among them who may want to take them back to the darker days.
The Governor urged the Irigwe people to continue to harness their rich cultural heritage and values, by adding to the tourism market value and potentials of the state.
“We can only harness these tourism potentials if we live in peace with each other” he said.
He expressed happiness that parts of the event will be a Fund Raising for the rebuilding of ruined communities, by the Irigwe Development Association (IDA).
In his remarks Former Chief of Defence Staff and Chairman of the Occasion, Gen. Martin Luther Agwai said the cultural display is a sign of unity and cultural heritage of the Irigwe people.
Describing his presence at the event as nostalgic and home coming because he grew up in the state, he prayed for permanent peace to return to the LGA.
He also called on stakeholders in the LGA and state level, to harness the rich cultural festivals on the Plateau adding “If harnessed, it will surpass all cultural festivals in the world”.
He commended the people and organisers of the event for not relying on government but taking the initiative to rebuild broken communities who have suffered as a result of the crisis that engulfed the land advising them further to seek support from friends, tribes, neighbours and allies of the Irigwe tribe towards the noble cause of rebuilding, reconstruction and rehabilitation of the ruins and destroyed communities.
President Irigwe Development Association (IDA), Prince Robert Ashi Dodo was thankful for the opportunity to showcase their rich cultural heritage and used the forum to appreciate Governor Lalong for personally facilitating the return of peace to the area.
Defining the Irigwe culture as ‘rich and unique’, he said the event is historic because it will pass on to future generations, their heroic way of life”.
While lamenting the crisis and losses that bedeviled the Irigwe Nation in the past, the President however expressed hope that the fundraising will be a huge success, so that the funds realised will be used to resettle displaced people of communities that have lost their means of livelihoods adding “The fund will also be used to assist the orphans in pursuance of the education”.
The Paramount Ruler of Irigwe land, the Braa Ngwe Irigwe, Rev. Ronku Aka appreciated well-wishers and dignitaries for coming to share in their cultural heritage, expressing gladness that the cultural celebrations which has not been marked for the past years due to insecurity is finally coming to fruition.
He thanked the Governor for making them sleep with their eyes closed with his peace initiatives that has brought lasting peace to the area, and used the forum to call on government to complete the road linking Kwall/Mango Vom which is a major access road between Miango and other Local Governments.
In a paper presentation titled “Rebuilding the City” by Air Commodore Dogo Gani, strategies and solutions for rebuilding the destroyed communities, and the people to return to their normal activities and way of life was highlighted.
Some side attractions at the Cultural fiesta was the opening of traditional dishes, match pasts and cultural performance by different cultural groups, and Rigwe artistes, horse riding displays, Royal greetings to the Paramount Ruler of Irigwe land the Bra Ngwe Rigwe of Irigwe and the conferment of traditional title to Governor Lalong.
The event had in attendance top government functionaries, politicians, heads and members of various sociocultural and religious groups.
On the 1st October 1960, Nigeria got her independence from its British colonial masters. Since then, the country has been struggling to manage affairs of a nation. Particularly on the political stage, it has been one issue too many. VICTOR ALI writes.
ON Saturday, Nigeria would be marking its 62nd Independence Anniversary. Exactly on the 1st October 1960, the British Union Jack Flag was lowered while Nigeria’s Green-White-Green was hoisted. That singular historic event signals the end of Nigeria’s tutelage under the British colonial rule which lasted for several decades if not over a century.
Even at that, some political pundits posit that Nigeria simply got her independence on a platter of gold unlike the armed struggle that ensued for instance, in Kenya with Jomo Kenyatta’s Mau Mau movement leading the struggle. Truth be told, there were intense negotiations by the founding fathers of Nigeria through conferences both here in Nigeria and London for the same purpose of independence. That in itself amounted to struggle.
After independence, Nigeria adopted the British-style parliamentary system of government with Alhaji Tafawa Balewa as Prime Minister, while Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe served as President. Other Nigerian leaders at inception included, Sir Ahmadu Bello (Sardauna Sokoto)., Premier of Northern Nigeria, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the Premier of Western region and Michael Okpara, The premier of Eastern region. the ecstasy of the Independence and enthronement of democratic governance was not to last long as barely six years, precisely in January, 1966. Some ambitious young officers of the Army struck in the process, killing the Sardauna (Ahmadu Bello), Tafawa Balewa, the then Finance Minister, Okolie Oboh, among other politicians.
virtually all the officers that carried out the first coup in Nigeria were of Igbo sxtraction. Therefore, it was perceived as an Igbo coup. Incidentally, the victims of that bloody coup, the politicians – Sardauna and co-and even military officer’s victims – Maimalari, Pam and co, happened to be from the Northern part of the country.
By the way, for one Sardauna, Sir Ahmadu Bello were revered leaders by the standard of the Northern elite of that time. Hence, barely six months of the first coup, the second one occurred in July 1966, said to have been led by Northern officers. In that coup, the Commander-In-Chief, Aguiyi Ironsi alongside his host Adekunle, Fajuyi, were killed.
Those two deadly events of 1966, simply show that, disunity, disloyalty and indiscipline have firm grip on an organized and professional institution in the country at the early years of independence. For those who saw what the coup and counter coup, killings and reprisal killings portend, Nigeria was simply seating on a keg of gunpowder. With this and intransigence, arrogance and even none recognition of Yakubu Gowon’s leadership by the belligerent Chukwuemaka Odumegu Ojukwu, it was just a matter of time before the Civil War broke out.
Ojukwu, in an attempt to undermine Gowon and by extension the Federal Government declared the Republic of Biafra. What began as a police action eventually snowballed into full scale war which lasted thirty (30) months with the monumental results of millions of people dead on both sides of the divide. On reflection at sixty two (62) that was one of Nigeria’s sad moments, like then President Olusegun Obasanjo (himself an active participant in the Civil War) wrote in his book, My Watch, (Part 2), he said Nigeria survived by divine grace.
After the War, the gentleman soldier, General Yakubu Gowon, who some of the officers famously called the Supreme Commander, declared that in the 30 months fratecidal War, there was “no victor, no vanguish”. He went ahead to unveil his three(3) Rs policies of Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation. No doubt, these policies went a long way to achieve its objectives.
Despite General Gowon’s efforts at trying to stabilize a reunited Nigerian nation after the bloody Civil War, there were still some misgivings amongst the military high command. Consequently, he was ousted from power while away in Kampala, Uganda for a meeting of the Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU). Murtala Ramat Muhammed who took over the reign of power from Gowon was shortly assassinated by soldiers led by Sukar Bukar Dimka.
With the death of Murtala, many Nigerians were apprehensive particularly the politicians because he had earlier promised a return to civilian rule in 1979. However, his successor, General Olusegun Obasanjo kept faith with the date as he successfully handed over the mantle of leadership of the country to the late Alhaji Shehu Usman Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) who won the election. Shagari was to last for only one term of four (4) years as the military hawks came back and overthrew him on 1st January, 1984.
The biggest beneficiary of the 1984 coup was General Muhammadu Buhari. Though several analyst opined that, he was not part of the coup, but he was chosen nonetheless as Head of State and Commander in Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by the coupists. He (Buhari) too was not to last long as he was pushed aside by his benefactors.
Then enter the gap-toothed Minna-born General, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. He organized the most longest and most expensive transition to civil rule programme in Nigeria, if not in the entire African continent. After shifting the goal post severally, elections were finally conducted culminating in the presidential election, widely acclaimed by both local and foreign observers and even the Nigerian people as being the most peaceful, fairest, and freest.
There is no doubt even in the hearts of the most dangerous sadist that the late business mogul, billionaire Moshood Kashimawo Olawole Abiola, popularly known as M.K.O. won the election. Babangida, for whatever reckless reason(s) annulled the popular mandate of the Social Democratic Party’s (SDP) candidate (MKO) given by the Nigerian people. Hell was let lose all over the country. Nigeria was really on the brink, to borrow from the title of the book by the former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell. Again there was another divine intervention.
After Babangida stepped aside and created a contraption called Interim National Government (ING) with the late boardroom Guru, Ernest Shonekan as Chairman, the dark-goggled Abacha was on the wings. He quickly, showed Shonekan the way out and became Nigeria’s Numero Uno. He was on his way to transiting from a military Head of State to a civilian President as the five political parties then, in what the late Bola Ige said are five lepros fingers of a hand had already endorsed him for the presidential election. Suddenly, there was another divine intervention.
Somehow, General Abdulsami Abubakar navigated the turbulent terrain and handed over power to the politicians in 1999. With over two decades of uninterrupted democracy in place, there seems to be hope. With the 2023 elections around the corner, Nigerians should do the needful by rising up to the occasion by voting candidates of their choice. At 62, Nigeria and Nigerians should know what to do.
Independence did not come on a platter of gold as some pundits would want us to believe. The fact that blood was not shed is very inconsequential. Nigeria’s founding fathers were no fools. As a part of national anthem aptly captured it, we should not allow their sweat go in vain. HAPPY INDEPENDENCE NIGERIA!
Plateau is not ceding market to Jaiz Bank
It is common knowledge that the Jos Main Market is one of the iconic landmarks of Plateau State and a source of pride to the citizens who hold it dear to their hearts. The destruction of the market in 2002 has therefore remained one of the most tragic incidents to ever befall the State which caused unquantifiable economic loses, emotional trauma and denied the State tourist and business opportunities which prevailed before its destruction. DAN MANJANG writes.
DURING the campaign for the Governorship of Plateau State in 2015, Rt. Hon. Simon Bako Lalong (then candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC) promised to rebuild the market if elected. Those who watched the gubernatorial election debate would recall that whereas Lalong promised to rebuild the market, his major opponent said otherwise. At the end of the day, the electorate made their choice based upon this promise and many others that the APC candidate offered.
Therefore, upon coming into office in 2015, the Governor began the process of rebuilding the Jos Main Market as one of his key priorities. His Rescue Administration contacted major financial institutions and investors within and outside the country for the project. Many came with huge enthusiasm and promises which appeared promising and prompted the Government to demolish the existing parts of the structure on May 17 2019 in preparation for the reconstruction. It is important to note that at this point that a lot of politically motivated propaganda had started being circulated against the efforts of the Governor where it was alleged that billions were spent to demolish the structure. This was false.
Nevertheless, the Government was not deterred and continued detailed discussions with the investors that indicated interest in rebuilding the market. These discussions got deeper but became stuck upon requests from the intending investors and financial institutions which in summary required that Plateau State:
Gives them a Bank Guarantee, letter of comfort to own and manage the market for as long as it takes them to recoup their investment.
Guarantee to off-take 70% of the shops (in other words buy them), Bring 20% of the cost of reconstruction aside the land being its equity etc.
These negotiations which involved many experts and key Government officials continued and the offers did not favour the State but put it at a disadvantage. Moreover, the Government was not in a position to give Bank Guarantee of almost 20 billion naira that some investors submitted. It could not also pledge to off-take the shops when built instead of buyers doing so. Many would remember that the Government was committed to settling backlog of inherited salaries from the previous PDP administration and ensuring paying regularly; completing abandoned projects inherited from the PDP; working to improve IGR among others which meant it could not guarantee such demands made by the prospective investors. The Governor further met with foreign and local investors who did not also provide any better deal for the State in the rebuilding of the Jos Main Market. Looking at other commitments of the Government already tied to its monthly income, it was not possible to enter into another funding that will be a huge burden for the State and nearly impossible to handle.
THE JAIZ BANK OFFER
Despite the setbacks, Governor Lalong kept hope alive and promised to do his best to fulfill his promise to the people of Plateau State who gave him their mandate in 2015 and 2019. This determination yielded positive results when the Governor upon learning of other huge market projects in various Northern, Eastern and South South States funded by Jaiz Bank Plc, decided to engage them on the idea of rebuilding the burnt Jos Main Market. Talks started in 2021 between the State Government and Jaiz Bank. Series of deliberations were held which brought up the following offer by the investing bank.
The Bank will finance the reconstruction of the market 100% with the Plateau State Government not required to pay a kobo.
The Land (over 7.4 hectares) is the equity of the Plateau State Government which it is contributing to the project.
The project will be done in three phases yielding a total of 4.321 shops which will be shared in the ratio of 60% (Jaiz Bank) 40% (Plateau Government).
The 60-40% ratio is for the purpose of leasing out the shops only. The entire market still belongs to the Plateau State Government.
Those who lease the shops from either Plateau State Government or Jaiz bank will own it for a period of 40 years after which ownership returns to the Government. At this point, new investors can purchase from the State Government or the existing buyers renew their leases.
As soon as Jaiz Bank finishes selling its 60%, it will cease to have any interest in the market as those holding the lease will deal only with the Plateau State Government through the management of the Market (Jos Main Market Authority) and the Ministry of Commerce which is a parastatal of the Government.
The entire shops will be sold to interested buyers without prejudice to faith, ethnicity or political affiliations. It is open for the public to invest in.
The first phase will be delivered and commissioned before the end of the tenure of Governor Lalong.
Having gone through the offer by Jaiz Bank, the State Executive Council further subjected the proposal to extensive deliberations and scrutiny and came to the conclusion that the deal was good for the State and the investor, hence its approval. Besides, the Government carried out its due diligence to study the track record of Jaiz Bank in delivering such projects. It found that the bank in partnership with Kano State government and private investors, is constructing a multi-million world-class drug-only wholesale market, the first of its type in Nigeria, at the Kano Economic City. In a similar arrangement, the bank in partnership with the Niger State Government, is developing three hectares in the Minna City Centre to provide for a shopping complex, modern underground parks, modern filling station, warehouses, corner shops, restaurants and a recreational centre. It is also doing so in Kaduna and Enugu States among others. Based on above examples of performance profile and experience the Plateau State Government is optimistic of the bank’s capacity to handle the Jos market project and deliver.
Therefore, the Government has also engaged the leadership of the Plateau State House of Assembly and its relevant Committees on the benefits of the project to the State.
SENSITIZATION AND AWARENESS
Thereafter, the State EXCO mandated its relevant MDAs to carry out sensitization and awareness by engaging various stakeholders ahead of the signing of the MOU for Rebuilding the Jos Main Market. The Governor also personally engaged top religious, traditional, elders and other leaders of thought on the project knowing fully the passion that they have on the market which is a great heritage of the State. As part of the engagement and sensitization, the Hon. Commissioners for Commerce, Information and Communication and other Government officials met with stakeholders representing various groups in the State to breakdown the content of the proposed MOU between Plateau State Government and Jaiz Bank. This was successfully done with questions being raised by those in attendance and answers provided.
Regrettably, the outcome of this engagement has been twisted, politicised and reported under the caption “Governor Lalong cedes Jos Main Market to Islamic Bank”. This has unnecessarily invoked passions and emotions portraying a false narrative that the State was parting with its cherished heritage to an “Islamic Bank”. While the Government respects the rights of its citizens to raise questions on every decision and make their observations and displeasure known, the Rescue Administration wishes to allay the fears being raised as the deal will not work against the State. Rather, it is an opportunity to once again raise the sleeping giant heritage of the famous Jos Main Market which has not added any value to the Government and its people since it was burnt down 21 years ago.
Government assures the citizens of Plateau State that sensitization and enlightenment will continue before, during and after the reconstruction in order to address genuine concerns which require answers and clarifications.
BENEFITS OF THE DEAL TO PLATEAU STATE AND ITS CITIZENS
While Jaiz Bank hopes to make profit from the partnership for its shareholders, the Government and people of Plateau State also stand to gain a lot from the reconstruction of the Jos Main Market. Here are some expected benefits for the State and its citizens.
The State will generate more revenue from the operations of the market and be able to carry out other projects and programmes for the good of the people.
The moribund Jos Main Market Authority (JMMA) will be brought back to life as it is saddled with the responsibility of managing the market.
All willing and able Plateau citizens will be given an opportunity to buy and own shops in the market either from the State Government (40%) or Jaiz Bank (60%).
Priority will be given to those who lost shops in the burnt market in the sales of the new shops.
Government will monitor the sales of the market to ensure that no individuals or groups are given unfair treatment over others in the sale of the market on basis of faith, ethnicity, political affiliation or other considerations. There will be equity, fairness and justice to all.
Property around the Jos Main Market area will appreciate in value
More jobs will be created during and after the construction.
More people will visit Plateau State for trading activities and tourism thereby generating more economic activities and revenue.
The market will further promote the efforts of the Rescue Administration in restoring the peace and harmony of the past since the market embraces people with different faiths, ethnicity and origins.
The success of this partnership will boost the confidence of other investors to come into the State and establish their presence and partner with the Government in other projects and programmes.
From the foregoing, it is very clear that the intentions of the Plateau State Government is pure and well thought out as they are for the benefit of the State and its citizens. The terms of the MOU between the Government and Jaiz Bank are clear and be scrutinised and can be verified. The Rescue Administration under the leadership of Rt. Hon. (Dr) Simon Bako Lalong will never do anything to mortgage the heritage, rights and privileges of its people. On the contrary, the Lalong administration is buying back sold assets such as the BARC Farms which has been acquired. In the reconstruction of the Jos Main Market, Government has weighed all the options and found that this deal is the most favourable considering the lack of funds for the Government to carry out direct intervention or take a loan with astronomical interest rates. Leaving the market at its current state does not do anyone good because it is not generating anything for the State and its citizens. Rather, the land remains wasted and a hideout for criminals.
The Government wishes to assure the citizens that everything is being done to ensure that interested Plateau people benefit from the shops and also participate in the economic activities that will come up once the market is delivered.
Therefore, the Government appeals to all citizens to carefully peruse the project and avoid being deceived by politicians who are bent on ensuring that the market is not reconstructed so as to score cheap political point against Governor Lalong and the APC particularly at the eve of the general elections.
Bottom line is that Jos Main Market is the property of Plateau State and shall remain so for ever. However, it makes no economic sense for the property to remain at its current state of decomposition when it can be revived and put to use in a win- win situation for the benefit of the citizens. If any citizen has a better and genuine offer for the reconstruction of the market than the one on the table right now, the Lalong Government is a listening one and would pay attention. As at today, there has not been such offer. What is needed is the unity of purpose and the will to make this project a reality for posterity and the good of the people of Plateau State. Not everything needs to be politicised.
There is no need for anxiety, sentiments, misgivings, misconceptions and misrepresentation which is being pushed out by political forces that has resulted in name-calling, insults and hatred of both Government and individuals in the social media and otherwise. As a matter of fact as Government is aware of planned demonstrations being sponsored by the opposition against this noble gesture initiative between Plateau State Government and Jaiz Bank.
Let us always THINK and ACT Plateau.
Hon. Dan Manjang, anipr is the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Plateau State.
FG, ASUU strike: Need for truce
If is no longer news that with the continuous disagreement between the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities ,(ASUU) particularly, government owned, students of such tertiary institutions have been home for upward of about six months. This is definitely not good for the students, parents/guardians and the educational system generally. VICTOR ALI writes.
IT is not in doubt that education is key to development, science and technology. Hence, its importance need not be overemphase. From primary to tertiary level, education plays a crucial role in shaping the entire society. According to the World Bank, “Tertiary education is instrumental to fostering growth, reducing poverty and boosting shared prosperity. A highly skilled workforce with lifelong access to a solid post-secondary education, is a prerequisite for innovation and growth.
As important and vital as education is in the modern world, it ought to be given the necessary and desired attention. Right from the nursery, primary and secondary, culminating in the tertiary institutions, any government that is desirous of impacting on its people which inturn will propell development in the society for the betterment of the generality of everyone, must prioritize educational development in all its ramifications. Anything short of this is an invitation to disaster.
The founding fathers of the Nigeria could be said to have tried in providing education infrastructures, personnel and mass mobilisation of students for admissions into these institutions. Indeed, it would go down in history that the first generation universities in Nigeria, some of which were renamed after the demise of their founders-Ahmadu Bello university (ABU), Zaria; University of Nigria (UNN), Nsukka, University of Ibadan (UL), Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife, amongsts others that came much more later were symbols of organizational skills and subsequently, centre of excellence.
But in the past four or so decades and with proliferation of higher education institutions everywhere to cater for the people (students), the fortunes of that citadal of learning has since nose-dived. Nigerian universities which used to be ranked amongst the best in Africa, if not in the world, have become a shadow of themselves. Infrastructural structures decay is an eyesore, quality of academic output is abysmal, remuneration of lecturers and their affiliates tertiary institution workers, have constantly become subject of intense debate, controversy and disagreement.
Funding of public tertiary institutions, particularly public universities have been a major bone of contention between the Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU) and the government. From the complain of lack of funding, under-funding and or outright fraud in the entire system, these public universities and other tertiary institutions; seem to be on the path to extinction. Of course, with the advent of privately-owned universities and other tertiary institutions the rich but mighty can afford the exorbitant fees paid and what about the poor folks?
In the last decade, one can conveniently and comfortably say that, Nigerian students in public tertiary institutions have comfortably lost, in cumulative terms, at least three sessions. The obvious questions to be asked by discerning minds are: What worth is the student who has stayed that long at home without seeing the four walls of the classrooms? Can such a student really defend his or her certificate if such a student eventually graduate? What value will such a student add to the society?
Because of the important nature of tertiary institutions, indeed, education generally should be accorded the outmost priority. Writing recently under the topic: “Road to Anarchy: ASUU, Labour and Solidarity Protest”, a policy and leadership expert, Dakuku Peterside, succinctly, captured the worrisome situation thus: “ASUU has been on strike for over six months and there seems to be no end in sight of the action.
“ASUU is demanding that the government fulfil’s the agreement it entered into in the past, increase lecturers, salaries and provide funding for higher education in Nigeria. These demands aim to improve the quality of education and quality of living of University, lecturers”. He went further to state that, “historically ASUU is synonymous with strike action in Nigeria, and for decades they have been making demands entering into agreement with government which the government reneges in frequently leading to industrial actions”.
“This has been a recurring decimal in our higher institutions for over four decades, and it has defied all government’s solution and does not seem to be exacerbating soon. ASUU-government brouhaha is endangering the future of our youths whose education is truncated with the concomitant effect of producing half-baked graduates or the students spending more time than necessary to complete their degrees”.
To say that the present scenario is pathetic, is stating the obvious. While ASUU’s demands are legitimate, however, one looks at it, government action’s, inactions or outright reneging of agreements reached calls to question its sincerity of purpose. For crying out loud, how can a government enter an agreement with a very critical sector of the society since 2009 and refuse to implement same? At this moment; both the students, parents or guardians are stretched and stressed to the limit with all the socio-economic repercussion inherent in it.
It will not be out of place to hypothetically assert that, while some of the students might have joined criminal gangs for want of something to do, the girls equally too, might have joined the league of women of easy virtue. It is also a known fact too that, the ordinary (poor) Nigerian can ill-afford to pay the tuition fees of his children in private higher institutions. Hitherto, his saving grace remains, higher public tertiary institutions. And now, the death knell seems to be sounding. Come to think of it, it takes an extra-ordinary student to stay at home for almost one academic session and yet the society expects a tangible academic output from such a student. Nigerians don’t seem to know to the fullest, the Federal Government-ASUU imbroglio that has become protracted. It reminds one of the old saying, “when two elephants fight, the grass suffers”.
“Even at this,” according to Paul Jatau, in his Random Musing column (THE NIGERIA STANDARD, Wednesday, May 11, 2022) “ASUU and the Federal Government have not seen the need to sheath swords, come to a round table and sincerely find a way forward for our education and the future of the children who have already been branded “lazy youths”. Both parties to all intent and purposes, fail to grasps the implications of their recalcitrance on the future of our country.
“They are so engrossed in fighting for the immediate that the dangers posed by their actions seem to escape them. Indeed, both parties are oblivious of the lessons of history which would definitely haunt them tomorrow. On the other hand, the arrogance exhibited by those who represent government must be checked. We cannot expect thugs whose values are questionable to lead a process that is meant to grow our society”.
Indeed, in this unending disagreement between the Federal Government and ASUU, everyone becomes a loser and the nation suffers for it. Dakuku Peterside also noted that, “in this disagreement, it is crucial that ASUU comes to the table with an open mind ready to take any cause of actions that will make all parties winners in the pursuit of quality education”.
Hear him: “ASUU must see the reality of our economic circumstances-the government is struggling to pay salaries and we literally borrow to finance government activities. Our revenue to debt service ratio has moved from 95 per cent to 116 per cent. The implication is that all our income is not enough to service our debts. Crude oil theft have reached an embarrassing crescendo, and the government is spending billions of dollars yearly to fight insurgency, bandits, terrorists and secessionists all over the country. The global crisis of post-COVID-19 pandemic and the debilitating effects of the Russian-Ukraine war have created energy and food crisis world-wide”.
He (Dakuku Peterside) however, added that, “there is also the counter-narrative that a government that spends about N42billion yearly to maintain the several aircraft in the President fleet, spends 70 per cent of its budget on recurrent expenditure and allow wastage in the management of the economy cannot in good conscience say it cannot fund education, I can rightly paraphrase John F. Kennedy to put this in proper perspective “if the pursuit of learning is not defended by the educated citizens (leaders), it will not be defended by all”.
And what is to be done? With government seeming insolvency, something must give way. ASUU itself, as a body of researchers must take the lead in this direction. Though, increase in salaries of lecturers is important to the survival of the system, funding to my mind, seems to be at the centre stage. Inadvertently, ASUU is not looking at this direction.
According to Paul Jatau, “Evidently, also, ASUU has refused to explore new grounds to help fund education. If private universities can strive and succeed without subventions from government, it is thus possible to find ways and means of surviving in an era with leaders who seem to care less about the future”.
And for Dakuku Peterside, “ASUU, as a body of researchers must come to the table with bouquet of innovative ideas on university funding that will rely less on government, students fees payment models, university industry alliance, private sector driven convergence and University entrepreneurship to boost the funding of our tertiary institutions”.
ASUU can advocate for a joint government and university student loan arrangement that may give a lasting solution to Nigeria’s university funding issues. Academics are great researchers and I firmly believe that it behoves on them to come up with the best formula for solving university funding crises that will permanently eliminate ASUU strikes.
Though the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) did its bit by organizing nation-wide protest in solidary with ASUU, on Tuesday 26, July and Wednesday 27, July, 2022 more needs to be done. Men and women of goodwill, honour and valor should do the needful by adding their voice(s) for this disturbing impasse to come to an end. The educational welfare of the students is of paramount importance to the nation. Nothing is too much to put in the system so as to make it more functional, productive, dynamic and condusive. It is indeed sad that, Nigerians who can afford it, have been sending their children to neighbouring countries for studies. For a country that prides itself as “the giant of Africa” and for a nation that hitherto had some of the vibrant, pace-setter universities in the African continent, the present turn of events is worrisome, shameful and unacceptable. All hands heads must and should be on deck to salvage the ugly trend.
PLSG committed to generating more jobs
THE Plateau State government has set a machinery in motion to generate 20,000 jobs aimed at addressing the high rate of unemployment in the state.
Governor Simon Lalong disclosed this while inaugurating the State Employment Council at Government House, Rayfield, Jos, Thursday.
The Plateau State Employment Council which is to work in partnership with the Germany International Corporation, (GIZ) has Secretary to the Government of the State, Professor Danladi Atu as Chairman and the Permanent Secretary Policy and General Services, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the State, Mr Richard Tokma as its Secretary.
Represented by his Deputy, Professor Sonni Tyoden, Lalong said in line with the National Policy on Employment, the state government decided to set up the Employment Council to serve as a bridge and coordinate platform to guide, streamline and coordinate state efforts towards employment promotion and job creation in the state.
Governor Lalong stressed that to further consolidate job creation initiatives in the state, government has decided to establish an initial framework to streamline and coordinate job creation initiatives, strategies and programmes in the state.
He noted that though unemployment rate in the state might have been impacted by movement of young people from other Northern states into the state in search of opportunities which has caused a threat to security.
He pointed out that the issue of job creation was not the exclusive preserve of government alone and tasked both the private and non state actors to join government to address the problem.
While inaugurating the council, Lalong stated that their terms of refrence were among others, advice on reforms that will enable job creation in the state and review state proposals on jobs creation and suggest recommendations to government on the approach for implementation.
In a remark, the Representative of German International Corporation, Hawa Mankilik expressed readiness for a partnership that would be engaging in a robust dialogue on how to find the way forward. He commended the state government for being the first to establish the council in the country.
Responding on behave of members, Chairman of the council, Professor Danladi Atu appreciated Governor Lalong for the mandate bestowed on them to serve the state and promised to work diligently within the confine of the terms of reference. He called on stakeholders to play their partnership role.
Our correspondent reports that the membership of the Council cuts across relevant ministries and agencies as well as the private sector.