I was a regular traveller between Akoka in Lagos and Covenant University Ota, Ogun State. I am therefore in a position to testify to the stupendous efforts of the governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun. For instance, when he assumed office, Ilo-Awela Road in Ota was in a total state of disrepair. At the moment, however, the road has since undergone a complete transformation. Again, I venture now and then into my hometown, Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State. On one particular occasion, along with my children, I visited my homestead, Ago-Oko. Needless to say, I lost my way. This was because of the huge infrastructural works going on around there. Thus, and despite the formidable odds, it was evident that the governor had done well in his first term. The rest, as they say, is history. The grateful inhabitants of the state have since rewarded the governor with a second term. I daresay that the second term is more than deserved.
But in these times, there is a converse to the above narration. This has essentially been prompted by the rather disturbing news item in the Punch Newspaper of August 13, 2015. According to the news report, the governor has ordered the sacking of six officials of the State Ministry of Education, Science and Technology over an alleged and offensive examination question. However, the dismal situation has been tempered by the fact that two of the sackings have been converted to retirement, while four others were summarily dismissed.
What is perhaps more interesting and, I daresay, perplexing was the nature of the offence. As further revealed in the news report, by Samuel Awoyinfa, the pupils were asked to summarize a comprehension passage in the English Language examination conducted by the Ministry for the Unified Examination in Public Secondary Schools for the third term of the 2014/2015 academic session.
Among other things, the offending passage spoke to the fact that the government was merely paying lip-service to education; that a lot of money had been spent on education but its impact was very minimal. The passage puts the government on the spot by contending that schools being run by the government which were formerly known for academic excellence have suddenly lost their prestige and are living on past glories. The passage goes on to indict the state by contending that the government is not doing enough to assist in the area of education. Examples given here were the alleged inability of the government to pay running costs to schools, as well as the irregular and poor conduct of terminal examinations. The summary passage was said to have been culled from Jola Adegbenro’s “Issues on Education”. By the way, Jola Adegbenro, a teacher in Mayflower Secondary School in Ikenne, was one of the sacked officers.
What do we make of all these? I do not know the year in which Adegbenro published his deposition. But then, the material was there on its own until it was used for the public examination.
In his wildest imagination, it would not have occurred to Adegbenro that his deposition would be given this kind of public outing. But then, as far as I could read from the offending passage, Ogun State government was not mentioned anywhere. Though by way of a counter, our lawyer friends can always evoke innuendo and consequently posit that the empirical reference is clear!
Even then, perhaps the much more fundamental question is: Is it true that education in Ogun State is characterized by the inclement variables revealed in the passage? If the answer is in the positive, then, and with due respect to the state government, it has taken a wrong track. This is because sacking them will not in any way wish away those problems which are said to afflict the education sector.
Moreover, in going after these officials, the state government has, unwittingly perhaps, successfully drawn the world’s attention to the less-than-wholesome state of education in Ogun State. So if the contents of that passage reflect the true state of education, then the governor, I daresay, has a huge task on his hands.
Consequently, and in view of what I consider to be the governor’s positive record of governance, I am using this medium to appeal to the state government to have a re-think on this issue. Your Excellency, sir, kindly restore those sacked officials and tackle the rot highlighted in education.
On this note, permit me to say that history beckons. Today, the governor is fondly remembered for the infrastructural facelift which was given to Ogun State. Our people look forward to the same stellar performance in education. And I am being definitive here. This is because my scout in Ogun State has since confirmed to me that most of the issues raised in that seemingly offensive publication are true.