• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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KC, education and Nigeria

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Recently, I attended a seminar that was hosted by the Kings College Old Boys’ Association (KCOBA).The seminar was part of the 105th anniversary of the famous school. The topic of the seminar was: Vision for Education in Nigeria. As if to underscore the fact that we were not in for sheer talk, the Chairmen of the two leading political parties, All Progressives Congress, APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were the guest lecturers.

The lecture teed off with an address by Philip Asiodu.He did a survey of the golden era of education. Among other things, he made the point that such is the importance of education that all of us were in that Muson Centre courtesy of our educational status. In the process, he highlighted one major reason why our schools went into the dungeon. According to him, this was mainly because of the element of monopolized ownership which crept into education. Hitherto, schools were owned by a variety of social forces-voluntary agencies, missionaries, state governments  local governments and the Federal government. One day however, the government decided to overhaul this healthy and competitive profile. In the process, quality simply nose-dived. As if to worsen matters and as revealed by Asiodu even the Federal Government Colleges that were just a handful at a point in time had an exponential growth. The next speaker was Mustapha Chike Obi, the big boss at the Asset Management Company of Nigeria, AMCON. He addressed the issue from a slightly different angle. He focused on unemployment and he tried to advance reasons why Nigeria has to contend with this scourge. According to him, most of us are paying attention to the supply side of education. In the process, he argued that we have failed to put in place an educational system which will cater for the needs of employers. This repeated failure to anticipate employers’ needs lie at the root of our educational problems, he stressed.  The subsequent speaker, Segun Oni-the former Governor of Ekiti State who in fact was the representative of the APC Chairman- Odigie Oyegun. He gave us a comprehensive insight into the plans and policies of the APC government if and when the party comes to power. And it was touching and a bit ironic to hear him refer to PDP as the people on the other side. Afterall; he was on that other side, only yesterday! But then I digress. All told, his was a very good address. And it was also very proactive since he also spoke to what his party will do after what he called: the oil economy.  One of the panelists, Leke Pitan virtually aligned himself with his Party man Segun Oni.But he expanded on the theme of special education. And it was touching to hear him speak, if only because most of us will not easily remember this important aspect of our educational system.

One individual who virtually carried the day was the former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi. He spoke to his experience as Governor in the area of education. In address that was spiced with light-hearted banter, he gave the audience an insight into how he was able to turn around the fortunes of education in Anambra state. In the process he spoke to the lethargic bureaucracy that was in the habit of putting in place obstacles. All told, what he said was a clear validation of what Asiodu said earlier as regards the rather unwise policy whereby the voluntary agencies and missionaries were pushed out of education. Ituah Ighodalo spoke to the sad paradox of a country which has yam, gets it exported and imports same in the form of pounded- yam. Of course, he was largely being allegorical. But when you think of the oil industry; this is the sad and grim reality.

On my own part, I started on a personal note by contending that my headmaster-James Adeyemi Soremekun was of a Baptist extraction yet he headed a Muslim primary school in the colonial era. This was largely due to the rigorous oversight put in place by the colonialists. I went on to talk about why there are no jobs in Nigeria. This I contended was due to the fact that all the basic generators of employment had been eaten up by an uncaring political class. I subsequently spoke to the issue of oil economy as advanced by Segun Oni. I argued that there is really no oil economy in Nigeria. This is because there are no backward linkages in the Nigerian oil industry. Indeed, and as I argued further, the whole notion of resource control is a sham since we are only struggling for the crumbs from the tables of the oil companies. I went on to dwell on the human aspect of our education by listing a number of Professors who died recently without collecting the arrears of their pensions. The last word however must go to Asiodu who virtually brought all of us on course. He did this by contending that the two political parties do not even have to go far as regards the policy map for our educational system. He advised that both parties should simply look up the Vision2020 and 2010 documents for the necessary guidance and inspiration. All told, it was a good outing and one cannot but thank the President of the (KCOBA) Hakeem Belo Osagie and his team for putting in place this activity. My only regret is that Belo Osagie refused to be drawn on his exposures to famous places like: The World Atlantic College, Oxford and Cambridge.

KAYODE SOREMEKUN