The Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, has been in the news lately over the outcome of the competence test he administered on teachers in the state with about 22,000 teachers failing Primary Four test questions.
It must be pointed out though that the exercise is not novel to Kaduna, it was carried out in Kwara years back when the current Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, was Governor and the National Publicity Secretary of APC, Mr. Bolaji Abdullahi as his Education Commissioner. The outcome was as disastrous as the latest case in Kaduna.
But unlike Saraki who decided to retrain the woeful teachers, El-Rufai has decided to do away with the failed teachers and recruit new ones from some outer space may be. The Governor in an interview with Vanguard Newspaper summed up the issue as follows:
“Unqualified teachers entered the system because the recruitment of teachers was politicised. The local government council chairmen and other senior politicians and bureaucrats saw teaching as a dumping ground for their thugs, supporters and other unqualified persons. Teachers were employed at local government level without adherence to standards. In many instances, no examinations or interviews were conducted to assess the quality of recruits. Political patronage, nepotism and corruption became the yardsticks, thus giving unqualified persons a way in. Teaching jobs were given as patronage to those connected to politicians and bureaucrats. The Kaduna State Executive Council has approved the recruitment of 25,000 primary school teachers. Recruitment notices have already been advertised by the Kaduna State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB. This time around, there would be standardised tests for the recruits and a further training programme before the new teachers take over the classrooms. No unqualified person will scale through. And we will vet certificates very closely and very often. The future of our children is so important that we will not take chances. We will be vigilant in ensuring that only good people teach in our public schools.”
We should be clapping for this governor but for the pin on his ballon by Zaria NUT chairman, Mr. Yahaya Abass, that the “accidental public servant” is in no way different from those he accused of turning teaching into a “dumping ground” as some of the scripts he displayed belonged to carpenters and messengers he converted to teachers when he assumed office as governor. Hear him: “We were disturbed when we saw those scripts. This was why we investigated.”
“You may recall that el-Rufai has directed the conversion of all redundant staff in the local education authorities to teachers. Among those converted were messengers, carpenters, labourers, security personnel among others. We were made to write the exam in question with those people.
“Our investigation revealed that candidate number EKUB 0059 displayed by el-Rufai was a carpenter in Kubau local government before he was forcefully taken to class. Candidate number EKUB 2839 was a messenger in the same local government.
Ethnic cleansing claims
“If you remember all attempts to draw the attention of the government on the implication of their action fell on deaf ears.
“Again, those who marked this exam are the illiterates, because even these candidates with their limited knowledge have answered some of the questions correctly but they were marked wrong.”
No less damning is the “ethnic cleansing” accusation by the Southern Kaduna Christian Leaders Association in a statement endorsed by Bishop Simon Peters and Bishop Joseph Bagobiri that when the first test given were passed by more teachers, another one was administered wherein the pass mark was put at 75%. Retirees and deceased people are alleged to be many on the “pass list”. They also said that out of the 21,780 teachers who failed the second test, 21,780 were from Southern Kaduna representing 82% of those to be sacked. They added that when Col. Hameed Ali sacked 30,000 protesting civil servants from the state in 1997 more than 80% were from the zone!
While Kaduna is sorting itself out on this cankerworm, there is no denying the fact that standards have fallen in every aspect of our national life. These days you see university graduates who cannot write a correct sentence even to save their own lives. Most drivers on the road cannot read or understand traffic signs. Doctors cannot diagnose patients properly. The late Chief Gani Fawehinmi was treated for pneumonia for years by one of the “best” hospitals in Lagos until real hospital in London discovered he had cancer. Then, it was too late. Quacks have taken over everywhere.
But there is a profession in Nigeria today where the quacks and incompetent have a paradise. And it is where everything rises and falls. 95% of “leaders ” in our clime today will woefully fail Primary One leadership tests if administered. But they are not afraid now as leadership is the only job in the land where no background checks is carry out. This is why the incompetent, certificate forgers, criminals and crooks populate our leadership. Senator Nuhu Aliyu on the floor of the Senate in 2008 and screamed “Mr. President,there are criminals on this floor.”The former AIG of police saw an armed robber he once handcuffed sitting as a “distinguished” Senator in our hollow chambers!
One man who has shown that he may be in the same class with the worst of Kaduna teachers is the current Sports Minister, Mr. Solomon Dalung. He has in the last two years been to “Bendel” and “Gongola” States in Nigeria. He has ensured that the money “he spent were well spended.” He has claimed ignorance of how our team found its way to “United States of Nigeria.” And lately “Argentina is one of the clubs in Nigeria” in the pathetic gaffes of our Honourable Minister! His seat is guaranteed at the Federal Executive Council tomorrow!
The truth is that Nigeria cannot make it beyond the competence and ethical content or its leaders in a warped and dysfunctional structure. And fixing Nigeria can only start with a resurrected electorate that would not allow failures to repeat classes or reproducing themselves. We cannot continue to outsource leadership to the dregs and throng prayer centres calling on God to prosper our nation.
We must become like the Koreans. Korean political class is corrupt and a self-serving mess but the citizens are not. The Korean public has responded with a massive outpouring of peaceful resistance to the shenanigans of its leaders. Corruption may stalk the Korean political establishment, even the president, but the public has made very clear it will not accept that. When the Choi scandal broke out in 2016 millions of Koreans protested peacefully. On November 26, estimates suggest two million people demonstrated, a staggering 4% of the entire national population. Even overseas Koreans protested in Europe and the United States.
The protests happened five weeks in a row, another astonishing feat. Mobilising millions of people for more than a month requires a deep well of public support for democracy. Further, the protests have been totally peaceful. There were no reports of assaults, robberies, and so on. The kind of social anarchy we saw during the Arab Spring protests of similar scale did not occur. The protestors even cleaned up their trash, signaling a commitment to their society even as they rejected its leadership.
That rejection must start here in 2019. Like el-Rufai is poised to do with Kaduna teachers, the Nigerian electorate must be ready East, West, North and South to purge the system of the incompetent, corrupt, visionless and moribund thieving elite.The bar has to be raised.Leadership should not be the comfort zone for the scoundrels.
Our permissive culture have seen veteran 419ners, notorious assassins, armed robbers and allied crooks relocating into the political sphere because we don’t ask where those coming into leadership are from. Someone who wants to hire a driver or house help do more background checks than we ever conduct on those who seek to lead us.
Nigeria is going down the slope and indeed fast disappearing unless good men and women from all comers of Nigeria seek themselves out and congregate in a mighty force to save this republic. For long we have accepted that the cream cannot make it to the top.It is time for the force that can open up the political space for the best and the brightest in our land. Any party that requires its members to rob the bank to buy nomination forms cannot allow the best in the land to represent you. Any party whose front row is an assembly of looters and questionable characters cannot give you a clean government. It is time to take back our country .
It is time for politics that adds values to our people and free them from maggots.