Our Primary Education Lacks Supervision– RivPloy Lecturer

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The basis is the primary system where confidence is built in the child and the child grows with that confidence in himself that hardwork is the key to success.

Chief Akpobari Benson Nwiyor, a lecturer with the School of Foundation Studies of the Rivers State Polytechnic, Bori is a man of many parts. Chief Nwiyor is a traditionalist with the title ‘Mene Dedum 1 of Ogoni land’. He was one time Special Adviser to Khana Local Government Council chairman, and a former staff of the defunct National Electoral Commission (NEC).

In this special interview with The Tide On Sunday, the 50year-old Chief Nwiyor spoke on diverse issues bordering on the traditional institution, education, politics and the performance of the government at the centre and Rivers State. He described the traditional institution as a medium of communication between the political leadership of the country and the people.

“Tradition as a matter of fact has contributed positively to the growth of society, because the way of life is determined by the tradition of the people. When tradition is lost, you find that society will go astray. That is why we find out that these days, the lack of control of the youths has led to loss of focus”, he said.

As a traditionalist, Chief Nwiyor argued that politicians who got to shrines to swear to an oath and visit traditional rulers to ask for libation despise the traditional institution as soon as they come into office.

He called for the re-establishment of the House of Chiefs in the constitution and in the educational curriculum of the country at the primary level,” because the kind of citizens a nation has is dependent on the educational system and that educational system is embedded in the curriculum”.

“Society is changing, very dynamic. We are all living in the same society and when these youths see never-do-wells acquiring wealth and being worshiped by that same society, they  see that as a means. The restiveness is geared towards acquiring wealth, living big in society.

Like this situation now in Rivers State where Chief A.K. Horsfall is trying to train people. Such programmes should not only be limited to repentant militants. It should be extended. When Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi came on board, he did the registration of unemployed Rivers youths. You look through the register and also put them to be part of this training because as you train these militants, others will begin to think they will not be trained if they do not join restiveness.

What is required now is to inculcate those who want to learn a trade. In Nigeria there is so much emphasis on paper qualification, that is why you see somebody who read Medicine ending up becoming  an artist or somebody who read law ending up becoming a fashion designer, all is because the person’s talent is not in Medicine but in arts or fashion designing. That is why the programme should not concentrate on the ex-militants,” he emphasised.

Speaking on the state of education,  Chief Nwiyor said, “education in Nigeria is in the concurrent list of the constitution; federal, state and local governments. Now for primary school (TSS) some states have agreed to pay while some are yet to pay. Now at the university level, ASUU just went on strike, and federal government has signed the agreement in contention, but you see the basis of the educational system is the primary level, and the primary levels have collapsed. Go to the rural areas and see what is happening. There is total lack of supervision.

The Ministry of Education, say at the state level, should have to reinvigorate the supervisory division or department of the educational system. Now if you look at what His Excellency Rt. Hon. Amaechi is doing you can see that so much is being done on the educational sector.

Before now teachers used to complain about non-payment of salaries but now they even earn salaries before others, at the end of every month, teachers are paid. They are building new schools and then providing infrastructures for these schools. Again, that needs some gradual approach.

Take three senatorial districts in Rivers State and establish  one or two schools in each of the senatorial districts for boarding because at the secondary level the boarding system is not there and students go through schools without knowing what is senior. I left school in 1977 and all those before me, I call them senior everyday in my life. Now, if a teacher disciplines a pupil, the parent will come to fight. There is need for a total re-orientation of even the parents as to the attitude of their wards in school.

Now, the private schools have out numbered public schools  and their fees are astronomical. If Governor Amaechi can build secondary schools with boarding facilities, parents, I am sure will be ready to pay at least 50 per cent of what the private schools charge, and not to allow the present system where students write West African School Certificate, NECO and JAMB exams in the creeks and cassava farms and  these are the same people who get admission into the universities and you want them to rule. How can restiveness seise? These days you enter primary school, no more secondary school, no more national common entrance or state common entrance no more interview.

The basis is the primary system where confidence is built in the child and the child grows with that confidence in himself that hardwork is the key to success.

He called for the upgrading of polytechnic, If the government can run a polytechnic that has the requisite manpower and learning equipment, they can affiliate them to unverisites and allow the universities moderate their examinations, then the glamour will come. It is a shame that polytechnics in this country are being supervised by National  Board for Technical Education (NBTECH) which is supposed to be for City and build. They should set up a National Polytechnic Commission that can design a curricula. It is a kind of synergy with the National University Commission (NUC), he advocated.

On the upgrading of R/SCOE – The law upgrading the COE to a University of Education is a welcome development that is long overdue. We can’t be under tutelage forever. The College of Education has been under the University of Ibadan for more than 20 years.

On his assessment of ten years of democracy in Nigeria, he said “Nigeria has made progress in sustaining democracy. The first  Republic 1960 to 1968, then the Civil War, democracy worked for 6 years. Second Republic, 1978 to 1984, democracy worked for five years and now 10 years.

We have made progress, but the problem is people have so much expectation but it is a gradual process. What we should be looking at is building lasting democratic institutions; the process of selection, the process of election and the process of litigation on electoral offences. When all these things are properly put in place then we will make it. For example, after the re-run of the election in Ekiti State, they are still back in the court. The problem is with the people.

People blame Prof. Murice Iwu but I don’t see any problem with Iwu. Iwu does not come to Bori to conduct an election. It is the individuals, polling clerks who are the same Ogoni people that conduct the election. So  if  you steal ballot box and run into the bush or into the creeks, you go to Abuja and arrest Iwu?

Once there is a transparent electoral process, a candidate who fails election will see it glaringly that he has failed. That is why I subscribe to the option A4. The problem is that people have lost confidence in the electoral process. A transparent democratic process is what is important, so that people who emerge are people who have followership of the people. People that will be seen to be leaders in their own right and such people will not fail the electorate”, he opined.

On the political situation in Anambra State, he said, “Sule Balogun says “I have enough money to make me live well, but not too much to make me mad,” That is the situation in Anambra, they have too much money so they are politically mad. But the future of the 2011 general election is very bright. Bright in the sense that we have seen those who have performed and those who have not performed. What is happening in Anambra, that is where INEC comes in because INEC is supposed to supervise their primaries and if the party did not follow the rule and INEC accepts it then INEC has caused the problem. Because they have to meet up the deadline so as far as I am concerned to my own understanding of the situation I don’t think that PDP actually has a candidate in Anambra election.

My assessment of Yar’Adua is that- Nigerians are so much in a hurry. Let us give him sometime. His style may be slow but the end justifies the means. There is no leader without a fault. Look at the way he handled the Niger Delta issue. Some people say go all out to war, but he is not a military man. We suffer here.

We lost Ken Saro-Wiwa. Probably if Ken was not killed, this issue would not have gone up to this level. He has his approach as a leader. What he sees sitting on the throne as President of Nigeria, you outsider will not see.

 Today Barack Obama has won the international peace prize because of his approach to international diplomacy, people like Ronald Reagan and george Bush would not have won it. Yar’Adua may be slow but he has his own style.

Chief Nwiyor also assessed the two years rule of Governor Amaechi. “He is something extra-ordinary. In my village they have mounted for the first time electric poles and very soon we will have light. Let me take Bori and Khana as a whole. In Bori you see all the roads tared,

Look at the comprehensive health centre, being built all over the state. Our people also are empowered through the supply of sand, cement and labour to these projects.

In the area of education ,teachers are no longer complaining about salaries but the problem is supervision of primary schools. This is the golden era of Rivers politics interms of security. There should be the injection of new bloods into his cabinet for better result.

Rivers State as at now is his constituency, whether you believe or you do not believe. Even if you don’t believe later you will believe. He should also reconstitute the remaining boards too”, he concluded.

 

Amieyeofori Ibim