Education has long been identified as the bedrock of individual and societal development. Be it formal education in the primary, secondary and tertiary institutions or informal education, which involves one being a journeyman to a qualified tradesman for a number of years, like in the making of a roadside auto mechanic, welder or auto electrician, to mention just these, the goal is the same.
It is through any of these forms of education that one could improve himself and then his family and society. Without one form of education or the other, survival in a modern society, particularly in the urban centres becomes an uphill task.
If one is not usefully engaged either as a self-employed person, or an employee of one organization or the other, he or she cannot raise the resources to pay his or her rent, pay the steadily rising electricity bills, and other utilities as well as feed himself and family. This accounts for the more than passing interest government at all levels pay to the education sector.
The objective of educating the youth in a manner that makes majority of them to be self-employed, and even employers of labour has become more imperative now than ever before in view of the acute unemployment situation in the country.
For example, the rising crime rate has been attributed to frustration on the part of the unemployed, and in some cases, unemployable graduates of our tertiary institutions, whose ranks continue to swell at the end of each academic session.
This position, therefore, makes it necessary for government to rethink its education curricula in order to evolve a strategy that would yield graduates or youths that, in the main, could be self-sustaining.
It is in this connection that plans by the Rivers State Government led by Rt. Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, to unveil a new domesticated curricula for schools by September 2011 becomes relevant.
Happily, since the plan is envisaged to lay a solid educational foundation for youths at the formative and most difficult years of their lives during the primary and secondary school years, it is pertinent to suggest that the curricula be technical education-oriented.
That the Rivers State Government is very interested in the education and development of youths is not in doubt as underlined by the huge and extensive infrastructural facilities now being put on ground at the primary and secondary school levels.
In fact, the government’s vision, which is anchored on the more than 350 state-of-the-art model primary schools and 23 world-class model secondary schools, being built across the 23 local government areas of the state, is premised on this policy framework. Although some of these schools, especially the model primary schools, have been equipped and tastily furnished, what is left now is the provision of equipment for the remaining schools, with adequate staffing to drive the dream of government, to build a human capacity base that meets the increasing demands of the ever dynamic and competitive 21st century world.
But, we have seen that over time, the existing grammar schools dotted across the length and breathe of the state, have failed to produce skilled manpower that would be helpful in the technological advancement of the country, hence the need for emphasis to be placed on technical education for youths.
Indeed, the Osun State Governor, Gbemi Rauf Aregbesola, made the point crystal clear recently when he advocated a national policy on job creation and poverty alleviation through the use of vocational technical education to tackle rising unemployment, and the consequent high criminality profile in the land.
In his message last week to the 17th National Conference for Schools of Business Studies at Federal Polytechnic, Ede, Aregbesola noted that the policy, when in place, would ensure that education would offer less of books but more of bolts and nuts training, adding that upon completion, and with some help from government, products of vocational technical education would be equipped to practice their trades.
Aregbesola, in his address for the conference with the theme, “vocational technical education and national development”, also said that rising unemployment among the nation’s teeming graduates calls for the adoption of this type of education to address the problems.
From the foregoing, one could assert that adequate funding and rehabilitation of our existing technical schools, plus the raising of new ones in each of the 23 local government areas of Rivers State, would be money well channeled in the interest of the youths in particular and society at large.
At at now, the existing technical schools include the Government Technical School in Tombia, Government Vocational Training Centre (GVTC), Port Harcourt, Government Technical Secondary School, Oginigba, among others. In fact, at the higher level of education, the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), Nkpolu, and the Rivers State Polytechnic, Bori, where the students who show exceptional ability or who excel in academics could go for their degree programmes in technical courses.
That vocational technical education is the way out of this massive youth unemployment is not in doubt, especially for youths in Rivers State, where there is ample opportunity for technically-trained persons to assist themselves, their families, communities and state, through the provision of much-needed services to the ever-increasing range of oil and gas industry players in this hub of hydrocarbons business in Africa.
The state government is, therefore, encouraged to explore this option in view of its potential advantages in engaging the youths in meaningful endeavours, and thus, arresting the bourgeoning spectre of militancy and other social vices now ravaging the society.
Moreover, it is high time the youth realized that the future of the country is in their hands, and this places on them enormous responsibility to ruminate on their future, which is fast approaching an epic stage.
Methinks that the Rivers State Government is equal to the task, but it is necessary to insist that all stakeholders, including parents, religious institutions and faith-based organisations, community leaders and mentors should impress on the youths the need to embrace vocational technical education for a better tomorrow. This is even more important now than ever before because of the growing trend toward world’s reliance on innovation, creativity and ingenuity to advance human and social development of society.
Wike’s 100 Days: A Score Card
When in 2015, Chief Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, the then outgoing Minister of State for Education, contested and won the governorship election in Rivers State, not many believed he would remain in office to complete his four-year term.
At that time, many, especially those from the opposition, preferred to call him all sorts of unpalatable and unprintable names.
Some called him caretaker Governor, others called him temporary Governor while some called him Acting Governor.
These names were based on their strong conviction that Nyesom Wike, coming from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a party that is not in control of the Federal Government would be removed by the Election Petitions Tribunal.
Surprisingly, his victory was validated by the Supreme Court which ultimately consolidated his position as Executive Governor of Rivers State.
Nyesom Wike has since completed his first tenure and also contested and won his second tenure as Governor of Rivers State.
Although the experiences of the election were not a pleasant one, it is gratifying to note that the event has come and gone and Rivers people are thankful to God for the victory of Nyesom Wike at the polls.
As a demonstration of their thankfulness many Christian denominations across the state held services to thank God for the victory of Governor Nyesom Wike at the polls, considering the peculiar environment in which the election was held.
With the unprecedented level of military involvement in the election, a development never witnessed in the nation’s political history and experience, not many hoped that the incumbent had any chance of winning.
That was why the thanksgiving that heralded his second-term victory was worth the while.
What is most interesting is that the man who was nicknamed caretaker Governor has not only completed his first term in office but also celebrated 100 days in his second tenure.
This is why the celebration that greeted the first 100 days into the second tenure of Governor Nyesom Wike was expedient, especially given the impression that most governors normally do not do well in their second tenure.
With the array of projects inaugurated in the areas of roads, schools, markets and housing, Governor Wike has left no one in doubt that he prepared himself for the task of governance.
He has also changed the notion that most second-tenure governors do not do well in projects delivery.
Just within 100 days in office, Governor Nyesom Wike, according to critical observers, has surpassed the performance of some governors in four years.
According to them, the high impact projects commissioned during the 100 days anniversary have shown that the governor is developing the state for the future.
It also shows the extent to which the governor is committed to meeting the human capital, social, educational, and infrastructural needs of the people of the state.
His interest in the development of sports in the state culminated in the establishment of the Real Madrid Academy while the commissioning of Civil Servants quarters and the Labour House are another mind boggling achievements and a clear demonstration of Governor Wike’s labour-friendly disposition.
No doubt the Real Madrid Academy will boost sports development in the state and consequently take young boys and girls off the streets, while the NLC House would provide favourable environment for labour leaders to articulate labour related issues.
The focus the state Chief Executive has placed on football development in the state is born out of the knowledge that football is a big money spinner.
The likes of Joseph Yobo, Taribo West, Adokiye Amiesimaka, Peter Rufai to mention but a few grew to stardom and attained international recognition through football.
No doubt the introduction of the Real Madrid Football Academy would groom football talents that would step into the shoes of former football stars of Rivers extraction.
To showcase his worker-friendly disposition, the state governor also embarked on the construction of Civil Servants quarters.
While we appeal to the state government to ensure that the houses are allocated to genuine civil servants, we also advised would-be occupants of the quarter to adopt high maintenance standards so that other workers in the state can also benefit when they leave the service.
Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike needs to be highly commended for initiating these laudable projects within the first 100 days of his second tenure in office.
To state the obvious, Rivers people are very happy with the achievements of the Governor in just 100 days in office.
It is also their expectation that the labour-friendly governor will extend this good gesture to the welfare of civil servants through promotion of deserving staff and payment of promotion benefits as well as payment of gratuities and pensions to retired staff who are yet to be paid their entitlements.
In all, Governor Wike’s second-tenure 100 days in office is a celebration of excellence in governance.
It has also sent a clear message to Rivers people that there will be no dull moment in the state in project execution and inauguration during the governor’s second term in office.
What he needs, therefore, is our collective support and encouragement, not vilification.
Deeyah is of Radio Rivers FM.
Why Budget For Generating Sets?
When the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) constituted and empowered a 23-member Electric Power Implementation Committee (EPIC), the committee was charged with the responsibility of developing guidelines for promoting the policy goals of total liberalization and competition. It also had the task of promoting private sector-driven growth of the electricity sector.
Usually, whenever private sector participation becomes imperative, it is an indication of a gap calling for a bridge. If as posited by Okoro and Chikuni (2007), constant power supply is the hallmark of a developed economy, it implies that our nation whose energy need is epileptic in supply, will not only be prolonging her development, it also risks losing potential investors.
The realization of this fact, I supposed, became a strong justification for the power sector reformation efforts in Nigeria, which culminated in the signing into law of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, on March 11, 2005, by the then President and Commander-in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
Ever since, several policies have been put in place by government to strengthen the sector for enhanced productivity, and probably actualize the federal government’s target of achieving a whooping 20GW of available electricity capacity by the end of the year 2020 .
That was exactly the begining of the unbundling of the Nigerian power sector. The eventual loss of the monopoly of the Nigerian Electricity Power Authority (NEPA) over the operation of the Nigerian power sector in 1998 was testimonial of the effort of the committee in this direction.
Just two months ago, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the federal government’s power sector reforms are already yielding results as steady progress is being recorded in power generation, transmission and distribution capacities on the national grid.
Osinbajo, who said this at the commissioning of a 2 x 60 MVA, 132/33KV substation and associated 132KV transmission lines in Abeokuta, Ogun State, views the substation and transmission lines, built by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) and the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), as an important part of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s efforts to improve the supply and quality of power reaching the homes and businesses of Nigerians.
He ascerted that Nigeria at the moment has 13,427 MW of installed capacity, and an available capacity of 8,342MW, an achievement he attributed to the efforts of the government/ private sector partnership in the rehabilitation/commissioning of turbines in Shiroro, Egbin, Delta Power, Sapele, and Gbarain.
Expressing high optimism, he assured of a new generation of energy in the tune of Gbarain (Extra 115 MW); Kashimbilla (40 MW); Afam III Fast Power (240 MW); Gurara (30 MW); Dadin Kowa (29 MW); and Kaduna (215 MW).
“In the long term, several solar plants will come on stream; the national grid, has the capacity to transmit 7,000 MW an increase from less than 5,000MW in 2015, this is due to the completion of several transmission projects like the Ikot Ekpene switching station and the completion of the Ikot Ekpene-Ugwuaji-Makurdi-Jos loop done by the NDPHC in 2017.” He added.
Of course, as a key stakeholder in both urban and economic development, nothing short of a vote for private sector involvement could be apt at this moment in the country’s power sector given its place as a major contributor to national income and the principal job creator and employer.
With the number of both electricity generating and distribution companies now operational in the country’s power sector, it becomes questionable should the federal government’s target of 20GW of available electricity capacity by the end of the year 2020 be not realized.
Surprisingly, amidst the achievements of the federal government in this sector, as potrayed by the Vice President, the inclusion of the purchase, fueling and maintenance of electricity generating sets across ministries, departments and agencies in the country, coupled with the whopping sum of N9.05bn assigned to it by the government in its 2020 budget proposal, tends to send a misleading signal towards the realization of the federal government’s target of 20GW of available electricity capacity by the end of the year 2020.
The foregoing rather recalls to mind the words of former President Olusegun Obasanjo that “if we insist that by the year 2020, our economy is expected to join the world’s twenty largest economies in GDP size, then the electricity issue must be considered the top most of priorities. If we fail in this sector, we can as well bid farewell to any aspirations towards 2020.”
According to reports from a national daily on the budget proposal submitted to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, October 8, 2019, the sum of money earmarked to be spent on generator might be much more as some agencies like the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), which have offices across the country.
The paper reported that the N9 billion earmarked for generators by the Federal Government is more than the Internally Generated Revenue of Bauchi, Abia, Zamfara, Kogi, Anambra, Bayelsa, Jigawa, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Borno, Taraba, Yobe and Gombe States in the first and second quarters of 2019.
If the achievement so recorded in power generation by this administration as announced by the Vice President could be taken for real, how then do we justify the outrageous amount captured in the 2020 budget proposal for generating sets alone? Is it that we generate without distribution?
Given that 2020 is our target year, I think the leadership of this great nation will be doing a great disservice to the led if it continues to place high premium on generating sets instead of looking for ways to distribute the energy so generated.
Appraising The Legal Profession
If I say that I want to be a lawyer, it will perhaps raise a smile or doubts concerning my sanity. Nevertheless, it is a fact that even today the Bar has a strange fascination for me.
Many people denounce the legal profession because of its seeming tendency to compromise practitioners. I don’t agree with those persons because I believe for every profession, there is the right person who is bound to succeed in it.
Of course, there are many who castigate the law profession, whether one succeeds in it or not. These ones say that the profession serves no practical purpose; that lawyers are unnecessary in a society where there is a perfect adjustment or better still, where Plato’s utopic ideals reign supreme.
But I consider it an abstract approach to the question. What if that perfect society does not exist – as surely it does not exist just at – why shouldn’t a man enter a profession which is a necessity in an imperfect society?
As society remains constituted, there is no doubt that lawyers perform the most useful function. Indeed, I cannot imagine any society in which there will be no lawyers. If there is civilization, there must be law; and if there is law, there must be lawyers. Disputes occur even in the most nicely adjusted society, and they must be settled in terms of the law that prevails.
Law exists for this reason that when there is a quarrel, it will not lead to what is called in logic the argumentum ad baculum, which means having recourse to force. In a civilized society, the law has superseded force and to assist in the administration of the law is to help civilized life to operate.
But it is usually said that the legal profession is such that honesty is impracticable. This argument leaves me cold. For the dishonest man, there is dishonesty in every profession. If I keep to the straight path, I do not think I can do any harm, even the temptation to be dishonest cannot affect me.
My business as a lawyer, as I understand it, will not be to falsify facts or twist evidence, but to explain facts and interpret the law in relation to such facts. I am sure if the client knows that I will not advise him against the trend of the law or the evidence available, he will have all the greater respect for my advice and will come to me with redoubled confidence.
It is more difficult for me to answer the economic arguments against joining the legal profession than the moral. It is said – and rightly so – that the law profession in Nigeria is over-crowded. But there is always room at the top for the best. That is to be among the best.
I have seen new entrants to the legal profession idling away their time instead of applying their minds whole-heartedly to the onerous task of preparation, which is always and in every profession very difficult. I mean to spend the first few years when briefs are few and far between in reading hard, thus familiarizing oneself with the technicalities of the profession.
The legal profession is a highly intellectual trade. It requires a keen and intellectual mind. It has no end of charm for those who delight in pursuing the truth through a labyrinth of complicated facts. Concerning the study of law, Edmund Burke said:
“This study renders men acute, inquisitive, dexterous, prompt in attack, ready in attack, ready in defence, full of resources”. And of lawyers, he said that “they augur misgovernment at a distance and sniff the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze”. Surely, lawyers are the custodians of the people’s rights and liberties.
The evil side of the legal profession is often a little too much advertised. I don’t deny the existence of this aspect of the profession. But at the same time, one must not be blind to the great good that lawyers have done. They have been the guardians of law and liberty. They have protected the individual from the tyranny of the high and mighty.
Examples abound in this regard. Men like late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, etc are known to practice law for more social than economic reasons. They fight for the rights of the down-trodden and oppressed. They have also insisted that the government must also keep within the limits of the statutes.
In all countries, it is the lawyers who have taken the largest share in protecting political rights and in denouncing executive tyranny. In our country, some of the greatest names – living or dead – belong to the legal profession.
In joining such a profession, therefore, I feel that I am not doing anything unwise or improper. On the contrary, I believe that I will be upholding the highest traditions if I can make good my ambition to be a member of this noble profession.
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