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Independence Special

ICT And Education Transformation In Nigeria

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NIGERIA @ 55

Barineme Beke Fakae

When Nigeria celebrated independence in 1960, she celebrated independence from everything negative such as poverty, ignorance, poor infrastructure, illiteracy etc. to gain everything positive which included education, improved security, good governance and world class industries.  Fifty five years down the line, we are to reflect what have been the gains of independence, especially in the education subsector.

It is said that, “knowledge is power”!  Knowledge comes by the way of education but with very poor educational group performance as seen in our schools in the immediate past years, one doubts whether Nigeria have acquired the power needed to thrive in this modern time.  With increasing low passes at the West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE), which is a reliable measure, we may not say that Nigeria has performed credibly by gaining appreciable “power” that comes through education since independence.  The question then is, “How can Nigeria improve?”

Nigeria has great assets which include great teachers, great environment, great resources and great global positioning in many respects, but what is wrong with our education?

There has been outcry of deplorable academic standards in developing countries including Nigeria. The falling academic standards have been linked with poor funding and organizational inefficiencies due to corruption.

Our present value system unfortunately seems to condone false claims of educational attainment, without a problem-solving content.  In the primary and secondary schools, children are being passed to the next grade when they should be held back, and as a result they are unable to complete grade-level work and keep up with their classmates.  About 35 percent, on the average, are able obtain five credits (with English and Mathematics) in WASCE, yet less than half of these are able to proficiently read or complete mathematics problems.  It has been observed that instead of proper education there has been mass certification of illiterates through examination malpractices.

Within this “jet age”, surprisingly, inefficient and obsolete (manual) management of data, records and information in the universities has remained endemic. With most universities over-subscribed and their facilities over-stretched, the present manual management systems used in most educational institutions have proved inadequate, ineffective and cannot sustain effective planning and management of the institutions.  The processes and methods are handicapped with regards to the volume of data processed within the system daily.  This situation has led to fraud and other related corrupt practices and gradual disintegration of the sector.

Lecturers cannot be properly appraised to know the level of knowledge transfer they deliver to their students.  While students on the other hand engage in all kinds of malpractice and frauds just to ensure they beat the porous system.

Students and lecturers hide under the cloak of the disarray in the sector to perpetuate all acts that have undermined the progress of the sector.  With students data/ records not properly tracked, results and scores not efficiently managed, courses not tracked effectively, students even evade the payment of fees due to lack of proper crosschecking and validating systems.

With matriculation numbers all muddled up, grades inconsistent, conflicting course codes etc., learning and assessment is rather an uphill task for most of the universities.

The story in the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST) (Nigeria’s premier university of science and technology) was not any different seven (7) years ago when a new management team assumed office.

In a project to revamp academic processes and orderliness in RSUST, Port Harcourt, a vigorous Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Master Plan was implemented in 2008.  RSUST to date, has become the foremost e-varsity in the country, having been able to provide 15-year result online with all key processes for students’ admission and course registration done electronically.  Good quality graduates have started emerging as qualifying examinations are now done online with instant release of the students’ results and transcripts on graduation.

The adoption of ICT tools within the past seven (7) years has transformed the university into the country’s foremost e-varsity status and has strategically put it on the path to effective delivery of quality education service and sustainable growth.

The vision and foresight to embrace change and modern learning technologies can make a world of difference in the education sector in Nigeria.  Indeed, the use of ICT will allow for strategic reforms for effective and quality education by overriding all areas of human ineptitude, putting away manual manipulation of the key processes of teaching, learning, testing and monitoring.  The role of ICT is to police the key processes and make them transparent.  Our failures in the key processes of student training (outlined in Fig 1) have stood in the way of our becoming globally competitive in the quality of graduates that are turned out of present the Nigeria’s education system.

We accept that in our educational system, there are those who are technophobic but the truth is that nobody will be able to stand in the way of technological development in the spheres of life. It is better to face reality, especially as scholars in the education sphere who ought to learn every day. The Bible has predicted that in the last days knowledge shall increase and we are currently experiencing breath-taking technological breakthroughs.  The electronic purchases which are a common place today had been predicted; where the Bible says we shall buy without money.  Just in the recent past, automated teller machines (ATM) sounded like a fairy tale but today ATM cards are commonly used and banking transactions are even done with the use of mobile phones. Electronic access to places was also predicted in the Bible that at a time only those who bear a special number (666) will have access to specified places and conduct businesses. Biometric is used today through fingerprints to give access into restricted places or obtain a whole range of data about a person. All these advances are coming to better our lives and educational pursuit cannot be excluded.

In recent times there has been impressive human technological evolution. The global communication and information infrastructure has been built and the devices that we use to access it are becoming more and more sophisticated.  Analog experiences are been converted  to digital ones and with that every process we ever thought we understood is beginning to change. “As we digitize greater slots of our lives, it changes everything about it,” said Shawn DuBravac, chief economist and director of research at the Consumer Electronics Association.

Imagine conducting an admission exercise into an educational institution through blind testing, online, based on approved curriculum and candidates are taken on merit within the carrying capacity of the institution – based on advertised scores. While in the academic programme, attendances at classes and seminars for both teachers and learners are clocked electronically to show percentage compliance to attendance, with course content delivery and feedback monitored remotely. Plagiarism is checked through online submission of assignments to allow for originality and protection of intellectual property.

The scenario painted above is not a dream world but what is obtainable in other advanced economies in the world.  The outcome of such an educational system will of course announce itself.  This is attainable as shown in the fast advances in the Rivers State University of Science and Technology where it was possible to rise from a cult-laden institution, trailing at the bottom of national webometric ranking table, to becoming a trailblazer as one of the top-ranking Universities in the Nigeria within five years!

At present, inspection and monitoring are absent in a large number of Government institutions.  This is one area where virtual learning environments (VLE) reveal what cannot be monitored manually by the school authorities.  Some teachers in the tertiary institutions may select to teach just few topics in a whole curriculum and examine students on just those topics.  A student may score “A” in a course but may know next to nothing in the course just because the curriculum delivery was not monitored.

Even with overpopulation in Universities in a bid to “open access” for education, within a VLE, more students can be reached with recorded lecture/practical sessions and can review/replayed at a more importuned time outside the classroom.  Virtual laboratories also allow students to participate in practical classes within little spaces.

An effective feedback system shapes learning.  It is now common that teachers, especially in the tertiary institutions, do not return graded continuous assessments scripts to students anymore.  This was the old way of obtaining feedback because the student is able to see his/her performance and note the teachers comments on the answer scripts so as to prepare for the main examination. With an effective VLE, it will be possible for the teacher and the learner to obtain feedback, irrespective of class size.

Being ICT-rich gives an educational institution a competitive advantage in recruiting quality students. In Nigeria, demand for higher education far outstrips supply; therefore Governments and institutions must turn more to the use of ICTs to bridge the access gap.  Online administration policies are unlikely to be influenced by politics.  When clear cut cut-off marks are determined online, merit is not sacrificed on the altar of politics, corruption, mediocrity or ethnicity.

New times demand new ways of learning.  The world is becoming more and more complex; forcing people to realize the inadequacy of manually operated information systems and hence become more dependent on computer technology.

We must appreciate the dynamic change that is occurring with the human race right now, rather than playing the ostrich. A super computer (smartphone) is fast becoming a common place in everybody’s pocket and it is changing everything. Human behaviour is undergoing change, whether we realize it or not.  So is every human industry, including education (learning and teaching processes).  ICT is no more just in the form of Management Information Systems but it is moving beyond personal computers to mobile technology and Cloud Computing.  Any sector that is expecting growth ought to integrate these emerging technologies into its ICT policies and programmes.  The earlier we realise this and adapt, the better for the purpose of our survival in a competitive global climate.

In addition to introduction of ICT, there is need for continuous professional development (CPD) through training to equip teachers with cutting-edge pedagogical skills. According to a group study presented at the Commonwealth of Learning for the UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education, in Paris, 2009, today’s students (digital natives) have a different way of approaching and using technologies like cell phones and computers that their teachers (digital immigrants) still need to come to terms with.  Training of educators is therefore necessary to gain an understanding of the virtual worlds that their learners move in so that they can better understand how to interact with them in ways that make sense to the digital natives. For us to benefit from the emerging trends in learning, it is required that teachers and students are educated on various computer platforms and software environments. CPD should not be made optional but should be demanded by the employers because, “he who pays the piper dictates the tune.”

The traditional learning model may not be relevant to real student needs. Today’s workplaces and communities have tougher requirements than ever before. They need citizens who can think critically, innovatively and strategically to solve problems.  These individuals must learn in a rapid changing environment, and build on knowledge taken from numerous sources and different perspectives. They must understand systems in diverse contexts, and collaborate locally and globally.  This is only possible through internet based networks which allow for real time collaboration. Our students therefore ought to be engaged in authentic and multidisciplinary tasks and assessments based on students’ performance of real tasks.

There is no doubt that technology creates powerful learning designs which allow students and teachers to work on meaningful and challenging problems. The integration of ICTs in education is inevitable.  The wide adoption of ICTs calls for mind sets and skill sets that are adaptive to change.   An attitude of resistance to change is often caused by the lack of appreciation of the benefits brought by ICTs and the fears about the displacement of people by technology. Nigeria needs deliberate and purposeful adaptation of ICTs in its educational sector to override corruption in order to obtain the desired transformation and repositioning in the comity of nations.

 

Professor Barineme Beke Fakae

DVM, MSc (Nigeria), CertRP, PhD (Edinburgh), MNSAP, MCVSN, MNYAS, MAAAS

Professor Barineme Beke Fakae qualified as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) with distinction in Veterinary Parasitology and Entomology and distinction in Veterinary Public Health and Jurisprudence. He obtained PhD in Tropical Animal Health from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

He joined the services of the University of Nigeria Nsukka in 1983 and rose to rank of Professor of Veterinary Parasitology in October 2004.  He headed the Department of Veterinary Parasitology and Entomology and is a Consultant Parasitologist in University of Nigeria Veterinary Teaching Hospital Nsukka.  He was one term Rector of the Rivers State Polytechnic, Bori and a two term Vice Chancellor of the Rivers State University of Science & Technology, Nigeria. During his tenures these institutions experienced vigorous implementation of an ICT master plans coupled with massive infrastructural development and academic orderliness.

Prof Fakae has earned several international fellowships and research awards such as Wellcome Nigeria Fund Research Award, Sir Halley Steward Trust Awards, The Royal society Third World Visiting Scientist Award and Wellcome Trust Traveling Fellowship. He is a member of several learned societies and professional bodies and a foundation member of College of Veterinary Surgeons, Nigeria (MCVSN).  He has presented over 30 (thirty) papers at National and International Conferences and has to his credit over forty (40) publications in peer-reviewed and impact-factored Journals. 

Prof BB Fakae is a resource person to various fora on sustainable vocational and technical education in Nigeria with emphasis on the use of modern information and communication technologies for education management and effective curriculum delivery.

 

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Independence Special

Nigeria At 58: Anything To Celebrate?

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Nigeria clocks 58 years today as she gained her independence from the British colonialists on October1,1960. Fifty-eight years down the road, how has the nation fared? Is there anything to celebrate? Our correspondent went to town to get the views of a cross section of Nigerians and their responses are as amazing as they are interesting. Exerpts.

Hon Awaji –Inombek Abiante, House of Representatives member for Andoni Opobo/Nkoro
What are we celebrating? Are we celebrating constant power or free education? Our contemporaries have gone ahead of us. If you look at countries that started like us, many of them have left us behind. At 58, Nigeria is now the world capital of poverty. If really we are going to celebrate development, which one have we seen? Is it for the attainment in respecting the rule of law?
For us, if we cannot have an honest leadership recruitment process, then, we cannot be celebrating anything. In the last elections, we had reports of vote-buying. Is that progress?
To my mind, the independence anniversary calls for reappraisal and sober reflection, and rededication for better foundation.

Chief Anabs Sara-Igbe (Ijaw Leader)
Well, there are lot of things to celebrate. Over the years, there have been several attempts to disintegrate the country, but it has failed, secondly, seemingly, we are alive, thirdly, we are moving towards democracy, even though what we have now is still military democracy. The America we are seeing today is over 200 years and Nigeria is just 58. So despite the crisis, we are still alive.
We are moving from a poorer nation to an average one, looking at our population and we are able to feed our people.
“However, there is need for improvement. Our democracy and political system is not yet mature. We should see politics as service, we must not see poltics as self gain, and for self enrichment. We should ask ourselves what we can do for our nation. We should rather move our economy from public to private.
We should also think of restructuring the country, so that every section can move to contribute to nation building. Restructuring is the way forward in this country. Our security architecture also needs to be changed. It should be spread in such a manner that every part of the country will have a say in the security apparatus of the country. If we can do all these, then our country will change for the better.
For me, this year’s independence anniversary celebrations should be reflective. We have to look back and see how far we have come as a nation. There is a saying that ‘when you look at your neighbour, you will know what God is planning for you.
So, the question is: who are we looking at? You cannot really achieve much if you don’t have a goal. When it comes to the comity of nations, other nations that are developed and are where we aspire to go should be our model. Today, people from Dubai and the United Arab Emintes are no longer going to America. When you get there today, you will discover that at a time in their history, they were looking at America and today, they were able to achieve something close to America. Today Americans are visiting United Arab Emirates. Even we Nigerians leave our country to go visit Dubai. Unfortunately, these are countries that we were better than in the 60s and 70s, but today, they have gone past us. In the 50s and 60s, people were riding on camels there, but today it’s no longer so because they had a vision and pursued it.
The problem we are facing today is because we don’t pay attention to history. Some of the mistakes we made before, today, our politicians and leaders are still making the same mistakes. Things that are happening today had happened before. We have to learn from history. So for me, we have to do a reflective celebration this year.
“Nigeria at 58, to me we have done well having sustained democracy for 19 years. It’s a pointer that the country is making headway. But more needs to be done among political elites who by their quest to grab power have thrown the country into a chaotic situation.
“The present administration headed by President Buhari has actually not performed creditably. The reasons are that the administration has actually not reached out to the people, and there is practically non-human capital development in the country. That is the more reason why there is tension among the citizenry.
“In the first place, Nigeria is an independent nation, and that is very key, but the persons who celebrate must have a good reason to do so. You know celebration is associated with two things, joy as against kill – joy. Now if you look at the masses, the question I would like to ask is “are the masses happy? Even if you go to the North, some Northerners are not happy. So many of their people have been killed and anybody in mourning cannot be happy.
“Now let’s come to the area, where civil servants have been agitating for salary increase, that too have not materialized. And as you the workforce in Nigeria has greater percentage of the population. These workers also have children in higher institutions and primary schools. If you go to some families, to eat three square meals has become a problem. So many children, those families who have managed to train their children out of school, their children don’t still have jobs and they keep on feeding them – for such families, there is nothing to celebrate.
“For the civil servant whose dream of acquiring new minimum wage, it has not materialised, so for civil servants I don’t think there is anything to celebrate.
“Now if you look at the political atmosphere, the only people who don’t have retirement age are politician. If my grandfather was alive today, as a politicians he would have gone to pick intent form to contest election even at the age of 74. These are the things we are talking about while referring to the youths as leaders of tomorrow. Forgetting that for anyone to be a leader of tomorrow, he or she must undergo tutelage or training, and given a sense of belonging. But you discover that it is not the case in Nigeria. All we see around are old people, who don’t want to leave the political stage, instead they are prepared to adjust their age, in order to perpetuate themselves.

Comrade Opi Erekosima, Rivers State Chapter Chairperson of Radio, Television Theatre Workers Union
I want to join my voice with many other well-meaning Nigerians to congratulate the country as we clock another 58 years. Whether we like it or not, there is every need for us to celebrate. Despite the challenges before us which I see as obstacle, we can surmount, these are things that can make us stronger. I want to congratulate Nigeria for clocking 58 years at least for the first of life. You will really appreciate life when you visit the hospitals and the mortuary. And every Saturday, you hear obituary announcement, at least, that’s when you will appreciate life.
So I have every reason to say congratulations, first to myself and to Nigerians, then to the nation and then to my state. Yes, we are approaching another triumphant entry, I am talking about the 2019 elections and tempers are rising. Nigeria right now looks like a pot that’s boiling and someone needs to open the pot to see what the content is. So whatever the content is, I want to appeal to everybody to be calm. We need to be patient and hardworking.

Godwin Oruigoni, Civil Servant
As far as there is life, there is something to celebrate, even as an individual, you will discover that as you grow old, you see people celebrate life even when they don’t have anything to show with the belief that their tomorrow’s maybe better than today. That’s the same picture we are putting Nigeria into.
Yes, there are a lot of pitfalls and people’s expectation of the country is not what it’s supposed to be and that is why a lot of people are not excited to celebrate. However, if we don’t celebrate, it will look as if we have lost hope as a nation.
So we are celebrating to keep faith that no matter the pitfalls stemming from bad leadership, poor economy and infrastructure, we are still hopeful.
“As a Christian “we are expected to believe that our tomorrow will be better. We are not looking at the indices but we are looking at our potentials. Before this government came on board, there was so much hope, but today we are disappointed.
So we believe that it’s much more than the indices we are seeing now. For me, I believe that at this point in time, there is more God can do to change Nigeria for the better.

Dr Isaac Mieiamuno-Jaja
My opinion will be based on the Scriptures. The Bible says in every situation, we should give thanks to God. At 58 years of our independence, the country may not have arrived to the level everyone may have aspired to be. So in all, every good thing that has happened, some people have lost and in every bad thing that has happened, some other people also gained. On the totality, Nigeria has not gotten to where it supposed to be, but that does not mean that we have not made progress in some areas.
If for nothing, at least Nigeria is at peace and that is enough for us to be happy and thank God.
“So in thanking God, there is nothing like low key and high key thanksgiving and I believe that we must thank God in all fullness, especially for the life that we have. There is every reason to thank God for our independence, the issue of low key and high key does not obtain.

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Independence Special

Nigeria @ 58: The Journey So Far

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Nigeria’s journey to independence came to fruition when on October 1, 1960 the British colonialists granted her request to be independent. Since then, the country’s development has been described by many from different perspectives all through the emergent Republics and actions of politicians.
On the whole, rather than see the country’s existence to date as development, many prefer to view it as mere “moving on”, because, as they are wont to put it, “there’s nothing tangible to show for it, only suffering”. To what extent this is true, is dependent on who says it. A cursory look at Nigeria’s political history puts a lot of what the country is going through under perspective.
At independence, or on attainment of the First Republic, the dominant political parties were Northern People’s Congress (NPC), led by Sir Ahmadu Bello, National Council of Nigerians and Camerouns (NCNC), under the leadership of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Action Group (AG) led by Obafemi Awolowo and Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU), with Malam Aminu Kano as its figure-head.
These parties were in control of their regions and areas of dominance. For instance, the Ahmadu Bello-led NPC was in firm control of the North, save for areas controlled by Aminu Kano’s NEPU. It is the same way that Azikiwe’s NCNC held sway in the Eastern part of the country, while Awolowo’s AG was in charge of the Western Region.
Some of the parties did well for their regions in such areas as infrastructure, education, and commerce. It is important to note here, for instance, that the benefit of Awolowo’s free education policy for the people of the old Western Region is still being reaped till date. The reason is that the people of the region embraced the policy and sent their children abroad to be educated. The result is that currently in Nigeria, the South West Zone has the highest number of educated people.
Awolowo also used proceeds from the sale of cocoa, which his region had in abundance, to build the first television station in Africa and the famous Cocoa House in Ibadan.
One notable snag in the politics of the period was the inability of the political parties to embrace unity and avoid electoral violence. This led to the first military coup of January 15, 1966: a group of young officers led by Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogu toppled the government of Tafawa Balewa, who was Prime Minister, while Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was President in the parliamentary government the country operated at independence. Following the coup, Major-General Aguiyi Ironsi became the first military Head of State.
Ironsi’s rule was cut short as it lasted for only six months, following a counter-coup staged by mostly officers from the North who believed that the first coup was one sided in favour of the South-East.
A young Colonel Yakubu Gowon was then elevated to the rank of General and became the second military ruler of Nigeria. He remained in power until August 27, 1975 when he was overthrown by another group of officers led by General Murtala Mohammed.
General Mohammed’s reign was short-lived as he was assassinated in another bloody coup. But the coup was aborted and Murtala Mohammed’s second in command, General Olusegun Obasanjo took over the reins of leadership and continued with the transition programme initiated by his predecessor in 1976. The transition was to put in place a civilian government in 1979, and also move the nation’s capital to Abuja.
Obasanjo successfully implemented the return to civil rule in October, 1979, which led to the emergence of the Second Republic, with an initial five political parties being registered: National Party of Nigeria (NPN), Nigerian People’s Party (NPP), Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Great Nigeria People’s Party (GNPP), People’s Redemption Party (PRP), and later Nigeria Advanced Party (NAP).
The NPN emerged as the ruling party after the elections with Alhaji Shehu Shagari becoming the first Executive President to be elected under the Federal Republic. This period witnessed some level of stability following the alliance of the NPN and NPP in a government of national unity. Although this alliance packed up later, the NPN still won in the 1983 elections. But no sooner had NPN won than the military struck again, this time under the leadership of General Muhammadu Buhari. The coup brought General Muhammadu Buhari to power on December 31, 1983.
Buhari’s government was toppled in another coup led by Brigadier Sani Abacha, which brought in General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangia (popularly called IBB) in August 1985 as Head of State.
One major innovation Babangida brought in his tenure was to change from multi-party system to two-party system with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and National Republican Convention (NRC) setting the motion for the Third Republic.
The subsequent election that resulted from Babangida’s transition programme in 1993, though adjudged the “freest and fairest” elections Nigeria ever had, was annulled for reasons best known to the government then. The presumed winner of the elction, Chief Moshood Abiola, popularly called MKO Abiola, was not inaugurated as President.
Shortly after, the military set in motion another return to civil rule, following which the PDP won the 1999 elections to commence the present Fourth Republic, which set the record as the first time a civilian government handed over power to another civilian government.
So far, President Olusegun Obasanjo, who emerged the President of the Fourth Republic, had served two tenures of four years each and there had been Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan, and currently, Buhari.
In analysing the country’s political growth since independence, political analysts are of the opinion that what all the political parties in power seem to lack is ideology.
Two scholars stand out in this instance: Dr. Emmanuel Onah and Dr. Ferdinand Ottoh, both of the Department of Political Science, University of Lagos.
According to them, “the political parties have no ideologies. They do not have a guiding principle to run their affairs”.
Otto, for one, is of the belief that it is this lack of ideology by political parties that has played out in the recent massive defections from one party to another.
“If we have ideology-based parties, it will be difficult for politicians to leave their parties for another. Instead, members would remain in their parties to remedy any challenge or problem to make the party stronger.
“The defections are for selfish reasons, and what we are witnessing is not healthy for our democracy. Some politicians, unfortunately work to satisfy their selfish interests”, he said.
On his part, Onah said multi-party system is good, but having 90 parties to contest an election is outrageous.
According to him, “it makes the system uninteresting because the big parties will certainly swallow the small ones. I think it is better to have two or three strong parties that should have strong national base and ethnic or religious influence”, he said.
This level of selfishness has no doubt transcended to all facets of the country’s being, so much that every other consideration seems to supersede the show of patriotism to the nation, which is the essence of governance.
In looking at economic development, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, while stating the importance of budget in the economic life of a nation, was quoted by Observer in 2015 as seeing budget in the light of it being “the roadmap to our future. It outlines government revenue and expenditure for a given fiscal year”.
From the perspective of the layman, the budget is what guides a government in what money is available, what amount should be spent in what sector, and at the end of the total amount what is earmarked as expendi-ture? This means that care would be taken to plan and execute it. Anything less is likely to spell doom for a country. The question therefore is how has Nigeria fared in this wise?
An idea of the answer to this question can be imagined from the experience of 2017 in Nigeria: Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo signed the nation’s Appropriations Bill into Law on June 12 in 2017. This was well over five months into the 2017 financial year. What this means is that for over five months, the government was spending funds that were not appropriated.
Interestingly, this misnomer is not new to Nigerians, even as it runs contrary to the dynamics of modern development which weighs heavily on effective planning and management of resources in the attainment of development objectives. This no longer happens in developed climes.
In fact, in most developed countries, the time span from the start of the preparation of budget proposals by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to the enactment of the Appropriations Act before the beginning of the financial year takes at least 12 months and there are defined time limits for each of the milestones in the budget process. This is currently not the case in Nigeria. The result is that monies are often spent at will, and later “retired”.
What this means is that, unlike budgeting in the private sector, which relies on free-flow of information between consumers and producers, with price signals reflect consumer preferences, customer satisfaction, and supplier costs and producer performance, while competition eliminates poor performers and shifts resources to those entities that improve efficiency and elevate utility, in the public sector, governments generally use past funding levels to determine future resource allocation.
In doing so, they virtually do not consider reflecting on preferences, satisfaction, or performance of the previous budget. This has no doubt given room to avoidable profligacy, and encouraged corruption, which seem to be the only truly developing phenomena in the country.
To counter this trend, and hence be seen serious in developing its economy, Nigeria needs to, among other things, adopt Performance-Based Budgeting to checkmate unnecessary and unwarranted spending.
Religion in Nigeria’s political space has always been with the country right from its inception as a nation in 1960 when the British colonialists handed power to Muslims.
In their paper titled, “Religion in Nigerian Political Space: Implication for Sustainable National Development”,  Ntamu, G. U. , Abia O. T. , Edinyang, S. D. , and Eneji, Chris-Valentine Ogar captured it thus:
”Given the philosophy of Islam as a complete way of life for Muslims, Islam has always been closely attached to politics in Nigeria, especially in the Muslim dominated north. As alluded above, the British government duly recognised this fact in their dealings with the northern Islamic societies and explored it to legitimise their colonial rule in the region.
“Oyegbile and Abdulrafiu, (2009) observed that after the 1914 amalgamation of Nigeria and emergence of indigenous national politics, Islam has effectively represented a source of ethnic identity, group unity, political mobilisation, de-mobilisation, regime legitimisation and de-legitimisation in the country.
“As a result of this, the northern Hausa-Fulani therefore see themselves as the off-springs of the Sheikh Uthman Dan Fodio, representing the epitome of the Islamic holy Jihad and a product of an enviable Islamic socio-cultural history.
“Based on this, the popular Hausa-Fulani Muslim cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, asserted that Islam has a cultural and religious affinity with its members, thereby providing ‘many common cultural elements’ that united the people of the region who become adherents together (Human Rights Watch, 2005, Ihedirika, 2011 and Okune, 2011) thereby empowering them to be politically cohesive and formidable and using same for political mobilisation.
“It is however popularly held that the north were absolutely been held in contempt because of its unique historical, religious, cultural and political antecedents (Akaeze, 2009). Thus, Islam has since been conceived to be synonymous with the North in the political matrix of the entity called Nigeria”.
The result is that this has set the pace for religious politics in the country. The fact that political parties are still formed based on religious (geographical) divides, and efforts are  still being made deliberately to balance positions within political parties along religious divide only confirms religious politics in Nigeria. Another way to note this is deciphering the origins of most top government functionaries.
Religious politics has in Nigeria’s 58 years proven to be a key factor of under-development as it encourages people being appointed to positions of trust just for the reason of them being of the same religion as the President, without recourse to their competence. It has also comes to play in political leanings in which incompetent persons are handed positions for which they have little understanding of.
The late playwright, Chinua Achebe summed it up in his book, “The Trouble with Nigeria”, when he said the county’s problem “is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land, climate, water, air, or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to their responsibility, to the challenge of personal example, which is the hallmark of true leadership”.
Consequently, the state of Nigeria’s pitiable socio-economic development has been a direct consequence of the actions and inactions of the leadership class that has managed the affairs and wealth of the country since independence. The result is that at 58, Nigeria is still yet to find her fit as the acclaimed “Giant of Africa”.
The situation is such that the numerous achievements of Nigerians the world over are greatly dwarfed by the bigger picture of the country, even as countries still respect individuals who have genuinely excelled in their fields of endeavour.
As Nigerians mark 58 years of nationhood, therefore, one key factor that should never cease to bother their leaders is how the country can truly allow the Rule of Law to take its rightful place: How can Separation of Powers be made functional? And, when shall the people truly enjoy their resources?
These are the banes of Nigeria’s development.

 

Soibi Max-Alalibo

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Independence Special

Wike: An Agent Of National Cohesion

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With the passage of time, the familiar refrain, “though tongues and tribes may differ, in brotherhood we stand”, may long have been forgotten by many Nigerian citizens.Yet, a few, into whose consciousness this has permeated and still rings a note, have continued to uphold our unity in diversity as the basis on which our collective independence was signed.
For such ones, issues of peace, brotherhood, unity and national cohesion come tops in their daily decisions. They are found in virtually every geo-political region of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Here in the South-South, when it comes to forging common alliance to promote unity and advocacy for cohesiveness, especially among a people already fragmented by religious, linguistic and cultural disparities, one name stands out.
His Excellency, the Executive Governor of our dear Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, has remained a personality driven by the goal of nationhood, in keeping with the dreams and aspirations of the founding fathers of our great nation.
Chief Wike’s passion and drive for national cohesion dated back to the year 2003 when he was elected into the national presidency of All Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON). This opportunity provided him the leverage to interact with 774 local government chairmen across the country. Their deliberations on issues affecting the politics and policies of the country, no doubt, may have constituted a springboard upon which the nationalist fervor in him was stimulated.
Amazingly, his appointment years later as a Minister of Education, precisely in 2011, took him deeper into the mainstream of Nigerian politics. This further elicited the nationalist potentials in the governor believed to have been incubated in his early years in local politics. His footprints in Nigeria’s political landscape are living testimonials.
Governor Wike’s ministerial portfolio did not only launch him into the national political theatre, it also signalled the dawn of his ministry as an agent of national cohesion. It is therefore, significant for providing a window through which the long-incubated nationalist tendency in Mr Governor was hatched.
As the country’s education helmsman, Chief Wike explored the role of education in fostering peaceful and harmonious coexistence as well as unity. He held many expectations for the education sector. Thus, constructively and holistically, he drew plans for implementation and helped midwife and breathed life to the sector.
His faith in the school as an instrument to raise an ideal labour force for the country’s manpower requirement, seasoned leadership for its bureaucracies as well as refined citizenry for an enlightened social order, made him to embark on a massive investment in teacher education.
Wike’s detribalised posture manifested in his execution of Almajiri Education Programme (AEP). Irrespective of whether a place is Islam –prone or not, Almajiri schools were established in all the geo-political zones of the country. This did not only serve as integrative mechanism, it created an atmosphere of homeliness for a folk which ordinarily was alienated by religious disparity.
The extent to which he used education for the purpose of national integration is a remarkable indication of his desire and willingness to foster ‘‘one Nigeria.’’ This is because he realised that the country was in a real crisis situation that could only be resolved through education.
Even as a state governor, Wike has continued to build bridges of friendship across different frontiers both within the country and beyond. His administration has played host to several national and international retreats and conferences. They include the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), Rotary International , the African Bar Association (ABA) just to mention a few.
The Governor’s flare for national cohesiveness has earned him many encomiums which are absolutely devoid of flattery as is common with people in power and their psycophantic fans.
To further buttress his passion for national unity, Governor Wike delved into sports development which he describes as a string that binds all Nigerians together with no visible political party as a rallying force, having very crucial impact in our lives.”
The Governor believes that inspite of our political differences, there is always no differences among Nigerians when it comes to sports. For this reason, he said “whoever wants this country to be united will always support sports”
His choice of sports development as a unifying factor, did not only earn him a local recognition by the national and Rivers bodies of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN),he was also honoured by the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) in Brussels, Belgium, where he presented a paper on “Peace and Progress through Sports in the Niger Delta”
The governor’s recognition was hinged on his consistency in raising the bar of sports matters as well as effectively using sports as a veritable vehicle to fast track communal growth along the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and engaging a booming but restive youth populace.
During his investiture as the national patron of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), by its National President, Alhaji Saidu Abubakar, he said “ I believe it does not matter which party you belong to, what matters is to promote the image of Nigeria and its unity.”
In his demonstration of the spirit of oneness (Espirit de Corp), Governor Wike extends his scepter to all irrespective of party affiliation, religious and ethnic differences. Leaders and renowned personalities in rival political parties have at different occasions been invited to inspect and commission projects executed by his administration.
It would be recalled that on June 27, 2017, Governor Wike paid a Sallah visit to the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III in faraway Sokoto State just to felicitate with him and his caliphate members on the Eid-el-fitr celebration. The reception accorded him during the visit was not only unprecedented but also instructive.
While in Sokoto, the governor was quite unequivocal on his stand on national unity.
September 18, 2017 witnessed a delegation of Northern Governor Forum led by the Governor of Bornu State, Alhaji Kashim Shettima to Chief Wike in Government House, Port Harcourt, to express their gratitude to him for what they described as an urgent step he took to nip in the bud, the crisis that erupted between members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB) and some Nigerians from the North in Oyigbo Local Government Area of the State.
Again, the visiting governors commended Governor Wike for his strong commitment towards national unity. Their words, “Governor Wike we are mightily proud of you and to associate ourselves with you. Nigeria is greater than political differences. We belong first and foremost to one political family, and that is the Federal Republic of Nigeria. You believe in the Nigerian project, for that we remain eternally grateful’’.
Most importantly, Governor Wike’s state wide broadcast in the wake of the IPOB crisis in Oyigbo will forever be remembered for not only dousing tension in the air, but for also restoring peace in what would have possibly degenerated to an ethnic squabbles.
His words,’’ As a people, we shall continue to support the unity and peaceful co-existence of all ethnic nationalities and work towards actualising our collective aspiration for a just, inclusive and progressive nation’’, clearly demonstrates his zeal in promoting national unity and cohesion instead of encouraging unnecessary animosity in the polity.
In all, Governor Wike’s verbal expressions, body language and actions in his political life, summarise him as a rare breed, bridge builder, ambassador of peace, above all, an agent of national cohesion.

 

Sylvia ThankGod – Amadi

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