A classic and well-researched newspaper opinion article titled: “The Geography Of Illiteracy”, written by Babatunde Ahonsi, and published in The Guardian of June 2011, unearthed the worrisome figures that should keep every good Nigerian busy with a thought on where we went amiss in our education sector. The figures Dr Ahonsi released were chilling, to say the least. They show how depleted our education had gone.
Thank you Dr Ahonsi. I believe and accept every part of your work and research. It can even be worse. Your article was balanced – problem stated and solutions proffered. This piece is to sound the warning louder, state where we got it wrong and highlight some other solutions with examples to the ones you proffered.
Illiteracy must occur in a place where parents, students and the society alike do not give a hoot on how academic success came about but concentrate more on the ‘success’ itself. They will always quote the clandestine adage, “the end justifies the means”. Yes, the end has not only killed our education but is also killing our society. The break down will lend credence to this assertion.
The North East and North West as well as South South are the worst hit, and that answers the mayhem that has characterised those places. But this is just the secondary cause. The family is failing as an agent of socialisation in Nigeria, and this failure cum corruption in our society is the bane of our education system.
Academic success in our country now is not viewed in the number of work put in, but seen from the paper a child presents to their parents. The parents are far too busy with wealth accumulation or trying to survive in a harsh economic environment. They forgo salient aspects of their duty in the child’s life like helping out in homework, teaching the child the rudiments of hard work. The lack of moral upbringing that is evident in our generation is contributing too.
So, like opportunity cost in economics, the parents search for money and forgo knowledge and morality. Can we eat our cake and have it? Geography of illiteracy is what we ask for! Abraham Lincoln was not a fool when he pleaded with his son’s teacher to “teach him that a dollar earned is far more valuable than five pounds I had not earned.” Morality is what he was advocating.
This to swell their number – runaway, that is the economics of private schools in Nigeria. The policy makers draw up mediocre education policy. I will visit that later!
Our learning and evaluation modes are chaotic to say the least. Pupils are taught from September to December, only to be given hordes of tests a week before examinations. For instance, a child covers all the chapters for test and examinations. How bizarre!
This is because the time the teacher was supposed to use for the test must have been used for farming (in the rural areas), and trading (in the urban centres) by the teacher to augment his pay for enhanced living condition. This has a distance relation – poor pay. But the world standard is for homework to be given to a student from every topic and quiz as well as test to be administered at the end of every chapter.
In fact, in countries like the United States, South Korea, and England, the pupil might not write an examination since they must have been tested in all chapters, and to me, that is thorough compared to the kangaroo examinations we conduct here. That is the true test of knowledge! If the child did not do well – a euphemism for failure – they will enroll for summer school, and it is only when the child fails again that they repeat the class. Compare this to our education system, and you will see that our education policies are flawed.
Teachers’ remuneration is another issue. The teachers are so poorly paid that they look for other things to do in order to supplement. Do I blame them? They have a reason! “Man must whack”, some of them are owed tons of salaries and allowances. The effect is beyond this. Poor pay has driven away intelligent people from teaching. Go to a school, and ask the top 15 students what career choice they would like to pursue after school and you will understand the danger facing education: You will hear medicine, law, journalism, accountancy, petrochemical and petroleum engineering, mechanical engineering, among others. Teaching will rarely or never be mentioned.
So, who are the teachers in the making, the academically unstable students who cannot compete in that “hot terrain” of the good head? Dullards are being trained as manpower trainers, pathetic. Teachers indeed! So, government must boost the education sector through high pay to make it look lucrative. This will bring good heads and safe hands in the sector.
Reading materials are of immense contribution to teaching and learning. Our textbooks should always be critically examined before it is recommended. What we see are watery texts that are not helpful. Most of the books are not explanatory; they smack of carelessness, and lack detailed analysis.
For instance, what kind of Mathematics textbook will just state a ten-step solving problem, only to scribble it down as a four-step? Some English textbooks draw sketches in a writing topic without scripting an example. Does that not smack of misinformation? They are part of the geography of illiteracy!
Scholarships and educational aids like free books and good laboratory equipment are necessary but they are neglected in our country. The oil companies give pseudo scholarships, schools and churches do not deem that necessary, federal, state and local governments have since forgotten about it. Our order of priority or scale of preference is highly faulty. Scholarships and educational aids serve as motivation to students.
In other countries, scholarships are used to horn for talents and breed them to be loyal to the cause of the school, and country. Geography of illiteracy starts here, and must be combated from all fronts.
Ahonsi, in his closing paragraph posited thus: “for so many children to be illiterates and innumerable in a state is nothing short of structural violence perpetrated by the state since basic education in today’s world is every child’s right, and is extremely beneficial to the larger society.
Yes, a society that is occupied by ill iterates and innumerable youths will lack manpower amidst avalanche of able-bodied men and women. That kind of society is as good as doomed. If education is the bedrock of the society as we always eulogise, a serious task is then in our hands. Let us all put hands together to pull out our beloved country from this avoidable doom. That way, we must have squashed this geography of illiteracy. Governments at all levels in Nigeria, wake up!
Temple, a public affairs analyst, writes from Port Harcourt.
Not Yet Voice Of God
Nigeria’s election seasons now seem to bear a special flavour for some of her most thriving men of God. At such periods, these privileged clerics gear up to outdo themselves while trying to demonstrate their individual capabilities to hear directly from God regarding our political gladiators.
The practice is fast gaining favour among our pastors to the extent that politicians now visit churches and other worship centres to make pledges and solicit spiritual endorsements.
In return, successful predictions often guarantee unfettered access to the state house for the priest while his station becomes the unofficial worship temple for top members of the new government. For example, when in 1992, Chief Rufus Ada-George filed out with the likes of Chiefs Zebulon Abule, Sergeant Awuse and Pere Ajuwa to vie for the governor of old Rivers State, Pastor Elkanah Hanson of El-Shaddai Bible Church in Port Harcourt was said to have prophesied victory for the Peripelebo of Wakrike Clan. This was even as Abule and Awuse stood out as the clear frontrunners in the race. The duo was later disqualified, though. And that paved way for the eventual emergence of Ada-George and his running mate, Dr Peter Odili.
Bishop David Oyedepo is the president and founder of Living Faith Church International, aka Winners Chapel. He was recently said to have described the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration as an evil filled with wickedness.
The world’s second richest pastor reportedly made the remark, penultimate Sunday, during a sermon at the church’s headquarters in Ota, Ogun State.
Speaking on the power of prophecy, Oyedepo said he warned Nigerians in 2015 prior to Buhari’s victory but some people were rather angered by his prophecy until they are now faced with this sordid reality.
About the same period Oyedepo claimed to have warned Nigerians against voting for Buhari, a Catholic cleric, Rev Father Ejike Mbaka of Adoration Ministry, Enugu, Nigeria (AMEN) was prophesying God’s favouring of the former military Head of State. Added to the lot was Pastor Tunde Bakare of Latter Rain Ministries who, as a presidential candidate, claimed to have been told by God that he would be Nigeria’s next head of government in 2015.
Going by these apparently incongruent prophecies, we may be deceived to think that God had engaged in a doublespeak. Of course Buhari did not only win the 2015 election but was also returned in 2019. Mbaka was also correct in his prophecy of Senator Hope Uzodimma becoming Imo State Governor through a Supreme Court verdict that sacked Hon. Emeka Ihedioha. Also, judging by recent events across the country, an increasing number of people (including Mbaka) now seem to agree with Oyedepo’s injunction that retired General Buhari did not deserve their votes in 2015.
Besides prophesying on election outcomes in Nigeria, some of our holy men had also tested their skills with events in foreign lands. Prophet Temitope Joshua of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) in Lagos, who died in June and was buried early this month, clearly stood out here. Among his many such prophecies, he had correctly predicted the victory of late President John Atta Mills of Ghana and the ascension to power of Mrs. Joyce Kamuzu Banda in Malawi but only to misfire in that of Senator Hillary Clinton during the 2016 US Presidential Election, even though she received more popular votes than Mr. Donald Trump.
Honestly, I worry when our spiritual leaders abandon what they are most suited to accomplish and begin to play God. Yes, I could understand it when the late Argentinean football legend, Diego Maradona, or the eccentric Uruguayan international, Luis Suarez, palmed the ball into their opponent’s net and turned round to claim that it was the ‘hand of God’. But certainly not when a pastor makes his own personal permutation based on the pattern of unfolding events and then mounts the pulpit to announce such as a prophecy from God. No, sir!
For a start, God will surely not wait for political candidates to commit murder, arson, abductions, adultery, vote buying, ballot snatching and other crimes that often characterise our elections to enable them become party standard-bearers before He reveals to any prophet which one of such evil men and women would emerge victorious on Election Day.
God will always side with the suffering masses in any nation. If He chooses to get involved in their elections, then one can bet that He will go for a God-fearing candidate; or even encourage a relatively humble, if unpopular, messiah to join the race. As for prophecy, He may wish to reveal this special purpose vehicle to more than one pastor such that two or more pastors from distant places would prophesy the same message.
To be sure, it is not the nature of God to direct people on who not to vote for instead of revealing His preferred contestant; or how else are the people expected to know God’s preference in a multiparty system? Again, if indeed God had been speaking through our clerics, how come none of His previously ‘anointed candidates’ has been able to so much as redirect our dangerously drifting ship of state? How come there is no noticeable improvement in the circumstances of the masses of this country? And why is there this prolonged state of insecurity in the land? Is it not said that when the righteous rule the people rejoice? Or had God always suffered us to elect those who would damage Nigeria irreparably? No, I refuse to believe so. In fact, I reject this thought, IJN!
I love our men of God. Father Mbaka’s musical videos are part of my religious ensemble. I tune in to SCOAN’s Emmanuel TV and Omega Power Ministry’s televised testimonies whenever I want to drop one or two tears. Frankly, their miracle healings and selfless gestures toward the obviously needy in society always touch me so deeply.
Our pastors are doing great, no doubt. Imagine the extent to which T B Joshua boosted religious tourism in Nigeria and for which late President Umar Yar’Adua honoured him with an OFR award in 2008. If only they will steer clear of induced political prophecies!
By: Ibelema Jumbo
PIB As An Eye-Opener
Rev. Canon Chuka Opara was not only right, but also prophetic to have described the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) as the “Abiku Bill” (ref. The Tide, Monday, July 12, 2021).What Yorubas call “abiku”, known in Igbo as “Ogbanje”, is a trouble-ladden child, “coming and going these seasons”, rather than settle down to redress a trouble-ladden life. Surely, there are such weird children as well as policies and laws whose purposes include spreading unrests under beautiful cloaks.
Originally, the purposes of the PIB proposals were to guarantee an uninterrupted flow of the Nigerian oil and gas so as to restore, recapture and create investor-confidence in the industry. More importantly was need to address or redress the issues, fears and challenges of the Niger Delta people, arising from the oil and gas industry. Rather than focus on the original intents, the “Abiku Bill” turned around to provide opportunities for “putting the country’s future in the hands of multinationals and private foreign capital (or their local fronts) as well as a few genuine Nigerian investors”.
Dr Joseph Ellah, an insider in the oil and gas industry, revealed long ago that “some individuals appear to believe the oil must belong to them, so they have been trying legal tricks and means to acquire ownership. This Bill is part of their effort …” It was during the Nigerian Civil War (1967 – 1970) that the opportunity for a privatisation of the resources of the Niger Delta people began, with the Petroleum Act. From making it a national asset, the next strategy would be to hand it over to a few private entities.
Long ago when late Senator Francis Ellah tried to expose game-plans to short-change the people of the Niger Delta through some clever strategies, he was deliberately shouted down on the Senate floor. In his “Unfinished Motion”, Senator Ellah made a number of revelations which the creation of more states from the original 12-state structure tried to cover up. With the euphoria of creation of more states, the injustice planned for the Niger Delta oil and gas producing zone was not recognised by many.
The same strategy of shouting down on the Senate floor was applied on Senator Godswill Akpabio, when his speech tended to expose vital issues relating to the politics of oil and gas resources of the Niger Delta. Similarly, the long-held suspicion that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and its predecessor, OMPADEC, had been under some remote control, turned into valid conviction. The venom and plots against Dr Goodluck Jonathan staying on as President were rooted in preventing him from playing any role in renewal of oil blocks allocation.
A large number of Nigerians would not be aware of the fact that growing instability and insecurity in Nigeria are rooted in the political economy which the military installed before standing aside from politics in 1999. Similarly, that political economy was rooted in the clandestine politics of oil blocks (OML) allocation, of which Senator Ita Enang told us that Northerners owned 83% of all oil blocks in Nigeria. Would any rational person wonder why things are falling apart in the country, or that the PIB, if passed into law, would be the culminating point of a game of monopoly?
We must thank Rev. Canon Opara for describing the PIB as an Abiku the parents can hardly recognise. “Abiku” child is usually sickly and can be taken from a medical hospital after many failed remedies, to traditional medicine man. Those who know about the Abiku phenomenon would tell us that the Abiku changling would demand some propitiation to be able to stay. It is a tantalizing affair in which parents dragged into the bargain would continue to make sacrifices and appeasements which can be endless, in order to keep what is theirs.
Opara told us that “E.K. Clark is angry. Very angry. And his people are in his support. Their anger is based majorly on three points”. Those three points are: 1. The new PIB has redefined Oil Producing Communities to include “any community that oil pipelines pass through. 2. The new PIB awards 30% annual oil profit to Frontier Oil Exploration in the North, and 3. Approves 3% annual allocation of oil profit to Oil Producing Communities.
Is there any rational Nigerian who would not see the shenanigans of the PIB as well as the insult on the people of the Niger Delta? Similarly, anyone would wonder where those representing the Niger Delta zone in the National Assembly were, when such a Bill was crafted? It would be more appropriate to say that the Bill was deliberately and cleverly crafted, rather than being written or drafted in a way that would not hide out some hidden agenda. It is most likely that the PIB is the craft of spin-doctors working for some very powerful interest groups.
Bitter and controversial issues raised when the Bill was tagged Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) were cleverly retained in such vexations and ambiguous manner that anyone would recall James Last’s song: Obviously, the situation demands that some people must be called to order, made to explain their roles in the crafting of the PIB and also make apologies to the people of the Niger Delta. As things are, currently, if the PIB is passed into law, it is obvious that the Niger Delta would become a boiling point. We can always give a dog a bad name …
Were the “quisling Southern legislators asleep on duty to have allowed foes plant weeds on their vineyard!” Perhaps, “allowing the Abiku Bill to be hijacked by more alert counterparts from the North” may not be the cardinal failure of the Southern legislators. Rev. Canon Opara’s allusion to “avarice and greed” has more to do with the matter. Similarly, the foundation for what is playing out now was laid by the military via the inexplicable remuneration package for legislators and the Land Use Act.
A vital issue raised by Opara is the advice he inherited from his mother, namely: “never you be eager to befriend anyone whose desire is always to cheat you”. Someone is not only cheating, not only taking too much for the owner to know, but also using various strategies to cow and stop the one being cheated from complaining. Would Nigerians be surprised if the lame and blind become strong and seeing? Once again, the game is up and we know who is cheating.
Dr Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.
‘I Don’t Know What Came Over Me’
Remorseful confessions such as “I don’t know what came over me”, have been quite many, coming after the commission of deeds of an impulsive nature. Human legal system recognises and also differentiates between crimes committed with “malice aforethought” or prior motive, and the ones committed on the spur of the moment. It is usually such deeds done on the spur of the moment that result in the remorseful outcry of “I don’t know what came over me”. But there is more to such statements that meets the eye. What is it that can come over anyone?
One Emmanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) a Swedish mathematician and philosopher, was one of the early researchers who did detailed study on what lies behind impulse actions of men and what “remote-control” element that lies therein. The work of Swedenborg was so elaborate and penetrating that a religious sect known as Swedenborgianism emerged in Europe and became a global movement. Yet, there is more to the issue of “unseen forces” than are contained in Swedenborgian philosophy.
People get excited or alarmed when they hear about “unseen forces”, but such anxieties or fears arise largely because of prevailing ignorance about such issues. Even religious teachers mix up what is natural, with artificially created “unseen forces”, such that confusions and false speculations arise. The situation gets worse and much more complex when issues such as witchcraft, hallucination often called “speaking in longues”, etc, are added to the realm of the “unseen forces”.
To begin with, there are innumerable Nature beings which are invisible to humans, representing and serving in the four elements, namely: fire, water, air and earth. So, such invisible beings can also be called Elemental Forces, so named because they represent the various elements and possess radiations endowed with force. The Nature beings or Elemental Forces carry out their services by means of the radiations natural to them, over which nothing can interfere with. This means that such Nature beings are not subject to any arbitrary influence except the Will of Whom they serve, with absolute obedience.
Therefore, those who talk about “marine spirits” etc must do further research. Only human beings of flesh and blood can be referred to as “spirits”. The Nature or Elemental beings are NOT spirits, neither do they possess freewill or personal volition like humans do. All errors, derelictions, disorder, impurity and other aberrations in creation emanate or originate from human being, via personal volition. Through the misuse and misdirection of personal volition, humans have created a wide range of artificial “unseen forces”.
Artificially existing “unseen forces” emanating from abuses of human volition, coupled with human passions such as fears, envy, hate and other emotions, resulted in a vast world of Thought-forms or Phantoms. Over a long period, various artificially created ugly forms, energies and radiations emanating from human beings, gathered together according to their kinds and formed centres of energy. Such energy-centres grow in power and intensity as more and more human emotions flow in to reinforce the contents of the energy-centres, which are invisible by nature. They are sustained by man.
Like electronic radiations, various thought-forms and energy-centres occupy and operate on waves in the atmosphere, according to the types of emotions and deeds which they represent. The fact that each energy-centre coalesces by the force of attraction to form a homogeneous unit, means that each of the centres becomes an “unseen force”. Each of such energy-centres is endowed with or possesses magnetic force, giving it the power to infect or flow into any human source that provides a link or access to it.
An appeal to, link or access, connecting an individual with a particular unit of “unseen forces” arises through intense provocation, causing a burning impetus or desire to do a deed on the spur of the moment. Then there is a magnetic flow of energy, coupled with strength, energy and everything else necessary to carry out the deed, on the spur of the moment. The connection or link comes like a lightening flash, taking possession of the brain and body of the person who summoned the appeal to an invisible centre of energy or power. Truly, such centres of power exist.
However, it would be quite wrong and untrue to attribute the existence of innumerable “unseen forces” to the Creator whose activity bears purity only. Neither is the construction and brewing of such artificial sources of energy the work of the devil. Rather, human beings are the architects, growers and brewers of the realm of horrifying unseen forces. The devil only took an advantage of a mechanism by which means human beings gave evidence of their utter weaknesses and inability to stand aright in the light. The entire mechanism of human derailment is worth doing a serious research into.
The mechanism whereby the human mind or consciousness lets in external radiation, force or entity is quite easy to research into. Keeping the Nature or Elemental beings quite out of the matter, two sources of invasion of the mind are the centres of thought-energy and then discarnate human spirit. An individual, groups or a nation can let corrupting influences deprive them of natural immune system available freely to diligent persons. Discarnate human spirit in the unseen realm of existence can take possession of living persons, using their brains and bodies as instruments of manifestation.
Quite a number of persons, including some of those we regard as great are rarely themselves, but are victims of what psychiatrists call split-personality. Discarnate entities, apart from thought-energy centers, do not just take possession of the minds of living persons. Rather, people put themselves into such danger by dabbling into fetish and occult activities or through intake of addictive drugs and hallucinogenic substances. From students to senators the Nigerian environment can make people prone to attraction of deleterious radiations or earth-bound dark souls.
Strong human volition and vaulting ambition can and do ignite contacts with unseen energy centres. Individuals live and move in the thought-energy which they allow to form their psychological environment and thereby provide a link with similar radiations from distant spheres. To guard our thoughts with utmost diligence is a valid and great admonition. Now we know what can come over an individual when he strays from this admonition. Herein lies real corruption!
By: Bright Amirize
Dr Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.
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