Nigeria: Invalid Schools Add to Leadership Failure

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May 1, 2018

Chris Odinaka Nwedo

Culture of impunity is intercepting plans for people oriented agenda and quality national development. From critical infrastructure, health services to education, Nigeria gropes endlessly in uncertainty.  Programmes of education are not made multi purposeful enough in the sense that they do not appear designated for appropriate skill acquisition and integrated development. This is attested by robustly challenging graduate unemployment. Graduate unemployment is flanked by millions of neglected children roaming the streets like soldier ants, cast off children who are thrilled by persistent violent social upheavals and any other prospects for destruction. These figurative armies of violence assault the society at least provocation. They vent anger on the society through massive destruction of lives and properties.

It is estimated that about 11 million Nigerian children have no access to education and collaterally responsible parents. This is particularly true in the regions where parental cares are ‘culturally’ excluded from the duties bringing the children to life. The disowned, disoriented and dislocated children are mostly canon-folders used and recycled for treacherous political projects. Unprincipled politicians and monstrous religious ideologues scamper to indoctrinate and use these people for malevolence. And many of them have risen in ranks to become diehard armed robbers, mercenaries and/or Jihadists. Street children are the defects of unrepressed and irrational customs of polygamy. We have problematic circumstances where a peasant with scarcely enough for himself taking many wives. The children brought through this difficult to explain circumstances are victims and have misery imposed on from the cradle. They had no lives as children and they grew spiteful and denigrated. Imagine being literally thrown into the gutters of wild communities of derelicts for auto-growth.


In some regions of Nigeria, all embracing Western education models are discountenanced, for ill equipped ideological schools where most of  the children are equipped with tools of malice and redeployed as contraptions for politico-religious vendetta. The menace of Almagiri infestation is traced to this development. It is alleged that the schools not only de-energise the students exposed to them, they effectively indoctrinate the students. Paradoxically, the regional pests support and fund such schools but their children and relations do not ever come near such schools. The pests pay millions to have their children trained and get prepared for leaders roles. Their children and relations are in best schools in Europe and America. Today, most northern states of Nigeria exposed to this sneaky school system are under constant threats of imposed morals and ideals by the products. The most volatile states in Nigeria are particularly those confines where the inappropriate schools are predominant.

The escalating violent social turbulence, destructions, displacement of citizens and killings connected to the products of bad upbringing are leading factors in the defunct calls by the National Assembly to outlaw all unlawful schools. The motion on floor of Nigerian Senate not only moved for scrapping of Almagiri indoctrinate schools but censured political and\or religious elites feeding on the misfortunes of the victims. Wrong teachers are vectors of wrong education; wrongly educated students impact the society perilously. The motion never survived imminent slaughter by those who consider the disorder necessary part of their society. Babangida Aliyu, the former governor of Niger state and the former chairman of northern governors’ forum raised an objection to the motion to criminalise the illegitimate handling of these children.

Generally, I think if the schools are up to the task, there will never be any call by the Senate to get it scrapped and release the victims. The contents of this school system and the products show signs of defect. From some samples of the products, it is possible to assume that the curricula are not articulated to be a definite access to the store-house of good judgment and nationalism. They have not proved to be instruments capable of enhancing the students’ access to share effectively in the positive wealth of knowledge. There is nothing wrong in the theological schools if the programme of studies are supervised by objectively competent authorities and complimented with the secular course outlines. It is imperative to get the study programmes diversified and handled by knowledgeable teachers. The diversified education targets the development of the whole man, disposing him to greater possibilities by the enhancement of his rationality. Plato and Aristotle extolled reasoning, elevating it to the level of the divine. The enhancement of rational consciousness presupposes emphasis on optimisation of the individual’s judgment. This is an educational method where consciousness is stressed as hallmark of the mind. This, in my understanding implies development of an organically dynamic individual.

Wrongly conceived learning programmes definitely must fall-short of providing the subjects with an appropriate environment amenable to the possibility of continuous self development. What appears evident in some of these ideologically unbalanced establishments are active intervention, an implantation of chauvinistically endorsed principles in which virtue of individual initiatives and/or an authentic self advancement are not in practice encouraged. Slavish educational programmes can be purely instrumental.  And if anything in education is purely instrumental, the basic skill of reading, reciting and re writing are. ‘They give access to and make participation possible; they have no content built into them. Everything depends on what is read or written.20 Education definitely stands for the transmission of worthwhile capacity. It is ‘…an initiation into activities or modes of thought and conduct that are worthwhile in order to do justice to all the three cognitive, affective and psychomotor criteria that are built into it. This however, implies that ‘all educative actions have to be directed towards man’s development and perfective advancement of his integral nature…  The practices that pauses collective access to modern stores of knowledge, development and wealth can never be objective but surely spiteful. Objectively planned education is an indispensable prerequisite for dynamic roles in social, economic, political and cultural lives of an individual. If there is anything in the manner of political education, it must be customized to inculcate right consciousness and national sentiment. Slavish self-repudiation is spiteful concoction for marginalisation, repression and backwardness at gun point.

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The marginalisation in the sense of backwardness of the north in education created an opportunity cost for inflexible clutching of Islamic theology by the ‘Talakawas’ and its use in interpretations of everything in Nigeria. The repulsion of the system of national education by a significant number of people in some northern states remains the greatest opportunity for the pest class in the region for self-perpetuation. The constitution makes it impossible for anyone to aspire to any position worthwhile  in Nigeria without western education. This is the general standard for assessing capacity and suitability. It is difficult to be positively relevant to the system of order in Nigeria if you are not capable and suitable based on the chosen standard.

It is indisputable that those outside this national school system are victims of poverty, victims of repression and exploitation. For instance, Boko Haram evolved in an oppressed enclave where slums of extreme poverty coexist side by side with stupendous stolen wealth. Boko Haram rejects western education in totality.  Ali Modu Sheriff, the former state governor of Borno who is rightly or wrongly accused of nursing the group till maturity spent little on his people but built himself a palace of marble pillars and golden gates in Maiduguri. One of the alleged sponsors of the brutal religious sect, Senator Ndume from Borno remains without indictment. With the amnesty programme on course and the presidential directives to get some accused collaborators of Boko Haram free of chains, the senator is already free and unencumbered.  The Senator is an all time legislator who like many of his types has unmerited privilege of unlimited access to sources of fund. Obviously, these politicians are well educated for them to quality to be governor or senators in Nigeria.

The Boko Haram sect and other religious groups furiously fight against western education and blamed it as the source of evil in their society have their members traced to the Talakawas graduates of some of the ideological schools. Boko Haram evolved in one of the poorest states in Nigeria, and with some of the world’s worst levels of education and health. Maiduguri has been a fount of Islamic revolution since the early 19th century, when Muslim rebels overthrew the ruling Hausa dynasties, accusing them of un-Islamic corruption. According to Alex Perry of Time Magazine World, ‘that dynamic anti-authoritarian, revivalist Islamic movement challenging avaricious, secular elite endures. Boko Haram means western education is sacrilege. It is not surprising that young penniless, homeless and ‘futureless’ northerners who scavenge the localities in search for what to eat in the name learning how to read the Holy Qur’an are easy preys to the ideologues. Being destitute economically, socially and politically, these growing violent groups had western system of education as culprit for decades of deliberate impoverishment by their regional ‘pests’. As poverty and unemployment among mistreated youths became more severe and future bleak, resentment against the statuesque are expressed dramatically in bloodshed and destruction without provocation.

In Nigeria, manipulation of the mainly vulnerable sections of the society accounted for the bloodiest episodes of religious and inter-communal violence up to date. This makes it complicated for the nation to purposefully engage in processes leading to full democratization. This is why the freest, fairest and most credible election in April 2011 was a curse going by the violent destruction of lives, properties and internal displacements of the citizens due terrible violence in the north.  It is phenomenal that the attacks now is no longer principally centered on Christians and their institutions but the symbols of western education such as schools, government establishments and officials. This Taliban style of violence is spreading and gaining acceptance. According to Alex Perry the ingenuity of some of the attacks led many to conclude that Africa’s nascent Islamic terrorism threat is metastasizing. The continent is a home to three main Muslim militant movements and all are al-Qaeda ‘franchises,’ groups inspired by Osama bin Laden, even after his death. The Abuja attacks and relentless assaults of Maiduguri suggest Boko Haram is learning effectively from the mentors.

According to Zayyad this is a big challenge to northern Nigerian political, traditional and religious classes because the world and the indeed the Nigerian state demand a lot from them. Ignoring this crisis is costing the north a lot. It is time for a rethink. Northern leaders should turn things around because the situation we are is not where we ought to be. So, authorities, especially the political class in the north should tackle this new challenge via two ways: first is development that will align with the expectations of the people, while the second is enlightening and educating the populace through honest engagement. This for me implies rewinding the clock and returning the illegitimate gains made through decade’s exploitative manipulation of the people and Islamic religion. ‘The politicization of religion is nothing new in Nigeria, but has become more pronounced since the introduction of the Islamic (Sharia) criminal code in the 12 northern states after the 1999 election.

The observation of Zayyad was collaborated by David Mark who unambiguously challenged the conspiratorial silence of the northern leaders as the region’s harmless folks are metaphorically wasted by insensitive brutes. Mark raised questions on the failure of Northern leaders to openly take a stand on the Boko Haram menace and the continued backwardness of the North in education.  He rhetorically asked whether the political leaders and elders are afraid to openly condemn Boko Haram either for political reasons or out of fear of possible attack by the sect?

According to Mark, “how can we keep quiet when a group begins to propagate the ideology that Western education is Haram? Western education today remains the pivot of development”. Mark queried “have we forgotten that evil thrives when good men are silent”?   “When is the north truly north is it when the interest of a few but vocal groups is met? Is it when the interest of a select religious group is met? Is it when a section of the north is satisfied? Or is it when the interest of the common good of the north is addressed? ‘Why has the north continued to lag behind in education? It is because for so long the north abandoned or despised the basic structures of sustainable growth and development for cheaper wealth in politics. It has not invested enough in education. It generally abandoned the basic infrastructure of development where Sardauna left it. Sincerity of purpose, consistency, transparency and honesty are some of the qualities of the late Premier, as we are reminded every day in speeches by elders and political leaders. According to Mark as northern leaders and elders, we now must show seriousness, courage and responsibility in addressing these challenges squarely without fear, favour or mudslinging by doing that would go a long way to prove that there is no conspiracy of silence by the leadership in the northern states on the issue of peace and security in Nigeria.

Introduction of Sharia had originally been very popular among the majority Muslim north largely because of dissatisfaction among the Muslims that considered the conventional legal system a failure. In addition, Sharia’s emphasis on welfare and social justice helped to inspire hope that its introduction would help alleviate the plight of the Nigeria’s dismal poor. However with the continuous discontentment and now wide spread heavy violence, it is doubtful that Sharia courts have done the magic the existing Nigerian legal system was unable to do. Circumstances in the north have truly proved that the tribulations are not inherent in the nature of national legal system but in the established institution of ravenously oppressive pest classes that refused to fade for good. Sharia at best seems diversionary because for approximately two decades after the introduction, nothing has manifestly changed, the deprivation and impoverishment of masses continued relentlessly.

The initial commotion over the introduction of Sharia in many of the northern states in 2000 led to hundreds of deaths from Islamic fundamentalists’ attacks on Christians and pockets of reprisals. Since the states in question commenced application of the law, violence and dissatisfaction have increased with proliferation of extremists groups replete with determinations to literally move mountains. Since 1999, many thousands of Nigerians have been killed in hate-filled religious violence and tens of thousands displaced. In the north, an explosive growth of strident Christianity faces upsurge of confrontational puritanical reformist Islam.  The increasingly bold effort of Christianity figuratively added salt to the injury and further militarizes some radical Islamists who see bestial slaughter of the guiltless folks as visa to paradise and reward of 72 virgins.

Destabilizing violence and conflict are therefore critical issues obstructive to affirmative governance in Nigeria. Groups have used violence as a ‘veto’ for greater share of the pie. For Chris Oyakhilome, some people believe the only way they can be heard is by being restive and protesting violently in public. This is wrong. We have to learn the value, precipitation, and process of non violent protests. History is replete with stories of men and women who inspired revolutions through their writings. This does not mean writing malicious things about people just to berate them, but penning constructive suggestions that can improve the society and the country as a whole.

Ijaw politicians, for instance, have used violence to seek and squeezed out fairly just percentages from Nigeria’s oil revenues.  Amnesty in the Niger Delta region remains indelible payoff for great violent campaigns of obstinate destruction, kidnap of citizens, expatriates and disruption of oil flow in Niger Delta.  This seem to account for reasons why the northern politicians are canvassing for amnesty to be given to Boko Haram members even as the dreaded groups rejected the offer, insisting that they are the ones to give amnesty to the Federal government. However, the bragging or immodest rejection of the benevolent offer turned-on a harsher decision, the declaration of state of emergency. Obviously, with the then state of emergency in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states the overconfident Islamists have to perilously contend with Nigeria’s military might in a war of total annihilation. A long-term danger is that some aggrieved members of the oligarchy mobilize groups along Nigeria’s fault lines into violent conflict or unrest whose ultimate objectives have always been to take revenge on the society. In the spirit revenge, they ensured that there is not enough pain, tears and blood in cities and villages. ‘The danger for Nigeria is that such conflicts could serve as flashpoints for a wider conflagration which could derail the country from a reformation path upon which it has tentatively embarked.

Prejudices impinged understanding and cohesion in Nigeria, as it figuratively incinerated and scorched viscosity for unity and harmonious co-existence among the diverse groups. The unbearable massive weight of politically inspired ethno and religious sentimentalism constantly spark fire of fatal conflicts and senseless bloodbath. The incessant confrontations in the polity reprehensibly derail efforts at democratization of the country.  The predicaments create economic maladjustment and colossal wastes, social tension and gripping fear, political discords and invariably instabilities. On the whole, leadership at the national level has remained unfledged and unable to articulate common and acceptable socio-political and economic initiatives capable of integrating and invigorating positive social values among the people. Some other dimensions of the malaise are the never-ending complications traced to cleavages and contradictory tendencies within the country. This could be seen in the activities of MOSOB, IPOB, the Ijaw Peoples’ Congress and the Middle Belt Forum, Northern Elders, Afenifere etc, the differences in the interest of these cultural groups make them difficult for Nigeria to have common front. This itself has affected the process of democratization since 1999. With the herald of democracy, violence has tripled in the Nigerian polity.30 And also ‘in the Niger Delta, new rebel groups such as MEND escalated their attacks on government and multinational installations, including the use of car bombings.  Proliferation of small arms in the country has further helped to bring violent conflict closer to the surface. Persistent ethnic and religious grievances susceptible to elites’ manipulation; political and economic over-centralization and poverty amid massive oil revenues, particularly since 2004, undermined public faith in the federation and the political system…31

According to Afigbo, A. E.  ‘the colonial administration passed on their Nigerian wards the prejudices which had enabled them think and act in the belief that this informal federation was a marriage of convenience between the incompatibles. The north looked down on the south as uncivilised, pagan, undisciplined, rowdy and nakedly materialistic. The south return this contempt with compliments regarding the north as feudalistic conservative, uneducated… and as the pliant tools of the imperial masters.  Third major factor in this series of hindrances is that the leadership structures put in place by the colonialists were evidently not immune from steady influx of exploitation and manipulation wave currents. “Although, it was the ultimate aim of the British and French to hand over power to Africans, steps towards the achievement of this aim were rather half-hearted’, consequently, the eventual collapse is not only anticipated but preferred.  African leaders sought and obtained independence in isolation of the prerequisite structures, essential knowledge of governance and establishments on which stable political institution must be built. There were no corresponding enlightenment, motivation and mobilization to guarantee reorientation of the natives’ attitudes.

Reorientation was essential for the new political, economic and social revolution that attended the new states.  The polarisation of African states along divergent and conflicting religious, political and socio-economic ideologies destroyed cohesion and dissected the states. According to a commentator, everywhere in the world whenever the word Africa is mentioned four words come to mind: poverty, hunger, wars and diseases. Apart from Botswana where the leaders have relatively been able to use their resources to advance the development of their people, the rest of Africa is nothing but misery. Misery in sense that an average African is hardly able to live one-third of the comfort that a citizen of US, Canada and Europe is able to enjoy in his/her lifetime. Apart from the corrupt politicians, dictators and their cronies who live in luxury, the rest of the population have to survive the harsh realities of the African economy on less than two dollars a day. The pervasive insecurity in some African states especially in northern Nigeria makes the two dollar a day unrealistic luxury. Today in this enclave abjectly impoverished are slaughtered in their slums by folks trained and sponsored to plant time bombs to destabilise Nigeria and its democratisation efforts.