NAVIGATING THE NATION THROUGH TODAY’S SHAME TO TOMORROW’S FAME:
SOCIAL STUDIES AS PILOT
17TH IN THE SERIES OF INAUGURAL LECTURES OF THE DELTA STATE UNIVERSITY, ABRAKA, NIGERIA.
Professor Emman Osakwe
B.Sc. (Nig), M.Ed. (Philadelphia), M.A. (London) Ph.D (Ibadan)
Professor of Social Studies and Dean, Postgraduate School,
Delta State University, Abraka.
On Thursday, February 26, 2009
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DELTA STATE UNIVERSITY, ABRAKA,
DELTA STATE, NIGERIA.
Justice Jeco Press and Publishers Ltd.,
Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria.
This Processed Teacher is Professor+…Famous+, Nigeria Will Become
(A Love Song to My Husband and the New Nigeria)
And he said: “marry me, May!”
‘I do no such thing: marry no ‘teacher’ said May
Dreg of Professions: the teacher – disqualified
Yet, most telling, lingering voice from the classroom!- qualified
This teacher now processed, is professor, prophet and priest.
Palm oil, the broom and sponge, banga soup – processed palm
Through fire, through water, the sharp blade, agents of decay – processed
As kero, diesel, petrol, cream, jelly, this balm – processed crude
Emman Osakwe, processed teacher, a voice heard beyond
Beyond the rostrum to the nations.
Processed through pain, deprivation, denial, derided then,
Today’s lecturer mounts the rostrum, behold he comes:
My husband, my principal, mon pére
Processed through fire, through waters, denied his due
This principal teacher of teachers of teachers
Is a teacher, teaching teachers of teachers of teachers.
Promotion to peak denied for ten years!
My co-parent, persevering through the years!
Like diamond; processed from carbon, my patient prince and peace maker
This principal teacher loaded with knowledge:
Intellectual and divine, has a message:
Nigeria is processing through shame –
Shame of corruption, of grave-like greed!
Shame of maladministration and misrule
Misrule, yielding tall poverty from giant opulence
Shame of monumental wastage of resources
Shame of wickedness and religious godlessness
Processing through shame to our desired fame:
Our famous fatherland, yes our motherland;
Land of my birth, land of my pain, land of my shame
Land of your birth, land of your pain, land of your shame
Dependent too long after independence, fragile like the eaglet
For this fragile eaglet, ready to fall, unable to fly,
Will become the great eagle in flight
Famous bird; not to fly but to soar –
Land of my birth, land of your birth, land of our birth
Land of my fame, land of your fame, land of our fame –
Nigeria is your name!
Mabel Ejime Osakwe (2009)
Chair, English Language
Delta State University, Abraka
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Admin.)
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)
The Provosts, Asaba and Oleh Campuses,
The Acting Registrar,
The University Librarian,
The Provost, College of Health Sciences,
Dean, Faculty of Education,
Deans of Other Faculties,
Professors and other members of Senate,
Heads of Department and other academic Colleagues,
Members of Administrative and Technical Staff,
My Lords Spiritual and Temporal,
Members of my family, Nuclear and Extended,
Distinguished Invited Guests,
Gentlemen of the Press,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I feel highly honoured and priviledged to be called upon to deliver the 17th Inaugural Lecture of the Delta State University, Abraka. I thank God for granting us journey mercies to this gathering and I believe He will take all of us home safely in Jesus Name – Amen.
Did you buy and read today’s papers? How many mind bugging and gory stories? What is the latest on militancy and criminality in the Niger Delta? How painful! You may try to take your mind off those depressive issues and feed your mind with the Obama big dream come true and so will ours. Yes, welcome to this forum! To this God given opportunity for us to reflect and discuss social issues akin to those raised earlier in this welcome tip. Sorry to tell you though that I have the monopoly of the floor in this discussion that is why it is called a lecture. But release your mind to travel along, as Social Studies pilots our navigation, through today’s shame to tomorrow’s fame.
The first thing to give attention to is the nature and purpose of Social Studies and how it serves as a vehicle for responding to issues of our time. Succinctly put, Social Studies is about learning to live and participate in this world, at a particular time and place; hence we have the formula:
SSE = PSpt
P = People
S = Society
P = place
t = time
This lecture being an indepth discourse on an aspect of my academic expertise, and my contribution to social studies as a field of knowledge, will be guided by the SSE formula as stated and the nature of Social Studies.
Here then, P means The Nigerian People; S means The Nigerian Society; p means The geographical entity called Nigeria and t means Nigeria yesterday today and tomorrow. In this lecture, Nigeria yesterday implies pre-colonial Nigeria to the era before the 2nd Republic, while Nigeria today spans the period 2nd Republic to date.
We recognize that this audience is not only interdisciplinary “gown” but also a heterogeneous “town”. Attempts will be made then to operate within this defined perimeter.
Social Studies touches on every facet of human existence: man himself as a product of nature, and social man as a product of nurture; arising from the social, political, economic and physical environment. Social studies has therefore for long been identified as a veritable tool or avenue for reshapening society. (Lawton and Durfour 1973, Osakwe 1993) The very nature, content and scope of social studies, makes it a virile instrument for developing a new social – political order. This lecturer has professed majorly in this area of social studies and has 20 publications related to the present discourse. Four of such are listed here:
Osakwe, E.O. (1992) “Social studies and the Military in Nigerian politics” Nigerian Journal of Social Studies Review Vol. 2, No 2, pp. 89-91
Osakwe, E.O. (1993a) Citizenship Education: The Hub of Social Studies Nigerian Journal of Social Studies Review. Vol. 2, No. 3, Pp. 23-38.
Osakwe, E.O. (1994a) Citizenship Education in a Multi-ethnic Society: Some Pedagogical Insights. Studies in Education Vol. 2. No 1. April. Pp 60-64.
Osakwe, E.O. (1994b) Instructional Strategies for teaching the Social Studies: Using Exemplars and Non-Exemplars Nigerian Journal of social Studies Vol. III, No. 1 & 2 pp. 49-55.
In Nigeria, Social Studies found practical expression into the school system after the 1969 National Curriculum Conference. The subject is geared towards building individuals and thereby building the nation (Osakwe 1993). The potentials of Social Studies are yet to be fully exploited in our quest for a desirable socio-political and economic order.
Social Studies is concerned with human relationships. The world is constantly undergoing changes and Social Studies remains a veritable instrument for examining these changes, whether they be positive or negative. Social Studies revolves around humans (people) and all that impinges on them.
Areas of Emphasis in Social Studies
The knowledge included in Social Studies is related to important generalizations about human relationships, institutions and problems, together with supporting facts to ensure that these generalizations are clearly understood (Osakwe and Itedjere 1993). Social Studies examines issues and problems from a holistic viewpoint – consequently, in resolving a problem or an issue, social studies examines the historical, cultural, sociological, economical, physical and other related dimensions. Unlike the vertical concentration that is noticeable in most school subjects, social studies adopts a horizontal spiral approach in the analysis of it problems. Social Studies, has strong affinity with the Social Sciences, but must not be seen as an amalgam of the social sciences.
Social Studies education is an avenue for providing young people with a feeling of hope in the future and confidence in their ability to solve the social and environmental problems of individuals, their community, state or nation.
On this occasion, this lecture addresses an aspect of my discipline which is of academic and public interest – Navigating the Nation, Through Today’s Shame to Tomorrow’s Fame: Social Studies as Pilot.
Addressing the issues of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow automatically provides three segments of discourse: Nigeria Yesterday Nigeria Today and Nigeria Tomorrow.
NIGERIA – YESTERDAY
It is simplistic to address the problems of nation building in Nigeria today without paying due attention to our past and the global past as it affected our past and present.
Mr. Vice-Chancellor, Sir, the educational system which we inherited from our colonial masters, although criticized for alienating us from our culture, produced disciplined individuals and people we will regard as pillars of our democracy and national development. Our educational system of yesteryears was highly structured, organized and predictable. This was the era when education was fully the responsibility of Government or Mission Agencies. Educational institutions were adequately staffed, equipped and supervision was effective. The academic calendar was stable with hardly any disruption. An entrant into the system was able to predict when he/she will graduate. Non graduation of a candidate at the appropriate time was never the fault of the school or institution but the inability of the student to work hard enough to graduate as planned by the educational establishment. The period under discussion was marked by students in primary and secondary schools putting on uniforms that were uniform indeed. There was no provision for students making their own seats/desks or for boarders, providing their own beds. Laboratories in secondary and tertiary institutions were comparable with what obtained in other parts of the world.
Sound moral education was part and parcel of the education in pre 1970 to late 80s Nigeria. Relationship between pupils and teachers, students and teachers and students and lecturers at various levels of education was to a very great extent professional. Incidents of examination malpractice were very rare and anyone caught compromising the integrity of examination was promptly dealt with. Incidents of students negotiating grades with their lecturers or lecturers/teachers asking for “incentives” were almost non-existent. During the period under review, academic standards in Nigeria’s first generation universities was commendable and comparable to what obtained in the more advanced countries of Europe and America. The period witnessed massive staff exchange from overseas universities. Our universities had real international orientation and reputation, with staff and students coming from different parts of the world. Apart from the international outlook of our universities and academics, university lecturers were highly respected and were at the apex of social rating. Okecha (2008) rightly noted that the mention of the title “Professor” attracted much attention. The office of the Vice-Chancellor was highly reverred. The Vice-Chancellor was more respected than any government appointee.
Most Nigerians who went through tertiary education enjoyed one form of financial support or the other from the Government. Education was a worthwhile venture and was seen as the key that unlocked the door to success and fame.
Indolence, robbery, prostitution, ostentatious living, greed, oppression, social and spatial inequality were considered extremely disgraceful in Nigeria of yesteryears. It was common practice for example, for the vendor to leave the Dailies at the Porter’s Lodge as students were trusted to drop the money and pick the papers. Similarly, the proceeds of Rag Day were used for charity as expected. Social vices were frowned at and there was greater sense of accountability among the citizenry including public office holders. Workers reported at their duty posts at the expected time and remained at work till closing. School and other institutional gates were closed at 8 a.m. and remained so until closing. Truancy was an aberration and something seriously frowned at. There was freedom of political association, although political cleavages was along the three major ethnic groups with the exception of the Middle Belt that had her own political identity. It was possible for close relatives to belong to different political parties and yet still live in harmony. The example of the Ikokus can attest to this fact – that a father and son belonged to two opposing parties.
Humans are generally political animals. The ability to organize people into groups with whatever political motive is a basic instinct inherent in human beings. Nigerians are highly articulate political beings. There is the practice of traditional and community politics which has always been with us. There has been a merger between traditional and modern social life and party politics. Since culture is not static, traditional practices also adjusted to accommodate new challenges and developments including cross-cultural contacts with its attendant implications. The social life of a people and their political culture, to a great extent affects several other areas of living. Nigeria is a political amalgam. This is indicative of the cultural plurality of the country. To a great extent the North was much more politically articulate and responsive. This probably accounts for the practice wherein our Northern brothers are always with their radios and listening to local and international news, thereby being always informed. Social life and party politics is not a function of Western education. Some southerners in spite of their level of education, are still politically naïve and cannot read or understand the political horizon. Nigeria’s economy during this period was very stable and was hinged on agriculture. This was the era of the groundnut pyramids. Nigeria was the world’s largest producer of groundnuts, rubber, palm oil and kernels, soya beans, beniseed and also a major producer of cotton, 2nd world producer of cocoa. It was within this period that Malaysia came to Nigeria to get our oil and rubber seedlings, to try out in their country. We know where both countries stand today in the production of palm oil and rubber.
Solid minerals like coal, tin and columbite were mined in economic quantities and Nigeria was known to be a major world player in the production of these minerals. The buoyancy of the economy was further boosted with the discovery of the black gold (oil) in Nigeria. Gradually, emphasis started to shift from agriculture to petroleum ……….the mainstay of Nigerian economy. The Nigerian currency was strong and highly sought after during this period.
Exchange Rate Between the 70s and 80s
Nigeria British American German
N1 pd Stg US $ DM 3.64
The figures above presents a vivid picture of the strength of the Naira at this time.
Nigeria was well served by road, rail, sea air transport. During this period there were over 95,000km of tarred roads and over 3,200km of one-metre gauge railway. Nigeria had just two international airports at Lagos and Kano. Both the northern and southern parts of the country attracted significant investment in infrastructural development, especially in rail and feeder roads, as well as some measure of social services such as electricity, water supply, hospitals, schools and colleges. This period was marked by staff of the Public Works Department (PWD) clearing of the grasses by the sides of the road to ensure long distance and clear vision for drivers and other road users. Roads were regularly maintained – although then, roads were narrow and sometimes windy, they were motorable throughout the year.
Nigeria Airways was the pride of West Africa. It towered over and above other airlines in the sub-region. Nigerian pilots were renowned for their courtesy, competence and confidence. Their take-off and landing was remarkable and devoid of jerks and hiccups. Nigerian Airways flew constantly to Europe, Asia, U.S.A. and several African routes without blemish. The DC 10s, Boeing 737, 707 and 747 were constant on the international routes while the smaller aircrafts served the local (internal) routes. Closer home here, the waterway from Sapele to Obiaruku through River Ethiope was navigable and building materials were transported through that channel.
Security of lives and properties was to a very great extent guaranteed during this period. It was possible to travel all night without fear of robbers. Night travel was preferred by a number of Nigerians. Incidents of armed robbery was rare and it was easy to track criminals. It was not fashionable to engage in criminality because there was a general societal rejection or disgust for any individual who was known to be a criminal or social deviant.
Today, Nigeria has traded her dignifying values of diligence, patriotism, high ethical standards, her abundant natural resources of yesteryears for inglorious habits colloquially referred to as the “Nigerian factor”: the pursuit of injustice, upturned values, endemic corruption and gross misrule. Today Nigeria is fatally sick from a deliberately self inflicted injury. Most of what is happening in Nigeria today amounts to national shame, our pain and disgrace. This shame is most manifest in our “New politics” which is marked by violence leading to loss of lives and properties, massive rigging and assassinations. The undeserving beneficiaries are quick to make efforts at convincing and confusing the masses into supporting the outcome of their political exploits. Almost immediately endorsement is rushed in from all over the country, especially from some Christian and Islamic clerics and other self-seeking leaders who pontificate on the fallacy that governments and leadership are chosen and ordained by God and that we should accept things the way they are in order to save our nascent democracy. But peace without justice cannot stand the test of time and is an invitation for anarchy.
Unlike what obtains in Western democracies and other stable polities where election results are declared less than 24 hours at the close of polls, in Nigeria, it could take three days. In some ridiculous situations like local government elections that are even smaller geographical entities to manage, it still takes days before results are officially released. This usual drag leaves room for manipulation and panel-beating of figures. In spite of all these, ridiculous figures are released as results. In some instances, there are more votes than the number of registered voters. Multiple voting is not uncommon. The tribunal judgment in Edo State revealed that fictitious voters voted and some others voted several times including supposed voters from across the Atlantic.
The bedrock for any stable and functional democratic state is the electoral process. This should be seen as the key issue in a country like ours. The electoral process represents a political choice by the populace. Next to market gossips and corridor discussions, voting is the one activity that demonstrates the extent of people’s involvement in politics. When free and secret ballot voting takes place, the direction and quantum of individual’s participation come out boldly in their true form.
In a survey carried out by this lecturer in 1998, the degree of apathy expressed by young people was startling.
Possible percentage participation in National Elections
NO OF STUDENTS RESPONDING TO EACH CATEGORY
TOTAL NO OF STUDENTS
PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL
Indifferent or undecided
Yes or Interested
No or not interested
The above was almost a decade before the 2007 monumentally fraudulent election, yet the figure reveals high level of alienation or disenchantment with politics and the electoral process among young people. In most cases, this alienation or apathy leads to high level political-disinterest. Effective citizen participation depends upon a knowledge of how the system really operates.
Our citizens have not been systematically exposed to the methods of operations of our political system. A good number of our youths have been left to wander aimlessly in Nigerian political arena. This has resulted in either misinformation or the stifling of the political instincts in youths towards national affairs.
Our electoral process and the attendant protestation of results is unparalleled in the annals of elections in any part of the globe. Many Nigerians are now of the opinion that an individual’s vote does not count – that results are predetermined. This has led to serious apathy and despondency on the part of a large segment of the electorate (See Osakwe 1998, Ogini 2008). The June 12, 1993 election, adjudged to be free affair was annulled with ignomity to the chagrin of Nigerians. Since then, the situation has worsened. There is understandably now much cynicism towards election and the electoral process by several Nigerians.
Another disturbing dimension in this discourse is that politics in Nigeria is no longer seen as an avenue for service, rather it has become an avenue for quick ascendancy to wealth, and public recognition. This has led to the emergence of political upstarts with warped minds on the political expectation of the electorate. Their life style is marked by flamboyant living, luxury cars, including bullet-proof vehicles, escorts with sirens and intimidation of all perceived opponents and those who refuse to acknowledge their new found position and affluence that they find difficult to manage. What we now witness is a replay of the Biblical Haman-Mordecai saga. Haman, a political upstart paid a huge sum of money to ensure that the entire Jewish race is wiped out just because Mordecai the Jew did not bow down to him.
It is a mark of political immaturity to try to use political opportunism to settle scores. It is a show of shame and reflection of the struggle against a complex. Politics should be a very exciting part of our national life, but it is now an issue of life and death, sometimes sending shivers down the spine of the populace. That is why, organizing or conducting elections in Nigeria is warfare and several lives have gone with elections in Nigeria.
Between 1999 and 2009, 39 cases of politically – motivated murders were reported in the country. The timing of these assassinations reveals that it is usually more prevalent in the years preceding the elections and the election year proper. For example, there were 17 assassination cases between 2002 and 2003; 9 cases were recorded between 2005 and 2007 (another pre-election and election period).
Political Assassinations – 1999-2009 (- A Graphic Representation)
In the more recent elections in Nigeria, firearms were freely used. In the Jos crisis of November/December 2008, over 500 lives were lost in the mayhem that trailed that election. Several of those hospitalized were victims of bullet wound. How does this compare with what obtains in other parts of the world, where election results are respected and the electoral process is carried out in an orderly manner?
A common feature of the political terrain in Nigeria is the issue of recycling of individuals and families – giving the impression that there is some eternal mandate that these individuals and families must always be there. How do we explain a situation where some political actors who were contemporaries of the Late Sage, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, are still hovering around the corridors of power. There are some individuals who have remained in political flirtation all through the 29 years of military –rule into the democratic era in Nigeria. What a shame that almost two years after the 2007 general elections, there are still several yet-to-be-resolved court cases.
It is a fact that ever since the contentious elections, Nigerians of varying endeavors, have been united in seeking a reform process that waters the tree of a transparently, free and fair election in order to eliminate the rancour that greeted the results of the April, 2007 polls and literally created hatred and anarchy.
For how long will Nigerians live with this level of rancor and uncertainty? When will transparent elections be conducted so that at the end the loser is even quick to concede defeat and congratulate the winner? In the United States elections of November 4, 2008, Republican presidential candidate, John McCain gracefully conceded victory to the Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama in less than 24 hours after polls. The winner and loser in the American elections did not have to wait for the Electoral boss to announce the result of the most celebrated election result in the world. They relied on the results as announced live by the Cable News Network (CNN).
It is instructive to state here that Nigeria’s national television, the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) had a live coverage of the American election. Why has it not been possible to cover our national elections live. Some international observers were refused entry and their reports discountenanced by our electoral authorities, yet Nigerians went to Ghana to monitor elections! Our electoral process is not transparent and acceptable. It is yet to be made so nationally and internationally.
Corruption is used here to capture a condition or state of falsehood, impropriety, illegitimacy, illegality or injustice geared towards acquisition of power, money or position for private and sectional profit.
Corruption has become endemic in Nigeria and a culturally corrupt system would generate a corrupt society. A society and people would naturally produce its kind, except there is a drastic cultural surgery or there is a re-orientation as a result of time: Recall the Social Studies formula. The Nigerian society provides a very fertile ground for fraudulent practices, thereby leading to the institutionalization of corruption. A corrupt society according to Lewis (2008) produces corrupt leaders and followers; corrupt leaders copy or establish corrupt institutions and corrupt institutions create a multiple of corrupt systems. This may explain why there is hardly any institution or system that is corruption-free in Nigeria. Religious establishments are not exempt in this. Corruption indeed is Nigeria’s worst enemy preventing the citizens from enjoying the huge natural resources. Corruption is detrimental to economic growth. It increases income inequality and poverty by reducing economic growth. It also promotes and sustains unequal distribution of asset ownership and an unequal access to education (Olajide, 2008).
In spite of the establishment of anti-corruption agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) corrupt practices have continued to manifest in several ingeniously notorious ways and forms in Nigeria. This monster called corruption has continued to be the bane of the country’s drive towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. Recently, at an interactive session with the House of Representatives Committee on Drugs and Narcotics and Financial crimes, the Chief Executive of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), alleged that some Nigerians have cashed in on the falling global prices and had been criss-crossing the globe day and night to acquire properties with money looted from the country. Perpetrators of this crime know how to beat all the mechanisms put in place to check their nefarious activities. Our image has been seriously dented by the activities of corrupt Nigerians. Corruption among Nigerians also manifests in internet fraud and the notorious Advance Free Fraud (aka 419). A number of unsuspecting Nigerians and foreigners have been victims of both internet and Advance fee fraud. A number of young people now live big and fat from the proceeds of corruption and fraud.
Nigeria’s image has been seriously dented across the globe as a result of the fraudulent practices of some of our citizens. Several Nigerians are languishing in jails in a number of countries – Some who were not so lucky, were executed by the authorities of those countries where they committed the atrocities. The war against corruption seem to have had a focus during Obasanjo’s regime. Yar Ardua’s administration promised that there would be no sacred cows in his administration’s anti-corruption fight. However, his anti-corruption war came under serious skepticism and cynicism following the redeployment of the former Chairman of the anti-graft agency and his numerous travails thereafter that culminated in his dismissal. It is a very sad commentary and sends a very wrong message to Nigerians and the international community.
The anti-corruption crusade tempo is gradually grinding to a halt and some watchers are getting really concerned, because the sufferings of the masses, they feel have been caused by a few individuals who have diverted money meant for the welfare of the masses for their personal gain. One of the apparent reasons why corruption has continued to pervade the length and breadth of Nigeria may be that the three arms of government pay lip service to its eradication.
The damage corruption has done to the polity and the generality of our people is immeasurable and incalculable. The malaise pervades all strata of the society, including public institutions. According to This Day Opinion of November 5, 2008, nothing works well in Nigeria because of corruption. Several roads are in a deplorable state, even when attempts are made at rehabilitating the roads, corruption will not allow for a thorough and enduring job.
Education and Corruption
Sexual harassment has become so pervasive in Nigerian tertiary education. It is a highly disturbing state of affairs. The issue of sexual harassment in higher institutions has attracted the attention of a number of academics – (Osakwe 2008, Igborgbor 2008, Okecha, 2008). Sexual harassment is a manifestation of power relations and most times girls and women are at the receiving end. Sexual harassment is not restricted to any age level – some academic elders have been known to engage in this abominable game. Some academics have lost their jobs arising from this misdemeanor. Some have continued to exploit and defile girls and make public boast of their sexual escapades. Some girls and married women have been traumatized, all in a bid to acquire a university degree or diploma from other tertiary institutions. Closely related to the issue of sexual harassment is corruption in our educational system from primary to university level. Pupils and students are compelled to pay for one levy or the other. Signing of referees report, clearance, course form, data card – all attract illegal charges. Sometime ago in the history of Nigeria,
Teachers at all levels of education earned a great deal of respect from members of the public. Seen as honest, disciplined and morally above board, it was then most fashionable to look for a teacher whenever a public position that called for a person of high integrity became vacant. They had the aura of saints and always proved their admirers right whenever they had the opportunity to bring their experience and knowledge to bear on public affairs. However, this hallowed integrity of the academic class appears to have taken its leave as the country continues to stink with corruption (Aghedo 2008).
Within the last couple of years, three professors paid the price for sexual exploitation of girls and had to be disgraced out of office. There are still many more waiting to be disgraced. Academic corruption has assumed different dimensions ranging from plagiarism, victimization, gagging of academic freedom, erosion of mentoring to production of foot soldiers/”academic hostage taking” – by which junior academics under a senior colleague have no choice but to do their master’s bidding. Academic freedom that once characterized the university system is fast eroding and giving way to dangerous campus politicians, cliques and other interest groups – whose interests are some other things except academics.
Examination malpractice has also become a major problem besetting education in Nigeria. The phenomenon has become monstrous and will take only very bold and ruthless measures to wipe out. The unfortunate situation is that some people who are expected to address this issue are products of examination malpractice themselves.
Transport and Corruption
The airports lack necessary facilities; the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) cannot locate sites of air wreckages. The most recent defied location until several months after by hunters. The railway lines remain dysfunctional – some rail lines are now used by traders to display their wares.
General Attitude to Corruption
People no longer express bitterness and shock each time they hear of billions of Naira being stolen from public coffers, since it has now become a daily occurrence. For example, it was reported that in one month, a Governor in a state spent N1bn (One billion Naira) in his state for security matters – a state where there was no war, nor the breakdown of law and order.
The status of corruption in Nigeria today is a product of the inconsistency and irregularity of the war against corruption – Having been fought to a standstill by General Murtala Mohammed between 1975 and 1976, a follow up such as Buhari/Idiagbon and later by Nuhu Ribadu would have brought the monster to its knees. But the intervening period between Mohammed and Buhari brought in General Babangida who ruled between 1985 and 1993. Unlike the Buhari regime that came hard on looters of public fund several of whom were handed various prison terms, Babangida returned the assets of the various officers and restored the ranks of the dismissed officers. Call it reward of corruption! This history may repeat itself once again, if the travails of Nuhu Ribadu is allowed to continue. Call it punishment for fighting corruption! The war against corruption at the moment is asleep.
Corruption and the Power Sector
Two thousand (2,000) megawatts of electricity was being generated in 2008 as against the 3,000 generated in 2003. These are ridiculous figures. South Africa with a population of 60 million, generates 45,000 megawatts and the government of South Africa is aspiring to increase her capacity to 60,000. How can Nigeria still claim to be the giant of Africa? Our industries and small scale businesses provide their own electricity – how can they break even in the face of exorbitant production cost essentially because of the lack of steady public power supply. How can industrial dreams of Nigeria be actualized in the light of the current energy challenges. In spite of the President’s plan to declare a state of emergency in the power sector, things have not improved. Small scale businesses, artisans and several self-employed Nigerians have been forced to close their businesses due to non-availability of power.
It was reported (Tell December 8 that in one month (November, 2008) the worsening power situation forced the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to announce the loss of 800 MW generation capacity – within the same period the Sapele Power Station was completely shut down, and the Egbin power station in Lagos was operating “at reduced capacity”. Exactly 10 days after, PHCN reported additional loss of 200 MW. All these have been responsible for the 12 hourly zonal power rotational rationing to maintain system stability and ensure even distribution of the limited generation output from the functioning plants. Under the rotation plan, PHCN divided the country into zones. Each zone gets electricity for 12 hours; even this is no guarantee that the light would come. There are areas/sections of the country where power outage is more regular than public power supply. Even the “promised” additional 6,500 MW by 2009 is a far cry from our expected electricity demands in Nigeria.
We are further informed (Tell December 2008) that each University spends more than N120 million annually on diesel. What a colossal waste of money that would have been ploughed into other critical areas of University administration. Not many Universities in Nigeria can even afford to spend that staggering sum of money for electricity. This of course, does not include the regular electricity bills from PHCN.
CORRUPTION AND IRON AND STEEL INDUSTRY
The iron and steel industry has gulped billions of dollars, since the 1980s – yet there is nothing to show for it. The Federal Government set up the Ajaokuta and Delta Steel plants, alongside three Inland Rolling Mills at Oshogbo, Jos and Katsina. The steel plants and the Rolling Mills have not been able to meet the steel aspirations of Nigerians, mainly because of corruption and beaurcactic bottle-necks. What we now have is more like steel museums instead of steel plants. How do we explain the astronomical cost of imported iron and steel products when we are supposed to be producers of the product? In some of the plants, the components and spare parts are no longer being produced in any part of the world. The computer components are totally obsolete thereby leaving the engineers to cannibalize existing components to the point that there is nothing to fall back on.
The Minister of State overseeing the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, pleaded recently with Nigerians to be patient with the pace of development, stating that, “theirs is not a go slow government”. Unfortunately, Nigerians can not but believe that the present and past administration have no clear-cut policy on how to reengineer the iron and steel industry and position it for Nigeria’s industrial take off. For how long will Nigerians wait for the take-off of an effective iron and steel industry? Several Nigerians were sent to Europe, Russia and Japan to be trained for the iron and steel industry. All these high calibre manpower have been laid off in the face of the privatization Policy of the last administration. Some of the steel plants were concessioned to the political partners/business associates of the government of the day.
The iron and steel industry is the bedrock of any meaningful technological and industrial development of any nation. Nigeria cannot afford to remain an eternal importer of steel products. This sector ought to contribute significantly to the economic development of Nigeria. There seem not to be a clear road map that would lead Nigeria to becoming a major participant in steel development on the African continent. How can the dream of making Nigeria one of the best 20 economies of the world by 2020 come true? How can this be achieved when the primary steel mills have been privatized into wrong hands? The control of the primary source of steel (liquid and flat) is the control of the industrial development of the nation. The iron and steel industry then is a critical area of economic development that should not be left in the hands of investors whether foreign or indigenous.
The dedicated rail line linking Delta Steel Company, Aladja, Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited and the Nigerian Iron Ore Mining Company Itakpe are yet to be completed – until this is done the full value of the companies can never be realized. The rail line project, like several other government projects is more like an abandoned project that is already suffering fast depreciation. The River Niger is yet to be dredged and the Escravos estuary is yet to be cleared. Liquid steel can never be produced at Ajaokuta without all these things being put in place.
EXTRA JUDICIAL MURDERS
An issue that has bothered many Nigerians and sent shivers down the spines of the citizenry has to do with extra judicial murders. A number of families have been traumatized arising from the loss of their loved ones in incidents bordering on extra judicial murder. The unfortunate aspect of this development is that evidences are either totally obliterated or the victims are presented as criminals – the dead cannot speak for himself or herself. A few examples will buttress the point here – Almost two decades ago, a Nigerian star athlete Dele Udo was shot dead at a Police check point. This has also been the lot of a number of innocent Nigerians at various police check points across the country at one point or the other. In 2002, some traders traveling along the Okene – Lokoja highway were intercepted by some policemen who discovered they had a lot of money on them. The policemen tied up the traders and bundled them into the bus and set it on fire, while making away with their millions of Naira. One of the traders miraculously survived and escaped and reported the incident. The policemen were late apprehended, tried and sentenced appropriately. A renowned journalist, Bayo Awosika died in circumstances bordering on extra judicial killing. It was alleged that he died after his vehicle hit a police van and thereafter somersaulted several times before landing at another part of the road. In spite of the claim of sommersault, there was no dent on the vehicle; the handbreak of Bayo’s car was still on; and there was a piece of fire wood under the car. The post mortem examination revealed that the young man died from a missile injury – that is, he was hit by a fast moving metal (bullet). Could this have been another case of extra judicial murder. The case of citizen John Abah in Benue State is still very fresh. On November 14, 2008, bullets fired by a police patrol team felled him, the young man had gone out that night to relax with his friends when his life was cut short. The incident that led to his untimely death is traceable to a rift between the deceased and a police officer at a public beer parlour. In 2006, policemen killed a young man in the same town – Oturkpo, over a protest by residents to a PHCN facility due to power outage.
On December 2, 2008, the authorities of Lagos State University, were compelled to issue a press release on the shooting of its students. This was sequel to the shooting on the 25th of November, 2008 of 4 students of the University who had gone for Local Government identification. Arising from the swift reaction of the authorities of Lagos State University, the State Governor swung into action. The erring policemen were arrested and subsequently dismissed. One of the students shot eventually succumbed to his injuries despite the combined efforts of Lagos State Government and Lagos State University to save his life. The question is for how long will Nigerians put up with this barbaric and senseless killing of her citizens by people who are expected to protect them? The killing of a student in Athens, Greece early December 2008 sparked off protests from students and teachers for several days running. The killing of a Brazilian in the United Kingdom during a terror raid led to the prosecution of the police officer concerned. In December 2008 a lady was killed in Ogun State – she was taken for an armed robber. The police made spirited effort at explaining away the fact that the woman was an armed robber. A young man was shot dead by policeman in front a bank in Benin City for engaging in a brawl in front of the bank – this incident took place in January 2009. In the same month of January a young man was shot dead in Lagos by policemen under unexplained circumstances. Some commercial drivers have been victims of either police shootings or other forms of brutality for their refusal to part with their money illegally “usual toll”.
MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS (MDGs)
Following from the United Nations Millennium Declaration which was adopted at the Millennium summit held in New York, September 6th – 8th, 2000, Nigeria committed herself to realizing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. These goals were targets for making measurable improvements in the lives of the world’s poorest citizens.
Goal I: Eradicate Extreme poverty and Hunger
Poverty still stares millions of Nigerians in the face. The degree of hunger manifests clearly at burial, wedding and other social events where free food and drinks are served lavishly by a select few. In such gatherings, several uninvited guests scramble for food. Worse still, are the milling teenagers who anxiously wait for those properly served, to leave the remnants for them to either eat or carry away. Many of our young people have now become scavengers in the midst of supposed plenty.
According to Bolatito (2008), poverty exists where people lack the means to satisfy their basic needs. These may be defined in a restricted sense as those needs necessary for survival, or broadly those needs reflecting the prevailing standard of living in the community. Poverty describes a situation where peoples resources (material, social and cultural) as so limited as to exclude such people from the minimum acceptable way of life. Poverty is multifaceted (Bolatito 2008); it includes poor access to public services and infrastructure, unsanitary environment, illiteracy and ignorance, poor health, insecurity, voicelessness and social exclusion, including low levels of household income and food insecurity.
Between the period 1980 to 1996, the proportion of poor people rose from 28.1% in 1980 to 65.6% in 1996. This, in terms of numbers translates to 17.7 million poor people in 1980 and 67.1 million people in 1996. It is estimated that by 2015, between 30.1 million and 40.4 million people would still be living in poverty in Nigeria.
According to African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD 2005), Nigeria with an annual per capita income of barely $300, is one of the 20 poorest countries in the world. It is estimated that Nigeria grows at about 3% and the national savings rate is about 15%. In the midst of other daunting challenges of infrastructural decay and corruption, how can Nigeria attain the Millennium goal number one?
Since independence, Nigeria has steadily fallen into the group of countries with a low level of human development, as characterized by an (HDI) coefficient of less than 0.5 (on a scale of 0-1). With a score of 0.470, Nigeria occupies a lowly 158th position, where countries like Eritrea and Senegal fare better. This is a very big shame indeed. How can it be said that Benin Republic and Rwanda are higher up the ladder than Nigeria in GDP per capita.
Table 1: Nigeria’s human development index 2005
Life expectancy at birth (years)
Adult literacy rate
(%ages 154 and older)
Combined primary, secondary and tertiary gross enrolment ratio (%)
GDP per capital (PPP USS)
1. Iceland (0.968)
1. Japan (82.3)
1. Georgia (100.0)
1. Australia (113.0)
1. Luxembourg (60.228)
156. Senegal (0.499)
1653.Cote d’Ivoire (47.4)
Republic of) (69.4)
137.Equatorial Guinea (58.1)
160. Nigeria (1,128)
159.Tanzania (United Republic of)(0.467)
105. Guatemala (69.1)
139. Bangladesh (56.0)
161. Eritrea (1.109)
160. Guinea (0.456)
106.Lao People’s Democratic Republic (68.7)
162. Ethiopia (1,055)
177.Sierra Leone (0.336)
139.Burkina Faso (23.6)
Human Development Report 2007/2008 Country fact Sheets – Nigeria
Table 2: Selected indicators of human poverty for Nigeria
Human Poverty Index (HPI-1) 2004
Probability of not surviving past age 40 (5) 2004
Adult illiteracy rate (%ages 15 and older)2004
People without access to an improved water source (%) 2004
Children underweight for age (% ages 0-5) 2004
1.Burkina Faso (76.4)
12.Congo (Democratic Republic of the (41.1)
34.Lao People’s Democratic Republic (31.3)
8.Congo (Democratic Republic of the (54)
22. Angola (31)
28. Burundi (37.6)
35. Guatemala (30.9)
9. Fiji (53)
29. Nigeria (37.3)
10. Nigeria (52)
15.Cote d’Ivoire (38.6)
37.Tanzania (United Republic of)(30.6)
25.Sri Lanka (29)
12. Mali (50)
26. Philippines (28)
108. Barbados (3.0)
Human Development Report 2007/2008 – Country Facts Sheets – Nigeria
Tables 1 and 2, summarize the sordid state of affairs as it relates to Nigeria poverty rating at the global level. How realizable is MGD1 in the face of this staggering poverty level in Nigeria?
GOAL 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education
The National Policy on Education (2004, revised) states that “the Government recognizes education as an instrument par excellence for effecting national development. The Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) is saddled with the responsibility for ensuring that Nigeria attains the goal of Universal Primary Education by the year 2015. How can this lofty goal be attained in the face of the non-cooperation of several states in the federation, in not meeting up with the demands for accessing their state fund for the Universal Basic Education programme? Less than 50% of the states in the country have been able to comply by paying their counterpart funding. Unless and until this is done, such defaulting states, and by extension, the country will be unable to meet the 2015 target date for attaining universal primary education. What could be responsible for the lacklustre attitude of several state governments towards fulfilling their part of the obligation in this regard? Can it be that education is undervalued by the current democratic actors or that the conditions for accessing the fund does not permit for the usual huge financial seepages into the wrong hands?
Nigeria also endorsed the Jometien conference on Education for All (EFA) by the year 2000, that set out targets for early childhood care and development, primary education, junior secondary and adult literacy. The trend in gross enrolment ratio (GER) indicates considerable fluctuation in enrolment between 1991 and 2000. Enrolment increased appreciably between 1990 and 1994, rising from 68% to 86%. Thereafter, enrolment declined to 81% in 1995 and 70% in 1996. Therefore, Nigeria did not achieve the Jometien EFA goal of 2000.
The Universal Basic Education (UBE) guideline stipulates that each primary and junior secondary school should have one general science laboratory to cater for elementary science and domestic science; one well ventilated toilet for a maximum of 40 pupils or students per toilet; one teacher to teach or handle 40 pupils or students. These conditions by what is obtainable in our schools is utopian, and may not be attainable even by the year 2015. Very few schools have the semblance of a laboratory. The nearby bushes provide toilet facilities in some of our schools.
GOAL 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
The target of this goal is to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2005 and to all levels of education not later than 2015. The indicators here are:
– Ratio of girls to boys, in primary, secondary and tertiary education.
– Ratio of literate females to males of 15-24 years old.
– Share of women in wage employment in the non-agriculture sector
– Proportion of seats held by women in national parliament.
Gender disparity still manifests strongly in access to primary, secondary and tertiary education leading to unequal access to employment (Millennium Development Report 2004)
An estimated 50% of Nigeria’s population is made up of women and girls; however, gender disparity in access to primary, secondary and tertiary education dates back to the pre-colonial era and has its roots in Africa traditional culture. Will the target of gender equality and empowerment of women be reached by 2015. The answer is obviously in the negative. Society must be ready to deal with gender-stereotyping and the acceptance that the female gender can aspire to the highest height if society will allow. The age-long notion of women as just being there to make children or to meet the pleasure demands of the men folk must be jettisoned. Women excel in whatever chosen career they go into; they are very good and better managers of the home and society. There should be no gender discrimination on job, whether public or private.
GOAL 4 – Reduce child Mortality
The National Millennium Goals Report (2004) noted that not much progress has been made in reducing child mortality. Estimates from the 2003 National Demographic and Health Survey put under-five mortality rate as 217 per 1,000 with large regional variations. Urban and rural areas had under five mortality rates of 243 per 1,000 and 153 per 1,000 respectively. The projection of the goal under consideration, is that, there must be a reduction by two thirds (2/3) of under-five mortality by the year 2015. In other words, Nigeria should be able to reduce under-five morality to 49 per 1,000 by 2015. It is most unlikely that Nigeria will meet the 2015 target of reducing under-five mortality by two thirds (2/3).
The major obstacles towards achieving goal 4 of the MDGs are poor access to health care facilities (poverty), HIV/AIDS and poor maternal health. Good health services costs money and this is not within the reach of the poor that unfortunately make up the majority of Nigeria’s population. Corruption and greed has not yet permitted for free-health services to the poor. Unfortunately, those in government who ought to ensure high class medical facilities in our public health institutions have failed in their responsibilities. It is these same persons who can afford to travel overseas for the slightest ailments.
Availability of Health Care facilities, 1996 – 2000
No. of Doctors
No. of Hospital Beds
The table depicts the very appalling state of health care facilities in Nigeria. What efforts are on ground to ensure that the picture changes drastically in the positive direction before the year 2015?
GOAL 5: Improve Maternal Health
The target of this goal is to reduce maternal mortality ratio by three quarters between 1990 and 2015. Although there has been slight decrease in maternal mortality since 1990, the level still remains high at approximately, 1,000 per 100,000 live births from the late 1990s to 2001. The national maternal mortality rate was 704 per 100,000 live births with considerable regional variation (MDG Report 2004)
Maternal deaths in Nigeria, like in most developing countries are usually traceable to women’s powerlessness and their unequal access to employment, finance, education, basic health care, and other resources.
The challenges to the achievement of goal 5 of the MDGs include teenage pregnancy, harmful cultural practices, lack of health personnel and other infrastructure, especially in the rural areas. Nigeria accounts for 10% of global maternal deaths (UCAID 2008).
52,000 Nigerian women die yearly from maternal related complications. Lanre-Abass (2008) stated that majority of births in Nigeria (66%) occur at home. A smaller percentage of women receive postnatal care, which is crucial for monitoring and treating complications in the first two days after delivery. Nigerian health system has been bedeviled with problems of service quality, including unfriendly attitude of some health personnel (doctors and nurses), inadequate skills, decaying infrastructure, shortage of essential drugs and fake drugs.
GOAL 6: HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases
It is estimated that over 4.5 million Nigerian adults and children are living with HIV/AIDS in 2008. The cumulative deaths from AIDS as at 2008 was about 4.2 million people. These are startling figures that should disturb any group of people (Osakwe 2008). The age groups most affected by the virus includes 20 – 29 year olds, while the regions with highest prevalence rates include the North Central, North East, and South-South zones. It is shocking to know that University treated 10,800 persons with HIV between January and October, 2008.
Several factors contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS in Nigeria; this includes sexual networking practices such as polygamy, a high prevalence of untreated sexually transmitted infections (STIs.), low condom use; poverty; low literacy; poor health status, stigmatization and irresponsible sexual habits. The prevalence of malaria in Nigeria has remained high, and this is due to the abundance of blocked drainages and general uncleanliness that aids the malaria vectors. It is estimated that about a million deaths are recorded annually in Nigeria arising from malaria. The fact that we have inadequate number of well-trained medical personnel to implement programmes like the national AIDS programme remains a major challenge towards the realization of Goal 6 of the MDGs.
GOAL 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability
Nigeria is still grappling with the challenge of environmental sustainability. There are still major problems related to land degradation, pollution, flood, erosion, desertification, inefficient use of energy resources, loss of biodiversity, environmental disasters and deforestation. There is still poor access to improved sanitation facilities in Nigeria, which may be blamed on poor implementation of health and housing and other related policies, high levels of poverty, low level of awareness about issues concerning environmental sustainability and general rural improvement. Why has the perennial gully erosion in the South East, parts of Delta and Edo defied attention – instead, farmlands and buildings are annually washed away; roads cut-off and communities separated; children and adults are washed away by floods. How explainable is it that in the 21st century, even in some university campuses, students defecate anywhere and worse in some female hostels! “Short-put” has acquired a new meaning for this anti social behaviour. Students defecate into black polythene bags and throw same behind their halls or leave them at the toilet ends. Sometimes these human wastes are washed away into gutters and drains thereby creating health hazards. Excavations for construction and building sand may not be as obvious an environmental hazard as short put; but excavation without recourse to the environmental consequences leaves much pain and anguish for the people. Some Nigerians daily contribute to environmental degradation and threat to lives and properties by their careless and environmentally – unfriendly activities.
GOAL 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development