For many academics, President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointment of Mallam Adamu Adamu as Education Minister is a surprise because he is not a professor like other ministers who had led the ministry and he is unknown.
Mallam Adamu Adamu who hails from Bauchi State is a graduate of Accounting from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Though, he studied Accounting, he has a flare for writing.
Before his appointment as a minister, he was widely known as a public analyst and columnist with Daily Trust Newspaper. He is a public commentator who boldly expresses his views and opinions both locally and internationally.
He was a Personal Assistant to the late Solomon Lar, who was the pioneer National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
During his first meeting with top officials of the Federal Ministry of Education in Abuja, Adamu concurred that there is rot in the system which he blamed on inadequate funding, corruption, among others, which according to him is pervasive in the sector.
His said: “The core problems of education in the country vary from one level of education to another, the crisis of underfunding, which gave birth to a whole series of other problems such as poor infrastructure for teaching and learning, poor conditions of service for teachers and the menace of brain drain from our tertiary institutions.
“Also the crises of poor enrolment and access which has left millions of school age children roaming the streets and the crisis of regulation which has turned the entire education system into a jungle where everything goes.
“The system has been left unregulated, unsupervised and with no recourse to ethics and professionalism.” the minister lamented.
Although stakeholders in the sector who spoke with Vanguard know little or nothing about Mallam Adamu, all they are interested in is someone who is passionate about revamping the ailing education sector and making it globally competitive.
Non-Starter: Reacting to Adamu’s emergence as Minister, Dr Akinloye Oyewunmi, Department of Physical and Health Education, Lagos State University said: “I do not know who Adamu is so I cannot question him. However, we are a non – starter state, our actions have no structure, the education system has no structure, the system is run by the whims and caprices of politicians. The direction of the ruling party is known to us because they say the country is broke. I expect nothing from them because of the state of the treasury.
“There is no harm in being optimistic, but I implore people not to be over expectant so as not to have their hopes dashed.”
Also setting an agenda for the Minister, University of Lagos ASUU Chairman, Dr. Laja Odukoya, urged Mallam Adamu to ensure that education is at the reach of common man.
He said: “He should ensure that education is adequately funded to make our universities of global standard.”
While pointing out that this is the era of change, Laja urged the new minister to quickly address the issue of ASUU’s outstanding arrears to forestall any industrial action by the union.
His words: “The issue of university autonomy and the exclusion of varsities from the TSA must be addressed. Varsities are not profit-centres due to the special nature of their operations.
“Also, the Minister should consider the need to address the proper management of funds for education by the Ministry and Vice-Chancellors, most of whom are financially reckless and unaccountable. The anti-corruption drive must not spare varsities.
Unchecked NUC: “The intrusion of the National Universities Commission,NUC, in varsity operation must be checked. The looming danger exemplified by different professional bodies meddling in who can teach in university and de-accreditation of courses accredited by NUC is a recipe for chaos which must be stopped.
“NUC’s management of varsities’ funds has been a serious subject of concern and ASUU, for years, has been calling for NUC to be subjected to accountability checks. It is our hope that the new minister will look into it.”
Dr Shinaayomi Akintolure, a parent, lecturer and Educational Consultant implored the Minister to put pressure on the government to, if not surpass, meet the UNESCO budget benchmark of 26 percent allocation to education.
He said “If the budget to education was sizeable from the get go, the government will not have to spend the large amount it is currently spending on security. The availability of youths to recruit for insurgency is as a result of the poor state of the education sector.”
On his part, Mr. Samuel Olatunji, Chairman, Board of Directors, Trinity International College said that the new Minister should reinvent the National Certificate in Education, NCE, certificates to avoid forgeries of certificates, which has contributed to the problems bedevilling the sector.
“The greatest problem in education sector is forgery of NCE certificates which is destroying education in Nigeria. That is why we don’t have quality teachers in the sector. There is massive forgery of NCE certificates. Mallam Adamu should ensure that certificates are reinvented in Nigeria,so that all the forgeries would disappear.”
He urged President Muhammadu Buhari to prioritize education adding: “This government’s agenda should be to achieve three things: The first is education, the second is education and the third is education. Education is life. The new millennium development goals prioritize eradication of extreme poverty as number one and education as number two. Education should be prioritized.”
Reinstate History: Deputy National Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Bode George, while delivering the annual public lecture of Minerva Philosophical Association, MPA, titled Leadership, Change and National Continuity, noted that history as a subject should be restored to the school curriculum in order to restore Nigeria’s already lost dignity.
He said: “They don’t teach history any more in our schools. It is a misnomer. How can Nigeria youths learn about the history of Nigeria? Most youths don’t even know the first Prime Minister in Nigeria. It is bad. History must be restored. We will continue to clamour for it.”
NYSC: Bode George also suggested that the present minister must strengthen the paramount idealism behind the National Youth Corps Programme which is predicated on promoting national unity, by compelling that all the major three languages – Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo are made compulsory at the secondary school level, adding that this will not only strengthen mutual understanding but will equally deepen the cultural accommodation and unifying values among our people.
Speaking in same vein, the National Chairman of Alliance for Democracy, AD, Senator Mojisola Akinfeyinwa at the same forum reiterated the need for history to be brought back into the curriculum. He said abandonment of history made his heart bled.
According to him, “It is very sad that Nigeria does not value its history. We dont study history again, including Nigeria history. History should be the first subject to be made compulsory in the curriculum.