Speaking of the new ministers, it is fascinating seeing how quickly we choose to forget just about anything. Many of the appointed ministers were criticised not for any other reasons than their paper qualifications in the area they were appointed to lead.
In the last decade alone, we have had many public officials with fine degrees from both Nigeria and all around the world, the only thing that is common across board is the ability to drain the nation of all its limited resources. I am sure there were competent handfuls that went in to do their jobs diligently but those were in the minority.
My favourite ministry for a long time is education, I have never understood what the job of a Minister of Education was and neither did I understand the job of the Commissioner for Education at the state level. Reason being that since I was in secondary school the most exciting news about schools from primary to tertiary levels had been about teachers’ salary or strike actions.
Is Mallam Adamu Adamu an Accountant turned journalist the best for the job of Minister of Education? I don’t know but given that since 1958, Nigeria has gone through 45 different ministers with different credentials befitting the office and yet same story, I don’t think Adamu Adamu can be any worse.
Several years ago, my boss took me along to visit someone he intended to partner with in town, the man was a medical doctor who was interested in investing in entrepreneurship. As we sat down talking, he called his daughter to get us some drinks, then introduced her, my boss and the man’s daughter exchanged greetings.
She turned out to be my mate in secondary school that I have not seen since our convocation seven years prior, we exchanged greetings and chatted a bit. She was still at Med School and I just finished College of Education and had started working.
On the way back my boss was surprised I knew the family. I told him I did not know them at all but the girl and I spent six years of our lives in the same secondary school.
This was not so long ago, it was not one of our grandparents stories. What was unique in our public schools in the mid 1980s was that wealthy and educated parents send their children to the same schools children of farmers and less well off – it was an incredible diverse mix of talents and class.
How did I managed to get into the same secondary school as children of the wealthy and university professors in town?
It started from primary school.
Trying to remember one thing that was different at the time and had eroded due to lack of funding or outright mismanagement of limited resources. I remember that in my first two years of school, our reading books were carefully selected and were given to each child at the beginning of the term to take home for homework, so children whose parents can not afford buy books are not left out, the books were returned at the end of the term.
The same primary school today despite the location on a busy main road has not seeing any maintenance in 30 years.
My secondary school was a formal missionary school and at the time still enjoys government maintenance funding and school developmental levy pent on intended purposes – that is what attracted children from varied background.
The same school today is a shell of its old self.
And yet we have always had departments for Ministry of Education at the federal level and Commissioners at the state levels.
What is obvious is that NE will be attracting lots of attention in all areas given Boko Haram presence, but the question we should be concerned with is how he is going to balance his official assignment to the nation so that the rest the country where public education had been neglected for decades get needed attention both from him and at the state levels.
Maybe rather than “hitting the ground running” the first assignment should be to make unannounced visits to random public schools to know the extent of rot he had to deal with.