As another day of Nigeria’s
independence anniversary
draws near, it is obvious that all
is not well with the country’s
educational sector. The portrait
of independent Nigeria, after 52
years of its existence, is
disquieting.
While the Asian Tigers, many of
whom started out on the
journey of development at the
same time as Nigeria, are busy
taming the moon and
befriending Mars, Nigeria tramps
on in poverty, disease and
illiteracy. It has been saddening
in the last 52 years to watch
Nigeria slide down hill in virtually
every sector. The economy is in
shambles and still sinking fast in
spite of the so-called measures
put in place to halt the
downward slope. Insecurity has
attained its most terrifying
loftiness; power supply has
remained as erratic as the
country itself while the decay of
social infrastructure has reached
unbearable proportions. Indeed,
confidence and national pride
have become very low in
Nigeria.
Many continue to wonder why
the country continues to
experience backwardness on a
daily basis despite the abundant
resources, plentiful brainpower
and the overflowing brawn of
its citizens. The answer is very
conspicuous: as long as our
leaders continued to pay lip
service to the development of
the education sector, the country
will never emerge from this
insulation of penury.
Whether our political leaders
accept it or not, the fact remains
that education is a basic social
need. It is an indispensable
ingredient in the nation’s
developmental calculus. Based
upon this premise, the palpable
neglect of the needs of this all-
important aspect of our national
life is too curious to be
overlooked. The state of the
educational sector in Nigeria
today is nothing short of a
national tragedy. All around us,
we are assaulted by a morass of
decayed infrastructure, poor
staff, administrative high-
handedness, plummeting
standards of learning and
research, and general low input.
All of which are borne out of
government’s massive under-
funding of education.
It would be recalled that the first
major attack on education took
place in 1978, when the then
Obasanjo military regime
increased tuition and feeding
fees in universities as part of
economic austerity measures. Of
course, students responded with
nation-wide ‘Ali must go’
protests. In 1984, the Buhari
military junta phased out the
subsidized feeding system in the
higher institutions.
Increasingly, the trend has been
for the government to have a
hands-off approach to
education, and to privatise and
commercialise it with
devastating consequences on
the education of children and
youth from poor working class
families. Reprehensibly, since the
inception of the present civilian
administration, budgeting
allocation to education has been
relentlessly on the decline. The
Federal Government has refuse
to implement the agreement it
reached with the Academic Staff
Union of Universities (ASUU),
while the allocation to education
in the 2012 Appropriation Act is
10 per cent (N400.15 billion) as
against the recommendation of
the agreement.
As a result of the miserly 2012
budget provision, fees are
skyrocketing beyond the means
of average and poor working
class parents. As I write, fee
increments are sweeping across
the length and breadth of
Nigerian campuses like a raging
fire. How can a country develop
in the midst of monumental
examination failures that are
being recorded annually in the
O-level external examinations? A
report showed that out of the
1,672,224 candidates who sat
for this year’s May/June exams,
only 649,156 (38.81 per cent)
obtained credit in five subjects,
including English and
Mathematics. And according to
the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP) 2011 Report,
Nigeria has an illiteracy rate of
28 per cent and claims 142nd
position on the world literacy
ranking, behind less developed
countries like Algeria, Malawi,
and war-torn countries like Iraq.
The questions that have been
asked and which continue to beg
for an answer are:
– would the president be in a
celebratory mood if his children
were among the millions of
Nigerian children that will live
with the scar of their inability to
realise their academic dreams
due to their parents inability to
meet up with the astronomic
school fees that are being
charged by our higher
institutions?
– Will the governors be in
celebratory mood if their
children had any stake in the
rottenness of the educational
system?
– Will our rich senators and
honourables jubilate if their
children were part of the over
one million Nigerian children that
failed this year’s exams?
In the past few years there have
been monumental failures in the
WAEC, NECO and UTME exams and
the immediate future is not
promising either because of
starvation of funding by the
government. The government’s
refusal to adequately fund
education has created the basis
for the authorities of various
institutions to impose various
obnoxious charges and fees on
the students. This has been
making education the exclusive
preserve of children of the rich.
Moreover, the state of
institutions, from the primary to
the tertiary, is not a concern to
the government since members
of the capitalist ruling class can
afford to send their wards to
private schools or abroad to
acquire sound education.
This is further buttressed by the
fact that while government
claims there is no money and the
education institutions at all levels
are left to decay, public officials
live fabulous and ostentatious
lifestyles with fat salaries and
allowances, while billions of
naira are being looted on a daily
basis on frivolous activities that
do not fundamentally have a
direct or indirect effect on the
living conditions of the working
people.
Apparently, it is not a case of
non-affordability, but lack of
political will. Therefore, to shoot
these elephants and save the
country from the obvious shame
of backwardness, it has become
imperative for those who
identify with mass struggle for a
better living to start strategizing
on how to fight for a better
economic system that is
democratic, pro-poor and anti-
imperialistic.
This is a system that would
defend proper funding of social
services, and promote genuine
people’s democracy. To do this,
power must be taken away from
the present set of self-serving
capitalist politicians and put into
the hands of the working people
who are the direct victims of the
system. Therefore, human right
activists, pro-democracy
activists, socialists, etc must be
ready to join forces with the sole
aim of joining a workers’ party
that will lead workers, students,
police, army, peasants, and the
oppressed in general in the
struggle for attaining political
power in order to establish an
egalitarian socialist society
where the needs and welfare of
the people will be the basis of
production, distribution and
governance against the existing
capitalist system in which the
interests of the rich few are
supreme. The Nigerian situation
is between revolution and
barbarism.

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