Last week, the National Examination Council (NECO) released its ranking of states in terms of performance in its June/July 2016 Senior School Certificate Examination. Ekiti was ranked number one in all the 36 states of the federation, including Abuja. This piece is not to shower accolade on Gov Ayodele Fayose, though deserved, but a call to other state government and governors on the need to pay attention to education in their respective states. Education is the bedrock of development and the Nigerian educational system has not been what it should be. Nigerians are in agreement that standards have fallen.
And as a journalist, I am in a vantage position to know. You can hardly get university graduates who can put together meaningful sentences. Some are quick to argue that today’s students/undergraduates have access to more information and body of knowledge than my generation or those before mine, the fact remains that today’s undergraduates have fallen short of expectations in areas where it matters.
But Nigeria’s educational administrators cannot afford to fold their arms. Action should be taken, if truly the young ones would be leaders of tomorrow. They need to be adequately equipped for the challenges ahead. And it is not as if Nigerian leaders are not aware of this or the advantage of a sound education, they only prefer to extend that to their children/wards. They prefer to send their children abroad for education. You now ask, where would these children that have been so trained abroad work after graduation? It is clear that those societies would not absorb all of them.
In that case, they would come back home to preside or work alongside those with poor or lower standard of education. It does not need a soothsayer to tell us that there would be a disconnect.
That is why Governor Fayose should be commended for the state’s major stride n education. But before continuing with this line of thought, there is a need to digress a bit and discuss the issue of who should take the glory for the state’s performance which has become contentious since the ranking was made public.
Immediately the announcement was made public, the issue, as usual, became politicized, while the Ayo Fayose administration in the state had been basking in the accolade that trailed the feat, the Ekiti chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) came out to deflate those celebrating that the state was just reaping the result of the work done by the immediate past administration of former Governor Kayode Fayemi, the present Minister for Solid Minerals Development. “The current success did not happen overnight but the result of long planning by Fayemi between 2011 and 2014”, was how the Ekiti APC puts it. Inasmuch as I won’t begrudge the party (APC) in its claim on the performance of the former administration, it’s obvious that it got it wrong. I am not saying Fayemi didn’t do anything to develop Ekiti, but on the giant strides made in education, the credit should be given to Fayose, for several reasons.
During Fayose’s first term as governor in 2003, records show that Ekiti was ranked 34th and 35th in WAEC and NECO examinations. One of the things he did was to organize an education summit where all the stakeholders in education were present. The outcome of the summit was the provision of teaching aids and renovation of schools. When Fayemi was governor, he did the same. He (Fayemi) distributed teaching aids which included laptops. But Fayose went further, he knew the instructors, the teachers must also be motivated. Herein lies the difference between the two administrators.
Fayose put his own personal touch as he began the celebration of teachers’ day in order to encourage the teachers. On such occasions, new cars are given to teachers who had distinguished themselves, at the primary and secondary school levels in the state. He went further as it was during that period that teachers career peaked with some of them rising to become Tutors-general with a tutor general appointed for each of the senatorial districts. By 2006, Ekiti was eighth and seventh in WAEC and NECO examinations and was the best in the South-West region in NECO.
During the Fayemi period, one would not say the state governor enjoyed such a cordial relationship with teachers. One of the issues that readily came to mind was the crisis he had with teachers due to a policy the administration introduced at the time that teachers should undergo competency test/examination. Though the policy was a good one but it led to crisis in Ekiti education. Some school principals were made to undergo the test. Those who failed were demoted for their “incompetence”. Teachers refused to sit for the examination as they claimed that what would become of their fate after the examination was not properly spelt out. Another crisis between the state and the teacher during the Fayemi period was the refusal of the state to pay 27.5 percent of what was termed peculiar allowance ( I don’t know what that means). The state said it could only pay 19 percent. Of course, all these led to industrial action by the teachers. So the relationship between teachers and that administration was not so cordial, morale was low and the motivation was equally not there. When Fayose took over from Fayemi in October 2014, in his second coming, Ekiti was ranked 22nd, 28th and 35th in 2012, 2013 and 2014 results of WAEC. Having a time-tested template of 2003, he organized another education summit in September 2015. Also, the best teachers were rewarded with new cars, Tutors-general were appointed.
Free extra classes were organized for final year student, preparatory classes were also organized for those seeking admission into tertiary institutions, teachers taking core subjects were given allowance while teachers in rural areas were paid inconvenience allowance, past questions were made available. if those were not responsible for the leap in the performance of students in the state, then I want to know what did.
As said earlier, there are lessons to be learnt from the Ekiti example. State governors should take more than a passing interest in education in their states. Efforts should be made to motivate and inspire teachers to aspire and give their best to the students.
Still on Abia North Senatorial election
A lot has been said concerning the Abia North Senatorial Election, but I am seeing the entire scenario from another perspective. Apart from the call by all and sundry for the National Judicial Council (NJC) to wade into the matter, which I agree with, there’s still more to be done. There’s an anomaly, which if not corrected, would constantly stand truth on its head as we are presently witnessing. Also, I am convinced that justice would only come for the petitioner, former governor of Abia state and candidate of the Progressives Peoples Alliance (APC) in that election, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, at the Supreme Court, if NJC does not take a quick look into the matter.
It is quite clear. He who plays the piper dictates the tune. Section 145(2) of the 2010 Electoral Act gives power to the president of the Court of Appeal to appoint and determine who sits at election tribunals. Specifically, the section states, “the President of the Court of Appeal may issue practice directions to election tribunals”.
As a respondent or the principal of the respondent, all you need do is “see”, the President of the Appeal Court who determines who hears the appeal. As a petitioner, if you are dissatisfied with the judgement and you decided to appeal, you are going back to the same person at the appellate who had initially appointed those who heard your case and who had given, “practice directions”.
So where does that leave the petitioner especially when the respondent or his principal had already “seen” the president? Of course, we have a predetermined outcome. It is not new. It is something that had happened in the past in this country.
It is important to review such powers. The President of the Court of Appeal should not have the power to appoint members of election petition tribunal, when we know that the appeal would still come back to him. That power should be rested somewhere else.