If there is one thing the President Muhammadu Buhari administration should be given kudos for, it is the appointment of Dr. (Hon.) Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, fondly called HCN, into his cabinet, as the Minister of State for Education. Overly cerebral, handsome and debonair, the energetic young man has contributed in no small measure to spice up a government many would like to describe as dreary, not so much in performance as in the President’s severe look.
Since assuming office as minister, Nwajiuba has acquitted himself well and has worked with uncommon synergy with his principal, avuncular Minster of Education, Adamu Adamu, to steady the tottering ship of Nigeria’s decrepit education sector.
He was a founding member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and served as secretary of its Constitution Drafting Committee, which produced the constitution that midwifed the party in 2013. Between 2017 and 2019, he was the chairman of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETfund) a position he relinquished after his reelection to the House of Representatives in 2019 under the Accord Party to represent Okigwe North Federal Constituency. His odyssey with Accord Party became expedient because of activities of buccaneers, who confiscated the people’s destiny and converted same into personal estate. Interestingly, Nwajiuba became a victim of queer judicial intervention that scuttled his second coming to the National Assembly, where he had gunned for the plum job of Speaker. However, he could not be stopped, as the President had already nominated him as minister. He eventually became the Minister of State for Education of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2019.
This former lawmaker was born during the Nigeria-Biafra civil war. He studied law at the universities of Jos and Lagos where he obtained a chain of degrees, including a doctorate in law, a reason, perhaps, that made him to plough himself headlong into his assignment with uncommon devotion, not being the usual ‘come chop’ politician.
It is like Nwajiuba’s rising profile is upsetting some conformists, who feel threatened and set out nauseating schemes to rubbish him. However, Nwajiuba has always escaped their trap like a chicken in flight while they keep tripping and falling.
As TETfund chairman, Nwajiuba’s traducers tried to rope him into a fraud case but he emerged unscathed. They had also orchestrated the court case that saw to his exit from the House of Representatives but could not prevent Buhari’s eagle eyes from spotting this bundle of talents and decided to bring him into his cabinet. Then some pedestrian fame seekers accused him of anti-party activities during the short lived Emeka Ihedioha administration in Imo State, alleging that he was nursing plans to dump APC and join the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but that too failed to stick.
However, they are at it again. This time, their scheme has taken a more dangerous dimension, involving the nemesis ravaging the entire world. How could anyone in his right frame of mind believe that Nwajiuba, a member of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, could say that the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic is a sham? But that is what these damp brains want us to believe.
Nwajiuba was quoted as telling members of the Senate Committee on Basic and Secondary Education that the deadly COVID-19 does not exist in Nigeria.
“In fact, nobody has seen this disease in Nigeria. Anybody who says he has seen it is a joker. …” the minister was reported as saying.
Strangely, the amateurish Nollywood script writers exposed their perfidy by also correctly reporting that the same Nwajiuba criticised Oyo State’s plan to reopen its primary and secondary schools regardless of escalating cases of infection, especially in the state.
What all this boils down to is that it is either the minister was misquoted or the wacky claim contrived to achieve invidious aim. For whatever it is anyway, the schemers only brought ridicule upon themselves, as they could not even piece their loony idea into a meaningful plot.
Of course, Nwajiuba has debunked the statement attributed to him, but like the gentleman he is, only made veiled reference to the incapacity of the writers and their sponsors to understand his language. Common sense dictates that it does not add up that Nwajiuba, a member of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, or any other responsible member for that matter, could make such a statement even if acting under a spell. The unflagging efforts of this body towards arresting the scourge in the country are very obvious to all.
For HCN to now come up midway and claim that what he has been fighting against all this while was a sham is to say the least most unreasonable. It is very uncharitable to associate Nwajiuba with the wicked innuendo, considering his inexorable contributions to the fight against this trouble in the land, especially in protecting the students of educational institutions against the virus.
In rubbishing the contrived report, Nwajiuba stated unequivocally that COVID-19 was real and that all hands must be on deck to wrestle it to the ground. This, he said, the Federal Ministry of Education is doing in collaboration with various levels of other government agencies to crush the pandemic.
Actually, according to the minister, he had gone to the Senate body to submit a proposal from his ministry on proposed strategies for reopening schools without endangering the lives of Nigeria’s children. He denied ever making the statement ascribed to him, noting that it was implausible to say the epidemic that had affected millions of lives worldwide did not exist.
Nwajiuba said the government would not succumb to pressures to reopen schools while the COVID-19 pandemic rages. In a statement, the Federal Ministry of Education said: “The Ministry is indeed under intense pressure to reopen schools but will never succumb to such pressure until the infection curve begins to flatten,” he said.
“The Ministry of Education reaffirms its commitment to the safety of the Nigerian children and would, therefore, not do anything to compromise their safety. The Federal Government is aware of the damage coronavirus has caused to the lives of people and economies globally, including Nigeria. We will, therefore, not compromise an inch in this regard, no matter the blackmail.
“The Honourable Minister of State and indeed the Ministry is also of the belief that no child should die of COVID -19 due to schools being reopened at the wrong time and, therefore, will resist all pressure to do so.”
Nwajiuba tasked journalists to crosscheck their facts before publishing so that they would not embarrass people making sacrifices to safeguard lives of citizens, adding that in journalism “facts are sacred and comments are free.”
The minister’s advice is invaluable for the nobility of the journalism profession. In fact, this is the dilemma faced by journalists, as people could sell weird claims and any journalist that is not circumspect buys it at his own detriment. One could easily be messed up by failing to realise he may unwittingly be letting himself into a proxy war, which ultimately brings ruin to an otherwise thriving career and taints the reputation of the Fourth Estate of the Realm.
In the quest for ‘exclusive’, journalist have to face the fact that politicians are an awful lot and whoever deals with them must be extremely careful and take whatever they say with a pinch of salt. Yes, there is a category of politicians responsible for why people say politics is a dirty game but decent minds like Nwajiuba must not be pushed out of the doggy fight if the Augean stable must be cleansed for Nigeria to thrive. Nobody knows what they want from him but their tactic is obvious: Hack him down by all means. However, like the moon, which no hand can shield, the more they put barricades on HCN’s way, the more he scales through and the more they stumble.
Nwajiuba’s haters and those after him may be setting themselves up for a disastrous turn. How salutary it would be if they let him be because it is impossible to impede a Divine project whose mind is wholesome.