Sunday, October 18, 2020 4:36 pm
By Johnson Babalola
I am tired but determined to watch updated news about the EndSARS protests ongoing in Nigeria via YouTube. All of a sudden, I find myself in Aso Rock as Nigeria’s President. Everyone is running around me. I am new here but loving it. They have all kinds of advice for me. They have different business proposals for me. I am overwhelmed with their love, praises and sense of commitment to my administration.
“Sir, we plan to change all the vehicles, furniture etc your predecessor used. I will bring you the invoice soon sir. It will only be about N3 Billion. This is the tradition sir” . I then inform Chief Owolomatter, the new Chief of Staff to forget it and give me privacy. He tells everyone to leave. Alone, I ask myself what major decision should I make first? Understandably, there are too many issues facing the nation. Where do we even begin from? Power? Education? Healthcare? Infrastructure? Governance?. The list goes on. Thinking about this can give the most healthy person a headache. Ouch! I have a headache already!.
Then it hits me: Education. Then I ask myself about the steps I will take. I will first call for a meeting of my cabinet members, state and local governments executives for a discussion, participation, support and agreement. I then place a call to my Personal Secretary, Madam Focus to call the meeting for the next day.
During the meeting, Dr. Another Party does not want to cooperate. He asks for him to be able to nominate the Chairman of Ports Authority to earn his cooperation. Elder Wahalapo says my plan has religious undertone and Madam Konigba says my plan is a tribal one. I take my time to explain to them that an educated nation is a liberated one. We start with this, then we go to other areas of the nation’s needs. I explain to them further to put aside religious, ethnic and political differences and work with me. They are surprised that I am not raising my voice or threatening them. “You are different. We will work with you because we see that you truly care” says Madam Konigba.
The meeting progresses and agrees to the following:
1. Declare an emergency in the education sector
2. Return missionary schools to the various religious organizations that set them up. This will ease the financial burden on the government and allow the renovation of the schools. It will then provide the students with conducive environments of learning.
3. Federal, state and local governments should carry out a comprehensive audit of primary, secondary and tertiary institutions and their needs. For the primary and secondary schools especially, set up governing bodies for them made up of reputable old students with integrity. Encourage the schools to raise funds, support them with funds and give them free hands to determine the contractors that will execute the projects of fixing the schools.
4. Ensure profitable companies operating in Nigeria sign up to Corporate Social Responsibilities, focusing on schools within their areas of businesses.
5. Carry out an audit of owners of private schools in Nigeria and ensure they are not holding positions in government that will be in conflict with their ownership of schools. I once heard that the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education in a state owned a chain of private schools. That’s clearly a conflict.
6. Engage foreign donors and schools to support Nigerian schools through exchange of students, exchange of teachers, building of Infrastructure supply of teaching materials, review of curricula to reflect today’s global learning focus and methods etc
7. Ensure teachers are well paid and work in conducive environments
8. Audit school administrators to ensure funds meant for the welfare of the students and the development of the schools are not diverted into personal use
9. Ensure the teachers are qualified, focused and benefit from regular continued. professional development.
10. Ensure every Nigerian child of school age attends school
11. Ensure the teaching of Nigerian history is compulsory in every school
As I am about to sign the communique, my wife calls my name that we should get going to our friend’s 60th birthday party. Whao! It was a dream! I smile as I put on my cap. My wife asks why the smile. I inform her that I just had a dream about a better Nigeria and that with the efforts of our youths, I see my dream becoming a reality soon. “Amen” she responds.
-Johnson Babalola is a Canada based immigration and workplace investigations lawyer. He writes on Nigeria’s social issues regularly.