Why Nigeria is drifting – Vanguard News




There is corruption in Nigeria. But corruption is not the real or the major problem in Nigeria. Nigeria’s real problem is systemic failure.

The breakdown of public institutions that should make government efficient and functional leads to corruption.

Let me quickly say that all nations that aspire to create real societies and rely on their powers establish their institutions and protect them with the highest codes of laws.

In every nation of substance, the heavens can crumble, and the economy with it, but they do not play with three areas of national life: they protect and secure them, regardless of what happens in the body politic. .

But once these areas or areas of national life are compromised, no nation ever rises – they become the slaves of other more organized states. It is if they still manage to stick together, which is often never the case.

These three areas of national life are the educational and research infrastructure of the nation; the national civil service; and the justice system.

It is the critical and strategic trinary of national life. Touch them, and the nation collapses into anomie and nothingness. The reasons are quite simple: education and research are the basis on which the idea of ​​a nation exists. National civic life is conceived through the school system. Every nation’s classroom is its primary propaganda and recruiting site.

I watched my own mother as a schoolteacher every weekend, sit at the dining table and do a weekly review of her “Lesson Notes”, plan her lessons on the planner, evaluate the lessons. student homework and do his weekly class readings. the texts.

At the end of the term, she marked or “marked” the tests; prepared students for report cards in which she wrote her reports on each student in her class: her professional observation of students; their strengths; their perspectives and concerns, in very short, precise and articulate language.

The report cards are returned to the pupils without fail, rain or shine, at the end of the term, and a copy of the report is sent to the principal’s office and kept in the pupils’ file.

When my mother became principal, at the end of the school year, she would take student files to the divisional school board offices, where they were kept in the school board files.

In one year, my mother was the zone coordinator for the extramural preparatory classes held in the district for sixth grade students preparing for the common entrance exams – state and federal.

It was unpaid, but it was the teacher’s job, and that was of course during Sam Mbakwe’s time. In any case, my mother’s generation of teachers was made up of highly qualified professionals, properly educated in the tradition of English teachers.

In the 1950s, when my mother attended Teacher’s College, the selection for teacher education was still remarkably elitist! The best students were usually retained to teach, tied up, and retained in schools.

In my mother’s case, her father was about to send her to Cornelia Connelly College, Uyo, a high school for girls, in 1953, when Mother Mary Coleman, the Irish Catholic nun and educator, stepped in.

“Mother Mary” – as my mother often called her – was the principal of Regina Caeli College in Ogbor Nguru, and she especially loved my mother, who was not only the top of her class, but also the youngest in her year.

She convinced my grandfather to send my mother to Regina Caeli College – which was a Preparatory Teacher’s College (PTC) – for teacher training instead.

So, from Preparatory Teacher’s College, she went to Elementary Teacher’s College (ETC), then to St. Joseph’s Women Teacher’s College (WTC) Aba for what they then called the High Elementary Teacher’s Certificate; and years later, she went to the Institute of Education at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, for the Teacher Certification Program, which qualified her to teach at all levels of public education – from early childhood education to higher school – other than tertiary education.

What I sketched out here, using my mother’s example, is the normal course of training the professional teacher, who was also not only a civic leader, but also an embodiment of society. cultivated.

The teacher was Scoutmaster. The teacher was a master of the games. The teacher was the conductor. The teacher was the local organizer of community emergency services as the coordinator of the local Red Cross.

The teacher was a referee for local district football and athletics matches involving schools and communities in the district.

The teacher was a cricket referee. The teachers organized the local AAAs and the cross-country; and arts and crafts fairs. They organized theater companies.

They led student marches during what was then called “Empire Day” which later became “Independence Day” and “Children’s Day”. Local teachers were, in short, at the heart of civic life in the various cities where they lived. Importantly, the classroom teacher also functioned as a frontline intelligence agent for the state.

All of this record keeping consisted of intelligence gathering, which allowed governments to access the history of available talent who self-selected and needed to be recruited, awarded scholarships and directed to the future public service of the nation.

The public school – which serves as the basis for the selection and training of critical servants of the state, and for anchoring national consciousness in the citizens who are to join the nation – has been destroyed by merchants of infamy at the head of the contemporary economy. Nigerian political life, more interested in the wars of cultures than in human development.

Formerly the schoolyard, with its gardens, fields and teachers’ houses, was the most modern and beautiful architecture in every city, but today it is the ghetto.

It is a measure of the condition of this nation today; why we are adrift. As with the public school, the same is true for the public service.

I could give a personal example of my father who I also saw closely at work as a public servant. But let’s take a more famous example – say Phillip Asiodu – who joined the Nigerian civil service in 1957.

Trained at both King’s College and Oxford, Asiodu was part of this young group of Nigerians recruited into administrative services when he opened up to Nigerians, following the full implementation of the Adebo-Philipson report from 1954 on “Nigerianization”, by Sir Ralph Gray, the Chief Secretary, on the dawn of Home Rule in 1957.

It was a cadre that included the poet Christopher Okigbo, who was sent as private secretary to the Minister of Information and Research; Peter Chigbo, later principal secretary to the president; Leslie Harriman was named ADO, Lagos, Cornelius Adebayo; Allison Ayida, and Asiodu himself among the very selected few. A year later, a few of them moved from Home Service to Foreign Service.

Asiodu was one of these and he was sent to Washington DC. But a year later he was back at Home Service. He was properly selected, trained and deployed in the public service.

One of Nigeria’s greatest evils is that no Nigerian university has had enough imagination to offer Asiodu, Ayida or Chigbo, for example, visiting positions – whether as principal researcher or professor. invited, to draw on their experience and debrief them, as other serious nations would have done upon termination of their public service employment.

Many Nigerians today may not understand what I’m sneering at, but the point is, Nigeria inherited a tremendous civil service after colonialism ended. Perhaps the best in Africa. Two factors destroyed it: the civil war, and later, the 1975 coup in a terrible purge.

The civil service limped, barely supported by its institutional memory and some vestiges of traditions, until the Dotun Philips reform under General Babangida, which not only politicized the status of permanent secretary (which they began to briefly call general manager). ) but fully monetized, privatized and corrupted the civil service.

There was a Thatcherite strain in this movement. But what has completely hampered the Nigerian civil service is the criminal thing they called the “quota system”. He destroyed the basis of merit. There were too many square pegs in the round holes.

Its leadership collapsed. His ethics have collapsed. It has become a servile institution at the will of its political masters. The Civil Service Commission has been weakened and the institutional capacity of the service to control abuses of power is lost.

The president can now hire and fire permanent secretaries. Because they can no longer contain the power of politicians, officials are now initiating and encouraging the immense corruption that has plagued and crippled Nigeria. Yes, there can be no corruption without the complicity of the public service.

A well-established, well-oriented, well-paid and merit-based civil service will end systemic corruption in Nigeria. And so would an effective system of sanctions and law enforcement. Today there is no recourse to the law. Nigerians do not trust their justice system.

The legal system of judges and sworn court officers – a civilian police system – has ceased to exist in Nigeria. The police and justice system at the disposal of those it should control with hawk eyes is criminalizing itself.

By attacking the judiciary and destroying the legitimacy of the Supreme Court through his nightly raids on court judges, which he followed up with his illegal imposition of the current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Buhari put the last nail on the coffin of the judiciary in Nigeria.

But he forgot something: where the laws fail, neither the rich nor the poor survive. In such situations, societies slip into Hobbesian traps. This is precisely what happened in Nigeria.

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