issues

Live in Lagos – Can I help?

Help by force!

I arrived Lagos like an Israelite carrying the half-baked dough into a determined exodus. I had absolutely no idea what to expect, particularly how I will react to the weather, coming from extreme conditions like we saw this year in the Northeast US. Nothing really changed about the humid conditions, even at 8pm the wind was warm and slightly noxious. But hey! I am used to this, just have to acclimatize a bit. Err…I will dare not talk about Murtala Mohammed Airport, else it will be the rantings of a raving lunatic. Lekki Airport to the rescue!!!!!!!!!!

The road from the airport still is the famished road. It is fast becoming a bush path and reminds me of the road from Onitsha to Owerri in the late 1980s into early 1990s, It may soon need the kind of old Mercedes-Benz 9-11 trucks to ply it. It still amazes me that the government expects people to encounter that road first on a visit to the country through Lagos. Again it may be one of those roads that fall into the grey divide of Federal and State roads and no one is responsible for it. Very soon I will get dangerously upset to code red levels and will fix it. If the government refuses, private business making a fortune refuses, very rich men whole have stolen us blind also refuse to act socially responsible (at least to save face and the impending anger of the State), mere men like me will one day carry a digger and shovel to repair the road. At least beyond our children traveling safely, the police checkpoints will run smoothly and not be afraid to stop more vehicles and harass tired travelers. I have an idea, I will first start by asking my neighbour from Borno, who owns an active barn in his backyard (suitable to shoot a medieval movie), to lend me his cattle so they can graze the weeds shooting from the islands on the entire stretch of the airport road.
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NIGERIA AT 50: ARE THE “BEAUTIFUL ONES” YET BORN?

Photo by One Laptop per Child

One great advantage of personification is that it helps reduce an abstract entity to a relatively understandable concept. When we use the word “She” to refer to a country, it is because we can append certain human characteristics in assessing its existential issues. This traps complexities into units that the mere mind can comprehend and so pass due judgments. When we say Nigeria is 50 years old, it could be totally lost on us if we do not appropriately personify the country to understand the troubles it faces as well as the gravity of such. Perhaps if we can imagine for a moment a 50-year-old woman who has been severally raped, duped, blackmailed, and wasted, yet still lumbering on a dark road, then we may understand what the country has been through. How many persons of that age would suffer such dehumanization and yet remain composed and pretend to be fine? That is the best way to capture the past 50 years of Nigeria’s existence, or I should say recent history. And worse still is the fact that the woman is still undergoing an immoral bludgeoning by wayfarers and vile caretakers whose bellies and ambitions are their primary concern. So one wonders then for how long her pretense will last without an implosion.

Today however, an encouraging fact to know is that there is an awakening among Nigeria’s children. Silently, many voices are starting to cry out for change, while steadily there is growth in loyalty, like that of a young husband, within the precincts of her communities.  Also there is the rise of an army of technical competence within her young population (disputed by many); an army equipped with the overflows of a globalized world running fast on the cyber lanes. This is one comforting detail I look to when forecasting the trajectory of Nigeria’s growth and development in all sectors.

But I fear. I fear because there lies an apparent disconnect between the visions of these progressive ones and those who hold or seek hold power. A greater fear for me is that more of the “Beautiful Ones” are succumbing to the rot in the system and getting anesthetized by the need to be successful. Those who have stepped out to see the workings and possibilities of other societies have become frustrated and their frustrations are further marinated by the already existing tangible angst on the streets. It sometimes feels like we have lost the present generations to a calamitous decadence, to the point that even the unborn child harbours the seeds of national iniquity. Not only that, but it feels as though we received nothing good from the generation before and then lack the capacity to pass anything good to the generation ahead.
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TAKING BACK OUR EDUCATION FUTURE (Continuation of a Facebook discussion)

A while ago, we worked on a group where we critically discussed how to deliver an effective primary and secondary school education system. Here are a few points I tendered as I can clearly remember:

1. The present system is not delivering much results. Globally there is a shift in the focus of education, but we have maintained the same system for over 20 years now.

2. The curriculum is very crippling. There has to be a national revision of the curriculum to attack the national education goal, if there is one set at all.

3. The method of delivery is very suspect. The quality of teachers in most schools kills the process of delivery and subverts the learning ability of the children.

4. Terrible funding of education in general.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

On the solutions front, I admitted that we may not be able to carry out widespread change at once, as that can only be done at a policy level. Dr. Oby Ezekwesili in her short stint as Education Minister tried to effect some positive structural changes. But like the usual epileptic policy processes, it was short-lived. So on one hand, we must seek a platform through which we have an All Nigerian Education Conference and tag is something like “Education: Nigeria’s Future at Stake”, or something more creative. The focus will be to gather thinkers and passionate education administrators with tenable experience or research to discuss what should change and how, with tangible goals set. Policy makers must be part of this and their noted commitment must be to redraft the course of education policy and source of resources to drive the change.
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