Sunday, December 4, 2011


The dodo was a flightless bird, endemic to the island of Mautitius! The bird had dwelt on the uninhabited island, before the coming of the Dutch, the first humans, who settled on the island in 1598!

Before the arrival of man to the island, the bird had no natural enemies, and hence did not know the meaning of danger, and fear!

It did not flee from humans, or their pets.

By 1681, the last dodo was killed! The birds were killed by the settlers for food; their cats, pigs, and monkeys, also took a toll on the birds!

The English expression, dead as a dodo, connotes two things: the first is one impervious to change, and the second, the act of obliterating something!

Our country has dwelt in unmerited security  from amalgamation, to independence, and up till the end of the last century!

However, this unearned security, is being threatened by insurgents like Boko Haram, and previously, by the militants of the Niger Delta!

But these are still infinitesimal threats, compared to the possible threats that lie on the horizon!

A friend of mine, Cordelia Okpei, inquired once on her status on Facebook, what would happen, if snow started falling in Lagos?

We all joked about it, and the conclusion was that, many would die like flies on a rainy day!

Our record, when it comes to emergency response, is zilch!

The way our nation is set up, our leaders see problems, not as an opportunity to learn, with the view to making provisions for the future, but as an avenue to make money!

So when problems come, instead of the nation learning a lesson, we do not, instead, someone makes a killing, financially, and literally!

I suspect that if we should see snow tomorrow in Nigeria, Aliko Dangote, or Wale Tinubu, or Mike Adenuga, would get the exclusive contracts to import snow plows! 

In addition, the clearing of snow by their companies, would be subsidized by government! 

And that is how the problem would be addressed, Nigerian style!

Our security apparatus, was a joke for many years, because we did not have any belligerent neighbours like Eritrea, or Somalia! 

So our security system was in suspended animation! 

While America suffered 9/11, we never for once, imagined that one day, we would have our own killing fields, as Maiduguri has become!

When the seeds of insurgency started germinating, in the guise of Kano religious riots, and Musa Makaliki, who first led the Maitasine sect; we treated them with a feather duster, because of religious, and political considerations!

Some decades after, Sheik Zak Zakky, also fomented trouble, and he got away with it!

By the time Boko Haram would knock on our doors, it found us wide open, and unprepared! Despite the various encounters we had experienced with similar insurgents in the past, they were still a mystery!

If we think Boko Haram, is the end of our home-grown insurgency, then we are surely mistaken! 

Al Qaeda, has discovered that the no man's land, between African countries, particularly those that border the Sahara desert, are perfect places to hide from the long arms of America!

That is why we now have AlQaeda in the Magreb, and they are now operating even in Mali! Only one country separates us from Mali! 

Enough on security!

The second area of impending change, is environmental! 

We have a ministry for environment, and many agencies dealing with the same issue, but all they are, is one big cash-cow!

Civil servants use them to attend international conferences, that give access to allowance in dollars for them, and international donor funds!

In the midst of all this "merchandising" , our environment, continues to degrade! 

It has been projected, that due to global warming, sea levels would rise in future, putting in peril, coastal cities like Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Bayelsa state!

As far as I know, people are still being allowed to sand fill, and build on the coast which is projected to be swamped not too long from now! 

In fact, Eko Atlantic City, a multi- billion naira real estate development project, is currently redrawing the coastal geography of Lagos!

Someone would tell me an EIA was conducted! 


But were the findings objectively assessed, without the blinkers of economic gains,, and political expediency?

And the desert too is there! 

It is vanquishing whole swathes of Northern Nigeria! 

At the rate it is going, some of our best arable land, would become arid regions within twenty years!

The last challenge I foresee, is economic!

Like stubborn children loathe to let go of their unearned lollipops, the governors have been fighting the creation of the Sovereign Wealth Fund!

They prefer to share whatever income accrues from the sale of oil now!

Their grouse is that if they do not, future governments will still spend the money earned now!

We are just waking up, after fifty years of indolence, and profligacy! 

Norway, a country with less oil reserves than Nigeria, has a sovereign wealth fund of 259 billion pounds! 

It is the largest SWF, outside the Middle East!

Ours is a humble, one billion dollars, after fifty years of oil exploration! 

That is an example of how prepared we are for change!

When juxtaposed, it is obvious, that Norway is better prepared to survive after oil! They have invested in alternative sources of income, that would keep their country going for decades, should oil fail!

In addition, they have also invested in clean, and green energy sources!

To ask a silly question which bears asking, are we prepared for change, or are we like the helpless, hapless, and hopeless dodo?


Tuesday, November 29, 2011


It has taken the Nigerian senate, less than six months to pass a law, criminalizing same sex marriage! It is a wonderful feat in expedited passage of laws! The great feat begins to look silly, when you consider that it took the same senate more than twelve years to pass the Freedom of Information law!

Our lawmakers have shown an inhuman, and mind-boggling capacity for what can only be described as certified, incontrovertible, and indubitable, stupidity! How do we contextualize this new bill, in the light of the glaring challenges faced by Nigerians daily! 
Over eighty percent of Nigerians live on less than a dollar a day
Bills on power sector reforms, constitutional review, and all manner of weighty issues have been foot-dragging through the legislature, like a fasting pilgrim, coming to the end of a thousand mile walk of pilgrimage, and penance; without shoes, in the Himalayas!

Nigerians possess, undoubtedly,one of the richest nations on earth! One where natural resources are surfeit, and able to move the people from poverty, to prosperity!

 However, to the dismay of the ordinary man on the street, a deliberate, and criminal, lack of political will, has made all the wealth of the nation seem like property acquired in dreamland:useless!
Access to water is still a major problem in Nigeria
It is instances like the expedited passage of this law, and the foot-dragging of the same senate, on crucial, and life-changing legislation that would bring Nigeria into the modern world, that continually baffles right thinking people everywhere!

It cannot be that it is because they are not properly remunerated: they are! Our law makers, in the upper, and lower chambers, individually earn more than the American president! And I must quickly add, while working less than Barack Obama!
This is a school!
Whenever we are granted access to the "hallowed" chambers, what one sees, are over-fed, over-pampered, men and women, with double, and in some cases, triple chins! 

They are so full, that they can hardly sit up during debates! They have to slouch, and sometimes sleep, like some five year old, after a long day at school!

One would not be surprised, if, one of these days, a motion is moved to introduce beds into the chambers, to make the work of legislation less-cumbersome! 

These are people whose allegiance, is not to the electorate, but to their stomachs!

They see public service as an avenue for self-enrichment, and not service to the people! They are like the pigs of George Orwell's Animal Farm!

They have hastily passed a law that is useless!  

What is the business of the government, in a person's sexual orientation? Especially, when that government has not invested meaningfully in the lives of her people!

Nigeria might as well be ruled by a colonial master, and her wealth used to develop the colonial master's country; for that is exactly how it feels right now!

We are seeing the wealth with our eyes, and that is where it ends!

My admonition to the pigs is, remember the Spanish saying, that every pig has it's Saint Martins Day!


Sunday, November 27, 2011


The only time I had the honour of meeting General Emeka Odimegwu Ojukwu, was in 1992, I believe it was in the December of that year! 

I had just resumed at the Maryam Babangida National Centre for Women Development, as the photographer! 

It was also my first year in Abuja! The Centre had a guest house, which was not operational yet, but the pioneer general manager, Greg Obong-Oshotse, a very resourceful man, could not wait for the place to generate some income for the centre!

So he came up with a novel plan, he wanted some staff, who had been employed for other reasons, to volunteer to run the place, while the process of giving the place to a management firm could be started!

I was one of those who volunteered! It was in the course of my working there, as a telephone operator/porter/housekeeper, that I met the man Ojukwu!

Greg Obong-Oshotse, has always been a man, light years ahead of his time!

He decreed then, that the women centre, including the guest house was to be an alcohol, and tobacacco free zone!

He had not reckoned with guest Ojukwu in Room 201! 

Ojukwu came, and occupied one of the new rooms: we were happy a VIP was one of our guests!

We felt he would tell other VIPs of our excellent hotel! We needed the income to run the Center! 

That was until he checked out of the room! 

To our dismay, we discovered the Ikemba had been smoking a very pungent brand of cigarettes, or cigars, in the room! 

As far as he was concerned, a hotel was not a boarding school!

In addition, there were empty bottles of exotic brandies, and other unholy spirits, in the room! 

You can imagine how shocked we were!

But that incident, epitomizes who Ojukwu was: a man who walked his own path, all his life! 

He was not content to walk in the paths laid down by others!

Need I talk about his romance with Bianca Ono, a relationship that produced a wonderful set of twins?

Ojukwu decided that he was going to marry someone, whose naming ceremony as a baby, he had attended! 

It was not a matter for debate: the public registered their displeasure, and for Ojukwu, his heart was set on what he wanted to do, he married his beauty queen!

He was his own man, through, and through!

Many do not know, that he joined the army, against the wishes of his father, a very influential, and wealthy man in his day! 

His father used his connections to prevent Ojukwu from gaining entry into the defence academy! 

In keeping with his dogged resolve, he chose to go to the military school instead, thus joining as a recruit!

It was when he got into trouble with his drill instructor, for the umpteenth time,  ostensibly for correcting him on the proper way to pronounce "safety clip" and not the "safiti kili" the fellow kept telling the recruits, that he got his wish!

Other recruits who knew the right pronunciation kept their counsels to themselves, but not Ojukwu! He had not schooled in Britain for nothing!

A British officer who knew Ojukwu's history, and his father's hand in preventing him from going to the academy, decided that enough, was enough, and there and then, recommended the fellow for officer training!

And that innocuous act, changed the course of Nigeria's history!

We all know about his war with Nigeria, and the reasons behind it, the killing of Igbos in the North!

The serious question we should be asking ourselves now, is, have the conditions that led to the formation of Biafra changed?

A follow-up to that question would be, is Nigeria a more humane, just, and equitable society, after the loss of uncountable lives in the civil war?

If things have not changed: sadly, it means that we did not learn any lessons as a nation from the traumatic episode, and are doomed to repeat it!

May God grant his family the courage to bear this great loss!


Monday, November 21, 2011

Phantom Pain from a Phantom Government!

There is a weird, but true condition in medicine: it is called Phantom Pain! It is pain experienced by amputees, in the region where a lost limb used to be! 

It is usually treated by administering pain killing injections!

It is hard to believe, but the brain registers pain, as coming from a severed member of the body! What does this have in common with our beloved government? Plenty! 

A phantom is defined as something apparently seen, or heard, but having no physical reality!

Do you see the uncanny resemblance between the definition of phantom, and how our governments at all levels operate?

They make a lot of noise, they posture for us in the media, and speak what is expected: they are politically correct!

When it is time to make good all the elaborate promises, we are left with dry mouths on a hot day, darkness at night, and a vacuum, where there should be support! 

I am beginning to wish it was possible, for one to block them (all governments, at all levels) the way one blocks an offensive person on Facebook!

Why do I need government?

I already generate my own power through my generator, I provide my water through my borehole, I pay for private security for my home, and I use private health providers!

So of what value is government?

I know that the children of the government, those who benefit from them would say, they are there to provide order! 

What order?

Is it the order of the People's Democratic Party, PDP, disobeying a court order, to stage her gubernatorial primaries in Bayelsa, the president's own state?

Is it a part of providing order, to have soldiers cause mayhem, in the supposed fight for Boko Haram?

Will I call the action of government vehicles running me of the road, with their sirens, and large four wheel drive vehicles, order?

If you ask me, the only tangible manifestation of government, at all levels, seems to be the chaos, and disorder they spread!

It seems to me, that government, and phantom pain, are conjoined twins: they both cause pain, and have no gain!



Hell, a place of torment!

That is what Nigeria seems to have become, at least our roads!
I have not traveled to the Southern part of Nigeria, in the last one year! 

Before this hiatus, I had made an average of two trips a month, between Lagos, and Abuja, by road! And it was fun then! I prefer road trips, more than the cursory flyover, simply because I get to see so many visually stimulating subjects I can photograph!

My latest trip to Ondo town to deliver a wedding cake, is in danger of changing my preferred mode of travel! 

I left Abuja at mid-day, knowing that the trip to Ondo town, would not be more than five hours! I was so sure I would get to there before seven pm that day!

The usual traffic jam, at Gwagwalada, in the Federal Capital Territory,FCT, was there, but bearable! 

The town usually sees high, and intense, traffic jams on Mondays, Fridays, and Sundays! All other days, are better!

From Gwagwalada, the trip proceeded as planned, until a few kilometers to Abaji, the last town on the way out of Abuja!

It was a perfect recipe for disaster! A twelve-wheeled truck, locally known as 911, loaded with onions, fell on its's side! That is normal on our roads! 

What was not normal, however, was the geography of the place! It fell just before a bridge across a river, and at peak period! There was no way out, we could not leave the road, and divert through the bush, so we all waited for the valiant men of the Federal Road Safety Corps!

The Abuja-Lokoja road, has been under construction for the past six, or so years! It is meant to be a dual carriage way, and some sections of the dual carriage are already in place: this was the next factor in our hellish trip! Vehicles approaching from the FCT, not only clogged up the old road, but spilled into the new too, thereby creating a bottleneck!

Those coming into Abuja could not, and neither were we able to go as well!

I have noticed that, wherever there is a flat surface, and a car can be placed on it, Nigerians would drive there! It does not matter if it is the side walk, a football pitch, or someone's compound, or back! Our people would gladly drive on it, without thinking! 

We all stopped, at first, not knowing the exact nature of the accident, and pined away in the wilting heat of a scorching mid-day sun! 

If hell was hotter than this, then it surely was a bad place to end up!

At one point, I heard a commotion in a bus beside my car: a child was convulsing! Apparently, a sick child was in transit with his parents! The poorly-looking, gaunt,and  feeble creature, succumbed to the heat!

In the bedlam, people shouted instructions to the confused, hapless, helpless, hopelessly-looking, and clueless, parents! Some screamed, "make the mama piss for him mouth (let the mother pee in his mouth)! You could tell, I was shocked by my reaction to that one! Others said, "put  a spoon in his mouth! "Pour water for him body!

A smart fellow, picked up an onion, the source of our becalment! I suspect, he was trying to use it like smelling salts! And he seemed to be succeeding! I moved close to see what they were doing to the boy! I was again amazed at the level of lack of care! He was hanging in the air, between four adults! One held him by the head alone, another by his feet, and two others held each hand!

I was afraid the overzealous treatment would kill the boy, so I told the idiot holding him by the head, that he was in danger of strangling him! He then proceeded to hold the shoulders! The father was running around like the infamous headless chicken, making phone calls to helpers unseen!

Eventually, the boy, I guess afraid that they would treat him to death, opened his eyes! The parents, who had no water of their own, had to get some from a co-traveler, to pour on him!

We spent two, and half hours, waiting for the fallen truck to be removed! And the journey continued!

I did not get to Akure till nine pm that night!

My return leg of the journey, was uneventful, until I got to Okene! I always tell my friends that, despite my being a model road user, I am more careful anytime I am driving through Okene! Some of the young men in that town, have such short fuses, and would gladly burn one's car for a trifle!

I was waiting in line behind a truck, wondering why we had not moved, when some government fat cats, sirens blaring, and with full bravado, ignored the line of waiting cars, and took the liberty of the "free" lane meant for traffic coming from the opposite direction! 

As soon as they offered this great leadership, all manner of similar social misfits,joined the trailing train!

And as simple logic dictates, the rightful user of that lane was bound to show up: and he did!

A very big truck! 

One of those juggernauts, laden with goods!

Under normal circumstances, they treat other road users with disdain, and in this case, he was not willing to share his rightful lane!

All the errant drivers started squeezing into any available space to make way for him! In the process, one fellow, smashed my side mirror, and the left front fender! Here I was keeping the law, and suffering from another fellow's recklessness!

Our mirrors locked in a deadly embrace! One can see the
 truck in the background, applying pressure on the Toyota Camry
The Camry, now entering the lane he should have been on.
I took a photograph of the two mirrors locked in the deadly embrace, and his license plate, to ensure I could trace him, if he were to escape! But he did not! So we parked a few kilometers from the madding crowd!

He came down, begging that it was an accident! 

I, as is to be expected, was adamant! I told him he had no business being where he was in the first place! 

His lack of care had become my own loss!

I told him calmly, that he was going to replace the mirror, the scratch on the fender, I would sort out! The fellow volunteered that he was coming from the East, and was broke! He said if I did not mind, we could exchange phone numbers that he would fix the car in Abuja! Then he shocked me: he told me he was a pastor! 

More traffic at Okene, on a single lane road.
Pastor? If pastors are breaking the laws of the land with impunity, what would the congregation do? I did not tell him I was a christian, I intend to have him fix it, so that he would remember to behave in future! And it seemed to work too, because a few minutes after, we encountered some more traffic, and when others were facing oncoming traffic to escape, he stayed put!

Gwagwalada was the last point of extreme road rage! Traffic has to converge on a narrow bridge, within the vicinity of a motor park, and a market! I suddenly found myself waiting again, this time for more than thirty minutes! As I waited, I watched as my temperature gauge kept rising, and I kept praying, silently! 

At Gwagwalada, people formed seven extra lanes on the right shoulder of the road! They raised so much dust, and made so much noise! In addition, others used the shoulder across the road, to form two extra lanes! 
If the other side of the road looked like this, one can only
wonder what the right side would have looked like!

The most culpable people I discovered, were government registered vehicles, and very rich-looking vehicles!  

I kept wondering to myself, if being a government operative, exempted one from obeying the law? 

When I got to where the helpless, overwhelmed, road safety marshals were, I asked them, why they seemed to favour those who were on the shoulder of the road, breaking the law, more than those of us, who were law-abiding? 

They informed me that the government vehicles, including police men, were the cause of the confusion! 

Some policemen, had come to threaten them with guns, to allow them go through an unlawful route!

My experience on this trip, has left me wondering:if I were to be a tourist visiting Nigeria for the first time, and had encountered this traffic nightmare, would I want to come back next time, or recommend the place to others?

Secondly, if there is a medical emergency, like a woman in labour, or a sick child, and they have no access to an ambulance with a siren, would they survive what is gradually becoming a routine for us?

It is obvious that soldiers do not make good policemen, they are not trained to! A situation where military checkpoints, force five lanes of traffic into a single file, and end up, not doing more than look at the occupants of the vehicle, and collect bribes from transporters, leaves a whale lot to be desired!

I am wondering what would happen on the road, when the annual mass migration induced by the yuletide season sets in! With the bad roads, checkpoints, and bad road culture, our people are bound to experience hell on our roads in a season meant to celebrate the coming of heaven to earth! 


Tuesday, November 15, 2011


There are certain simple things in medicine, though unimportant by themselves, that are precursors, or harbingers, of momentous, and monumental events! Sometimes, these could be symptoms that are more of an inconvenience, that actually signpost a deeper, grave, and life-threatening medical condition!

Something as simple as a headache, could be a sign of a brain tumor! Another time, an upset stomach, could actually be pointing to bowel cancer!

But it should be noted that it is not in all cases, that these preconditions, actually point to the deadly conditions I have enumerated!

In like manner, certain events, in the life of a nation, can indicate how healthy the leadership style is ,or a deep insidious, retrograding, retrogressive, and recalcitrant leadership!

I have refrained for the past twenty days from commenting on the Nigerian situation, not because we have not had the usual foot-in-the-mouth moments; but because I decided to take a break from the maddening crowd Nigeria has become!

The latest debacle in a litany of low points, is the recently concluded national honours ceremony! 

Weeks before the event, many commentators spoke on the need to properly define the criteria for giving a person a national award! 

The most visible conscientious objectors, was Professor Chinua Achebe, who declined for the second time, the offer of a national award!

In Nigeria's case, the criteria for receipt, was simply the occupying of an office, and the being properly connected to those in power! 

Individuals were been awarded national honours, not because of some rarefied act of heroism, bravery, or uncommon contribution to Nigeria's greatness!

Contractors, consorts, and concubines of those in power, have become, those deserving of our national awards!

What ought to celebrate our very best, has now become a forum for mocking all we hold dear:our integrity!

It smacks of a mockery of common sense, and as those dyed-in-the wool defenders of our president are going to point out, it is a system he met on ground! 

It then begs the question, wherein is the much trumpeted transformation agenda?

That bit of our self-inflicted wound, is not the point of my blog today! What ails me, is that the medals on offer, were less than the number of people to be honoured! 

I know that one person will quickly point out that this is the president's first time, that is if we do not count the national awards given out during our fiftieth independence anniversary!

In all the years that this ceremony has been marked, we have never been informed of a shortage of medals!

It is like a university not having a degree to present to a graduating student, on the day graduation! Or, a conductor selling more seats, than his mini-bus can possibly carry!

We have a minister for special duties, who does nothing, as far as I am concerned, more than preparing for the national honours! 

That is the high-point of the minister's year!

The rest of the year, he just sharpens pencils, and jets around with the president!

Was it that the contractor responsible for producing these medals, ran out of materials? 

Or was it that the list was amended till the time the presentation ceremony itself? Or, the unthinkable, was it that the usual contractor was replaced, for a more favored person, who was not tried, and tested? 

The same shameful debacle of medals not going around, happened during the golden jubilee celebrations!

Is it that we are incapable of learning from our mistakes, or we are incapable of learning at all?

A friend of mine, who was virulently miffed by the sad episode, concluded that it shows that we have become so incompetent as a nation, that incompetent nations, are now calling us incompetent!

If we cannot handle a simple issue like matching medals to the number of people, can we seriously claim that we understand the dynamics of managing an economy? 

Because with the economy, the numbers are bigger, more complex, and oversights cannot be remedied with a simple "you will get your medal in one week" solution:instead, lives are usually lost, and fortunes too!

I kept asking myself, that if we cannot manage an award ceremony for less than five hundred people, how do we intend to manage one hundred and fifty million Nigerians?

Our people have a proverb, that the chick that would have a rich comb when it becomes a cock, usually shows it at a young age!

Nigeria says it wants to build a nuclear reactor, is this the style we want to use to manage it? This happy-go-lucky, cavalier, devil-may-care, manner? Then Fukushima, in Japan, will be child's play when we have our own melt down!

We have proclaimed our desire to explore space, I suspect whoever we put in orbit will never come back, if we do not change!

This show of shame, is a symptom of the malignant disease eating our nation: the rule by strong individuals, and the abdication by weak institutions to them!

A committee was saddled with this assignment, does it mean, that all the members of that committee, do not know how to count?

They do! 

However, the problem arose when the committee, (an institution), finished it's job, some individuals, (strong men), decided to set their hard work aside! 

That is what has kept Nigeria in slavery, and retrogressive retrogression since independence! 

It is what has made us an anachronism, an oxymoron, among all the nations of the world: a country richly endowed with all manner of resources, but peopled by those who live in abject poverty! 

The minister for special duties has not resigned, it is the Nigerian way! He is a strong man, in a weak government, (another institution)!

Someone has exonerated the president by saying, that his bus conductor, loaded more people than his bus could carry, my answer is, the driver is responsible for everything that happens to, and in, his bus, because he is the one who holds the steering!

As many dubious individuals were getting their dubiously earned awards in Abuja, a friend of mine gave me a dubious award too! 

He conferred on me the CFR, which, according to him, is Critic of the Federal Republic! 

I like it!


Thursday, October 27, 2011


Anyone who is over forty, and is educated, would definitely agree, that our education sector is dead! 

The sector has been dying, gradually: from the famous Chinese method of death by a thousand cuts!

A litany of hare-brained polices, dug the grave, for the eventually interment of our education!

A few examples will elucidate this. 

Our policy makers, (read each administration, and the politicians in control, crackpots if you ask me), insisted on tinkering with the system, in a bid to leave their mark; and they indeed left their mark: teeth marks on the carcass!

The first glaring error, was the promotion of the university degree, as the sine qua non of success in life! 

Please note, I am not in any way disparaging,denigrating, or downplaying the worth, and value, of a university education!

It is the best anyone can get in life, if he is qualified to get one!

The reality is that even people without degrees still succeed, if they get educated through other right sources!

We jettisoned a perfect system that encouraged those who wanted to go to trade schools, and told them only a university would do! 

So, many unqualified people, cheated in university entrance exams, and slipped into the university system!

While there, their inadequacy, led them to cheat to remain in the system: because they were not qualified in the first place! 

At the end of the day, when these "graduates" emerged, they were just certified ignoramuses!

Before this, in those days, people wrote City and Guilds examinations, went to trade centres, and became educated in trades, and other crafts!

And the system benefited!

We had master craftsmen, who were deeply schooled in the theory, and practical sides, of their vocation!

This showed in the way houses were carefully, and lovingly built, welding work faultlessly carried out, and carpenters who were artists in their own right!

Today, that educated, trade school product, is lacking! 

So we have executive, university-trained, suit hugging graduates, without the needed technologically educated technicians to flesh out their concepts into reality!

Instead, they need to rely on roadside artisans who might have an idea of what to do, but cannot read designs!

This same asinine policy, led to polytechnics been discriminated against in civil service career advancement!

Polytechnics would have filled this void, but not enough people chose, as a first choice, to attend them, they were always a fall back option, for those who missed out on university education!

The second mistake our country made, was to decouple Nigeria, from writing A Levels examinations in the West African School Certificate Examinations! 

Our grouse was that our students were failing the exam, and to address the situation, we set up our own system, the 6-3-3-4 nonsense! 

With this policy, we "incorporated" the A Levels, as an automatic part of secondary education,without the exacting, and tasking, and taxing rigor of study regimen required!

So while the rest of the world were involved in rigorous, and exacting, A Levels study, we were pretending to playing school, and deceiving ourselves! 

We refused to submit our children to a universally accepted benchmark of tests, and set up our own, we lowered the bar!

In addition to all these hard to understand policies, we came up with the automatic promotion policy!

When I was growing up, if one failed, he repeated that class, period! 

With this new policy, everyone was promoted, including the ones who had no aptitude for formal education, till they arrived at the top!

It was a policy designed to impress bean counters with the large number of children in the school system!

The reality was that many of them were impervious to formal learning, and were better off being referred to trade schools! 

These failed, but promoted, children, clogged up the system, reducing quality, by putting unnecessary pressure on it, thereby imperiling it!

We now had over bloated classes, and an unhealthy teacher to student ratio, sometimes as high as one to sixty!

In many instances, subjects with practical components like Biology, Physics, and Chemistry, were taught, without laboratories for students!

Our decaying educational infrastructure did not help matters! 

We failed to constantly invest in education, to keep it at par with concomitant rises in other sectors! 

What our people did, because of corruption, was to increase the cost of government, in this case, recurrent expenditure, instead of capital projects, which would have benefited our education!

We "spent" money on contracts, not on improving education!

We spent a lot of money on contracts for school construction, but were lax in ensuring that good quality work was done by contractors, or that that teacher training, and welfare was catered for!

Education became a cash cow, and the children were well, and truly milked!

It became so bad, that many sat on the floor to learn,especially in primary schools!

The teachers, now demotivated by the abject neglect of the sector, turned to trading in schools, to survive, and only drop-outs, and the seriously called, went into the vocation!

We established one university after another, and neglected the foundation of all education: the primary level! 

It was like a man who used inferior, and substandard, materials in his building's foundation, and foolishly went on to install a roof made of gold!

The mass failure we have been witnessing in the last five years, is actually an indicator of the failed policies from twenty years ago! Those defective children are still in the system, and will continue to embarrass all of us all their lives!

They are beyond help,as their foundations are faulty! The best we can do, is just grit our teeth, and close our eyes, as the results come out!

We have reached a level now, when only twenty percent pass secondary school final exams!

Have we asked ourselves why Ghana is not having similar problems with her education sector? 

They do not, because they have not tinkered with a perfectly good system out of political expediency!

Instead, they have tweaked it, now, and then, to make the good better, and the bad good! 

Why do we think many Nigerians are now sending their children to secondary, and even primary schools, in Ghana? 

Because education is taken seriously there!

In the last school leaving exam conducted by West African Examination Council,WAEC, only twenty percent passed the examination!

It is a slight improvement on the two percent that passed the NECO examination two years ago!

We are approaching a level, where a university graduate from Nigeria, will not be comparable to a secondary school leaver in Ghana!

Some weeks ago, I had an interesting conversation with my father-in-law, he has been a doctor for forty two years, and is about seventy five years old!

He told me that, sometimes, when he sees what education has now become, he wishes he were not around to see it!

It is that bad!

During his time in the university in Nigeria, he told me that consultants felt insulted when asked why they did not have private hospitals of their own outside!

They felt research, and teaching was what they were paid for!

The case is no longer true of present day Nigeria! Almost every teacher moonlights to earn more, thereby reducing the quality of time, devoted to the business of preparing for teaching!

Students were usually two to a room, they had people who came to do their laundry, clean their rooms, they ate chicken, fish, fruits, and all manner of delicacies, at the university cafeteria, even when they had no money!

The libraries were well stocked with current books, and no one bribed a lecturer to pass exams!

Those were the days when a primary school pupil could write a letter, and it would not need correcting!

These days, a university graduate, if care is not taken, is nothing more than a "well-schooled" illiterate!

An uncultured philistine!

And it is about to get worse too!

The current government is talking again about changing the system!

When will they get it, that the system is not the problem, but the quality, and quantity, of what we are putting into it!

First of all, our schools need to be conducive for learning, as opposed to being prisons where children are held, to be forced to learn!

Has anyone wondered why, when an average student leaves Nigeria to study,  he/she suddenly becomes exceptional in an unfettering environment?

Our institutions are not centres of learning, they are actually torture chambers! 

Secondly, the remuneration of teachers, if the best quality human resource are the ones we want teaching our children, needs to be reviewed dramatically upwards!

In Finland, a country renowned for the best educational system in the world, an average primary school teacher's annual salary is $35,000.00 ! That is about five million six hundred thousand naira, in Nigeria! 

Secondary school teachers earn an average of $42,000.00, about six million seven hundred and twenty thousand naira!

These figures, to an average Nigerian, sound out of this world! 

But if you want the best, and need to retain them, you need to give them the best deal possible, one they cannot get elsewhere!

In Finland, I am told, a masters degree, is a must have for a permanent teaching appointment!

We need to wake up, and face the reality, we do not have an educational system, what we have, is chaos!

Until we realize this, we would be wallowing in ignorance, and disseminating it! 

Our aspiration to becoming one of the top twenty economies of the world, by the year 2020, our Vision 20-20-20, will amount to only a wet dream, one fulfilled in another dimension, with no earthly results to show, if we refuse to do right by our education!