Akeredolu And His Inglorious Education Intervention By Michael Ayotunde
Without mincing words, education in the sunshine state – a state known to be one of the early ports of modern education in Nigeria, is, indeed, in the throes of death.
No thanks to the macabre dance by the new administration in Ondo State headed by a man who prides himself as ‘Arakunrin’ – a Yoruba’s translation of ‘Mr’.
Perhaps no issue is as sensitive as public education in the Sunshine State not only because of its importance to the socio-economic transformation of the people but also because of the role that every government is expected to play in ensuring constant and regular education of its citizens.
But, for any reasonable government turning blind eye to the inherent benefits of unhindered access to quality education at all levels, is certainly not the best option or path to toe, not even at this critical moment in Nigeria’s economic turbulence.
In the words of Francis Bacon, knowledge is power. It is the power to live a decent life, to earn a decent income, something that naturally attract respect and dignity. When knowledge can bestow the power for so many things, why should it be restricted to a few who have the advantage of wealth?
Regrettably, people that benefited immensely from early free education programmes are ironically the ones championing the collapse of the same system that gave them opportunity to be where they are today. Is this their own way of giving back to the society? Is this another form of democracy dividend? Or the unfortunate economic downturn that has impacted the economic power of the people not enough, only for a short-sighted and opportunist government led by the white bearded man to add more pains to the suffering of the people?
Knowledge, undoubtedly, needs to be free for all those who deserve it, and what a person deserves should be decided by an individual’s capability and intelligence and not by wealth. Unfortunately, what Arakunrin Akeredolu and his team (though we still consider it a proposal) were said to be planning to foist on the people of the state is nothing but an attempt to further subjugate and mortgage the future of hapless people of the Sunshine state in the area of knowledge acquisition.
Under any circumstance, the surest and simplest way to disseminate knowledge to all those who deserve it, is through free education. Making education free at least, at the primary level, or maybe, even up to the secondary and/or post-secondary level, would only benefit our society. One can only appreciate this better if there is accurate data and or information on the number of people who have been denied access to education simply because they cannot afford or do not have the means to fund their education.
Our society is more divided by wealth than by any other criteria. There is the unbelievably rich few, the very rich, the middle income group, the poor, and those in utter poverty. And amidst all this are impoverishment, unemployment, and destitution. How can anyone think of spending money on education, when they do not have money for food and shelter?
However, education is the remedy for all these ills that plague our society. Education is the only means that can open up the doors that lead to employment, and through it food, shelter and better quality of life. Therefore, providing free education to the deserving people only ensures that at least the future generation can step through these doors to a better living.
With free education, more people will definitely become educated. More educated people in the society leads to overall improvement in the quality of life in the society. Through better employment and elimination of the struggle for basic needs, people would concentrate on the higher aspects of life, such as improving administration and management of issues that impact the society in general. Therefore free education would have a very positive impact on the overall quality and thinking in the society.
Providing free education would enable students to concentrate on learning and gaining more through the education, instead of struggling with the payment of tuition fees and meeting other expenses. When the focus shifts to learning it leads to empowerment of the youth to work towards an increasingly intellectual society.
Intelligence and talent are not the exclusive reserve of the wealthy alone. There is lot of untapped and undiscovered talent and intelligence lying covered under impoverishment and destitution. Free education opens the doors of opportunities to these talented people. Through free education, we can ensure that the talented and intelligent can gain the assurance of a better tomorrow through maximizing their academic potentials.
Free education would be beneficial to those who deserve it, as well as, to the society as a whole. Where everybody is talking about equal and better opportunities, the prospects of a better future should not be lost due to lack of equal opportunities for education.
Having said these, the government of the day, nay Ondo State government cannot deny or pretend to be ignorant of these inherent benefits of proving sound education to its citizens free of charge, except they are all out, as usual to deceive the people they are meant to serve, protect and empower.
The state’s Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr Yemi Olowolabi, in a terse statement, reacted to the issue making the round to allay the fears of the citizenry, by saying that the communiqué had not been adopted as government policy, though.
He stated that the State Executive Council (SEC) would thoroughly discuss and debate each of the 19 points raised in the communiqué before the government would take a position.
The mere fact of convening such a gathering which most participants have described as a ‘pre-determined set-up’ by Akeredolu-led administration, is a great disservice not only to the people of Ondo State, but to Nigeria as a nation. It is self-serving.
This is because people who are bereft of ideas on how to turn things around for the good of all ended up finding themselves in position of authorities – and in the long run, contribute handsomely to the running aground of systems which other nations of the world have used to the fullest to cater for their people. Is government not in existence basically for the people? Is government not there to make like meaningful for the masses, the downtrodden in the society? Why the reverse is usually the case in this part of the world?
It is very simple – governance, leadership should not be by force. It should not be do or die. If you do not have the capacity or requisite knowledge, do not near it, not even with your deep purse or connections. This is simply one of the reasons Nigeria is still crawling even after 57 years of independence.
It is not by accident former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Ghali Na’Abba was quoted in a statement where he said Nigeria has been quite unfortunate with accidental leaders – people that never prepared for governance finding themselves in corridors of power.
Things, surely need to change for good. It just can’t continue this way. The people need to be wiser in choosing who rule over them.