AYODEJI ADAM BUSAYO
There is no other holistic approach to solving the problem of disunity in a multicultural nation like ours than given people qualitative education. Obviously, the problems of insecurity, insurgence (as it were some years ago), poor infrastructural development and other rudimental afflictions of the people are majorly linked to lack of quality education. The old good Nigeria used to have fervour for training of her citizens, then bridges were built across the cultural divergence. People cross culturally lived peacefully together, studied and understood one another through schooling together and other means which education provides. Suddenly, the narrations changed and the people became divided against themselves, all issues are unfortunately viewed not from the perspectives of what and how they should be, unbiased mind-sets and national unity rather from a more myopic ethnocentric perspective, religious prejudice and other sentimental flavours. All well-meaning Nigerians should be concerned with the state of our education rather than the poor road infrastructures and the epileptic power supply and these are the reasons for my stance.
First, when education is accessible to all such that it is free and well managed as it were in the good old days, we would not be talking about insecurity and the subject of debating or negotiating our national unity will not be a topic. Many Nigerians would have acquired the power of critical thinking and nobody would be deceived to hold-on to the ideology of being a religion bigot, cultural chauvinist and so on. It is only through education that our boys and girls can meet across cultural. An Emeka would not have any cause to look down on an Ade, neither would an Aisha say an Adaobi from the East is not as sensible, beautiful or religious as she were. In a clearer term, our fathers and mothers who attended the then federal government colleges have the privilege of being trained together as one and they carried on that ideology until now.
The question is how many of them can enrol their wards in the public schools today? All they crave for is private schools and to those who can afford to send their children abroad to study do not think twice before doing it. If you want to impoverish the people just deny them access to quality education; our case is not any different from this.
The reason for this is not far-fetched, the constitution gave all the powers of education in the legislative list to the federal government even when the loads of education funding borne by the states are much more than that of the federal government. The federal government has no primary school while the state government has over seventy-five thousand. Moreover, the federal government has just one hundred and two secondary schools while the state government has fourteen thousand, forty-one universities are owned by the federal government while the state government own forty-six universities.
From the forgoing, the federal government is underfunding education which is the fulcrum of development and unity especially in a multicultural nation like ours.
Second, if education is well funded, managed and accessible to all, we will automatically have another cultural group who will champion our national interest. People who will respect the fact and stand for it irrespective of who is saying it and where it is being said.
This is what I mean; even if there are people who are still sentimental in their approaches, education would have given us those who would have developed the power of critical thinking to right their wrongs. It is only through education that one knows that HIV/AIDS is not gotten through hands shake, it is only through education that one knows that electricity could be gotten from water and it is through it that one knows that bigotry, sentiments and prejudices are not diagnosed by a medical doctor that it is the disease of the mind. Therefore, when a Yoruba talks ill about an Igbo among his people, he gets corrected by another Yoruba and vice versa. This can only be done when they have received quality citizenship education and a lot of lessons on national values. No doubt, the bond between us would be cohesively held, and with time the uneducated will be taught the lessons of tolerance and unity by force when conversations go against their cultural chauvinistic perspective several times. But unfortunately, our budgetary allocations since 2009 to 2018 for education have just been on 7.07 percent with that of 2014 the highest in those years. Covertly, it is this loophole that is being filled by those who thrive on promoting tribalism, religion sentiments and cultural bigotry.
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Also, education as a powerful weapon of fostering unity and development in a multicultural nation like ours has remained underused or even unused because critical explosive issues have been left in the hands of people who have acquired little or no education. They talk uncensoredly on the issue of religion, politics and race with their own bigoted mind-sets without having the national interest at heart. Many people’s minds have been poisoned by many of this talks which have resulted in various social unrest and intolerance cross culturally and inter-religiously.
Without mincing words, it is due to the high rate of illiteracy and defective education that we are still wallowing in the ocean of unemployment, the more reason why we were colonised- while the colonisers had access to the best means of critical thinking that enabled them to understand how blessed we were in all facets, we were blindfolded by ignorance as we saw no blessings. Many people can lend themselves to political thuggery and other electioneering misconducts because they are ignorant of the harms they are causing their generations. Likewise, many people can conveniently sell their votes- I do not how much equals that elusive power to vote. Nigerians are not bothered by the fact that political campaigns do not have slogans and agendas which centred on national development and interests because of ignorance of the people.
Nigerians do not know how to engage their political representatives or office-holders in critical discourse that will enable them discern their purpose of office and the ideology they represent due to gross illiteracy. Politicians seize the opportunity to thrive on inter-parties’ criticism, selfish aims and parties’ ideologies. Finally, not only that it should be well funded, supervision and good attention should be paid to those who will want to ‘chop’ when the budget is expand. Until the government pay good attention to educating people in this manner only then are we going to make considerable head-way in all spheres.
Picked from the speech of Dike Chukwumerije.
AYODEJI ADAM BUSAYO