Saturday, December 14, 2013

Mandela: He Chose The Opposite to Maintain Peace and Unity

“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for, and to see realised. But, my Lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” -Nelson Mandela

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela: 1918 - 2013

When Mandela was released in February 1990, even the apartheid government didn’t know what could follow. They let him go and prepared for the worse. Even his followers in the ACN expected that violence and forceful revenge will be in order. They were right to think so because even Mandela himself had gone for military training in Algeria in 1961 so that he can develop guerrilla tactics to combat the government of the day. Mandela did opposite of what the whole world expected. As The Telegraph's chief foreign correspondent David Blair reflects, not many people thought that South Africa could peacefully move from racial dictatorship to democracy without a civil war. Nelson Mandela was crucial to making that happen, allowing the black majority rule come in peacefully.

Spending 27 years in prison makes him the only single man who could have achieved peaceful transition to democracy; having spent such long years behind bars, no other black South African could question his commitment to the struggle to end apartheid. At the same time, no white South African could doubt that his gesture of reconciliation were heart felt. Nelson Mandela was the only man that could have carried out the extraordinary act of forgiveness that was required to burry apartheid and to do it with relatively little bloodshed. Living a tempestuous life, spending more than a decade as a hardened campaigner against apartheid, living mostly underground as he led strikes and demonstration of every kind leading to him being put on trial several times. He was part of a core of activist who opposed apartheid with everything they had from the late 1940s onward. "He was the only person who could have accomplished South Africa's transition to majority rule in a peaceful way, because of his own extraordinary life."

 Even till his late 90s and towards his death, South Africa clung to Mandela because he remains the link to their great triumph of a peaceful transition to democracy; seeing him more as a guarantor of their historic moment to democracy.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela: A life of Profound Humility

As I was thinking of what direction to take my writing of Mandela (because honestly, its really overwhelming to try and summarize the life of such an icon), then, I stumbled on this video of Oprah Winfrey interview Mandela in year 2000. Even if you are so unfamiliar with the historical events surrounding his life which culminated in his being locked in prison for 28years for his fight against apartheid, please watch this 4minutes 46seconds video below. This video shows Mandela's depth of humility, as he consistently focuses the attention on the people who strengthened him all through his time in prison and his drive for equality that has now transcended the globe.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

"I hate race discrimination most intensely and in all its manifestations. I have fought it all during my life; I fight it now, and will do so until the end of my days." – Nelson Mandela

As the world paid their tribute to Nelson Mandela this week, I sat down in the corner of my room reflecting on the life of this man whose life has touched humanity so profoundly. Merely looking at the incredible list of guests who took their seats at his memorial service will amaze you! BBC News director, James Harding, defending the corporation's coverage of Mr Mandela regarded him as a man of "singular significance" and the "most significant statesman of the last 100 years". After carefully reading several articles written about him and watching a number of videos, including the short clips in this post (plus my little knowledge of historical events surrounding the life of Mandela), I conclude that Mr Harding is not exaggerating. As I reflect on the life of this man who brought an end to apartheid, a political system in South Africa from 1948 to the early 1990s that separated the different peoples living there and gave privileges to those of European origin, I felt a deep moral persuasion to write this particular article. I even feel more motivated to write knowing fully well that unborn children will come to this material later in future and will learn great wisdom from Mandela who (as US President Obama puts it) is "one of the most influential, courageous, and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this earth." Although a huge task, I try to capture the core lessons about his life; putting them in key headings (which I will have to break into multiple posts subsequently).

He saw problems and decided to be the answer to the call of many generations:
In 1939, Mandela enrolled at the University College of Fort Hare (considered Africa's equivalent of the University of Oxford or Harvard University), the only residential center of higher learning for blacks in South Africa at the time. Focusing on Roman Dutch law to prepare for a career in civil service as an interpreter or clerk (regarded as the best profession that a black man could obtain at the time), he was expelled from school in 1940 because as leader of Student Representative Council (SRC), because he aligned with students boycotts emanating from their dissatisfaction with the food and lack of power held by the SRC. He also later fled home in order to escape a forced marriage.
He settled in Johannesburg, where he worked a variety of jobs, including as a guard and a clerk, while completing his bachelor's degree via correspondence courses. He then enrolled at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg to study law. It was from there he came into reality with apartheid: racial discrimination and a segregated political system where a political system in South Africa that separated the different peoples living there and gave privileges to those of European origin; and decided to do something about it. Mandela soon became actively involved in the anti-apartheid movement, joining the African National Congress (ANC) in 1942. Within the ANC, a small group of young Africans banded together, calling themselves the African National Congress Youth League. Their goal was to transform the ANC into a mass grassroots movement, deriving strength from millions of rural peasants and working people who had no voice under the current regime.
The National Party (NP) came to power in South Africa in 1948 on a political platform of white supremacy. The official policy of apartheid, or forced segregation of the races, began to be implemented under NP rule. Specifically, the group believed that the ANC's old tactics of polite petitioning were ineffective. In 1949, the ANC officially adopted the Youth League's methods of boycott, strike, civil disobedience and non-cooperation, with policy goals of full citizenship, redistribution of land, trade union rights, and free and compulsory education for all children. For 20 years, Mandela directed peaceful, nonviolent acts of defiance against the South African government and its racist policies. In 1952 the ANC staged a campaign known as the Defiance Campaign, when protesters across the country refused to obey apartheid laws. That same year Mandela became one of the ANC’s four deputy presidents. In 1952 he and his friend Oliver Tambo(a brilliant student he'd met while attending Fort Hare) were the first blacks to open a law practice in South Africa called Mandela and Tambo that provided free and low-cost legal counsel to unrepresented blacks. In 1955 led the Congress of the People. In the face of government harassment and with the prospect of the ANC being officially banned, Mandela and others devised a plan. Called the “M” plan after Mandela, it organized the ANC into small units of people who could then encourage grassroots participation in antiapartheid struggles.
In 1956, Mandela and 150 others were arrested and charged with treason for their political advocacy (they were eventually acquitted). Meanwhile, the ANC was being challenged by Africanists, a new breed of black activists who believed that the pacifist method of the ANC was ineffective. Africanists soon broke away to form the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), which negatively affected the ANC; by 1959, the movement had lost much of its militant support.
In March 1960 the ANC and its rival, the PAC, called for a nationwide demonstration against South Africa’s pass laws, which controlled the movement and employment of blacks and forced them to carry identity papers. After police massacred 69 blacks demonstrating in Sharpeville (see Sharpeville Massacre), both the ANC and the PAC were banned. After Sharpeville the ANC abandoned the strategy of nonviolence, which until that time had been an important part of its philosophy. Mandela, who was formerly committed to nonviolent protest, began to believe that armed struggle was the only way to achieve change. In December 1961, he co-founded Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation or simply MK), a military offshoot of the ANC dedicated to sabotage and guerilla war tactics to end apartheid. In 1961, Mandela also orchestrated a three-day national workers' strike. He was named its commander-in-chief of MK and went to Algeria for military training. Back in South Africa, he was arrested in August 1962 for leading the strike and sentenced to five years in prison including being charged for incitement and leaving the country illegally. In 1963, Mandela was brought to trial again. This time, he and 10 other ANC leaders were sentenced to life imprisonment for political offenses, including sabotage.

Nelson Mandela was incarcerated on Robben Island for 18 of his 27 years in prison. During this time, he contracted tuberculosis and, as a black political prisoner, received the lowest level of treatment from prison workers. However, while incarcerated, Mandela was able to earn a Bachelor of Law degree through a University of London correspondence program. Despite the maximum security of the Robben Island prison, Mandela and other ANC leaders were able to keep in contact with the antiapartheid movement covertly. Mandela wrote much of his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedomsecretly in prison.
Later, Mandela was moved to the maximum-security Pollsmoor Prison near Cape Town. A 1981 memoir by South African intelligence agent Gordon Winter described a plot by the South African apartheid government to arrange for Mandela's escape so as to shoot him during the recapture; the plot was foiled by British intelligence. Mandela became an international symbol of resistance to apartheid during his long years of imprisonment, and world leaders continued to demand his release. He continued to be such a potent symbol of black resistance that a coordinated international campaign for his release was launched, and this international groundswell of support exemplified the power and esteem that Mandela had in the global political community.

In response to both international and domestic pressure, the South African government, under the leadership of President F. W. de Klerk, lifted the ban against the ANC and released Mandela in February 1990.

Mandela, who enjoyed enormous popularity, assumed the leadership of the ANC and led negotiations with the government for an end to apartheid. While white South Africans considered sharing power a big step, black South Africans wanted nothing less than a complete transfer of power. Mandela played a crucial role in resolving differences. For their efforts, he and de Klerk were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. In 1994 South Africa held its first multiracial elections, and Mandela became president.

Mandela sought to calm the fears of white South Africans and of potential international investors by trying to balance plans for reconstruction and development with financial caution. His Reconstruction and Development Plan allotted large amounts of money to the creation of jobs and housing and to the development of basic health care. In December 1996 Mandela signed into law a new South African constitution. The constitution established a federal system with a strong central government based on majority rule, and it contained guarantees of the rights of minorities and of freedom of expression. Mandela, who had announced that he would not run for reelection in 1999, stepped down as party leader of the ANC in late 1997 and was succeeded by South African deputy president Thabo Mbeki. Mandela's presidency came to an end in June 1999, when the ANC won legislative elections and selected Mbeki as South Africa's next president. 

As I continue my writing in this series, I will like to hear from you too. I just finished listening to former and present UN Secretary General talk about his humility and call him their mentor. What about is feable, human side? What have you leant from the life of Mandela? Some Christians are even asking: will he make heaven? You can drop a line below or chat with me on twitter: 

Nelson Mandela. (2013). The Biography Channel website. Retrieved 12:33, Dec 12, 2013, from
Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2008. © 1993-2007 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
"Nelson Mandela the orator: his most powerful speeches." The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 1 Dec. 2006. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.
"Mandela: Icon, Hero and Flawed Human." Mandela - ABC News. ABC News Internet Ventures, 7 Dec. 2013. Web. 7 Dec. 2013.
"A Who's Who of world leaders: The incredible list of guests who took their seats at Nelson Mandela's memorial service." Mail Online. N.p., 12 Dec. 2013. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.
"Read Obama's complete speech at Nelson Mandela memorial." The Globe and Mail. N.p., 12 Oct. 2013. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.
"Mandela’s struggle was personal inspiration: Obama." The Daily Star. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.
"My life with Mandela –Obasanjo." The Punch Nigerias Most Widely Read Newspaper. N.p., 7 Dec. 2013. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.
"Desmond Tutu's tribute to Mandela's magnanimityAdd to ...." The Globe and Mail. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.
"World leaders pay tribute to Mandela." - Africa. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.
"BBC receives 1,350 complaints for 'excessive' Mandela coverage, including some viewers angry at interruption of 'Mrs Brown's Boys'." The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 12 Dec. 2013. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

My 29th Birthday: Reflections on Books, Countries and People that Shaped my Individuality

Toronto Eaton Center (7/11/2013 4pm)
Gazing at the freedom birds inside Eaton Centre on Yonge St, Toronto my imagination is drawn to the magnificence of modern day architecture put to display in Canada's largest mall in downtown Toronto. My last one year has witnessed many travels across continents from Ghana in West Africa to Jamaica in the Caribbean. Yet having two years residence permit in the UK and 10 years entry permit into the United States, my decision to remain in Canada is inadvertently a prove of my acceptance of the country not only because it’s now my country of procreation since my wife is from here but due to the many reasons I will be talking about shortly. I am sure you will be wondering by now that 'this man as really travelled around the world.' Just as you are wondering, I myself am wondering. It amazes me how a boy from a village in Ibadan, Oyo state, Nigeria has eventually pitched a tent over 5500milles away from his origin. This is a short story of my life. Born exactly 29years ago today, I have been shaped by many experiences influenced by people, places, things both seen and unseen and I can be described as one of the product of our truly globalized world.
Of the books and literatures and their authors that have shaped my thinking
Recently read books: Reforming the Unreformable (Okonjo-Iweala),
The Accidental Public Servant (El-Rufai), Son of Hamas (Yossef),
Touching Godliness (KP Yohannan)
Straight Talk to Men, Night Light Devotion for couples,
Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide (Dr, James Dobson)
John Perkins book, Confessions of an Economic Hitman, was an eye opener for me. It showed me the entire corporatocratic ideology that shaped our world pointing clearly how we found ourselves in the global mess in the first place. Although he raised much dust, it’s interesting that all the names mentioned in the books till date couldn’t prove him wrong, everything he wrote about seem true. I give him a lot of credit and continue to follow him on twitter as he preaches the message of "transforming the world into a sustainable, just, and peaceful place where all beings thrive". The Son of Hamas holds both the spiritual account (of Mosab Hassan Yousef) and an historical documentation. It’s a book I do cherish that provides detailed information of the issues in the Middle East between Isreal and Palestine. I have spent a lot of time reading literatures that has strengthened my knowledge of spiritual and family life. K.P. Yohannan's book on Touching Godliness is pristine. My leading author and speaker in family life are Dr. James Dobson and Richard Smalley respectively. In terms of understanding developmental challenges facing growing nations in Africa, I have read the book of people I have come to admire for their work Nasir El-Rufais Accidental Public Servant (I recommend his oral interview session with Graeme Blair and Daniel Scher in Washington DC in 2009 as a first, good read), Dr. Okonjo-Iweala's book on reforming the unreformable is golden to understand the complexity and difficulty of the structural transformation in Nigeria and the depth of corruption the country witnesses. The list still goes on…
Of Nigeria and Her many developmental challenges
A worker at a makeshift production camp in Nigeria’s swamps
processed crude oil at an illegal oil refinery site near the river Nun in Bayelsa.
Many have always referred to Nigeria as giant among nations but taking baby steps. I wonder if Lord Lugard had committed an error in amalgamating the Northern and Southern territories into one Nigeria in 1914. But he couldn't have made a mistake if the people decide to make their case better by working together for a collective growth. Diversity can be a tool for sustainable growth. Toronto for example has been referred to as the world’s most multicultural society and living there for a few months I completely agree with that statement. People come from different walks of life, different countries, to strengthen a system they believed worked for them. I wonder where Nigeria missed it. Growing up in a public high school we learnt both the Surat Al-Fātiĥah and the Lord's prayer and till today people like myself reflect on the glory of those golden good old days. I wonder where Nigeria got her model of divide and rule and the ideology of placing religion and tribal conflict on top of pressing national issues. But I see tremendous hope for the nation. I have two reasons to justify that: one is in the angle of freedom of information and the growth in technology and the second is the hope that the younger generations will get it right. As one of the indicator for technology in a country is the internet, Freedom On The Net 2013 showed Nigeria has fared quiet positively. Although there's is still much to be done, progress recorded so far is good and Nigeria is just at the verge of moving to the freedom domain; many thanks to the tireless efforts of people like Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria. I have hope for the younger generations also. Here is a quote from the 2013 Commonwealth Youth Development Index "A country like Nigeria, for instance, has high teenage pregnancy, low levels of education, high youth unemployment, yet has a higher levels of civic participation than New Zealand. This suggests that although the youths have limited education and employment opportunities, Nigerian youth are looking elsewhere for active engagement". It may not look like a lot but that statement is one of the very few positive feedback Nigeria has gotten in international reports. As a nation, there must be concerted framework (putting together all the policies) that leverage youths capacity in civic participation for nation building. We hope that will be implemented in the future.
We cry against oil theft and vandalism reaching crude oil barrels of between 100,000 (Chatham House) to 250,000 (Nuhu Ribadu Report). We cry against Boko Haram, shedding of blood and the killing of innocent people, we cry against corruption and bribery in Nigeria. I hope it will not be too late for us to see the true price of oil as explained in The Price of Oil Organization report and see a need to pursue economic diversification with earnestness. I hope we will manage diversity for prosperity and ensure inclusivity for all people. And I hope we uphold the dignity of labour.
Of the people who uphold the dignity of labour and whose works are profoundly touching 
Hon. Michael Coteau and myself

Uzma Shakir

Sam Malvea
It’s rare to find people who are committed to your progress and even more rear to find people who work tirelessly to ensure social justice. To the former, I celebrate people who have been with me over the years; my teachers and mentors who despite growing up in their hands have given me the opportunity to exercise leadership and be a man of my own. To the latter, the first is the Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Hon. Michael Coteau, whose softspokeness, open door policy and down to earth attitudes makes him someone extremely approachable. I can’t but appreciate my patient teacher and mentor, Sam Malvea who takes extra hours to look into my paper works and ensure I’m doing well. Uzma Shakir remains a symbol of social justice and having heard her speak to me it was clear that her moving from an activist to a role as the Director of Equity, Diversity and Human Rights in the City of Toronto was to ensure that we continue to build an equitable society. Her message of demographic and socio-economic reality of the City of Toronto to her motion on inclusivity remains profound: "When a society is able to care for the less privileged, the women, children and handicapped in particular, then that society would have achieved its entire growth objective because it would have been successful in also taking care of those who already have privileges…"
Of people whose culture of excellence transcends international boundaries: Lamido Sanusi, Obiageli Ezekwsili and many others who are taking their job seriously and creating the culture of excellence both in their official, spiritual or secular lives. And thanks to Cher Jones, my personal brand professor who gave me yet another reason to remain on social media.

Of friends, family and life in general
Myself and Wife's Hand of Love
Although I was dubbed to be a medical doctor, I am now happy tolling the path of an economist which has given me the opportunity to reason rationally, devote thoughts to developmental issues and a desire to want to contribute my own quota to making things better. Some have always concluded that the bane of economics is unrealistic forecasts, but the beauty of being an economist is this same ability to forecast. It allows us to imaginatively predict scenarios and make deductions and recommendations. And when you have a spiritual edge to being an economist its provides an amazing combination, it’s a God plus factor I can’t emphasize enough. It’s a spiritual experience of knowing the truth. This truth shapes thoughts and opinions exactly as demonstrated in people like Martin Luther King.  I'm may be termed religious, but with respect for those who live their lives for other belief, a higher sacrifice, and for a higher purpose than I can ever do myself, I only hope they will find the truth that I now know in Christ Jesus. I'm not white, but I do know it is certainly wrong to judge others by the shade of their skin, the slant of their eyes, the waviness of their hair or the accent in their speech. I'm educated, but I do not disavow others for not having the same opportunities, life situation, or privileges as I. I'm not gay, but I do know that common rights guaranteed to citizens by their representative government should be rights inclusive to all citizens, even as we pray for their change. I am rational enough to realize that although I may not be on the wrong end of injustices, I am empathetic to those who are. I'm not poor, but I do know that it is in our common decency to help our neighbours and our friends when they need it more than us. I live as a social being and grateful for all the good people that surrounds me. Most of all I am grateful that I have friends, family, a wife and a mother who loves me dearly and prays for me constantly. Surely, many great things are bound to unfold in the coming days ahead and we will all have course to celebrate together. Lets keep holding on and believing!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Education Workers' Strike in Nigeria: Causes and Implication

Over the past few months, the world has witnessed many striking issue ranging from government shut down in the States to the sudden fall in the Indian Rupee, the Kenyan Westgate Mall shooting, the issues in Syria, Egypt and beyond. But none of these touches me like the issues from Nigeria especially the ongoing Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) strike. Not only because I am a Nigerian, but largely due to the fact that my role as an economist keeps bringing me in contact with country facts that I find difficult to ignore. I decide to write this piece in order to provide a clear-cut knowledge of existing trend on education expenditure and linkage with work disputes/strike actions, unemployment and economic growth. I draw on several reports and data from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigrian Bureau of Statistics (NBS), World Bank, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) among others to capture trends and developments surrounding strikes and their implication for the youths and the Nigerian economy as a whole. After a careful synthesis it became obvious that a better funding mechanism for education in Nigeria is urgently needed for the country to become a serious player in the new global economic, social and political order.

A Retrospective look at Education funding in Nigeria
The general economic downturn of the 1980s resulted in instability and financial inadequacy for the Nigerian educational system. Crisis between 1979-1999 led to several work stoppages. Regular occurrences include unpaid teachers’ salaries, the degeneration of educational facilities and infrastructure at all levels and the attendant common place strikes across all tiers of Nigeria education system. Poor financial investment has generally been seen as the plague of Nigerian education system so much so that budgeting allocation has been very low compared to other sectors.  During the oil crisis in the 80s, the administration and funding of the Universal Primary Education (UPE) scheme was decentralized. At college and University levels, the changes included the termination of the student – teachers’ bursary awards and subsidized feeding for students in higher education institutions. Furthermore, the federal government allocation to education has declined steadily since 1999 and this is particularly important in view of huge rise in number of intake at all levels of education – primary, secondary and tertiary. In 1999, government scrapped the National Primary Education Fund (NPEF) and reconstituted it under another name (The National primary Education Commission). This action was taken in recognition of the states and local governments’ constitutional responsibility for financing and managing primary education. Alternative source of funding education explored by government is the Education Tax Fund (ETF, 1995) which ensured that companies with more than 100 employees contribute 2% of their pre-tax earnings to the fund. Primary education receives 40% of this fund. Secondary education receives 10% and higher education 50%. Primary education has in the past also received from Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) for capital expenditure and provision of instructional materials. In higher institutions, gifts, endowment funds, consultancy services, farms, satellite campuses, pre-degrees etc are other alternative funding sources.

Despite all the alternatives, infrastructure and facilities remain inadequate for coping with a system that is growing at a very rapid pace. As a result of poor financing, the quality of education offered was affected by poor attendance and inadequate preparation by teachers at all levels. The morale of teachers is low due to basic condition of service and low salaries. Recent World Bank Development report pointed out problems emanating as a result of this which can be called "functional illiteracy": increasing enrolment rate but with a missing quality-application of knowledge-dimension in literacy. In addition, physical facilities need to be upgraded and resources such as libraries, laboratories, modern communication and Information technology equipment have to be provided. The quest for meeting these basic education needs has been the cause of unending crisis between government, and trade unions such as ASUU, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT),  Non Academic Staff Union (NASU). 

A close look at the distribution of government budgetary allocation to education as a percentage of total budget shows a level of inconsistency. Instead of maintaining an increasing proportion of the yearly budget, it has been largely fluctuating since introduction of SAP in 1986. Regardless of incessant strikes and negotiation to stimulate governments to increase the proportion, the proportion has been below 8% apart from 1994 and 2002, which were slightly above 9%. A breakdown of the education allocation to capital and recurrent expenditure is shown in the chart below. Since the oil crisis in the eighties, the proportion of capital budget allocated to education has been consistently lower than the proportion of recurrent expenditure. Over the years, the government capital expenditure allocated to education as a percentage of total capital budget ranged from as low as 1.71 in 1999 and not up to 9% in all cases. This has retarded progress in building new facilities and meeting with growth challenges.
Chart 1: Capital and Recurrent Expenditure on Education in Nigeria

The estimates of government education expenditure in Nigeria as a share of GDP and of total government expenditure can be compared to the situation in other sub-Saharan African countries. UNESCO’s World Education Report 2000 presents the data for 19 countries across sub-Saharan Africa for 1996. The average share of GDP was 4.7% and of government expenditure was 19.6%. In both cases, the measures of educational expenditures for Nigeria (2.3% and 14.3% respectively) are relatively low. Again from the sample of state government education expenditures, plus the Federal and local government expenditures, it is possible to provide an approximate set of shares of expenditure across levels of education for 1998 for the country as a whole. These values are: 35.6% primary, 29.0% secondary and 35.3% for all tertiary institutions, including 19.0% for universities. The shares across education levels for Nigeria can again be compared to those in other countries. Across 18 sub-Saharan African countries in 1996, the shares were 48% primary, 31% secondary and 21% tertiary (UNESCO, 2000). According to CBN (2011) the allocations to primary schooling were significantly lower in Nigeria and those to tertiary education significantly higher. Public investments in social and community services accounted for 10.0% of the total in 2011 and as a ratio of capital spending, expenditure on education declined to 3.9% in 2011 from 9.9% in the preceding year, while that on health rose from 4.0% in 2010 to 4.3% in 2011. At states level, analysis of spending on primary welfare sectors indicated that expenditure on education decreased by 17.0 per cent from the level in 2010 to N212.6 billion ($1.34billion) and accounted for 6.0% of total expenditure (CBN, 2011).
Chart 2: Federal Government Share on Education as a share of Total Federal Expenditure, 1997-2001
Chart 3: Federal Government Share by Level of Education, 1996-2000

Moja (2000) has showed that building of classroom has not kept up with the increase in enrolments in all levels of education in Nigeria. Primary schools and secondary schools are worst affected where classes are offered in the open-air leading to class cancellations and lack of quality instructions. In several secondary schools, as many as four classes, are accommodated in one classroom. These are classrooms that are already jam-packed and in poor state of repair with licking roofs and broken windows. In tertiary institutions the picture is not different. It is a common phenomenon for students to sit on bare floor or hang by the window side because lecture rooms cannot accommodate them. In addition, laboratories and equipment are grossly inadequate. The attendant problems in terms of quality of education usually tell on the competence and effectiveness of the products.

Man-days Losses Due To Strike
The problem of education funding has been over the years a subject of great concern to all stakeholders in the sector. The magnitude of the problem has consistently led to strikes by NUT, ASUU, NASU and other bodies coordinating the grievances of the workers. The cornerstone of the struggle is to make the Nigerian state to be responsive to the problems. As shown in Chart 4, the strikes causes the nation serious man-day loss. It ranged from N27,072($172) in 1972 to about N234million($1.49million)in 1994. Apart from 1995 when the loss dropped down to about 2 million, it has been more than 100 million man-days since 1996. The number of declared trade disputes in 2003 declined by 2.0% to 49%, in contrast to an increase of 11.1% in 2002. Of the total trade disputes declared, 42% or 85.7% led to work stoppages involving about 302,006 workers (CBN 2005). The total man-days lost to the work stoppages, including the six months industrial action embarked upon by ASUU in 2003 were put at over 5.5 million.
Chart 4: Man-Day Lost due to industrial Strike Actions and Trade Disputes in Nigeria with 1994 values isolated

Chart 5: Man-Days lost due to industrial strike Actions and Trade Disputes in Nigeria, 1970-2004

Mechanism for Translating Education Allocation to Education Allocation To Economic Growth
Earlier literature indicates that the quality of education in some Nigerian institutions in the 1970s was comparable to high quality education offered by top world universities. Sadly however, the quality of education offered by higher education institutions at the present time has deteriorated substantially. The effect of the poor funding on students, apart from fear of increase in tuition fee or its introduction in federal university is that they are mostly ill equipped for self-employment and or entrepreneurship in a context where limited jobs exist to absorb them in the nation. The poor quality of many Nigerian university graduates has accelerated. As a result, there is high unemployment amongst graduates especially in fields such as engineering. There is also concern about the lack of recognition of Nigerian degrees by overseas universities. If education allocations are increased to meet all the basic infrastructural and recurrent needs such as ICT facilities, standard libraries, laboratories and workshop facilities and the institutions are made to have adequate enrolment base that is open to all Nigerian irrespective of ethnic derivation, social status, religion and political aspiration, teachers shall be highly motivated, conscientious and efficient in delivery of their services. These will produce able manpower capable of uplifting the cultural, social, scientific, and technological development as well as development of the talents of young citizens. The knowledge produced for industries, agriculture, scientific and technological development will translate to increase in national income. Ajetomobi and Ayanwale (2005) concluded that like yam which the size of yam set planted determines the size of yam tuber harvested, increase in government education allocation to 26% as recommended during ASUU-FGN negotiation of 1992 and 2001 tremendous growth in economy will result. At the moment, unemployment rates have been steadily increasing and the over 1.8million new entrants into the labour force (predominantly youths) are encountering increasing difficulty in finding gainful employment.
Chart 6: Population growth, Economic activity, Labour force, Employed and Newly employed and Unemployed , 2006-2011
Chart 7: Unemployment in Nigeria by age group and Rural/Urban Area
Chart 8: Unemployment is trending upwards in Nigeria, 2000-2009

The final word is that despite the fact that education emerges as a critical determinant of knowledge spillovers and entrepreneurship across 1500 subnational regions in 110 countries, why has Nigeria failed to fund its education? We can continue the conversation on twitter 

Ajetomobi J.O* and Ayanwale A.B (2005) Education Allocation, Unemployment and Economic Growth in Nigeria: 1970-2004, World Room at Texas A&M University 

UNESCO (2000), World Education Report. Paris
World Bank (2001), World Development Report 2001. WashingtonDC
Hinchcliffe, K. (2002). Public Expenditure on Education in Nigeria: Issues, Estimates and Some Implications. Abuja, World Bank.National Bureau of Statistics, Labour Force Survey 2009
Moja, T. (2000). Nigeria Education Sector Analysis: An Analytical Synthesis of Performance and Main Issues. Abuja, World Bank.,%20Unemployment%20and%20Economic%20growth.pdf

Monday, August 26, 2013

Nigeria Universities 2013 Rankings, ASUU Strike and My Rising Concerns

A lot has been on my mind since I read The Herald newspaper of August 11th 2013 where Nigeria's top 100 Universities were listed. A lot continue to well up in my mind as I try to keep tab on developing stories on twitter and other social media so much so that I had to break the tranquillity of my honeymoon to scribble down my thoughts. This is also coming at a time when the melee between the federal government and body of university teachers (Academic Staff Union of Universities-ASUU) persist . I am deeply worried for my young ones who are affected. This piece is not only to the government or ASUU, it is to teachers, lecturers and all those who are currently insisting on the strike as the way forward. It is a plea for a date to be announced when schools will resume.

I feel I know a lot about how university systems run and what it takes to be a world renowned university because I have not only been a part of the team that produced a document for the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) Quality Improvement Systems (EQUIS) responsible for european universities accreditation, it was during my studentship at the UK that the university I attend moved to the Triple Crown category, a level designated for top universities in the world who have met all quality standards in teaching and learning [only 1 per cent of business schools world-wide have achieved Triple Crown status by earning Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation, the European Foundation for Management Development quality mark, EQUIS, and the Association of MBA (AMBA) accreditation for the school’s MBA programme]. Even though my school in the UK is not among the top 50 neither is it among the top 100 in the world according to the University League Table, but I've always thought to myself that if just a school in Nigeria can meet half of these embedded quality mechanisms in university systems, we could be on our way to becoming one of the best in the world. It's important to mention here that I'm talking from an insider perspective.

I've seen both sides, in Nigeria and abroad. I had my undergraduate degree in Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) (No.19 in the current NUC list) before going for my masters abroad. I was a teaching and research assistant in Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) (No. 4 on the current NUC list) with extensive networks and partners in University of Ibadan (UI) (No. 1 on the current NUC list) and other top universities in Nigeria; so I'm clearly talking from an insider perspective. Truth be told, there's is urgent need for quality improvement mechanism to be embedded in our educational systems. Yes we have faculty academic board etc, we've never sat to do critical benchmarking and data collection to identify key areas of educational development. Yes the current ASUU struggle is about "due allowance" to the tune of N87billion or N92billion (USD530+million or USD570+million) (we're not sure which amount is correct) but are we sure this is not about some people's pocket? Especially at a time when the roles of Unions are being contested by corporations around the world.  What is the long term vision for education in Nigeria? Is there a roadmap? Who are we aspiring to be like in terms of global education standard? Is there any benchmarking? If UNESCO recommends budgetary allocation of 26% for developing countries and Nigeria is currently on 8%, are we currently working with these international partners to address the issue? Or are we just taking their recommendation without local consideration because experience has shown that policy implementation requires consideration for resultant shocks and effects; a clear example is the oil subsidy clamoured for by World Bank for developing countries. Although the current struggle tries to potray a more critical demand for infrastructure funding for education, how I wish it focuses more on a sustainable long term strategy with both ASUU and the FG drawing a sustainable road map rather than allowance fight alone as it seems now.

As one writer rightly pointed out, the worse part of the ongoing impasse is the fact that the strike call-off date is out of scope with both sides not giving affected students a clear view of what to do; whether to prepare for a quick call off or go on to take up "vocational trainings in tailoring, hairdressing, auxiliary nursing, electronic repairs, shoe making, carpentry etcetera". What has happened to dialogue and peaceful resolution? No other issue require a no-strike action as negociation and discussion continues like the current one because young people are involved, the future generations should be our concerns and not really the huge amount of money for "infrastructure" that is currently being clamoured for. I am worried and so are my fellows in the diaspora.

The backlash of these strikes are already becoming obvious. Every strike means that more young people are on the street doing nothing. As their graduating age goes over the edge so also rises the loss in the quality of these young people. And then they move on to the labour market and they're eventually told they're overaged. These graduates have no choice but to look for dubious ways to change their age bracket to what the banks want as most of them clearly indicate the age of potential employers now. We are talking about skill acquisition and the resultant effect on the Nigerian economy; about the future of the nation and our collective progress. Its so sad how we handle this issues. Nigeria is the most populous black nation, the largest country in Africa and obviously the country with the largest youths and young adult. The country is once again reminded of the tremendous potentials to record quick growth by adequately and gainfully utilizing this strength it has, failure to do so is already spelling disaster for the country in various parts. we only hope something is done urgently to reverse these tide; of violence, delinquency, strive and struggle among these young people. One author describing the situation as "Bastardisation of Academic Procedure" recalls the consequences of this type of strike action: 

"Due to frequent strikes, some idle students gets involved in vices ranging from rape to murder, cultism, drunkenness, drugs,robbery, fraud and when academic activities finally resumes, these behaviorally downgraded students pollutes the already tensed academic environment with their new found vice, fostering cultism  and criminal activities on campuses....While the vice ridden campuses constitutes academic nuisance, the activities of lecturers who constantly harass female students with sexual advances is another form of academic bastardization."

Fastforward to Universities here in Canada, their key objective is to prepare students for the labour market; most schools here are not only maintaining this traditional stand, improvement mechanisms have been put in place right from the on-start allowing for up-scaling and upgrading when the time is due in future. Going back to what I learnt from my work experience as a member of learning and teaching assessment committee (LTAC) and the Quality Committee (QC) in UK it is important to note that first there must be a critical benchmarking against global best practice. Its just like saying we're going to destination B from destination A. We need to evaluate and know the cost of getting to where we're going. What does B have that we need to have or develop. Its not about being a copycat, its about knowing and building the critical requirement for the long term. I will be frank with you, overseas schools know their competition and work very hard to meet and surpass their standards.

I remember in one board meeting at my UK University where I sat as a faculty student representative; we practically scrutinize data and analysis from potential competitors both locally and internationally and we developed strategy to retain the best students in the school. At another meeting we were analysing a report that students put forward for opportunities for complaints to be made against lecturers they feel is standing against their progress. Feedback and student participation should be entrenched at every level of the learning experience. If we go by the good old saying that if student have not learnt then the teachers have not taught, it will help us get the point in perspective.

Quality controls involves all of these and more. Teachers are responsible for moulding lives, they're like role models these student see. Especially those in the university, it's a critical time for adolescents (the millenials as they're now called) and every little encounters teachers have should be considered pristine in moulding the future of Nigeria. I strongly believe that Nigeria is at a threshold and I and my team through our OYESS Initiative will continue to do our best to strengthen education and learning. We're currently working with a Nigeria university in overhauling their library and learning material base and trusting that this will inform the quality of work in the faculty both among student and teachers. We are assessing current technology available and how they can upgrade little by little and with available resources so as to meet global standards. It started with the faculty leaders deciding what they want and where they're going to. I wish every teacher/lecturer see this 7minutes TED video below of Rita Pierson: "Every Kid Needs a Champion" so they can appreciate their roles in shaping the future of young people.

My stand will continue to remain a very unpopular one in the current saga, especially to many of those at the vanguard of these strike action. And this stand is that going on strike, like previous times, will not lead to sustainable solution to improving the quality of tertiary education in Nigeria. Strike action is usually an option when it comes to labour considerations, efficient bargaining systems and wage to welfare ratio analysis but as far as education in Nigeria is concerned, things have gone precariously bad that we can't afford to continue to move motions in similar ways as before. In fact, UNILORIN (which is not part of the current) strike has its ASUU chairman insists that UNILORIN is not part of the ongoing strike because it '"was in a bid to ensure the educational stability of the institution...strike actions has brought about a lot of backwardness to the educational development in the country while" urging the national leadership of ASUU to come out with other means of fighting for the cause of members instead of incessant strike actions.'

We really need to look into the issue of Unions as Morgan Spurlock is already doing with his CNN Inside Man programme. My heart goes to the Nigerian students in general but in particular, the students I had the opportunity to teach and encourage to go all the way irrespective of the increasing challenges they face on their pathway. Many of then don't know what to do at this present time and wondering when the strike will be called off since it started in July 2nd. My heart also goes to the many parents who have to worry about the future of their children.

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