It is a sobering indication of the state of the nation, that as Nigeria prepares to mark the 62nd anniversary of its flag independence on October 1, the dominant discourse in the land among young Nigerians, apart from politics, and the continued closure of universities centres around such annoying subjects as something called the Big Brother Naija reality show and its annual elevation of unseriousness into a creative endeavour, and the unarguably silly controversy over whether a major priority for the Nigerian government should be the need to ban the consumption of cow skin, better known locally among Nigerians as ponmo, kpomo or kanda. Arguments for and against the latter have consumed so much attention and energy in the last week in such an insufferable manner that recommends the whole exercise as a metaphor for the Nigerian condition.
But let us begin with Nigeria’s 62nd anniversary. It would be correct to say that we have never had it so bad. The independence anniversaries of 2020 and 2021 were observed against the background of the COVID pandemic and the international public health crisis which redefined our lives as citizens and as human beings. But there was hope that like all afflictions before it, since the pestilence of Biblical times, COVID-19 would one day be conquered and the world will regain its verve. It has not now disappeared completely, but indeed the world is alive again. As Nigeria celebrates its 62ndIndependence anniversary, we can joyfully look back on how our people survived the scourge, and can now openly sit together on Independence Day to reflect on the nation’s journey over the decades.
What we should be celebrating this year is the resilience of the Nigerian people in the face of afflictions – social, economic, governance and psychological. It is therefore appropriate that the Federal Government has chosen to hold a public lecture on the theme of “National Unity” on September 29. The hero of the story of Nigeria is truly none other than the common man and woman: the ordinary Nigerians who, since independence have been disappointed every step of the way by their own leaders. In 1960, as the British Union Jack was lowered, and the Nigerian green-white-green flag was hoisted to herald the birth of a new nation, Nigerians danced. School children marched to the sound of melodies of hope. The march was abbreviated, the dancing stopped; the walls cracked within barely six years later. A civil war occurred and for decades, the military controlled Nigeria, running a command-and-obey structure that further divided the country along the lines of ethnicity, geography and religion. Every measure that has been taken to reunite the country by the military and even their civilian successors has refused to work. Once upon a time, Nigeria was Africa’s richest and most beloved country, it soon became a shadow of its old self. In 2022, 62 years after independence, we seem sadly to have lost so much.
We once lived in a country where teachers, scholars, and students came from everywhere to study and work here. In my days as a young student, we had teachers from the UK, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, the United States, the West Indies and elsewhere who were happy to pursue their dreams in Nigeria. The country’s universities were among the best in Africa and the Commonwealth. The then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University – OAU) was rated as the most beautiful campus in Africa! The same university, along with the University of Ibadan, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) and the University of Lagos (UNILAG) boasted of some of the best brains in their respective fields. Ibadan had one of the best science and research laboratories in Africa. The university zoo was a tourist attraction. The country’s university teaching hospitals were so good, so well-equipped that patients came from as far away as Saudi Arabia to receive treatment at the University College, Hospital, (UCH), Ibadan. Today, all that is lost. Our hospitals, from primary health care centres to tertiary hospitals have become mere consulting clinics. All the animals in the Ibadan Zoo have either died or have been used to prepare pepper soup. University teachers have been on strike since February 14. In the last three years alone, Nigerian university students have spent more time at home than in school.
In the 70s and 80s, even the country’s secondary schools were rated among the best in Africa. Today, they have become the target of kidnappers, bandits and rapists. When many old students visit their schools these days, they are shocked that a once beautiful citadel could become so terrible. A senior friend who visited my alma mater about a fortnight ago, called me frantically to tell me that he felt like weeping, because he knew what the school looked like in those days. An old classmate of mine who was with him, and who has lived in the US since we left school told me not to worry. He said there was nothing anybody could do. “This is not the school you and I attended, my brother”, he added. “Where is the government? If Nigerian leaders are not mad, sick and wicked, they would never allow this kind of thing to happen. Even if old students contribute money and re-build the school, who will sustain it? What do Nigerian leaders do with the education budget? In the States…” My old colleague has lived so long in the US, he obviously thinks the same standards can apply here. In those days, our teachers were proud of their chosen career. They were glad to help nurture the future generation. These days, teachers are so unhappy with their lot – no salaries, no promotion, no enabling work environment – they are not in any position to produce happy and capable students.
The oil boom of the 70s turned the fortunes of Nigeria around. The country became so rich, a former military ruler once boasted that the country did not know what to do with money. The emergent nouveaux riche became so wealthy, they left for Europe every Friday, after close of work, enjoyed their weekend in the most exotic haunts of London and Paris, and took the plane back just in time to be at work in Nigeria on Monday. There was Nigeria Airways: having some of the best trained pilots in the world. Return ticket to Europe was affordable. Today, Nigeria has no national airline. Its aviation industry is almost dead. Only the rich can still afford to travel abroad, but not with that old frequency of weekly indulgence. Oil boom brought a culture of indolence and doom. The world is witnessing yet another oil boom today, as a result of the Russia-Ukraine war, but Nigeria is not benefitting from that. Its refineries are not working. Major oil companies cannot function because of crude oil theft and insecurity. The country cannot even meet its OPEC production quota. The country is heavily indebted. Its debt burden is more than the budgets of all the 36 states of the country in one year. Next year, the country may not even be able to fund any capital project!
For those who like to quote data, the statistics on the state of the nation are frightening: inflation: 20.52%, food inflation: 23.12%, unemployment: 33%, measured in the reality of staggering poverty and exponential rise in crime. From being a country of giants, Nigeria has become a country of desperate men and women, in whose hearts the fires of hope die-aborning. This is why there is a more strident call for change now more than ever. There are those Nigerians who continue to blame the colonial masters for all of Nigeria’s woes, and such persons recently used the occasion of the death of Queen Elizabeth II to voice out their grievances. Their argument is that the British left bad leaders behind and structured the newly independent Nigeria to fail, after looting our treasures. The proponents of this argument ignore the fact that the British were colonial overlords in other countries too, where things work and progress has been made, and that the errors of our journey can be traced largely to the post-colonial leaders who simply replaced British colonialism with indigenous colonialism and fascism. It is therefore noteworthy that as Nigeria marks its 62nd anniversary, many young Nigerians are insisting that the country’s general elections in 2023 must provide a great opportunity for Nigerians to elect a new set of leaders who can make a difference, and stop the cycle of failure that seems to have become our lot. They want the glory of Nigeria restored. They are on the streets marching. They are in places of religious worship calling on God to come and help Nigeria as the people of Macedonia once cried out. They ask: why are we so blest, and yet so cursed? From whence will the messiah come? Many persons have had to leave the country to seek hope in other lands. I was at the airport a few days ago – quite unusually crowded – given the high cost of tickets. When I pointed this out to someone at the counter, I was told that most of the people boarding the aircraft to foreign destinations have no plans to return. The true heroes are the Nigerians who have refused to give up on this country and who still believe that Nigeria will be great again.
President Muhammadu Buhari will, of course, customarily use his Independence Day broadcast to reassure Nigerians at home and abroad that all is not lost. He will try to inspire the nation. He will tell us that his administration has laid a better foundation on all fronts and remains determined to deliver transparent and credible elections in 2023. He would most likely heap the blame for every problem on saboteurs and enemies of the people, who will be brought to justice before February 2023. He would also reassure us that the work ahead is a collective responsibility. It would not matter whether his listeners believe him or not. No President would use the occasion of the country’s National Day to accept blame for any omissions. For President Buhari, it would be his last Independence Day Broadcast as President. Expect some self-praise. As part of the farewell, the organizers of the 62nd Independence Anniversary have also announced that there would be a National Honours ceremony. This should not become a jamboree or chieftaincy title ceremony whereby every senior government official who has served in the last eight years, as well as traditional rulers, party chieftains and wives and girlfriends of privileged persons are the ones on the Honours list. There would be Ministers, Governors and political appointees all waiting to be decorated with medals for work not done. This year’s Honours List must convey a message of seriousness. Nigeria’s 62nd Independence Anniversary must not become another Big Brother Naija show! It must not come across like that distraction that I cited as the “ponmo controversy” – a classic case of blaming the victim and missing the point.
For the benefit of those who may not have followed the story, the ponmo controversy was triggered about a week ago when Muhammadu Yakubu, the Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Leather and Science Technology (NILEST) reportedly said his agency was going to propose to the National Assembly, a bill to ban the consumption of cow skin, because its heavy consumption is precisely the cause of the downslide in Nigeria’s leather industry. Cow hides that should be used by tanneries to produce leather, footwear, bags have been diverted into the food chain, and turned into a special delicacy. Yakubu added that “ponmo” has no nutritional value. Nothing represents the lack of seriousness at the highest levels in Nigeria’s governance and democracy than this. Not many have heard of NILET or its DG, and then the first time, anything would be heard, the DG puts his foot in his mouth. His declaration is not based on any data. What is the amount of cow hide that has been smuggled into the food chain to threaten the leather industry? And who told him kpomo has no nutritional value? And why of all things, a government agency is talking about ponmo in this country today?
Mr Yakubu should be reminded that ponmo, a regular sight at parties, usually marinated in well-curried pepper, is a gourmet’s delight particularly when the ponmo and the pepper touch the palate, the softer the ponmo the better, and best when supported with a cold glass of wine, or beer to wash it down the gut. It is a low fat, low-calorie food recommended for persons who want to lose weight. Dietitians tell us that “a 100 kg of boiled, thick cow skin contains essential amino acids, micronutrients and collagen – 224.65k calories of energy, 680g of carbohydrate, about 43.9g of water, 46.9 g of protein, 1.09 g of fat, 0.02 g of fibre, iron – 4.3 mg, magnesium -12 mg, zinc- 6.79 mg and calcium -6.1 mg.” Food inflation has taken ordinary sources of meat beyond the reach of the ordinary Nigerian: fish, meat and other sources of protein have become so expensive. Ponmo is not so cheap either, but it is the only kind of meat that is still within the reach of the common man, their only hope of chewing something during a meal. Yakubu, DG NILET says there should be legislation to ban its consumption and further punish the poor and rob people of jobs. Yakubu is not recommending bills to initiate policies that will make foreign exchange available for the tanneries, access to necessary raw materials, development of the livestock sector to increase supply of cow hide, training and research in the industry… no, he is blaming the victims.
He forgets that this country once had a thriving leather industry: Bata, Lennards, and flourishing tanneries in Kano, Kaduna…but even that failed because of this obsession with unserious matters by Nigerian leaders. The leather industry will not be revived by banning the consumption of kpomo. Wale Ojo-Lanre has dismissed Yakubu’s suggestion as a case of “shallow thinking, empty and gross laziness”. I agree. It is in addition, provocative. It could trigger a spontaneous million-man march in every state of the Federation, and evoke such anger similar to that of an old attempt to ban the sale and consumption of stockfish in Nigeria.
Nigerians deserve better leadership in 2023, a new cadre of governors at all levels who will focus on what is right, and learn to think straight.
Ogbuku as a Change Agent in Niger Delta Development
By Ifeatu Agbu
The rapid development of the Niger Delta region, which is the core mandate of the Niger Delta Development Commkisison, NDDC, got an impetus when the current Management, led by Dr Samuel Ogbuku, mounted the saddle at the Commission’s headquarters on January 5, 2023.
From day one, Ogbuku and his team were confronted with the daunting challenges of development in the Niger Delta region. However, the challenges spurred them to begin to look for new ways of achieving results. That inexorably led to the decision by the Commission to begin to do things differently.
In charting a new course, the Commission had to use new strategies, which emphasized transparency and accountability.
The new trajectory takes into account the vision of the NDDC, which is to create an enabling environment for the sustainable development of the Niger Delta region. The Management is also guided by the Commission’s mission, which is: “to facilitate the sustainable, even and rapid development of the Niger Delta, into a region that is socially stable, politically peaceful, economically prosperous and ecologically regenerative.”
The paradigm shifts at the NDDC did not come by chance. It came from good leadership. According to General Collin Powell, former Chairman of the US Joint Chief of Staff [1989-93] and the first African American to be appointed Secretary of State, you have to appoint the right calibre of people to deliver good results.
For him, “the organisation doesn’t really accomplish anything. Plans don’t accomplish anything either. Theories of management don’t matter. Endeavours succeed or fail because of the people involved. Only by attracting the best people will you accomplish great deeds.”
The Executive Management team in NDDC today appears to be hitting the right notes. This started with the solid foundation laid during a four-day Board and Management Retreat at the Ibom Icon Hotels and Golf Resort, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. This set the tone for a new and re-invigorated journey.
Indeed, the management signaled that it would not be business as usual as it would enthrone transparency in its operations and reverse the resource-curse syndrome in the Niger Delta region.
At the end of the retreat, participants resolved that the NDDC should prioritize key sectors that would have huge impact on the standard of living of the people of the Niger Delta, namely: infrastructure, education, health and agriculture; the NDDC should pay particular attention to the security of lives and property and the protection of the poor and weak in the society; the NDDC should improve its youths and women empowerment programmes; the NDDC should consider implementing legacy projects that have the potential to benefit the people of the region, reduce poverty and improve the conditions of living of the people.
The stakeholders resolved to intensify efforts towards fast-tracking the development of the Niger Delta region. Along this line, they agreed to revisit and review the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan, which expired in 2020, to provide sustainable focus for the region.
They further resolved: “That the NDDC in its determination to take the region to greater heights shall engage in Public Private partnership arrangements with State Governments, International Oil Companies (IOCs) as well as International Donor Agencies with a view to executing mega projects for the region.”
To truly make a difference, the management adopted new methods to effectively drive sustainable development in the region. Thus, it decided to espouse the Public Private Partnership, PPP, model to provide alternative sources of funding for key development projects and programmes.
Consequently, a Management Committee on Public Private Partnership was constituted by the NDDC on January 18, 2023. The Commission observed that the only outstanding partnership it has entered into since inception was with respect to the construction of the Ogbia-Nembe Road. The 27-kilometre road, which connects 14 different communities of Bayelsa State, was constructed in partnership with Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC.
That multi-billion flagship project illustrates the kind of challenges confronting the Niger Delta. It cuts through the mangrove swamps with many bridges and 99 culverts.
To further explore the possibilities presented by a PPP model, the Commission organised a PPP summit in Lagos on April 25. At the Summit, with the theme: “Rewind to Rebirth,” the Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, with a United States-based firm, Atlanta Global Resources Inc., AGRI to build a railway network that will connect the nine states of the Niger Delta region.
The NDDC management had previously engaged the Nigerian National Petroleum Company, NNPC, Limited to propose a partnership for speedy development of the Niger Delta.
The Group Managing Director of NNPC Limited, Mr. Mele Kyari, agreed to co-fund some of NDDC’s projects tailored towards infrastructural development of the Niger Delta region. The partnership overture to the NNPC came on the heels of similar moves to get the hands of the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited.
Again, the Commission engaged the members of the Oil Producers Trade Section, OPTS, of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry during their recent meeting in Lagos. According to Ogbuku, the management “recognizes that the OPTS, which embodies the IOCs, is a critical stakeholder of the NDDC, that is second only to the people of the region.”
Obviously, the NDDC alone cannot handle the task of developing the Niger Delta region. The Commission needs the support of all stakeholders to achieve the goal of developing the region. NDDC funds alone cannot fully develop the region. It needs the partnership of IOCs to achieve this.
Apparently, this prompted the management to step up the collaboration with various stakeholders, including the state governments to end the era of duplication of projects and promote harmony.
The NDDC boss noted that it was important to enhance collaboration between state governors, the NDDC, and other critical stakeholders to drive development through the monitoring and execution of regional projects.
Interestingly, steps are already being taken to strengthen the relationship between the Commission and the State Governments of the Niger Delta, to make them partners and not competitors.
These engagements have improved the visibility and broadened the scope of NDDC’s partnerships. In recognition of this fact, Ogbuku said that “stakeholders’ engagements were critical to the commission’s effectiveness. “We have, therefore, met with the civil society groups, traditional rulers and community leaders.
The traditional institution, being a highly revered group, was given due attention. Thus, the management visited the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse III, in his palace in Warri, Delta State and the Amanyanabo of Okochiri, King Ateke Michael Tom in his palace in Okochiri, Okrika Local Government Area
To consolidate on the engagements, the management inaugurated a 2024 Budget Committee to interface with stakeholders in the budget process. The committee was charged with identifying the vision of the NDDC as an interventionist agency in order to prioritise the allocation of available resources.
Ogbuku assured that the Commission would produce a budget that would capture the present realities in the region, insisting that the document must have a clear vision. “This way, in implementing the it, there will be proper guidelines and it will not be distorted when it gets to the National Assembly. To achieve this, the NDDC must have a stakeholder’s conference to reach an agreement,” he said.
The NDDC boss maintained that the 2024 NDDC budget will be an inclusive budget that largely accommodates the interests of stakeholders in the Niger Delta region.
He said: “Stakeholders will have an opportunity to tell the NDDC the kind of projects they want in their areas of operations, so that they can be included in the budget. That is the plan for the NDDC budget for 2024. Henceforth, NDDC will capture every stakeholder in its budget; state governments, the IOCs, traditional institutions, everybody should be included in it. It will be an all-inclusive budget of the people of the Niger Delta.”
However, before coming up with the all-inclusive 2024 budget, the Commission had to deal with what the Managing Director described as a dysfunctional situation. “We met a situation where the Commission had no approved budget for 2021 and 2022.” Thankfully, the budgets for the two years, as well as that of 2023 have now been passed by the National Assembly.
With the budget in place, more projects and programmes will begin to roll out. In the light of this, the new concept developed by the Commission to work with the Niger Delta Chamber of Commerce in the training of youths and young entrepreneurs in the Niger Delta region, has every reason to succeed.
The plan, according to the NDDC boss, was to collaborate with the Niger Delta Chamber of Commerce to support Small and Medium Enterprises in the Niger Delta region.
He said: “For the new scheme to be successful, it will revolve around a Niger Delta Chamber of Commerce that will strengthen young entrepreneurs in the region. The goal is to stop a situation where youths will be at home and be receiving stipends. Hence, the Commission is changing its Youth Volunteer programme to Youth Internship Programme where youths will be attached to organisations for one year to learn skills.”
In the area of education, the NDDC under Ogbuku interacted with Vice Chancellors of four universities in the Niger Delta region and the dominant issue on the table was how to begin partnerships that will encourage research to help in finding solutions to some of the problems bedevilling the society.
Ogbuku said that partnering with universities in academic research will make it possible to produce life-saving vaccines, as well as finding lasting solutions for medical and social problems.
The Management also held a meeting with contractors working for the Commission and called for cooperation from them to resolve issues around the burgeoning debt profile of the Commission.
To find a solution, the NDDC leadership says it is willing to accept solutions that will lead to the reduction of the Commission’s debt profile.
As part of the measures taken to address the challenges posed by a huge debt profile, the Commission started reviewing all disilting contracts before payments were made.
Today, the NDDC has sufficiently watered the grounds for public, private partnerships to flourish alongside contributions from stakeholders to bring about economic prosperity, as well as ensure social and political stability in the Niger Delta region.
According to Ogbuku, the NDDC is assuming its rightful position as a vehicle to drive the socio-economic development of Nigeria’s oil-rich region.
WEEKEND DIGEST ON ANAMBRA TAX MATTERS: Focus on new Vehicle Card License System for Anambra State
In a digital economy, there is potential to enhance productivity, increase income and improve social well-being by creating job opportunities in new markets, as well as boosting employment in some existing occupations. Key benefits of the digital economy include the expansion of business opportunities, the creation of new employment opportunities, the enhancement of public service, etc.
Two days ago, the Anambra State Internal Revenue Service (AiRS) through the State Motor Registry held a meeting with stakeholders in the Transport Sector comprising the Operation Clean and Healthy Anambra (OCHA) Brigade, Federal Road Safety Corps, Representatives of DSS, State Police Command, Civil Defense, etc. The essence of the meeting was to introduce to the Stakeholders the new Vehicle Card License System being proposed by the Anambra State Government. The meeting took place at the Training Hall of the Revenue House, Awka.
The new Vehicle Card License system will replace the former paper documents and will help the State government and the vehicle owners checkmate the activities of illegal revenue operators who issue fake vehicle documents to unsuspecting motor vehicle owners. The new Vehicle Card License will be accompanied by a sticker.
The card has unique security features such as a QR code embedded in it that brings out the particulars and information about the vehicle and the owner when scanned. The QR code will enable the easy authentication of the card as all particulars of the vehicle are contained in this unique card.
The card which is green and white is unique to Anambra State.
Effective take-off of the new Vehicle Card License system in Anambra State is Monday, May 22, 2023.
In the case of loss, the card can be replaced if the owner reported the loss to the management. The card is free of cost.
This is a new project that will ease problems associated with the manual system of registering vehicles in Anambra State. We all should accept it, support it and benefit from it.
• Sylvia Tochukwu-Ngige is Head, Taxpayer Education, and Enlightenment Team, AiRS
The Mathematical Ozekhome
By Sam Otuonye
“Consequently, as regards this raging ruckus and scrimmage as to whether the 25% votes required by S.134 (2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is applicable to the FCT, Abuja, I have now decided to navigate further, some uncharted routes, by going mathematical to find X.” (Mike Ozekhome).
The legal silk, Prof. Mike Ozekhome (SAN), went beyond borders and treaded where many students, graduates, and even teachers, dread. Mathematics is in enemity with many students, particularly, Law and Humanities. Prior to the new University admission requirement of a credit in English Language and Mathematics across all courses, Mathematics was not a compulsory subject for applicants of Law and Humanities. If you were not good at mathematics you definitely did not have any bearing with Science and Business courses. You are automatically consigned to Arts and Law. But, a case of exception must be made here; as not all Law and Arts students were weaklings in mathematics. Few that knew mathematics still chose those courses for the love they had for them – Ozekhome may be one of those in this category.
According to Albert Einstein, “Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.” Prof. Ozekhome brought pure mathematics to bear on the 25% FCT status dilemma, with lucid logical ideas that elevated reasonable man test and left no discerning person in doubt as to its nitty-gritty. He deployed the mathematical anatomy of BODMAS (Bracket, Of, Division, Multiplication, Addition and Subtraction) to plot the legal cum logical graph of his perspective on the subject matter. He was responding to a piece written by a Lawyer, Dr. Kayode Ajulo, on the raging controversial constitutional interpretation of the 25% votes requirement in the FCT, Abuja, in the February 25, 2023 Presidential Election.
While many legal luminaries have argued that FCT should not attract special attention as regards the 25% votes spread; for electoral convenience, I guess, Prof. Ozekhome insists otherwise. He argued: “Had the law makers intended that the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, will be treated simply as a “State” and no more in section 134(2)(b) of the Constitution, they would have simply stopped there. There was no need to specifically add the new phrase “AND the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja”, as in section 134(2)(b). The Constitution would simply have provided for “two-thirds of all the States in the Federation”, and stopped there. But, it did not.” He supported his argument with diverse law reports and courts judgments.
This piece is not intended to join issues with the legal gurus and their arguments, as yours truly, is not a lawyer, but to highlight the assiduous essence of academic and professional excellence – studying to show yourself approved. The Holy Book asserted in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needed not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Apostle Paul was admonishing Timothy to employ diligence and accuracy in his work for God. Many professionals find it difficult to go beyond their normal peripheral professional routine. They are not in-touch with the axiomatic expressions of ‘out-of-the-box’, ‘going beyond borders’, ‘breaking limits’, etc. They have remained static, stationary and sedentary over their years of professional practice and career. Across all professions, there seems to be a striking redundancy in research and development. And this scenario erodes our value as a people, because you cannot develop beyond what you know.
In his expose, titled; “Finding the BODMAS X in the Mathematics of 25% of the FCT, Abuja”, Prof. Ozekhome said; “My deep research has just thrown up a judgment where the court was called upon to interpret and translate 1.00 to percentage. The Honourable Justice Nelson Ogbuanya of National Industrial Court, in resolving the mathematical legal question, held that “1.00 of an amount means one whole number and not a fraction; and when converted to percentage, it means 100% and not 1%.” This shows that he went beyond the ordinary to exhume evidential proofs. Daniel said in the Holy Book (Daniel 9:2)”In the first year of his reign (referring to Darius) I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in desolations of Jerusalem.” Professional and academic excellence is: Study and Research. Simple!
When Ozekhome said, “Mercifully, I am very proud to announce to Ajulo and others that going by my well known antecedents which are self-evident (simply google me), I do not belong to such a lowly class of ego-masseurs. I am certainly not one of those cheap obsequious fawners, brown-nosers, or toady characters that hang around political merchants and buccaneers of corridors of power”; was he exhibiting pride, haughtiness and bravado? I do not think so. He is simply a man that has shown himself approved. And, who can lower his shoulders!
It takes resilience, consistency, hard work and doggedness to achieve outstanding feats. From the authority he asserted in his write-up, it does not appear to me that he hired a Number Expert to distil the figures and formular for him. He seems to be one of those students that mathematics did not intimidate. He wrote; “But, the variables must, nonetheless be ascertained before proceeding to conclude or ascribe a fixed figure in a given arithmetical equation. It is this inability to ascertain the variable figure that usually makes some students afraid of, and intimidated by, mathematics.”
He was indeed charitable by his choice of words, “… some students…” The fact is that many students hated mathematics perfectly well. Those days in Secondary School, mathematics class used to be scanty as most Arts students disappeared into other classes holding English, Literature, Government, etc. They used to evade mathematics class with swagger, oblivious of thefact that no knowledge is a waste. One of the definitions of ‘Education’ which interests me most is that which says that,Education is knowing bits of everything but more of one to earn a living. Mathematics is central to every profession and career no matter how little. Those in the Arts (like Ozekhome) that refused to run away from it but learned a bit of it are harvesting and harnessing the benefits today. They are showing themselves approved of their workmanship more than most of their colleagues. And there is nothing anybody can do about it.
Nigeria is known for brandishing certificates, both genuine, fake and bought, even as our academic value is continually being eroded, particularly in the public schools –primary, secondary and tertiary. The public sector places certificates above competence and capacity. That does not suggest that certificates are to be discouraged, but it must add corresponding competenceand capacity value. Most of the job recruitments in government circles are done without proper interviews. They do not constitute strong interview panels and Human Resources Consultants to screen the applicants. They draw the recruits/employees from the legislative, executive, judiciary, political appointees, ethnic, and nepotistic lists. Sometimes, the jobs are sold for personal gains or as official revenue generation.So many civil and public servants do not even understand the fundamentals of the jobs they are doing. Even, some of the applicants (who are graduates) cannot write the application letter for the job they seek to do. So sad!
Our dear country, Nigeria, must shift away from this odious narrative and embrace the global best practices in education and skill acquisition. Research and Development (R&D) must be given a place of priority in our Education System, with cutting-edge facilities and technological infrastructure. And, for the Constitutional legal legend; Chief, Prof. Mike A.A. Ozekhome, SAN, CON, OFR, FCIArb, LLM, PhD, LLD, D.Litt, I join the knowledge-seeking people of Nigeria and the world over, to salute your erudition.
• Otuonye, writes from Enugu email@example.com
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