First Gentleman with Wilson Orhiunu
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It could have turned out differently. If Dr Spencer Johnson had been a Yoruba man his 1998 business book would have been named Who Moved My Amala?
This medical doctor turned author decided to go with cheese as a metaphor in his business fable and it proved to be a success. Who Moved My Cheese? was a big money maker for him.
Amala, cheese, garri or even ukodo, whatever is it, we all like a constant supply of the thing that nourishes us but unfortunately that thing gets moved away sometimes by circumstances beyond or within our control. Nothing lasts forever.
In his book, Dr Johnson suggests that we anticipate the loss of that steady stream of garri and be ready to seek out new sources of garri even during periods when the flow of garri is astronomical.
Change is that great certainty in life and we must all accept the change. He also admonishes that while enjoying the supply of cheese or garri, that one must be watchful to notice even a slight drop in the flow for this could be a signal of worse things to come (shine ya eye principle).
These ideas work very well with adults but not with children.
Children born into low standards in Nigeria today have mediocrity as their norm having no past experiences for comparison. They also lack the resources to adapt. I particularly have education and subsequent employment in mind.
The seventies was a time in Nigeria when the garri practically fell out of the skies and even lazy workers built houses and drove cars.
Children from poor families could attend quality government-run primary and secondary schools and look forward to a subsidised university education. Bursaries were also thrown in to help with upkeep on campus.
Upon graduation, it was customary to go abroad in search of the Golden Fleece or to stay back home and slot into a job.
A car and quality housing were taken for granted among university graduates. While in primary school, I saw older people on my street including my senior brother slot into this Nigerian Dream hence that was the destiny I saw for myself.
Things have changed and someone has moved the destiny of the Nigerian youth.
The leaders of tomorrow should be in training now. There are ten million Nigerian kids out of primary school education as you read. I cannot view such uneducated kids as the leaders of tomorrow. If the educated of tomorrow will struggle for employment with Artificial Intelligence being the main competition for jobs. The uneducated banking on that lifesaving job of driver may be in for a rude shock when Nigerian roads suddenly become world class (or at least new Africa class) and driverless cars flood the market.
These ten million kids out of school have no destiny. Their collective destinies lie in foreign bank accounts doing nothing but propping up foreign economies.
I attended a private nursery and primary school paid for by my father’s sweat and he in turn had travelled to the UK before I was born to obtain his education via the tough route of sweat and toil. But we were the lucky ones.
Many fathers sweat and toil under today’s Nigerian economy and are struggling to provide for their families. The education of a nation cannot be left to these struggling fathers who are too busy looking for bread to place on the table and have no thoughts for making sure their children can code like they do in India and China.
It is the government’s job to make sure that all the children in Nigeria can read, write and code. Without that, they have zero- destiny and will all transform into the robbers of tomorrow.
The private sector in Nigeria has moved in and is doing a marvellous job in the education sector. They, however, have a limited capacity. It takes the government to educate millions of children. New schools and new teachers are needed in addition to refurbishing the existing ones.
Not everyone can go to university but vocational training needs to be rolled out nationwide.
I am currently researching and writing about the four schools I attended in Nigeria. While some schools have maintained the high standards of the past, some have fallen far behind.
Those who experienced things when they were good should step up to the plate and put their money where their mouths are. People who have seen the ‘former glory’ should work hard to bring it back. You can only bring back what you had previously.
I am proud of the work the old boys of St Finbarr’s College have been doing to support our secondary school in Akoka. Today’s students never met the late Father Slattery our visionary founder but the old boys can and do pass on what they learnt directly from him to the current students.
Alumni associations of Nigerian Universities are spread across the world and we all meet from time to time. The question is how many of us with all our fond memories of the good old days’ would send our kids to these same universities today if we had other options.
We all know what Nigerian leaders believe about the education of their own children. Send them abroad is their universal policy, and with good reason. They know first-hand what they have invested in the Nigerian education ecosystem.