By Erasmus Ikhide

GOOD education is the best legacy any parent, guardian or government

can bequeath to the next generation and young ones. The reason why the

late Sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo is still revered thirty-four years

after his demise is because of the free primary school education he

introduced in 1955 when he was the Premier of the Western Region.

Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe who went through hell and high water in getting an

American education established the University of Nigeria Nsukka with

the motto ‘To restore the dignity of man.’ It was the good education

that Chief Anthony Eromosele Enahoro received from Kings College Lagos

without a university education that made Azikiwe appoint him as the

Editor of the Southern Nigeria Defender in Ibadan at the age of 21 –

the youngest ever editor in the country.

It is tragic that education has been thrown to the dogs under the ill

fated administration of Governor Godwin Obaseki who doesn’t give a

hoot about the extremely poor state of education in the state. Edo

State has Edo College which produced many illustrious sons in the

state but which is now a shadow of its former self due to criminal

government neglect. How many of its alumnus would gladly send their

children or wards to the school that ironically made them who they

were today?

The level of youth unemployment is extremely high. The National Bureau

of Statistics puts it at about 33%. A way to tackle this societal

malaise is to re-introduce vocational and technical education which

was abandoned when the nation was awash with petro dollars. Igarra

Technical College, Afuze Technical College, Uromi Technical College

and Government Science and Technical College (GSTC) have been left to

rot without any critical governmental intervention.

The level of unemployment is extremely high in Edo State due to the

fact that the state is largely a Civil Service State. Edo State with

its large land mass has what it takes to be a heavily industrialized

and agricultural driven economy. Sadly, over the last four years the

Governor has shutdown all the Colleges in the state in the name of

renovation, including College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi which ought

to be at the vanguard of agro-preneurial training and production.

Governance has been absent since his swearing in last one year and he

is just naming his cabinet after over a year of his winning his second

term.

Despite his acclaimed robust private sector experience which saw him

establishing a Securities Dealing Firm – Afrinvest, he has failed in

innumerable ways to industrialize the state. Imagine if many

industries were functional in the state, it will lead to the

concomitant high demand for highly skilled technical labour as their

services will be needed to effectively run these industries and

factories! It is bad enough that these schools have been left to rot,

it is worse that even the few that manage to survive the rigours of an

education there have no jobs to look forward to due to a visionless

and rudderless leadership that is ideas bankrupt.

The state of many of the government owned primary and secondary

schools leaves much to be desired. The schools lack good toilet

facilities, fields for sports, high population in the classroom, few

teachers. The students study under the most excruciating conditions

not even befitting for animals.

We currently live in a globalized world where the world is now flat

according to prominent American Economist, Thomas Friedman whose New

York Times bestselling book ‘The World is Flat’ exposes the reality of

globalization and how your nearest competitor could be someone

millions of miles away. The covid 19 pandemic which changed the world

of work to remote working is a lesson for our political leaders to

adequately prepare the young minds for a fast changing world of work.

This is an era where secondary school students in former war torn

Rwanda learn about the use of drones. Yet, the students in Edo don’t

learn with computers. How will they be able to compete in the future

against their peers from all over the world? What sort of future is

the Edo State Government under Obaseki preparing the children for?

Despite the dictatorship of Cuba’s Fidel Castro which spanned over

four decades amidst many assassination attempts and embargo by the

United States after he defeated the US backed Cuban forces in the Bay

of Pigs Invasion, his greatest legacy was his sturdy investment in

education. He ensured that medical doctors in the country got the best

training and created a system whereby they are exported to the rest of

the world. Today, the exportation of medical doctors from there is

their largest revenue earner dwarfing sugar which was their previous

economic mainstay. Cuban doctors helped Italy effectively tackle Covid

19 which badly hit them.

Crude Oil exports will be irrelevant anytime from now. Smart leaders

are preparing their citizens to be relevant in a knowledge driven

economy. The legendary Lee Kuan Yew prepared Singaporeans for this

reality as he moved them from being a third world into a first world

nation in less than three decades. Saudi Arabia has already saved up

over two trillion dollars to be managed by Global Consulting Giant,

Mckinsey in their preparation for a post oil economy. The UK has said

that by 2030 they will completely phase out fossil fuel run cars in

favour of electric cars. Imperial College has scrapped the Masters

Degree Program in Petroleum Engineering because of the irrelevance of

crude oil in the nearest future. What is Obaseki doing about this new

trend? How is he preparing Edolites sons and daughters to compete in

the knowledge economy that our curriculum is ill prepared to address?

What are his educational legacies as he will be out of office in less

than 38 Months time?

It is sad that Edolites have the stereotype of prostitution as the bad

policies of the leadership have pushed many of its young, pretty girls

to prostitution abroad especially in Italy. A good education will

equip these emotionally battered and financially emasculated ladies to

a life of financial independence where they will be able to live their

life solely on their own terms and not being dependent on male beasts

for their sustenance.

The Edo State House of Assembly is supposed to question him on the

sorry state of education there but alas it is yet to be fully

inaugurated since last year which has now transformed him into a full

blown dictator.

We call on the Civil Society and Public Spirited Individuals to mount

pressure on this Pharoah of a leader to do the needful and rescue Edo

State education from the mire and ensure that our students who will

take up the mantle of leadership someday are well prepared for this

challenge which will prevent them from perpetually playing the second

fiddle both in their country and in the Diaspora.

Erasmus Ikhide contributes this piece via: ikhideerasmus@gmail.com

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