Let me officially welcome the President back to the country. Truly, the return of the President has upheld the assertion that there is nothing without an end. So, for the first time, the inconclusive state of health of Muhammadu Buhari has now come to an end. Once again, Mr President, you are welcome.
However, some basic truths were revealed and what seemed to be hidden from ordinary citizens of the land were brought to light. For the fact that the President himself said “he had never been as sick as this” depicts the hale and hearty crusaders as blatant liars and were being economical with the truth. Maybe, they did it in the Nigerian way- hiding the true nature of an event to prevent the evil eyes of the enemy. Thank God, the President is back to rest further and in the few weeks, may undertake some other tests.
But to be sincere, while the President was discussing with some governors, government officials and party chieftains that welcomed him back into the country confessed that he was on a pilgrimage- he spoke of the different ways things are being done over there. UK was depicted as a paradise; the President talked as if he had never been there, he increased the quest of many of us to be there. He unconsciously talked of the superior ways and methods things are being done in the other world.
The fact is that the old man only echoed the obvious truth! Our society is riddled with undefined and unrefined problems created by both the leaders and followers alike. The followers administered drugs on their own and at will while the leaders fail to provide better healthcare system; the leaders do not provide good educational structure for the nations while the few followers made to oversee the ill-structure only contribute to its dilapidated state; the government seem not to be concerned about technology, inventions and scientific discoveries while the masses also destroy the few technological afterthoughts spread to our land by the colonialists. During the pilgrimage, for the first time may be, our President lamented on the state of things here and rendered accolades to the government of the other land.
Basically, after every major pilgrimage, there is bound to be a turning point in the life of the sojourner. Many of us eagerly await the resumption of the President. We want him to give us the replica of what is attained there here too. Our own country is not an accursed one and we cannot spend centuries adoring the beauties of other men when we have same opportunity than they, if not more. Our lifetime cannot be moulded after another’s when we can be emulated too. We cannot be used as life experiments at all times when we can live longer than the laboratory attendant. The President had three confessions: health, technology and education.
What a perfect trio! The excursion or pilgrimage of Mr President was with close observation. He observed things
critically and accepted the humbling truth on the sick bed- the period of sickness is always known for reflective thinking. First on health, I want Mr President to know that the people only resorted to self-medication because the government did not provide a viable and enviable structure for them. The hospitals are not available; the doctors are not qualified, no equipment to train and practice, the dilapidated ones are never renovated, yet, billions are expended yearly on this Ministry. Over there, hands are available to save death while here at home, they are only on ground for safe death, that is the irony of our situation! It’s time the needful is done in the health sector. We must in our land too. May be, the President never wanted to say the unimaginable would have happened if he had stayed back at home to get treatment. There are more than enough human resources at our disposal for the development of all sectors, but humane policies are lacking to make them work.
The technological apparatus used on Mr President also amazed him. He admitted that things are changing rapidly, that today’s world is different from their own world. Sadly, however, Nigeria is nowhere to be found in the comity of technologically-developed nations. My country still imports pencils; objects being used as a minor project for pupils in some countries; we hope not to import toothpicks again by 2018. We only harbour missionless visions! We are best at consumption of both the good and the goods!
Now, to the main thrust of the piece, education! Mr President while speaking with public office holders and party chieftains of the APC, he lamented on education. He explained this while drawing comparison between the Vice President and himself. He described the VP with youthfulness and intellect and qualified himself with age and military experience. The President said “we will do more on education.” Truly, we are disadvantaged when it comes to meaningful existence because the leaders of the nation have the same blood of keeping the people below their peers from other nations run in their vein.
Our schools are known for annual festivals of industrial actions. People in the academia now have to play politics in order to get appointment within and outside their various institutions. Meaningless political permutation that cuts across every sector is killing our nation; it deprives us of development in all realms. Mr President, thank goodness that you know the government has been doing less on education. If the common saying that ‘if you don’t discover, you cannot recover’ still stands, then, we are on our way to recovery after Mr President himself has discovered!
UNESCO recommends that at least 26% budgetary allocation should be given to education by developing countries, lo and behold, we’ve failed woefully on this. Just this year, the administration allocated a paltry N448.01 billion to education out of a total of N7.30 trillion presented before the National Assembly. This amounts to only 6% of the total budget, yet, we are craving for change. Until education is prioritised in the land, every other sector will produce dwindling results. As witnessed at the Federal level, the situation is not different at state levels too. In fact, some high schools are under lock in some states now, then, how do we move forward? How do we do more? The paltry allocation given to is heavily weakened by corruption starting from the Ministry to the lowest level. The fact that EFCC arraigns some heads and former heads of Nigeria’s higher institutions shows that we are not yet ready to do more positively. For the fact that Mr President echoed the word ‘education’ thrice connotes that without education as the backbone of a society, the other two issues mentioned- health and technology- would remain in a shambolic state.
Let me conclude with the words of Beautiful Nubia (Segun Akinlolu), that “They say we are free and colonisation is a thing of the past, but look around you people, time is going by and we still can’t get it right. Our home is the home of poverty and disease and we are treated like second class citizens of the world. Our leaders are going about seeking for help when the solutions are here right with us at home…” I hope that someday, we look inward and stop the wanton pilgrimages to activate the solutions staring at us here at home. There is nothing different anywhere, only that people do things differently.
OKE, Babawale Simon is a graduate of the Department of English, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.