Thursday, 2 July 2015

El-Rufai, Education and Ramadan Iftar things (conclusion)



El-Rufai, Education and Ramadan Iftar things (conclusion)
The twenty-first century is a century of knowledge. It is so far a century in which information doubles every other year, and, at the pace things are going now, it will even be more than it is now in a few years. The society that is able to get its people sufficiently equipped to cope with this deluge of information and knowledge, by being able to process and profitably deploying them, is the one that can be said to be fit to compete, and if it does well, be a leader and an economic power house.

So far, leadership in Kaduna State, and the nation at large, has mostly been about grabbing creature acquisitions and most of the people at the helm have only been too happy to give the masses anything to distract them and opiate them into not paying attention to what government should be doing. That way they, the leadership class, will continue unabatedly in their ravaging and plundering of the commonwealth. Yes indeed, some of the political leaders we have had have literally fed our energetic youths with drugs and other harmful substances in their quest to hold on to power and access to the commonwealth: it was an expedient strategy and they stopped at nothing to deploy it. Any wonder, then, the rate of drug and substance abuse among youths in northern Nigeria?
In some instances, that expediency demanded that they sponsored pilgrimages and shared foodstuff during Ramadan and other periods of religious festivity; it also demanded that they spent state resources to wed divorcees so as to appear to care about the spiritual lives of the people they were leading. But the truth of their actions lay in the crypts of their sinister minds. Those policies were as good as the drugs they supplied the northern youths even to the grave in order to tighten their hold on power. Alas, Karl Marx was true on this one: religion is the opium of the masses.
It is however refreshing and heartwarming that El-Rufai, again, has seen the lie and moral injustice, and even the sin, in that status quo and, thus, decided to make a clean break to the point of putting his political future on the line. It is also exhilarating that he has identified, as a cardinal thrust of his government, the development of the immense human capital in Kaduna state through education instead of, say, the exploration and exploitation of the huge deposits of the many solid minerals in the state.
Let me digress here to refer to the clamour for solid minerals and even oil by northerners that has been on since some two or three years ago, in response to the persistent posturing of Niger-deltans regarding “their” oil. I did a piece to that effect in November 2013, entitled “Oil and Gas Exploration in Northern Nigeria: Playing with Fire”, in which I argued that “for a people to want to build an economic base on natural resources in the 21st century, which is an age of knowledge, is nothing short of a tragedy. It is even more so when one considers the story of Nigeria and oil – the Niger-Delta, particularly – in the last fifty or so odd years. It has been a story of tears and blood. There is nowhere in the global south that petroleum, and any other natural resource for that matter, has been explored and exploited that such activities have not left tears and blood in their trail. They have always served to fuel wars and more wars.” The piece may be found in the online archives of this paper or on my blog, www.zwahus-cathartics.blogspot.com.
Indeed the northern Nigeria and her leadership have got to think smart and, like Chief Obafemi Awolowo did in his day, Governor El-rufai has blazed the trail in Kaduna State. In his inaugural speech on may 29, 2015, education featured most prominently: “Without education I will not be standing before you today,” he said, “a poor boy from a hardscrabble village who lost his father at a young age but who nevertheless got the opportunity of a decent education, which took me from a village school to Barewa College to Ahmadu Bello University and ultimately to Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the United States of America. That educational journey prepared me for this day.” He went on to add that “I cannot emphasize this point enough, especially to all our children from however poor a home and however distant a village… no matter the inevitable mistakes that we make from the decisions that we take, I promise you today that I will work myself to the bone in the service of our children.”
The governor ended his speech by saying that “the fate of Kaduna is in our hands. The future of our children depends on our toil… Four years from now, by the grace of God and the active support of you all, we will all be able to say that the leaders in whose care you have placed your affairs today have given their all for the brighter future that we all seek.”
Is it too much for northern Nigeria as a whole to, for the future of their children, give up these ephemeral political gratifications and opium wrapped in religion?
 


BLUEPRINT Newspaper; Thur July 2, 2015; p2

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