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culture/tradition education lifestyle Nigeria opinion reflection thoughts

Opinion: Leadership Woes

Admitting imperfections are great ways to becoming a better person, people and leaders.

City of Talents and Resilient people

I was born and raised in Ogbor hill, a suburb of Aba, a city in Southern Nigeria. Aba is known for its industry and export of labour to many Nigerian cities and overseas. The city is full of talents and all manner of craftsmen and women live in it. As a manufacturing town, traders and private businesses such as leather works, pottery, brick, electronics, food processing, plastics, metal, cosmetics, distilleries, and fabric call the city home. Most of these factories are owned by private residents. Many foreigners also trade in the city’s large markets and the enterprising spirit in Aba can be likened to none in Nigeria. The city itself is a big market. Aba youth is highly skilled. It’s common to see graduates turn to business as means of livelihood. This enterprising spirit led many to pick up different skills and develop talents to fit in with Aba’s resilient business environment.

Little is done to encourage the budding enterprise which has been in the city for decades. Yet Aba can contribute to Nigeria’s economic growth if her potentials are well harnessed.

Sadly I remember dead startups and factories and even more on their way to moribundity.

Leadership woes

Like most African cities, government neglect is common. Lack of proper economic planning and public infrastructure kept the city running in circles. With no visible economic plan on ground, Aba records low growth and decline in economic activities each year. In civilized economies, a city that shows promising private ventures involved in wealth creation and industrialization is aided by the government. When government steps in, it should be to create an enabling business environment. But this is not always so. There are key areas to focus on should the government decide to fix Aba’s unique economic landscape. First and foremost, good road network and stable electricity should be in place. Sadly, Aba’s road and drainage systems are in a state of limbo and contributes to road accidents recorded each year. In Aba electricity distribution is epileptic, or let me put it in milder words: not consistent. This push away investors and increases cost of production as businesses resort to generators for power.

The Way forward?

The two best ways to start government intervention is by bringing uninterrupted power supply and building good roads in Aba. This two can go a long way in encouraging businesses and startups. Providing clean water, markets, tax incentives and holidays, patronising local content will help too.

Not only will good road networks encourage inter state trading, it will enable access and more businesses to thrive in rural places where electricity is cheaper. If steady electricity is achieved, government can work to reduce the electricity rates paid by startups and businesses.

Despite years of government neglect, the city’s people had grown thick skin to negligence and the saying that life must find a way vividly applies to the city’s hustle and bustle. Aba will continue to live because it is a city made resilient and popular by her own people.

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Africa Africa, Poetry and Love education lifestyle Nature opinion

Modern Scramble for Africa

A Bitter Pill

What comes to your mind when you hear about Africa? Savages. Poverty. War ravaged. Disease. Uneducated? Let’s face it, Africa is what it is today because ‘the world’ contributed in keeping it so. We’re only poor by the world’s standard. This is a bitter pill.

Another Scramble for Africa?

The economic hustle and rivalry between the East and West is rooted in selfish interest and greedy conquest. Capitalism vs Communism. Colonialism. Imperialism. Gold-plated forms of modern slavery, with Africa almost at the middle of the tug of war. It’s unfolding to me that some nations are already on course for a second conquest of Africa. It’s easy to play on the gullible African mind. So we trust so easily. We corrupt easily too. The first recorded conquest began late 18th century, when European nations sat on a table to share Africa’s land, people and resources (Scramble for Africa). Not even an African was present to discuss his people’s future but many will play roles in keeping the roots of colonialism watered later. I’ll like to note that more nations has joined this hustle for Africa’s resources. Recently, African children and women in search of greener pastures travel abroad to work as laborers. Some end up in drug peddling and prostitution. Late 18th century saw the European slavers draw up agreements and maps that will enable them exploit Africa’s abundant resources. Now these countries in addition to new arrivals sabotage each other economically to achieve their aims. Every Greek gift; loan, grant and aid play a role in modern slavery. Foreign governments want African resources for themselves and this is not because they care for Africa. I follow trends concerning Africa. I see how Africans are treated abroad. Yet these countries are foremost in exploiting African people and resources. I’ve this to say to all modern slavers: Stay away from Africa.

Kafala System

Have you heard of the Kafala system? The concept is based on buying people to work in private homes abroad. I’ll tell you why I used buy. This idea originated from the Middle East and it’s backed by law. Normally a sponsor (family) pays local and foreign agents to recruit domestic workers (mostly females from Africa and Southern Asia) to work in their homes. On arrival most of these workers are converted to slaves. They are exploited and treated inhumanly by their sponsors.

Let’s look at what may qualify one as a modern slave: when physically abused for no reason, personal belongings like phones and travel documents seized, under fed, locked up in the house when others go out, raped and sexually abused, not allowed to sleep on a bed or couch, sometimes not paid as when due or at all, ignored when sick or just asked to take pain reliever for every kind of sickness, works from morning till night (with little or no rest) and not allowed to socialize. What will you call that? I made the list after my interaction with many victims of the Kafala slavery. Some who had the boldness to speak to me revealed that their mistresses value their dogs over them. Some countries have failed to make laws that protect the rights of domestic workers. This is shameful. Shame to anyone who treats another human as slave. We’re not free until every man is free. Now activists ask that Kafala be abolished. I’m in full support. Abolish Kafala now or make laws that will protect the rights of domestic workers. Abolish all forms of modern slavery now!

Modern slavery goes beyond this flawed Kafala system. Consider rich nations that control the resources of another. That’s modern slavery. When a country instigate chaos in another country. That’s modern slavery. When a country interferes in another’s election or economic decision. That’s modern slavery. Those points may not define slavery exactly but as far as there are elements of exploitation and lack of total freedom, it’s slavery to me.

The end

By now you might have noticed my obsession for Africa. It’s a beautiful place honestly. It’s only bedeviled by bad leadership. Bad leaders contribute to Africa’s suffering. Yet some are only corrupt because of foreign influence and interference. So I won’t blame all African leaders completely for Africa’s woes.

I’ll end with the words of Pocahontas: If you walk the footsteps of a stranger you’ll learn things you never knew you never knew. We’re only poor when measured by the world’s standard.

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Africa, Poetry and Love education opinion

Opinion: The 2020 World University Rankings

As children in the typical agrarian world of Northern Cross River State, Nigeria, it was the tradition for mothers to leave their young babies in the care of the older ones while the mothers went to distant farms. Across the day the older children grappled with the occasional frustrating cries of their baby-siblings, sometimes grappled with hunger and even with the sheer anxiety of being left alone at home to fend for their younger siblings without an adult. At the onset of evening hours mothers began trickling back from the farms. For the child whose mother had not arrived, it was a great moment of anxiety, of frustration and worry; and it was this situation that gave birth to the usual children’s short song, addressed to the beetle called “Whukpalib” in the Bette-Bendi lingo. The short song goes: “Whukpalib-eh, whukpalib, whukpalib-eh, whukpalib, everyone else is arriving [home], but my mother isn’t arriving!”

This was the song that leaped to my lips early this month as I flipped through the list of names in the 2020 world ranking of universities as released by the Centre for World University Rankings. My non-arriving mother in this case was, first, the name of any Nigerian university, and then the name of any African university. Three of the first four mothers to arrive were neighbours from South Africa: the University of Cape Coast at number 268; the University of KwaZulu-Natal being number 477; while the third neighbour was University of Johannesburg, which is the 706th on the list out of the 2000 universities recorded. The other African university is Cairo University, Egypt, which is the 558th on the list. The next neighbouring mother to arrive was Uganda’s Makere University, which was established in the same 1948 as Nigeria’s premier university, the University of Ibadan, by the British colonial government. Makere came up as the 923th best university in the world; yet, my real mother, the first Nigerian university to arrive, didn’t come up until I got to serial number 1,163, where I found our own great University of Ibadan. This places this best Nigerian university four times below the best in South Africa, University of Cape Coast. Down the list another Nigerian mother arrived at number 1,882, the University of Nigeria. This is only 118 universities away from the bottom of the list of 2000; and that ended the arrival of my Nigerian university mothers from distant farms.

Beyond the anxiety about seeing or not seeing the names of Nigerian universities coming up on the list, there were musings and reflections and some fun, too, around me as I went down the list. I was always pleased to find the names of some of the universities around the world that I’ve had some close career and professional involvements with, or have heard about, or whose histories I am familiar with, or in which I have some friends. For instance, my heart experienced glow when I saw the names of a few of the universities in New York which I’d visited as a Fulbright scholar. Similarly, I was excited to find on the list names from among the cluster of universities in India’s Tamil Nadu axis, whose doctoral candidates I have examined for over 15 years now. The Ghanaian age mate of Nigeria’s University of Ibadan, University of Ghana, Legon, whose campus I am reasonably familiar with, came up also a bit late at number 1,346. Even at this number, it turned up earlier than Kumasi’s Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, which surfaced at number 1,460. The arrival of certain four universities or so stirred up goose pimples all over me. They are Wuhan University (243), Wuhan University of Technology (555), Wuhan University of Science and Technology (1381) and Wuhan Institute of Technology (1494). Whenever a Wuhan name appeared, I thought of my nose mask and hand sanitizer as emblems of covid-19!

Malaysia’s Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (National University of Malaysia) has some special significance to me. I was at this great university in 2005 when the results of the world rankings of universities for that period were announced and Malaysia’s best universities shifted a little backward from where they had been in the preceding rankings. The reactions from Malaysians shocked me pleasantly. The daily newspapers were awash with queries and criticisms and anxiety by almost all Malaysians; and it looked like the citizens were going to ask for the sacking of the minister of education. I bought some of the papers just to show Nigerians what education meant to citizens of some other countries. But not many persons I gave the papers to saw anything striking in the fact that the entire citizenry were so concerned about the state of the nation’s universities. Also, it was at this university that I saw how much serious-minded governments cherish intellection as a necessary synergy between the gown and the town. Here was where I found directors from government ministries participating actively in the international conference and taking down notes most furiously and copiously to factor into the business of running government. And it was here, too, that I experienced the then-former Prime Minister (He is back as Prime Minister at over 90 years, though), Dr Mahathir Ibn Mohammed, presenting a keynote address on the nation’s language policy, and making vital intellectual contributions that define the boundary between the need to promote one’s mother tongue for use in the domestic domains, and the English language for global and international communication. Yet, Dr Mahathir Ibn Mohammed is a medical doctor by training.

As I went down the list, my mind also reflected on the Nigerian university system. Here is a nation whose University of Ibadan was rated among the best ten universities within the Commonwealth at a time Commonwealth nations looked down on the American university system, generally; but today Ibadan can only take a miserable 1,163th position among world universities. Here is a nation whose universities’ products Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu boasted proudly of as being responsible for the scientific and technological feats the Biafrans recorded during the unfortunate Civil War. Here is a nation whose children who have managed to find their way out of the country are excelling everywhere they find themselves in the world. Here is a nation whose products as teachers and researchers are making breakthroughs in all manner of human endeavours wherever the environment is education-friendlier. Here is the same nation forming a huge valley among the world’s universities today. And as I went down the list, images of some of our current gladiators in government flitted past my head. I could see the Honourable Minister of Labour seated, his beard of affluence in place, sipping a healthy cup of coffee or tea, a resting newspaper in front with just the labour-related stories asterisked for him as he thinks of what rough tackle to use in “defeating” the nation’s striking university lecturers. I can see the Honourable Minister of Finance, her venom whetted and ready to strike further at the university lecturers’ salaries. I can see her loyal subaltern, the Accountant-General, with his Director in charge of IPPIS, ready with a fresh punch at the lecturers’ lean earnings. And then as I continued down the list, my eyes stumbled on the image of the Honourable Minister of Education struggling against odds to explain the tragedy entailed in killing education. He looks strange and alone among his colleagues in his favourable posturing towards ASUU’s system-saving interventionist measures.

These images invoked severe pain in me as I looked at my great nation almost absent from the comity of world’s universities. Not that all Nigerians do not know the truth about ASUU’s struggles for the survival of public universities, two of which are the ones represented on this year’s rankings of world universities. Many Nigerians know and are truly sad about the situation. For instance, while we, the Nigerian lecturers, were deliberately starved during the Covid-19 total lockdown, my great friend, Kayode Komolafe of Thisday newspaper, strengthened me much. He assured me that when the history of this country will be written, ASUU will have a place of gold in the account as that is the only union that is sincerely fighting a lone battle for the survival of Nigeria’s universities. When he mentioned that ASUU is fighting a battle that all Nigerians ought to be fighting, I remembered my Malaysian and Ghanaian experiences. At independence in 1957, Ghanaians decided to insulate education from politics such that any government, military or civilian, that tampers with the nation’s education, faces the wrath of the entire citizenry, not just the actors in the education sector alone. Another great mind, Pastor Udeme Ukpong, used the story of the snake which bit repeatedly the hand that wanted to save it from a fire as an illustration of how Nigerians are destroying or biting incessantly the ASUU that is battling to save the nation’s education system. And who are these snakes? The government, which should take the glory for having a healthy system of education, the parents who should be happy that their children are being given a globally competitive education quality; and the students themselves, who should be appreciative of being properly baked for survival in a competitive world. The student body, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), especially under the successive treacherous and leadership of Yinka Gbadebo (under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan) and Bamidele Akpan (under the current administration of President Mohammadu Buhari) simply spent more time daring the lecturers to please the government than fighting for the improvement of the education sector.

Further, in a rather pensive, almost mournful tone, one of my most gracious and promising former students, who now resides in Britain, said to me, “Sir, we all know what ASUU is fighting for. The Union certainly wants the system to survive, but I doubt that the Union will achieve its goal because the British economy will be seriously and negatively affected if the Nigerian education system regains its good state of health. You need to know how much this country [Britain] makes every year from fees paid by Nigerian students; and the people here [in Britain], who control our governments back home would never allow any positive changes in the state of our education”. Not that this was new to me or to my colleagues; but the import of the statement is that it was coming from a non-ASUU member, a patriotic, altruistic and well informed Nigerian who told me she was still proud of her Nigerian university education background in spite of the lack of facilities and the strikes that had truncated her learning while here.

In sum, while the atmosphere in other countries must be charged now with robust discussions about how their countries fared in this year’s world ranking of universities, Nigerians, with only two out of the nation’s over 200 universities making the list at 1163 and 1882 respectively, are quiet and going about their businesses as if this nation is no longer a part of the world – or can only share the world’s woes such as in Covid-19. Still worse is the fact that while the rest of the world’s governments are either celebrating the enhanced positions of their universities in the rankings or working towards improvement in the education sector, the gladiators in the Nigerian government led by the ministers of labour and finance, and armed with the crude implement known as IPPIS (Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System), is busy plucking the few feathers that are left in the body of the bird called Nigerian University System through the current sacking of contract and visiting lecturers. Thus, like the racist former American White police officer, Derek Chauvin, who savagely pinned down the African American George Floyd to death late last month with his knee, the knee of the Nigerian government is on the neck of the Nigerian university system, and the system cannot now breathe given the sacking of lecturers on contract and visiting appointments, government’s dragging of feet over the renegotiation of its agreement with ASUU, government’s reluctance to pay the lecturers their long overdue earned academic allowances, government’s repeated reneging on the provision of fund for revitalization, and the now routine amputation of even their already paltry monthly deceptions called salaries. Strangely, however, the Nigerian students themselves, their parents and most of the Nigerian populace are either urging the government to press its knee harder on the neck of the lecturers or struggling to lend a knee to government’s murderous one already on the neck of the nation’s education system, while the advanced economies that have programmed the system to this death watch with satisfaction, their universities showing up very early in the list of any world rankings of universities. Meanwhile, the Nigerian nation remains represented in this year’s world rankings by only the University of Ibadan, which comes up at 1,163, and the University of Nigeria, which takes the 1,882th position out of the 2000 universities on the list.

– Professor Joseph A. Ushie

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Africa culture/tradition education Nigeria opinion reflection Series

Amnesty Int’l Letter: Children’s Day 2020

Dear Okechukwu,

I wish a happy Children’s Day to all the children in your life.

But as I write to you today, my heart goes out to all the children detained in Northeast Nigeria and caught up in endless violence at the hands of Boko Haram and the Nigerian military.

They were taken away from their families and had their childhood revoked – they were forced to become child soldiers and child wives, subjected to atrocious violence. They were detained unlawfully, often with adults, in grossly inhumane conditions. They were ill-treated and tortured.

And now, as they attempt to recover, hundreds of schools remain closed – 75% of children in Borno State are out of school.

We’re launching a report on the toll of Nigeria’s Northeast conflict on children today.

Nigeria must swiftly reverse its course and bring redress to children in the Northeast.

Kind wishes,
E. I.
Campaigner, Amnesty International Nigeria

***

I received this heart breaking email from Amnesty International Nigeria. As I read through, it dawned on me that there’s little or nothing to celebrate today. Bad leadership, political unrest, insurgency, religious crisis and poverty contributed to issues faced by children today. I always mention bad leadership because it is at the centre of it all.

It’s frightening when I look at reported cases of abuse (and what about unreported cases?) Children rights are abused on daily basis. Even as we celebrate their day, many will go to bed without food, many will never attend school in their lifetime, many may never have the chance to live (a normal life). What is really going on?

Start blogging today.

Is it not awful that in today’s civilized world which had conquered diseases, deserts and drought, that children rights are taken lightly? They have become main victims of forced labour, teenage pregnancy, sexual/physical abuse, trafficking, child soldiers etc. I hope that things change for good.

I dedicate the poem below to children, all over the world. I echo what many may never have the chance to ask for:

Give me books and a pen,
Promise me nothing but education
Teach me words or to count one to three
And I’ll paint the world for you to see

Today being Children’s Day, I wish that every child has access to quality education, that every child live in a world free of economic, religious, political, or sociocultural discrimination and finally that we all put children’s rights first and contribute towards their happiness, peace and progress.

Good night.

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Africa culture/tradition education folklore lifestyle Nature

Boss Vs Leader (Images)

Start a blog here.

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Africa lifestyle Nature Pastoral

Poverty and Covid-19

This image says it all. All they have in rural Africa are hope, prayers and faith. Most of our leaders are little more than puppeteers.

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Africa education lifestyle Nature

On Covid-19 Vaccines by West Indamakin

Author’s opinion, editted by oiroegbu.com

Today Africa is slapped with Covid-19 vaccine testing because of her over dependence on the West for solutions to every challenge faced by the continent. African leaders deny their countries modern medical infrastructure like hospitals and adequate resources to support professionals to attain desired results and match what health practitioners are doing in other countries. In times of ill health, African leaders travel outside for treatment. This shows that they don’t trust their health practitioners and facilities. What do we then expect from corrupt leaders? Our nurses and doctors who are underpaid and owed salaries practice with inadequate facilities. The next option for them will be to leave the country in search for greener pastures. Irony is that some of them still treat these corrupt leaders in hospitals abroad. Covid-19 has proved to our leaders that the toad does not run in noon in vain. Something must be pursuing it.

Our leaders had shamed us and we make it clear that Africans are not lab rats for testing vaccines. The Covid-19 vaccine should be tested where the virus is at large and/or the origin. We Africans are ready to comply after the vaccine test is successful elsewhere.

West Indamakin
Activist/Artist
Ghana

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Africa education lifestyle

When Leadership inspires

Leadership is a great responsibility. It’s in no way a small feat because it involves handling other people’s issues. For the public to trust anyone with power and authority such a person must have earned it through evident charisma and selfless character. A leader is open minded, available to lead the way, and be able to test the waters.

Consider this short video I pulled from the movie Gladiator and observe how the soldiers reacted when their General appeared. I noticed the increased morale as the General walked through the rank. His courage and confidence alone was an inspiration for his men. I was inspired by his charisma too. They won the war by the way.

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Africa education lifestyle Nature

Leadership and Nigeria’s Covid-19 situation

As of March 29, confirmed Covid-19 cases in Nigeria rose to 111 and counting. The sad reality is that African leaders are not doing enough to prevent the virus from spreading further. Also, the testing equipment and medical personnel is NOT enough should the disease escalate. Even so, some people doubt the existence of Covid-19. They say it’s a hoax and a political one for that. You see, Nigerians politicize everything. Erosions, landslides, flooding, natural disasters, poverty are politicized and attributed to governments or opposition. Everything is reduced to lame blame games. When much time and energy is channeled to blames, very little is achieved. This is what the government and her opposition do to each other and to the citizenry. The citizens, on the other hand fight (verbally and in extreme cases via violence) amongst themselves to support and show solidarity to their various factions. Private businesses take advantage of situations like this to profit themselves by involving in dubious businesses and increasing cost of goods. Some people go about spreading false info. I don’t know their gain. There’s so much going on the fast lane but Covid-19 is a reality and it’s spreading. Like I always say the African problem is one of leadership. This is typical to Nigeria, where most think like their leaders. If the head is bad, there’s no doubt that the body will be twice as bad.

When I read people’s Covid-19 theories on social media. I can say that some people’s sense of reasoning is beclouded by sentiments and selfishness which somehow boils down to politics. Dear African leaders, everything is not about politics. Instead of pointing fingers, I think this is the time to find measures for collective public health safety.

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Africa culture/tradition Nature

Thoughts on the State of Leadership in Africa

No one can fully explain why we – Africans, are so poor in the midst of plenty. I will try to explain why.

There’s a lot of greed and grief in African leadership. When leaders are greedy, citizens stagger in grief. We still don’t know how the dust hit us between the eyes. And while we search for answers, leaders were busy looting the public treasury.

There’s a lot of laughter even when things are wrong – when things fall apart. Top lawmakers forget justice. There are many nations where civil rights are bought and sold like bean cakes. Best jobs are offered on the bases of man know man, so they are reserved for relatives or friends. There’s a lot of paper in the streets. Unemployed CV’s are used by vendors to wrap popcorn, while the owners roam the streets thinking of how to earn a living. Unemployed people fall for their dark side, taking decisions which may lead to social vices like kidnapping, robbery, internet fraud, drug trafficking, prostitution and more.

There’s smiles and sorrow. Out the streets happy children enjoy a game of football and just by the corner a hungry pregnant mother sit begging. There’s an empty stomach crying herself to sleep, there’s an orphan sleeping under a bridge. When the sun set, the beautiful hills we enjoy her view disappear with the evening breeze. But there’s hope to see it the next day.

There’s pain in a mother’s cry. Many pregnant women give birth at home because they can’t afford medical bills. To travel on road is another catastrophe. Bad roads record more death than usual. Some law enforcement agents take bribe before seeking justice and they think it’s their right.

There’s sad parents and children broken by dying hope. Schools are becoming a circus. Public infrastructure lay in shambles. Clean water and electricity are sometimes a luxury. Citizens suffer in silence, many even die silently. Some governments are only interested in retaining power and their economy (money), at all cost. Many pensioners lay sick, years of gratuities unpaid and when they finally die, corrupt officials seize their funds. Teachers receive a month salary after eight months of work! Most are under-payed, they look shabby and may want to do some monkey business to survive.

There’s some hope though. Yet leaders are like citrus; oranges and limes. Some are sweet, others sour. Some give hope that turn to tears and some may give nothing but tears.

I still believe and dream of a beautiful land with beautifully minded youth leaders and followers. A people connected by tenets of peace, prosperity, equity, tolerance and progress.

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Lessons from Experiences

Dear Diary: State of Affairs

Dear Diary,

This is no poetry neither is it political, but a personal note, a soliloquy and thoughts that bother me.

I perceive corruption every day and it seems people are too timid to stand against it. Most are afraid of something. And I’m aware of this something. Maybe I’m a little afraid too, but I’m uncomfortable with it. I’m just worried for my beloved country.

Believe me when I say that the best jobs are reserved for the best. Whose best? The elite and their children of course, and their generations unborn! Someone may have the skills and education but may not secure a befitting job. For those who have the audacity to think out of the box, the environment and system suppress them with no support, no capital, no hope, with nothing. What will those diploma and degrees become, a decoration for the room? Why waste so much time in acquiring an education that may not be relevant to future personal growth? Should focus be on how to use education to find or create jobs or to remain in the status quo of learning to read and write and discover theoretically what biology and finance means?

It’s funny at times that this country has much mineral, human and arable resources but show little progress. A particular African country can boast of much oil wealth but rank as one of the poorest countries in the world; with high infant mortality rates, unemployment levels and poverty rates. There’s much poverty and suffering in the midst of wealth. To be honest, governments are incompetent and can’t manage these resources efficiently. The bottom line is that corruption has laid hands on public wealth and it will be a Herculean task to cut those hands off!

Youth empowerment is the order of the day. Governments, administrators and their representatives design all sorts of youth empowerment schemes. Somewhere below the Lower Niger a leader even donated wheelbarrows as empowerment tools for the youth and some people celebrated him. Wheelbarrow to graduates, what for? Okay let’s assume some youth may find a way to make good use of these but on which good roads will they ply on? I can’t imagine.

Public property is in disarray. Roads are death trap! Electricity is in shambles and I’ve to wait for days to use them, public water facilities are not functional. Health systems is bad. Educational institutions and agencies run on outdated curriculums and practices. Salaries and pensions for public workers owed for up to 2 years but levies and tax collection enforced as defaulters are quickly arrested and prosecuted. Justice is unjustified. Wait, can you imagine that when a government official pays salaries that people praise them? Why are they the government at the first instance? Who put them there? Why should we be grateful when they do a fraction of their jobs?

A friend said that the son of the poor will only know when the Army, Navy and other Armed Forces are recruiting but won’t know when Central Banks, Development Banks and other important Government agencies are recruiting. Very true! Recruitment is shabbily done. A job for 10 people is advertised, 20000 applies for it. Then the selection committee selects their own. Unemployment continues to be the song of the day. Worse, applicants go through rigorous processes and may have suffered so much stress and financial losses. At the end they likely will not get the job! Most recruitment drives are for formality sake.

Now on a serious note, why would some public and private firms set a recruitment age for youth especially in the finance sector? They say you mustn’t be above 27 years of age at time of application. I know age limits are set to reduce the number of applicants. But I strongly think that this is discrimination. Let everyone play on a level ground. Companies should choose the best from their applicant pool even as they encourage younger people to apply. Why is it common to see engineering, medical, environmental, political, languages graduates working in financial institutions when finance, accounting, management graduates walk the streets in search of jobs? How do Africa grow when things are continually done upside down?

Sometimes I’m confused, other times I’m angry. I hope these trends don’t linger longer. I also hope that before anyone decides to take this post personal, that such person understand that any resemblances of situations, persons, places and events mentioned here may be accidental and not intentional.

Peace.

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Uncategorized

Say it now: for Yemeni children

Say not your voice has no power,
For we listened and heard you speak from radios,
And you spoke of many things, that helped not dying souls
They say humanity is not defined by guns nor skin
But look at kids wallow in great pain for no reason

Look not another way while we die
Lest violence infect all conscience,
A raised finger may halt a machete or bullet
But if all grow no fatigue in being silent
Remember humanity does not watch another die

***

Today I saw horrifying images of children starving and on the brink of death in Yemen. It’s very painful that in a sophisticated world, which had conquered deserts and ocean depths, with advanced science and technology, expeditions to the moon and other planets, we can’t find a way to settle disputes without throwing blows. Then we are still primitive in civil matters. Shameful indeed.

Please help me put out a word to end the strife going on in Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, Cameroon and wherever man is found.

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Africa culture/tradition Igbo culture Uncategorized

African Proverbs 2

Here’s a Guinean Proverb: Knowledge of leadership is not plucked from the air, one is born with it.

Explanation: Selflessness, honesty, compassion and every other qualities of Leadership are groomed from good home training, personal decisions to live upright and treat others right.

Categories
Africa culture/tradition education

Leadership: Is Education really worth it?

I debated myself on the relevance of education in Africa.

So I am going to weigh my thoughts on a pendulum. Say the pendulum swung to yes, then I wonder why we have educated Africans who make little or no effort in enhancing the social and economic well-being of the continent. I wonder why people with academic zeal are not supported or encouraged to be their best selves and I wonder when top political leadership in Africa will be a function of the educated class.

It’s unfortunate that this continent with abundant human and material resources, arable land and sunshine offer very little in terms of economic, infrastructural, social and human index development. Currently, African countries record as some of the World’s poorest countries with high infant mortality rate, high unemployment and inflation rates, civil unrest and more. While Africa is endowed her leaders can’t manage her endowment efficiently.

Graduates leave school with high hopes (one may have struggled to graduate through economic hardships). Then comes the government(s) with no visible plan(s) to assimilate these graduates into the workforce. So is education really relevant for the African youth?

When the desirable is not available the available becomes desirable. Most of Africa’s graduates seek ready jobs. Few wish to start up businesses or entrepreneurial ventures. Even these few may be constrained by factors such as unavailability of start-up capital. In search for jobs graduates even lose the reason why they attended school in the first place. Can you imagine a Law or Finance graduate teaching Government or Mathematics in classrooms? Also as unemployment persists, graduates resort to many vices to make ends meet. Crime rates (internet scams, kidnapping, robbery, drug dealing etc) are on the high. Unemployment contributed to this.

When I made mention of political leadership, I intended to draw attention to this: while economic and social leadership are in the hands of the educated, political leadership still remain in the hands of the less educated. It is from these hands that signatures and affairs concerning the welfare of the state emanate. A blind man can’t lead a blind man.

Sometimes I think education is not doing much for the African youth. To get things working fine, we have to start from our political leadership. Every leader who won’t make education a priority, should not be allowed to lead.

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Africa education Nature Pastoral Series

Thoughts on Africa 2: Education

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the true goal of education. – Martin Luther King, Jr

Education is crucial to self, community and national development. It is one tool that can bring social, economic and political change to Africa.

There’s little done to improve the African education sector by governments. So the work shouldn’t be left to African governments alone. To forge a brighter future, we need to work extensively to revive the nursery, primary and secondary education sectors in most African countries. These sectors are in a very bad state, especially in West Africa.

In some areas, school facilities are dilapidated. Buildings are in ruins, some do not have rooftops and some learn in the open, under the sun’s heat. We have records of children learning in flooded classes, in roofless halls and very bad academic environment. Some teachers are not truly teachers, just victims of unemployment. Salaries are sometimes withheld, why? I can’t even say. A time will come for that.

For teaching efficiency, I recommend training, more training and continued training of teachers and the education workforce. Knowledge is not static, it is dynamic and changes almost each day. So training is key to efficiency and we must adopt new ways of teaching through use of the internet and other media. Payment of salaries is another issue facing the academic profession. Public school teachers are sometimes owed for months! Therefore teachers lose the morale to work. Tell me how working in such hard economic conditions can bring efficiency. Private school teachers are not paid well. The income is quite ridiculous for a graduate!

Management should include technical/commercial education curriculum in academic work. Some students do not really care for Maths or History, but if you raise a drawing/painting board you can buy them over. We can create a diverse academic environment that will from the scratch develop skills and talents in students while providing a basic education. The convention of attaching core subjects status to some selected disciplines should be abolished. Allow students grow into their skin, on their best ability, preference of thought and pace (time). Government should partner with the ‘private sector’ to renovate schools and provide academic materials for teachers and students. Schools should endeavor to teach students in local languages as well as the lingua franca. Success comes from within and we will get there some day.

I will update more on my thoughts on Africa later. Have a great day.

Good morning from West Africa.

©Oke Iroegbu

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Africa Uncategorized

Thoughts: Africa

Don’t be overwhelmed by what you see. Stay calm in the raging storm

Life has not been so fair to many. Sometimes it is easy to imagine from a safe part of the world, how people survive in war torn, disaster/disease stricken parts of Africa.

We wake up in the morning to different news. Economic news reveal that we may lose our investments. Political news talk of conspiracies, deals, xenophobia and closed borders. Religious news bring to our notice intolerance of one religious group to another. Suicide bombings, children dropping out of school, unclean water, unhygienic sanitary practices, HIV, poverty, unemployment, wars, natural disasters and more. But in all these troubles, we find joy living one more day. The sun shines brightly, the bees will hum for her, flowers welcome her brightness and warmth and the people wake up to their duties. There’s a bird singing melodiously from the roof top. Can you hear it?

If you ever visit any African country, the scenery will amaze you. You will live in a state of two minds. Across the streets you may see children playing happily in the light rain and just by the street corner, a begging hungry teenage mother. You can wonder again, how there’s so much joy amidst much pain.

Strange as it seems, Africa has all resources to make the continent a Haven. But the leaders keep on mismanaging the resources. We have the population, which constitutes some of the world’s youngest. We have arable land, solid minerals, abundant sunshine, water bodies and at large, the workforce.

I hope that things turn around for good. I have faith in the growing call for justice for all and quality education. I believe there’s a solution coming. That solution may not be far away. Let’s watch the sun rise. Good morning from West Africa.