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Adamu Adamu: Failure deserving of honour!

At the 66th meeting of the National Council on Education (NCE) held in Abuja on November 3, 2022, Nigeria’s longest serving Minister of Education, Adamu…

At the 66th meeting of the National Council on Education (NCE) held in Abuja on November 3, 2022, Nigeria’s longest serving Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, confessed his abysmal performance in office having presided over the continued deterioration of the nation’s educational system. Although Adamu regretted his failure to resolve the challenges facing the educational sector, he should be commended for standing out among ministers.

In a situation where the majority of Nigerians and indeed the outside world adjudge the outgoing administration to be a colossal failure, Adamu is the only minister who has owned up to shortcomings and offered any apology or explanation. Demands for his resignation on the grounds that “decency” requires admissions of failure by public officers to be followed by a letter of resignation, are misplaced because Nigerian political appointees never resign “honourably” simply because they have failed!  

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Adamu’s failure is outlined in a recent report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which states that his home state, Bauchi, has one of the highest number of out-of-school children in Nigeria which also includes the president’s home state of Katsina!   

Unfortunately for Adamu, although renowned for patriotic zeal, he was a round peg in a square hole. The Buhari administration has a well-earned reputation for appointing ministers with no real background in their portfolio. In this manner, the Minister of Works presiding over collapsed poorly maintained infrastructure is a lawyer instead of an engineer, the Minister of Labour presiding over numerous strikes is a medical doctor instead of a management expert etc. If Adamu had been appointed Minister of Information, he would doubtless have done a far better job than the incumbent and the government would not have suffered so many public relations disasters. His background is in accounting and journalism. After graduating he worked briefly as an accountant in Bauchi State before venturing into journalism where he rose to become Deputy Editor of the New Nigerian Newspaper and Chairman of the Editorial Board. When General Buhari was Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), Adamu served as one of his special assistants. Before being appointed minister in 2015, he was secretary and member of the Presidential Transition Committee. His CV indicates no experience in educational management, therefore, his self-confessed failure in governance was predictable.  

As far as the increasing number of northern children out of school is concerned, President Goodluck Jonathan established Almajiri schools to stop their stigma and prevent them from idly roaming the streets while their age mates are learning. The Buhari/Adamu administration quite inexplicably closed down the schools claiming they were not “properly structured”. Instead of restructuring and improving the syllabus, they unleashed the illiterate children back on to the streets to learn nothing other than how to beg as a “career” for life. The idea of Almajiri foregoing western education has long since been criticised as illogical and entrenching backwardness. Mecca where Moslems undertake Holy Pilgrimage is in Saudi Arabia.  According to UNICEF, the number of out-of-school children in either Bauchi State or Katsina State is more than the number in the whole of Saudi Arabia! Adamu’s failure was not only about the number of children out of school, but also the nature of the schools themselves. Nigeria has so many sub-standard private secondary schools which employ unqualified teachers and specialise in examination malpractice. As for primary schools they are still unable to carry out the simple task of teaching children how to read and write in English which is the national language of Nigeria!  

Every year Nigeria churns out millions of school leavers with no marketable employment skills or any other skill which can help the nation develop.  Adamu places blame for this squarely at the feet of state commissioners of education who are responsible for approving the sub-standard primary and secondary schools operating in blocks of flats or even in uncompleted buildings. Private schools, no matter the poor standard, are a good source of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) for states. Exactly how he is out of touch with modern education, Adamu was revealed in his legendary meeting with Nigerian Students when he walked out on them. Anyone expecting a well-articulated logical argument in courteous English from products of today’s Nigerian public universities is living in dreamland. What Adamu witnessed is interaction with the type of products churned out by the system he presides over! The irony is that he was recently awarded with the national honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) despite the fact that the whole education system ranging from primary to tertiary has failed. Since he was given a national honour and still retains his office, it is quite clear that the last seven years have been wasted and the outgoing administration has no intention of doing anything differently to repair the system. The whole issue of national honours has long since fallen into disrepute. They are now handed out as reward for merely serving in a position whether meritoriously or otherwise. It simply makes no sense for an individual who self-confesses failure to be given a national award for service. He should instead perhaps be given a national award for honesty!.     


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