Nigeria – 34:15 is where we come in

Has President Jonathan done enough to rescue the Chibok girls or curb insurgency in the northeast? While many Nigerians live in denial, many people both home and abroad can see clearly that Nigeria  government is reluctant to do all that is necessary to stop Boko Haram.

Too busy with election campaign, incompetence, ignorance, indifference, waiting for others to rescue us?  –  reasons best known to President Jonathan and his followers.

34:15 is about Nigeria Boko Haram and how we are doing so far from the outsiders point of view,  accurate assertion?

 

 

Nigeria study abroad scholarship madness

There is a common misconception about the reason many Nigerians are studying abroad, that Nigerians loved education so much hence you see thousands of us all around the globe, just about anywhere to be frank.

From Ghana, Ukraine, Russia, to anywhere and everywhere in Asia, Africa and the obvious Europe and the Americas. The latest I heard was 2,600 to Uganda, where? Are we bonkers? – Nothing against Uganda, I actually do believe they are moving way ahead of us in many developmental fronts, now for Nigeria the obsession of studying abroad has turned to a complete mess. 

We need to develop our own schools.

Nigeria government alone pays 50,000 students to study abroad yearly, thousands more join this number paying out-of-pocket. Iain Stewart estimated 30,000 students in the UK this year, for each is the minimum of £9,000/yr plus food and living expenses.

This is not because the Nigeria government loved education so much, it is because my government has messed up woefully the education in the country and now only rely on quick fix.

This is what Prof. Soyinka has to say in 2011 during education summit in Osun State – “Students nowadays learn under very harsh conditions which in itself could lead to crisis, there are no sufficient teaching materials in our schools again, there is poor welfare for the students and the library and laboratories are now empty.”

Translation of the above statement:

‘no sufficient teaching materials’ means medical students in human anatomy course learned about body organs, bones, muscles etc using imagination – no slides or any visual aids to talk about. This is the case in one of our private universities. Private universities do not go on strikes as federal or state schools but decay in the education system is just as bad.

“poor welfare for the students” – means students enrolled in university only to be butchered by cult members few years down the line and school authority shifting blames and murderers lived on. That was the case of Afrika and his mates who were killed in their dormitory for speaking up against cultists at Obafemi Awolowo University.

‘library and laboratories are now empty’ means in the library were 2 books that must be shared by 30 students for a coursework – so far so good. But by the time one gets to use the books, pages with the needed information have been ripped off. Low-life students did this on purpose so they make money selling copies – That was mid 90s, so really Nigeria education has been failure long time ago.

What is wrong with government study abroad scholarship?

In the beginning of Nigeria study abroad initiative, the deal was that one must return to the country after the course of study, people did as there were jobs upon return.

The purpose of this condition was so the nation can develop from within, to increase the number of educated and skilled population, never to rely on other nations to educate us forever – more than sixty years on, we are still on the same initiative, more so than ever something is not working the way it should.

Today, most on government scholarship never returned to the country, I don’t blame them because there really is no opportunity to put newly acquired skills to use.

Overhaul of the scholarship scheme is needed, beneficiaries should be made to come back or repay the expenses just as developed nations are doing. Also, we can not rely on quick fix for ever, we must develop our own schools.

Something for the presidential candidates to add to their manifestos before next month?

Grandfather’s chest box

“If someone has bitten you, he has reminded you that you have teeth.” Kenya proverb.

I asked my father what the deal was with his Iroko chest box. I have known this box to be special since I was little, it stays under his bed and in it were journals and diaries of my father from before I was born.

“Apoti Baami nuu” – “My father’s chest box”, he said to me. Your father’s? I was ecstatic! All of my grand parents from both families were long gone before I was born  and apart from the house in the village and the farm that belonged to my paternal grandparents, there were nothing personal around that I knew of, not even a photo! By the time I was old enough to appreciate stories about my paternal grandparents, my father had lost his voice so took solace in his pens and journals.

My mother chipped in to talk about my grandfather’s dentures and how they became his ‘little babies’ the first few weeks he got them. My grandfather had dentures? How could he have afforded those close to sixty years ago? Where did he get them done?

Everything becomes clearer by the day why there will always be endless conflicts and lots of it in Nigeria if government continue to turn deaf ears to landownership crisis like the one in Modakeke and Ife

My grandfather got his dentures fitted at Ibadan, likely to be LUTH.

My grandfather’s dentures and his chest box have nothing to do with what really is boiling in me however, they were crucial clues to the lives people of his time lived in the village – He was not rich, however, he was content. He lived well, he was able to afford the cost of his health services and food for his family.

What has changed:

My grandparents had seven children, four were male so family farm was divided between them (leaving gender inequality for another time). Only one was educated to Standard Six, others enrolled in various apprenticeships. At one point all of them returned to the village, each working on his portion of the farm.

Any mystery as to why there were ongoing conflicts when Ife insisted on Modakeke to continue paying Isakole on three hundred years old lease?

There’s just not enough to keep feeding idle hands of great grand children who relied on proceeds from informal lease between great grand parents. Simple.

The same piece of land has not and will never increase in size, however the population has quadrupled in the last century – why is our elders not seeing this and find constructive ways of dealing with the conflict in the way that a group of people are not alienated on their land?

Lease on land met brick wall in the 1980’s after Oba Okunade Sijuade decided to reintroduce his rights to absolute power for good reasons but now outright chase of people from their farms is the new strategy.

My question is, those people especially in Ogudu Village, will they remain quiet for ever? They are hurting, no one is listening or think they are making any sense.

Yet, our president Jonathan Goodluck had time to visit the “Notable Yoruba Kings” yesterday in my hometown to discuss politics – Well, we all know these Obas do not give a hoot about the common people and neither did GEJ.

I have a word for all of them – Ile ti a fi ito mo iri in yio wo – A house built of saliva will collapse when dew hit.

Lifestyle education – Key to raising Nigeria rural dwellers out of poverty

Lots have been written/said to be the contributing factors for rural Nigeria poverty so as the long list of ways in which the government could help to bridge the gap between the poor and the rich Nigerians. In the last decade, Nigeria government have been investing in agriculture partly due to reality of dwindling demands for oil also because of the massive wasted opportunity in farming.

There is one area that has been ignored in the reports which we can not afford to leave out – villagers having second home as contributing factor to poverty in the rural areas. There are different levels of poverty, some are more of the mind than material.

In my village in Osun State for example at least 50% of inhabitants whose main job is in the farm have a second home in town and at any given festival/events such as Eid, Easter, and Christmas 70% of the villagers are out to town to celebrate and will stay away for at least a week or more before returning to the village. So overall it is only about 30% people in my village that lived in the village all year round, some of them owned their house in the village, a few renting.

My village is a typical Yoruba village with dirt roads, no toilets, only primary school building which is half gone due to no maintenance, drinking water from stream hence guinea worm epidemic, subsistence farming due to lack of capital, no electricity so large-scale farming is one big dream.

Agbopa Village, Ibadan
Agbopa Village, Ibadan

The above are significant social problems that have accumulated over decades, even if we have super intelligent leaders with hearts to serve the people and give to us what is rightly ours, rural poverty may still continue in many parts of Nigeria if we leave some keys lifestyle decisions unaltered.

Why would a villager needs two homes within 15 miles of each other, mind you these two houses more often than not are two mud structures with corrugated roof and sometimes cotton fabric as windows, but the point is that these are two structures that require maintenance no matter how little.

In civilised world, most farmers lived on their farms with no second home. They too, do travel away from their farms occasionally but they didn’t have to own their accommodation so they rent a property or hotel while away from home.

However, in Nigeria especially in my part of the country people are poor to begin with and still strive to maintain two homes both homes in most cases put together is less than one ideal home.

Looking back now, most family whose children did not make it past primary school in my village have parents with houses both in the village and my 15miles away town. Many parents especially the enlightened ones made different choices – some rented both in the village and in town and only acquire a land to build when it is feasible to do so without the pressure of societal status quo.

Maybe in addition to the government initiative of helping rural families out of poverty, massive education around making the right lifestyle choices based on one’s income is equally important.

 

Penis Captivus or Magun?

Penis Captivus “a rare occurrence in heterosexual intercourse when the muscles in the vagina clamp down on the penis much more firmly than usual (a form of vaginismus), making it impossible for the penis to withdraw from the vagina.” Wikipedia

The condition was once thought to be another myth, however now there are enough evidence around the world that suggest penis captivus is real. The evidence were collected from people who have been affected and survived the unfortunate incidence.

In Yorubaland, we have our own name for penis captivus, it is magun meaning ‘don’t climb.’ I am sure other folks from different tribes will have their names for it.

It is fascinating that most people in Yorubaland think magun could only be inflicted upon someone through witch doctors, the thought was that it is cast upon unfaithful woman so as to curb attitude of sleeping around. In all of the versions of this story that I have heard, it is the women cheating and usually the story will end with the men dead or publicly humiliated. According to the legend, the spell is more like an invisible voodoo placed in a doorway, and if the woman in question stepped over it, then she will be loaded with magun and if she had intercourse with any man afterwards, the man in question will crow like a cock three times and will die or had to go through rigorous ‘cleansing.’

This story is been told today as it was hundred years ago with a little more spice to make it more believable and today in Yorubaland people still belief that witch doctors could help them put magun on their cheating wives and also to hurt or humiliate men who are going round other people’s wives.

Just about four weeks ago, I was talking with my cousin who in his 50s. He was in a bad mood as a middle aged man in his church just died unexpectedly. Naturally, I was sympathetic and asked him a few questions and how the deceased guy’s family were doing. My cousin blamed it on the people being jealous of the man’s good fortune which I agreed it does happen sometimes unfortunately, was he poisoned? was he in a car accident? any marks on his body to suggest being attacked I asked, he responded no to all my questions. He said the attack was spiritual as the man in question died at home with his family by his side. I was sad for the young man and his family and was also sad because the cause of his death has been kept secret/undiscovered.

My cousin proceeded and asked if I believed magun existed, I told him I do and continued that I do believe the medical explanation of it that magun occurs when the vaginal muscles clamp on the penis than normal, perhaps due to unusual engorgement of the penis. I further explained to him that the case is reportedly very rare and in most cases the victim (male) do survive. He did not buy my explanation because it was just too western. So I said, if magun is truly a witch doctor’s job and only there to punish men and women who sleep around with other people’s partners, then he himself would have been long gone, he was upset and ended the conversation. He knew I was right. Unfortunately he didn’t wait as I wanted to ask if there was any problem with the deceased man’s genital, oh well.

I am very grateful for this liberty, information at our finger tips. We could do whatever we like with it, free our minds from the pressures of being in the ‘dark’ or chose not to know if that suits best.

Now I know, magun is no longer unique to Yoruba, it is a universal medical marvel. And because magun is usually thought to be placed on women to detect infidelity, it just further reveals how common infidelity is, that monogamy is a blessing that needs to be cherished if one finds him or herself in one.

In Zimbabwe penis captivus is called runyoka and see here 

BBC reports on penis captivus: here, and audio from Dr John Dean here

Kenyan case of penis captives, and another

Nigeria ASUU and the implications of strike action

In 2009 when ASUU (Academic Staff Union of Universities) declared indefinite strike, a friend of mine who is a lecturer – a dedicated teacher by the way, explained the reason that the strike action was mainly to get the government to provide teaching materials to aid teaching and learning process in our schools. The point that I understood completely, I knew from experience that it is a reasonable request, much needed one at that. How could you impact knowledge efficiently into your students when teaching aids were missing. It could only benefit everyone in the end I concurred.

In Nigeria today, being a graduate is very common and to be able to defend the certificate given is a whole different story. The reason for this is very clear, for more than a decade an academic year in Nigeria tertiary institutions is more like a two semesters or less and still students get moved on, students were faced with numerous needless exams yearly, students read only to pass exams not in anyway to use the information given them in day to day life – the result is appalling quality of our graduates. The most laughable part is that the people who end up getting ‘top job’ don’t even have to attend any lectures as they would be passed and end up being in offices and later when they were bored, will make attempt in politics as ‘another thing to do’ with clearly no clue of what it takes to run a home let alone a nation.

I remember one time that a class of 30 students were given a project, we all needed to do our research in the library where we expected to find books relating to given topics, internet was non existence at the time not in Nigeria at least. By the time I got to the library I learnt there were only two books available for topics we were all eager to learn more about, and that the related pages in which the topic were discussed in detail have been ripped off from both books. I ended up paying fellow student for  photocopied pages. This is just one example of how bad Nigeria higher institutions have become in terms of investment in teaching and learning materials/aids. The situation is the same in all our tertiary institutions around the country.

In a broken society everyone with a little insider knowledge would do their best to take advantage of the broken system. For several years now ASUU has discovered the easiest way for them to claim salary without having to work for it at all is simply by declaring strike actions. And of course many people think being a professor equates to having common sense and making informed decision to positively influence the government decisions or indecisions. We are all aware that something has to be done to the education system in the country but it is grossly unfair to expect lecturers to be paid when they decide to embark on strike leaving our youths roaming the streets.  In this manner of strike by the ASUU, the short term losers are the students whose four year university degree would be completed in eight years however, in the long run we are all losers regardless of your socio economic background. You only have to look around you to see those who lead us to realise we are all in it together – blind leading blinds. Of course we are not all blinds but most of those that end up leading us are ridiculously incompetent and incapable of making any decisions that will leave future generation with hope.

Nigerians live in e go better even when the future is so bleak, we are told to have faith even when we could clearly see there is no way forward. The irony of the strike action is, this is not the end of it even if the government allocates the whole of the nation’s budget into building more classrooms, provision of teaching aids and build more student hostels and doubled the lecturers salary. Some of the lecturers are used to the perks of travelling abroad for a few months while their salaries and benefits will be paid during the strike actions. Where would you get that anywhere in the world? Any allocation given to end strike action will mostly be spent on bonuses for ‘big’ professors so they could send their own children to be educated out of the country as well as for them to spend holidays abroad while their salary were intact.

It is a vicious cycle.

About the government, what can I say. It is sad that we are likely to be judged based on who our leaders are. A resent email from President Obama of America made me wish Nigeria government is different, different in the sense to care a little bit more about the citizens. Maybe my wishes is not appropriately placed because I know it is difficult to expect someone who was hand-picked to lead the nation so as to add another status to their resume to genuinely care about the welfare of the nation. I wish Nigeria could one day have leaders who have foresights, who could see how talents were being wasted on daily basis and act in the interest of everyone in order to move the country forward.

Here is the first paragraph of President Obama’s email to his nation on 22 August titled “This is personal for me.”

” Michelle and I wouldn’t be in the White House today if it weren’t for our college educations. It wasn’t cheap. We didn’t finish paying off our student loans until about nine years ago. That’s why it’s been a personal mission of mine to make higher education more affordable for more Americans — and starting today, I’m hitting the road to talk about real reforms to fundamentally rethink how we pay for college in this country.”  Here Obama was talking about the cost of education in the country, a nation that believes everyone deserves a chance if they work hard and of course in the country of mine, the same could not be said. No access student loan to begin with and no one has any given right to education in Nigeria and even if you were especially keen, there are forces all around to crush that dreams right in front of your face at any given time.

What we do have now in Nigeria is Nigerians whose parents were politicians and also those who have ‘connections’ in places get to study outside the country where they know their learning would not be disrupted by mindless strikes and also where their government have invested substantially in education and learning resources were readily available. And ofcourse their tuition would be paid by Nigeria government one way or the other.  See a bit of how much Nigerian government spent on study abroad annually in my previous post and of course it is a lot higher if you consider everyone including those students who were paid for by their parents/family.

If you drive around Nigeria today, the number of private universities is beyond joke and guess who the founder of most of them are? Yes, they are either affiliated to either a church or a politician…what a nation!  Most of the lecturers at the private universities have existing contracts with state/federal universities , so they have double salary. Okay I know that some earned their salary through hard work but most could not be bothered, they are there to milk the system. The tuition charged by most of these private universities is beyond the reach of most citizens, they are in the region of 500,000 naira (USD 3000) per annum. So private universities in Nigeria to me is another avenue for the privileged to educated especially when they can not go out of the country and of course many hard working citizens who could afford the tuition do get their children in.

Nigeria government this academic year alone spent spend 200 million naira to send 200 militant students to Igbinedion university, Okada  to study Political Science and Conflict Management. This is the kind of government we have, always surprises us with their decision making,  you wonder why they chose to send Nigeria army militants to a private school rather than state/federal one.

I don’t have the right answer but I do know that we Nigerians have to wake up and do our part to at least talk about issues affecting education system more. By doing so we will collectively realise that it is important to choose leaders who have positive track record. We need to realise that it is only education that could liberate our minds. Not all of us could afford to either go abroad to study or attend private universities. Sometimes, I genuinely feel my mother who has never attended formal education values it far more than our decision makers, I also think that we need to stop worshiping our leaders especially those who clearly don’t deserve our respect. I know the problem we face today in terms of our tertiary institutions is not necessarily created by the current administration, however the present government could do their part by making positive impact that future administrations could emulate, for example make it punishable for ASUU to embark on strikes, no work no pay. They are all adults, they could arrange for delegates to meet with government officials, ASUU is not creating solution, they are part of our problems. And for the government, Nigeria citizens need to act in the interest of future generation and choose a leader who is competent and has our interests at heart. It is not enough to talk grammar, we need action.

Nigerians: Study anywhere but Nigeria

Education system in Nigeria today is in such a state that the decay is obvious everywhere you go in the country. The nation’s education system is in shambles.

The on-going strike by the ASUU got me thinking. Who is fighting for the future of this country? I mean the future of the common citizens? Whenever there is a strike action usually by the academic bodies, who do you think is mostly affected? Well, if you can ponder on this for a moment, and see whose education and livelihood is on hold, ONLY affected people in this mess are the youths whose tomorrow is blurred. In the long run, everyone is affected regardless of class or social circle.

According to Prof. Festus Ajayi, the former president of ASUU, the strike is largely due to the fact that the government failed to fulfil their promises to provide funding for academic research, resources for teaching aids and lecturers’ allowance. In his article,  that I encourage you to read by the way if you haven’t already, he points out the key areas in which universities across the nation is lagging behind in a way that teaching and learning is frustrating for all concerned.

I think the problem of education in Nigeria is like eru amukun. 

ASUU is mobilising, making themselves heard in the hope of getting sympathy from the public. Citizens were stating their opinions regarding a sector in society sitting at home refusing to work until their requests are attended to. This, by the way is not the first time ASUU will embark on strike action for the same reason. Last time they went on strike, in the end the government invited some delegates into a closed door meeting, the result? – strike was called off and the main reason for the month long strike action remained unresolved.

The lecturers will be paid fully for the months they didn’t work. By the time the strike is called off, students will face enormous pressure to start and finish a semester within a month, the result of this is half decent degrees all round. Evidence of this is obvious around us.

If ASUU has students interests at heart, then the union is mature enough to find a way to resolving the issues raised with the government in a way that will not leave thousands of our youths roaming the streets aimlessly.

To the government, what can I say, when any government shows no interest in the generations coming behind them, here is a couple of what to expect:

  • In 2012, Osun state governor, Rauf Aregbesola sent 98 students from Uniosun to study in Ukraine, costing the state 146 million naira. The beneficiaries are 300 to 500 level medical students. He came to this decision because Uniosun was not equipped to have faculty of medicine. More on the subject here. Why were they allowed to have a faculty they could not support in the first place?

Here is what the former VC of Uniosun, Prof. Sola Akinade had to say regarding the governor’s decision to spend 146 million naira of state fund on 98 students:

“The government believes closing down the programme and sending the students to a university in Ukraine is a better option. We were prepared to take the upgrading of a state hospital in stages, commensurate with immediate needs. Indeed, if the money being expended on sending the students to Ukraine had been released for upgrading the State Hospital, Asubiaro in Osogbo, or the General Hospital, Ilesa, which we were prepared to use at some point, the people of the state would be benefiting from improved services to be offered by the emerging teaching hospital”

  •  Government funding for study abroad – If private citizens pay from their earnings, this is no problem as practice existed all around the world. However, in the case of Nigeria from federal government to state level, they are all actively avoiding any investment in education so they take the easy way out by providing funding to families of special interest group to study abroad. Here

According to the Chairman, Committee of Pro-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, Dr. Wale Babalakin, he states that Nigeria spent over 160 billion naira to send 75,000 students to study in Ghana, this was in 2012 alone! Large proportion of this funding comes from the government. Now, go figure!

And here comes the blame game – no be this administration’s fault o

Coming to the point I stated earlier on, who is fighting for you and I, to be sure we don’t end up on the street. Most Nigerians could not afford to send their children to study abroad, their children would never be among the ones hand-picked by the government to study abroad as they don’t have the right ‘connection.’

Watch above clip for inspiration – you and me, the sons and daughters of ordinary Nigerians can put end to this. Everyone is affected  in one way or the other during time like this, let us get our stories out so we can put end to this and generation to follow us will never have to go through this ordeal.

If you think 98 medical students in Ukraine will come back home to give back to the community in any sense, please think again. Remember, there will be no hospital equipped well enough for them to put to use their newly acquired knowledge, they probably do the same that most of our doctors have done – practice anywhere but Nigeria.

I wish the lucky students all the very best in their studies. And looking at their video, they will spend the rest of their lives indebted to Aragbesola.

Well, I try to maintain a balanced view, however, it is obvious most of us don’t know what our rights are and of course I am aware that Aragbesola has done more good than bad in terms of education especially when compared to his predecessors.  His passion, I think should go along with common sense when making decision that involves spending huge amount of state fund.

My father told me once  ‘omo eni o gbon, a ni o ma ku, kini o pa bi o se aigbon e?.