Free Education for All Nigerians, Now!
Niger State governor, Babangida Aliyu, dispelled one sneaky suspicion Nigerians have of their government at a public forum recently when he said that the country can afford to educate all citizens free of charge at the primary and secondary levels, with enough left to subsidise tertiary education.
Characteristic of Gov. Aliyu, he went ahead to give a cogent reason, albeit a widely held one among Nigerians, why governments, past and present, are unwilling to educate the citizenry free of charge: bare-faced looting of Nigeria’s coffers by elected and appointed public officials. Aliyu then charged the ruling elites to “reduce stealing” to provide free education for all in Nigeria, even as he canvassed an overhaul of the education sector for national development purposes.
We cannot agree less with the governor’s submissions. Now that the cat has been let out of the bag by someone in the know of the inner workings of government – a serving governor and chairman of the Northern Governors Forum – we must place it on record that the Nigerian ruling class has, for far too long, kept the majority of Nigerians on their knees by pursuing a deliberate policy of obstructing access to free education through all sorts of subterfuge, including stealing public funds that would otherwise have been channelled to the education sector. It goes without saying that the past and current strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), those called by allied bodies in the education sector and the obvious poor state of the Nigerian education system are all avoidable, self-inflicted maladies brought on the country by the ruling elites! How bizarre; how sad!
We need not go heavy on the place of formal education to the nation building process or the imperative of an educated citizenry for any nation desirous of development; it is a given from antiquity and would remain so as long as Man continues to exist. We are also convinced that the Nigerian ruling elites are aware of the liberating power of education, and are keeping the masses out of its emancipatory orbit for no other reason than self-preservation; it is an unprovoked and undeclared class war to keep Nigerians ignorant and subservient to the ruling elites.
In the least, we hereby demand free and compulsory formal education for all Nigerians, young and old, who shall be willing to present themselves for enrolment. We demand that all tiers of government promptly implement this in all the schools they administer. We demand an end to widespread and institutionalised stealing of public funds, and massive investment in the education sector at all levels. The first step is to implement the 26 per cent vote of the budget the United Nations recommends that all countries should allocate to the education sector. Where possible, the three tiers of government must immediately prepare supplementary budgets to meet the UN benchmark or match this in next fiscal year appropriations and beyond.