IT was by chance that I stumbled on Gambia TV a few days back and I stayed glued to it for the next one hour as Mr Bardara Joof, the country’s minister for Higher Education, Research and Technology was addressing critical stakeholders on the decision of the government to introduce Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Stem cells into the school’s curriculum.
I was so fascinated by Joof’s presentation as he was full of knowledge, gut, passion and conviction evident in the rapt attention from his audience. I immediately had to look up this round peg in a round hole who was not just interested in awarding contracts and having cuts like some people you see around here. What I found out shames our country where appointments are about patronage and not tied to competence and excellence.
Joof was a student at Armitage High School and trained as a teacher himself at Yundum Teachers’ College. He holds a bachelor of education degree from the University of Bristol, a master’s degree in English literature from the University of London, and a master’s degree in development economics from the University of Bath.
Joof began his career as a qualified teacher, teaching English at The Gambia College. He was then head of the department of languages and literature at Nusrat High School. He was the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Education for many years.
He worked as the World Bank Liaison Officer to the Gambia. [In this role, he assisted higher education minister Mariama Sarr-Ceesay in introducing a new education policy to the Gambia. He has led a World Bank project, Support to NGO Network Tango, which had a budget of $220,000 and lasted from 2010 to 2013, the stated purpose of which was “to enhance the efficiency and accountability of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) in delivering basic services to the poor in the member country.” [In 2013, Joof visited various project sites in the Gambia along with Ministry of Agriculture officials in order to gain a better understanding of various challenges they faced. In 2014, Joof was appointed as an Education Specialist in Dakar, Senegal to the World Bank.
For such a small country to be so focussed in picking such a proper and fit person as its education minister shames a big country like Nigeria that places little premium on knowledge acquisition and could appoint a carpenter to run its knowledge industry.
Joof spoke about the need to introduce Robotics at secondary school level so they could raise young people who in 15 years time should be leaders in their fields as the Gambia would not join developed world without a cutting edge in Science and Technology. It was with pride he recalled how the Gambia, Niger, Chad and Rwanda were picked to represent Africa recently at a global Robotics competition .
I was deeply touched when he said: “We are small country but we can surprise the world if we mobilised our intellectual resources to find our space. We can no longer be teaching only Physics, Chemistry, Geography etc. We need to join the world where it is.”
Ordinary the Gambia is aiming higher while Nigeria has just recorded a major breakthrough in having History restored to its curriculum. Apart from a few universities, mostly private, offering courses in Robotics Education in Nigeria, there is no one thinking of making millions of our young people to be part of the great potential unlocked by marrying human creativity with powerful machines.
Nigeria’s destiny is not tied to development. It is mired in underdevelopment as its conversation is all around “revenue sharing.” A country with a backward agenda does not need to activate the thinking part of its youths. It needs only their brawn while the elite send their own children abroad to harvest knowledge. Thousands of youth were engaged in Kogi and Balyesa yesterday for the best career a backward elites can offer them: ballot snatching and A class thuggery.
This is the national tragedy running Nigeria as a unitary country has bequeathed. It was not like this when we ran a federal country and each section of the country was allowed to dream its own dreams. The University of Ife was established in 1962 with an Atomic Energy Centre. Nigeria took over the university in 1975 and destroyed all that dream.
A nuclear physicist trained in MIT returned to Nigeria years back and headed for Ife. The gentleman took a job in Ife without knowing that Nigeria does not need thinkers of his hue but those who can cook books and manipulate the system. After many years of wandering in the wilderness of an under-developing country, I was told the nuclear physicist is now a Pastor with a Cherubim and Seraphim Church!
All conversations around us lead to a regrettable conclusion: Nigeria has no mission and vision and it is not likely going to develop one and there is nothing anybody can do about it. But it has to give up the only assignment it has given itself: holding down the destiny of those who have a dream. Nigeria, loose your grip and let my people go!
Constituent units must demand federalism or perish under Nigeria.
Re: Ranti omo eni ti iwo nse
I really appreciate your write-up on the attitude of Yorubas towards their roots. I became so sad when I read that part where you made comparison between President Muhammadu Buhari and his vice, Professor Yemi Osinbajo on their activities in respect of their roots. It became more annoying when I read that part where you described General Oladipupo Diya’s relationship with his root. So sad, that the caption “ranti omo eni to iwo se” should be ringing in our heads wherever we go and whatever we become, Yorubas are mostly the culprit, Igbos and Hausas hardly forget their roots. May God help us.
I have no tears for Professor Yemi Osinbajo who was shot to the top by circumstances but assumed it was by his own making. In four and a half years in office, his only link was with the elites of his Redeemed Church. I say “elites” because when an ordinary member of the Church preaching the gospel was hacked to death under his nose in Abuja as Acting President he kept mum so as to keep his Tradermoni and NEMA rice. Have they not been taken from him now?
When we came under serious assault of Fulani herdsmen, he became a high priest who cannot be touched by our infirmities and travelled to the United States of America to say our lamentations of the harms being done to us were exaggerations.
My Muri will send no bread to a Gbada who did not dignify me with a tuber of yam. Another one bites the dust.
Voice of Courage
I have followed your writings under above title in Sunday Tribune since inception. Honestly, am so enthralled! Like the title, the write-ups are full of courage. In addition and as matter of fact, yours is equally a Voice Of Reason and a Voice Of Wisdom, in the tradition of the Trilogy of the Sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
In fact, l want to confess that from the writings and your other public statements (pronouncements) you are indeed a true (bonafide) Scion of Chief Awolowo! Typically, your statements are deep and highly intellectual, in all ramifications, steeped in fact (truthfulness) and candour, embraced in righteousness – justice and fair play. God bless you and your writings, indeed, your pronouncements, to the benefit of the suffering masses of our country, Nigeria.
You are ensconced in the safety of the All-powerful God! Amen.