There was a year the Faculty of Health Sciences in Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile Ife recorded an unusual mass failure of students that caught the attention of the Students Union. A protest was mounted against the leadership of the faculty to explain what happened.
On the second day of the demonstrations, the Dean of the Faculty had to address the students and was a bit undiplomatic. With the frankness of an Ondo man, he said something to the effect that “I have checked these results again and again and I couldn’t find anything wrong with them.”
That statement infuriated one of the leaders of the protest who said to the professor rudely: “If you cannot see anything wrong with these results, sir, something must be wrong with you?”
This incident flashed back to my mind lately when the Minister of Transportation in Nigeria, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, looked what he must have thought a cowed country straight in the face and asked: “What is wrong with my siting University of Transportation in Daura?”
The minister in his childlike outburst at the commissioning of the university brought up all that is wrong with Nigeria as he declared;
“When we sited the factory at Kajola, there was no noise. Nobody debated about it. Nobody abused us for it unlike the site for the university.
“Daura is in Nigeria; it is not in any other part of the world. It is not in Niger Republic, Biafra or Mali, it is in Nigeria. So, what is wrong in siting the University of transportation in Daura?
“I have no regret siting this university where I have sited it. It is not because I want to get any gain,” Amaechi said.
According to him, the establishment of the university was an attempt at responding to the question of how we (Nigeria) will maintain the infrastructure we are building in the country.
He said: “It is my attempt at responding to the question of how to maintain and manage all the infrastructure we are building and realised that education is key.
“I engaged the companies, the first engagement was when they were constructing Lagos-Ibadan.
“They were not so keen at spending their funds to build a university for Nigeria until I refused to sign the contract for the Lagos to Ibadan railway.
“I insisted that I will only sign if three things are done
“The first thing is to take our children to China and train them by giving them first degree in railway technology.
“Today as I speak, 60 of our children are in their second year and we thank CCECC and 90 are on their way to China this week, making it 150.
“The second is that, if we must sign the purchase of locomotives in China. They must build a factory where we can construct for coaches, locomotives and wagon and today at Kajola that factory is being constructed.
“Finally, I insisted on the University of Transportation and today we are here for the groundbreaking of the university and for all we are grateful to CCECC and the Chinese government (sic)”.
Anyone who has a robust idea of how proper nations function would not miss the about 1000 “I” in the minister’s speech.”I engaged”, “I insisted”, “I sited” etc as if he was talking of Amaechi and Sons Ltd and not the affair of a country.
A Minister of Transportation holds a contractor by the throat in his office and insists his company must build a university in the country without any input from the Ministry of Education that should have been able to decide on which way such a project would benefit the country.
There should have been consideration about how much of technology a capitalist organisation whose motive is to cream the host country would be ready to transfer to a client it wants to continue to cream to be self-reliant. A proper country would ask if the construction company was an NGO that would not pass the cost of the structures (university?) that may not be more beneficial than a few buildings springing up, to the project it is handling.
What are the other things that a minister who had all the powers of “I insisted “ would have forced from the company that could possibly explain the celebrated scandal of how much the firm charged Nigeria for its railway and what it charged for a similar job in neighbouring Ghana?
With a so-called university in the home town of the president to boot, which of the anti-corruption agencies would ask the Minister any question on the rip-off. The Cable alleged was being perpetrated with this contract in all the “I engaged “ and “I insisted “?
Do these officials think we can’t reason? Who doesn’t have some little idea of how to put meat in the corner of the mouth and not find anything again? And to now ask us what is wrong with siting the so-called university in the home town of the president by the supervising minister is rubbing salt on a festering injury. When we ran a proper country with ethics in public service, would such a thing have happened?
One would not blame the minister so much being a product of “new breed” ( new greed?) politicians in the country who have no idea that there was a country that once had a moral finishing post. Which explained why when Ahmadu Bello University was built under the Sardauna of Sokoto, it was sited in Kaduna and not the Premier’s home town. Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe as Premier of Eastern Region would have sited the University of Nigeria in his place in Onitsha instead of Nsukka but for moral boundary.
And the great university Awolowo sited at the cradle of the Yoruba would have been sited in Ikenne if it was planned by those not driven by the overall public good.
The story was told of how the Action Group (AG ) government mooted the idea of establishing a world-class cement factory.
Some Amaechi’s in government decided the factory should be sited in the home town of the Premier, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Some AG operatives in Ikenne already secured land for the project and were already raising their shoulders all over town.
Their gallivanting lasted until the moral avatar came on the scene. When Baba Layinka got to know of the plan, he summoned a meeting of all AG leaders in Ikenne with the supervising minister in attendance where he declared “What do you people take me for? I am the Premier of this region and the first factory we are building would be sited in my hometown? There are two options here: Ikenne should have the factory and I resign as Premier or I stay on and the factory goes elsewhere.” That was how Ewekoro became the home of the factory.
It was that profound consideration that saw to it that none of the many firsts Awo pioneered as Premier was sited in his hometown but the capital of the Western Region and other parts. Ikenne remains famous till date because it gave Yoruba its greatest leader and not because that great man converted opportunity to opportunism by taking government projects to his home town.
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If Nigeria needed a Transport University, a guided leadership would look at the best approach to properly set up one and the ideal area that would support such. A report in Leadership Newspaper of February 15, 2016, titled “Almajiri Schools: The Rot and The Blame Game” showed the state of Almajiri school in Daura, a town that boasts of so many two years after:
“TETFund built Almajiri schools in Katsina, Daura, Danmusa, Dutsinma and Funtua LGAs in the state. About eight of such schools exist in Katsina State with most of them completed.
“Findings by Leadership indicate that only that of Katsina, Funtua and Daura incidentally, the three major cities in the state, have begun what could MILDLY(emphasis mine) be referred to as academic activities.”
And how this prebendal spreads? The Chief of Army Staff had taken Army University to his town while the Chief Of Air Staff has also found his own village suitable for Air Force University.
Amaechi is still asking us what is wrong with all these acts of privatising the state? We should be asking: what is wrong with Amaechi?
…Sowore bringing out the beast in them
A tragedy of monumental proportion hit this country yet again on Friday as the DSS invaded an Abuja court trying Omoyele Sowore with some creatures Mr Femi Falana (SAN) called “lumpen elements” to violently disrupt session and take away the man Mr Owei Lakemfa has now dubbed Prisoner of War (POW).
The Judge fled the court. Lawyers and journalists were harassed. Sowore was dragged on the floor like a common criminal by a system that would not bring killer herdsmen to court and treat Boko Haram activists with dignity.
The desecration of the court on Friday was the icing on the cake of the serial crude and violent assaults on the legislative and executive arms of government by the secret police. It started with the midnight raids of judges homes, followed by sealing of the National Assembly and now a violation of the temple of Justice.
I agree with Falana that those senior lawyers who are poster boys of this administration should bury their heads in shame they are being recorded as aiders of the lawlessness of the administration that treats the judiciary with this sheer contempt and reckless impunity. The man dies in each and every one of them.
I equally endorse the position of the Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka that dogs-even mad ones-would behave better than our DSS who now conduct themselves worse than Rafindadi NSO in a manner that suggests we do not hold any value dear again in this country.
Nigerians who still subscribe to decency must not accept what happened on Friday. This has gone beyond Sowore as I still hear comments from people who are not looking at the larger picture such as “Sowore was one of those who brought this upon us.”
If Sowore supported the emergence of this and they are now dragging him on the floor because he called for the right things to be done, the more reason those who were not with him to enthrone this should be worried.
The Yoruba say half-brothers should be on their toes with a man who chastises his full-blooded brother with a pestle .
History is on the side of Omoyele Sowore that his revolution that was not staged has brought out the best in them like the uprising did to Botha in South Africa. He will live to write his memoirs.
My heart goes to his mum at this time. I shrunk at her pains in that interview she had.