FAROTIMI’S ANARCHISM ON ARISE TV MORNING SHOW: A REJOINDER IN PART

On March 9, 2022, The Nation newspaper published an obviously sponsored, rude, deceptive, intellectually lazy and morally bankrupt piece, titled FAROTIMI’S ANARCHISM ON ARISE TV MORNING SHOW, written by one faceless or at best a budding political jobber, who identified himself as Ayo Oladele Peters.

The intent and architecture of the piece itself is rooted in chicanery, a poor and damning attempt at presenting alternative facts to the very recent history of Lagos State and its political occupation by Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his cohorts since 1999.

Being a shoddy attempt at rewriting a history that is obvious to the blind and audible to the deaf, I do not consider it a judicious use of my executive time to do a wholesome rejoinder to his conscienceless piece.

As a stakeholder within the educational sector in Lagos State, I would however like to join issues with him briefly on his claim on the contribution of Bola Ahmed Tinubu to education in Lagos State. The said Ayo Oladele Peters submitted as follows: ‘there are at least 349 junior secondary schools and 322 senior secondary schools in Lagos State and there are no less than 1,045 public primary schools in the state. While there are over 497,318 pupils in public primary schools, there are at least 567,704 students in public junior and secondary schools.’ It is important to note that he did not cite the source of his assertion, which purpose obviously is to give Tinubu a pass mark in education in Lagos State. If that was not so, why would he proudly brandish the foregoing as the scoresheet of Tinubu’s public stewardship vis a vis education in Lagos State.

Government plays 2 major roles in education in Nigeria. The first is to provide access and the second is to regulate. I do not think the Lagos State Government under the Tinubu Hegemony has done well in any of this regard.

According to an INDEPTH report carried out in 2015 by the World Bank Group it was reported that Private schools are currently educating the majority of primary and secondary school students in Lagos State, Nigeria. As such, Lagos is one of the largest private school markets in the world. Over 57 percent of the state’s primary and secondary school students are enrolled in more than 12,000 private schools. As such, Lagos makes up one of the largest markets for private basic education services in the world. In total, an estimated 1.5 million children go to private primary and junior secondary schools in the state (DFID 2012) while the latest school census found that roughly 387,000 primary students were enrolled in public schools in Lagos State.

In 2011, it was estimated that there was a total of 1,606 government schools in Lagos State: 991 primary schools (of which 957 also provided nursery classes), 308 junior secondary and 307 senior secondary schools, respectively (Lagos State MoE 2010). According to the 2017 Annual Public School Census Lagos State has a total of 349 junior secondary schools and 322 senior secondary schools with a students’ population of 337,724 and 229,980, respectively.

The Premium Times Newspaper of May 22, 2021, reported that the Lagos State Commissioner of Education had disclosed during the 2021 Ministerial Press Briefing in Commemoration of the Second Year in Office of Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu in Lagos that Just a quarter of the about 20,000 private schools in Lagos State had been approved by the state government. This is an admission from the Ministry of Education, Lagos State that there are about 20,000 private schools in Lagos State and that the education of the precious children of Lagos State is ceded to the hands of the private sector.

Even despite the efforts of the private sector, according to a report by the Nigerian Tribute of January 18, 2022, Lagos State still has over 2 million out-of-school children.

In a report by Premium Times on the 21st of August 2021, it was reported that most public schools in Lagos State experience internal and external threats to schools during an investigative tour. For some public schools in the state, it is the absence of perimeter fencing, security gates and trained security personnel, but for others it is the flooding of classrooms and leaky roofs while in some cases the children sit on the windows, on broken furniture or stand when classes are going on as the classrooms are over-crowded with students and no chairs to seat on, even the school facilities are in a state of dilapidation.

I would like to conclude this short rejoinder with this question, how many public schools have been recently established in Lagos State between 1999 till date?

By the admittance of the Lagos State government, as published in the PM News of February 18th February 2022, over 1,097 projects across 970 public schools have been completed in the last two years. On the school upgrade, the government has built and rehabilitated 322 dilapidated schools and supplied 87,000 dual composite units of furniture to primary and secondary schools. Also, the state government, through the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development has extended development plans to 30 communities spread across different Local Government Areas of the state.

The unambiguous deduction from the foregoing information supplied by the Lagos State Government, which is its latest scorecard of contribution to education is that no new public school had been built under the Tinubu Hegemony since 1999.

Here is my conclusion, the efforts eulogized and gloated over by the Ayo Oladele Peters represents nothing but tokenism, if not an unpardonable abandonment of the education of our precious children in one of the richest states in Nigeria. Education, which by Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is supposed to be a right has become a privilege of the few who can pay for it and the woe of those who cannot pay for it.

I conclude, I know for sure that the ruling class knows the value of education. If they do not know the value, they will not invest in the education of their children the way they do. If they know the value of education and then rob us blind to get it for their children and deny the children of the hoi polloi the same, it might just mean that the neglect of education is part of the grand agenda of the Nigerian ruling class to keep the people impoverished through the perpetuation of ignorance.

This grand plan and an inordinate commitment to the same is revealed in the recent widely reported unanimous rejection by the National Assembly (House of Representatives), second time in four years ‘A Bill for an Act to Regulate International Studies for Wards and Children of Nigerian Public Officers, to Strengthen Indigenous Institutions, Provide Efficient Educational Services for National Development; and for Related Matters’, sponsored by a member of the House, Honorable Sergius Ogun.

If the ruling class is sure of the soup they cook, why are they not interested in serving it to their children. The book that I read says, ‘the husband man should be the first partaker of the fruits thereof.’ Why are the members of the ruling class relishing in breaking this trite life principle? I think this kind of rejection should be a ground for mass impeachment in a sane clime. Well, I do not even think that this kind of issue will arise in a sane environment. The fact that we are still dealing with this kind of issue, where public office holders refuse to subject themselves and their wards to be served by the social institutions, they swore to uphold is an eloquent proof of our depressing lunacy as a people.

I think this is the conundrum I leave to the conscience of the likes of Ayo Oladele Peters and his sponsors to resolve, even as they continue in their rudderless commitment to defend the indefensible, if they ever recover from the lien of political amnesia to which they have ceded their souls.

Permit me to conclude with a parody of a part of Chief Gani Fawehinmi’s acceptance speech, saluting the courage of the Nigerian Students, as represented by the Student of the Obafemi Awolowo University in their noble struggle against military rule, when the Students’ Union Government conferred on him, the Senior Advocate of the Masses(SAM), the judgment of history is that Dele Farotimi and patriots of an unborn nation like him have not stood aloof, passive and unconcerned when small men in power, whether in agbada, babariga or even in suit have recklessly fiddled with and blind squandered our economic commonwealth and national patrimony.

I rest my case and hand over the baton of judgment to history and posterity, assured in the October 16, 1953, word of Fidel Castro, ‘history will absolve me.’

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