By Olowogboyega Oyebade
Are you aware that something good happened to the State of Osun last week as the Ministry of Interior headed by Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola brought the retreat of the Ministry to Osun, featuring the agencies under the Ministry headed by CG Jaafaru Ahmed of the Nigerian Correctional Service, CG Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, CG Liman Ibrahim of the Federal Fire Service and CG Muhammadu Babandede of the Nigeria Immigration Service? Do you know that the retreat was to strategise on ‘Driving Performance in Achieving the Presidential Mandate on Nigeria’s Internal Security’? Are you aware that the Governor of the State of Osun, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola delivered a key-note address and declared the retreat open? Do you know that the timing of the retreat could not have been better in view of the current challenges facing our nation and the world? Do you know that all security agencies in Nigeria are currently on red alert because of the emerging developments from the Middle East? You care? Come along. Chai Are you aware that Iran had acknowledged that it “unintentionally” shot down a Ukrainian International Airlines passenger jet early Wednesday, 8th January, 2020, killing all 176 people aboard? Do you know that the plane was mistaken for a “hostile target” after it turned toward a “sensitive military centre” of the Revolutionary Guard? Do you know that this was caused by the “highest level of readiness” resulting from tensions between Iran and the United States?
Are you aware that the admission came after Iranian officials denied earlier claims that they mistakenly shot down the jet and accused the United States of “spreading lies” about intelligence alleging they did? Are you aware that of the 176 people killed in the crash, most were Iranians and Canadians? Do you know Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, said Iran “deeply regrets this disastrous mistake” and offered his apologies and condolences? Do you know that these are the payloads that trail this type of tension, putting the lives of innocent people at risk? The voice of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani cuts in: “Armed Forces’ internal investigation has concluded that regrettably missiles fired due to human error caused the horrific crash of the Ukrainian plane and death of 176 innocent people, and that investigations continue to identify and prosecute this great tragedy and unforgivable mistake. The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake. My thoughts and prayers go to all the mourning families. I offer my sincerest condolences.”
As the security architecture in Nigeria are keeping stern watch on Embassies, Offices and religious centres in the country, do you know that the media should intensify vigorous campaigns to let the mass of the people know that the growing tension is not religious but economic? Do you know that the masses should be educated on the fact that the parties to this tension had in the past moved to tipping edges without getting to war and that the present face-off is not likely to break down into war? Do you know that the President of the United States is only using the stand-off to attract attention of voters in America to win second term this year and to divert attention from infractions leading to his emerging impeachment saga? Do you know that the Iranian Government too is playing the bravado to divert attention from protests against economic hardship caused by recent hike in prices of petroleum products, a protest that demanded for regime change? Do you know that the tension does not worth any person’s blood in Nigeria?
Are you aware that political relations between Iran (Persia) and the United States began when the Shah of Iran, Nassereddin Shah Qajar dispatched Iran’s first ambassador, Abolhasan Shirazi, to Washington, D.C. in 1856 and the United States reciprocated in 1883 by sending Samuel Benjamin as the first envoy to Iran? Do you know that ambassadorial relations were not established formally until 1944? Do you know Americans such as Arthur Millspaugh and Morgan Shuster were once appointed Treasurers-General (Finance Ministers? at different periods in Iran? Do you know that Iran allied with the United States by choice in its struggle to break free of British and Russian dominance in the Gulf? Have you read about the last Shah of Iran? You care? Come along.
Do you know that the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, maintained close ties with the United States during his reign which lasted from 1941 till 1979 when he was overthrown by the Islamic Revolution? Are you aware that it was the United States that helped Iran create its nuclear programme in 1957, built the first nuclear reactor and supplied nuclear fuel to operate the device? Do you know that it was the United States that provided for Iran in 1967 with weapons grade enriched uranium as part of the Atoms for Peace programme launched by President Roosevelt? Do you know that the participation of the United States and Western European governments in Iran’s nuclear programme did not happen by mistake and continued until the 1979 Iranian Revolution that toppled the last Shah of Iran? Do you understand ‘money-matter’ which is now the root of all these evils?
Do you know that Shah Palavi was toppled in 1979? Like any other leader of the third world presiding over an ol-rich nation, do you know that he assisted himself to keep some billions abroad for personal use, the assets which were demanded to be refunded by the new regime in Iran? Trust the United States! Do you know that all entreaties to repatriate Shah and his assets were frustrated? Do you know that the United States reached a deal in 2015 to limit Iran’s nuclear capabilities, a deal that freed over 100 billion dollars in frozen assets overseas for Iran and increased foreign access to the Iranian economy? Do you know that in return, Iran agreed not to engage in nuclear programmes, including research and development of a nuclear bomb? Do you know that without any justification, the United States withdrew from the deal in 2018 owing to the maverick nature of President Trump? Do you know that in November 2018, all the sanctions removed in 2015 were re-imposed on Iran by the Trump administration?
Are you aware that on 7th March 2019, Acting U.S. ambassador to the UN, Jonathan Cohen, in a letter to Secretary-General António Guterres, urged the United Nations to put new sanctions on Iran for its new missile activities? Do you know that in April 2019, the U.S. threatened to sanction countries continuing to buy oil from Iran after an initial six-month waiver announced in November 2018 expired? Do you know that also in April 2019, the U.S. designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization? Do you know that on 20th June 2019, Iranian forces shot down an American RQ-4 Global Hawk military surveillance drone? Do you know that on 5th May, 2019, the U.S. deployed the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and four B-52 bombers to the Middle East to “send a clear and unmistakable message” to Iran? Do you know that on 15th November 2019, Iranian authorities raised gasoline prices for civilians and imposed strict rationing rules, a situation that led to protests? Do you know that on 19th November,2019, the United States expressed its support for the protesters and condemned the Iranian government? Do you know that on 27th December 2019, a rocket attack on the K1 Military Base in Iraq, which houses U.S. and Iraqi forces, killed a U.S. civilian contractor and wounded several U.S. and Iraqi service members? Do you know that on 29th December 2019, the U.S. conducted airstrikes against Kata’ib Hezbollah in Iraq and Syria in retaliation for the death of the U.S. contractor?
Do you know that in response, Iranian-backed militia groups stormed the US Embassy in Baghdad on 31st December, 2019 to deface property and the group of people left the Embassy on 1st January, 2020? Do you know that on 3rd January, 2020, General Qasem Soleimani, Head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, was killed by a US airstrike in Iraq, a situation that made Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to vow for “severe revenge” against the United States? Do you know that on 7th January , Iran’s Parliament unanimously passed a bill naming all branches of the US Armed Forces and employees of The Pentagon “terrorists”? Do you know that later, at approximately 5:30 pm on that day, Iran carried out “Operation Martyr Soleimani” launching 12-15 missiles to strike multiple US targets located throughout Iran and Iraq, including Al-Assad Air-base where about 1,500 soldiers were housed and Irbil? Do you know that in the height of that retaliation, a Ukraine Jet carrying innocent multi-nationals was accidentally brought down by Iran using allegedly Russian missiles? Can you now see that the tension is economic and never religious?
Do you know that the entire world is now gripped with ‘Trump saga’ that may define and colour-code the entire security, politics and economy of all nations in year 2020 if care is not taken, only because Mr Trump wants to win second term? Do you know that this avoidable dire-strait we are voyaging was precipitated to shift attention on impeachable deals relating to his first term election? Do you know that his fear of his own image in domestic affairs has now been ballooned to take global seat in foreign and domestic affairs of all other nations on earth? Do you know that the entire humanity is turned to a mere pawn in the chess-game of Trump’s power and its collateral liability? Do you know that u know that we must avoid this human error and put ourselves back on track to pursue what each nation has set to do in 2020 and stop wars?
Imagine that the funds countries expend on weapons were spent on education, nutrition and health, how would the world be? Did you check the defence budgets of countries in 2019? Did you notice that in 2019, the United States of America budgeted $717bn for defence, China ($177bn), India ($60.9bn), Germany ($53bn), Saudi Arabia ($51bn), United Kingdom ($49bn), France ($48bn), Japan ($47bn) Saudi Arabia ($51bn), Russia ($46.4bn), South Korea ($42bn)? Did you notice that the US Defence Budget of $717bn was more than four times that of China? Can you now see why China more funds to assist less-privileged nations than the United States? Do you know that Military Expenditure in Nigeria increased to 1907 USD Million in 2018 from 1621 USD Million in 2017? Are you aware that military spending is causing education spending to decrease immensely? Do you know that a March 2011 report by UNESCO revealed that armed conflict was the biggest threat to education in Africa as there had been steady diversion of public funds from education to military spending? Do you know that the report identified twenty-one African countries as the highest spenders of Gross Domestic Product on military globally compared with the amount directed toward education?
Do you know that the cold relations among the USA, China and Russia are forecast to push military spending higher in 2020, thus reducing the funds for education, health, infrastructure and climate change? Do you know that total defence spending is estimated to grow 3-4% in year 2020 to $1.9 trillion worldwide, with funds primarily spent on modernising and replacing aging military equipment, according to a report released recently by Deloitte. The report cuts in: “Demand for military equipment is on the rise as governments across the globe focus on military modernisation, given increasing global security concerns. The uncertainty and sustained complexity of the international security environment worldwide is likely to boost global defence spending over the next five years.”
Do you know that it is not for fun that the United Nations elected a special day to celebrate education? Are you aware that there will be peace on earth if education is allowed to take root? Do you know that 24th January of each year has been declared as the International Day of Education? Do you know that on 3rd December, 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming 24th January as the International Day of Education, in celebration of the role of education for bringing global peace and sustainable development? Are you aware that without inclusive and equitable quality education and life-long opportunities for all, countries will not succeed in tackling all problems leaving humanity behind? Are you aware that the right to education is enshrined in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Do you know that the declaration calls for free and compulsory elementary education in all jurisdictions, including the deserts and the war-thorn zones to the smallest child of the poorest parents in their meanest huts and their remotest villages? Do you know that the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989, goes further to stipulate that countries shall make higher education accessible to all without colour, creed and race forming any point of reference?
Do you know that 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals adopted in September 2015 recognized that education is essential for the success of all 17 of its goals? Do you realise that Sustainable Development Goal 4 aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” by 2030? Are you aware that about 265 million children and adolescents around the world do not have the opportunity to enter or complete school which is their right? Do you know that research further revealed that more than a fifth of them are of primary school age and that these wretched of the earth are thwarted by poverty, discrimination, armed conflict, emergencies and the effects of climate change? Do you know that forced migration and displacement affect the achievement of the education goals, as presented in the 2019 Global Education Monitoring Report? Do you know that the International Day of Education day was celebrated for the first time in 2019? Are you aware that 617 million children and adolescents in our world, a population that nearly doubles the total population of the United States, cannot read and do basic Mathematics? Yet, the global defence budget for 2020 is put at $1.9 trillion?
Do you know that research has shown that less than 40% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa complete lower secondary school and some four million children and youth refugees are out of school? Do you know that in a survey conducted by UNICEF and published on 11th December, 2018, out-of-school children in Nigeria rose from 10.5 million to 13.2 million? Yet, Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of which our country is as signatory says education is a right? Yet, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989, stipulates that basic education is a right and countries shall make higher education accessible to all without colour, creed and race forming any point of reference? Yet, Goal 4 of Agenda 2030 states that countries shall “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” by 2030? Do you know that all of us have to join this year’s celebration in line with the 2020 theme, Learning for people, planet, prosperity and peace? Do you know that we have to join people thinking aloud to examine the many ways learning can empower people, protect the planet, build shared prosperity and foster peace? The statement of Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director General for the Day cuts in:
“Education is the most powerful force in our hands to ensure significant improvements in health, to stimulate economic growth, to unlock the potential and innovation we need to build more resilient and sustainable societies, We will not succeed in breaking the cycle of poverty, mitigating climate change, adapting to the technological revolution, let alone achieve gender equality, without ambitious political commitment to universal education.”
Do you know that we need enlightenment on what the issues are? Do you know that one basic problem is our collective mentality that Africa is too poor to afford good education? Have we quipped to reflect why Americans, British and Chinese businesses are thriving and declaring profits after tax in multiple billions of Dollars while our local industries are folding up? Do you think that if we were that poor and unviable, they would still endure? No! Do you know that the first issue is to solve the riddle of the 13.2 out-of school children to get them back to vocational schools? Do you know that this is the time to popularise vocational schools and ICT innovations? Do you know that we need to employ Adult Education to re-train those already stale and puerile?
Can you recall that in the Premium Times published of 28th Feb, 2019, it was published that the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board declared that it had registered over 1.8 million candidates for the 2019 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination? Do you know that in another report, less than 0.5 million candidates were admitted into universities through that process? Do you know that only 81,791 were admitted to Polytechnics, 59,498 were admitted to Colleges of Education and 585 gained admission to Innovation Enterprise Institutions? Can you see that we have over one million candidates that are teenagers that are waiting for higher education that we cannot provide for in Nigeria, year in year out? Do you know that these are smart ballistics for crimes of kidnapping, rape, ritual killing, armed robbery and insurgency? Can you see that education is key? Do you know that research has shown that about 90 million of African teenagers have to struggle for employment in low-paid and physically-exertive jobs only to survive? Do you know that the never-ending conflicts in all African countries occasioned by ethnic intolerance aggravates displacement which eventually leads to having no access to proper education as manifested in Somali, Sudan, Burkina Faso and Nigeria?
Do you know that the current education we dispense has limited access to knowledge to solve problems? Do you know that general run of students at the tertiary education level is not familiar with books by Darwin, Machiavelli and Hegel, Nkrumah, Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikwe, Patrice Lumumba, Walter Rodney, Frantz Fanon, Hadley Chase, Nick Carter, Lobsang Rampa, African Writers Series and books on science fiction? Do you know that we still teach our children that atoms cannot be created nor destroyed in 2020 when the United States assassinated General Soleimani with a drone before our very eyes on 3rd January, 2020? Do you know that our education is not competitive enough as evident in our scores in major international learning assessments? Do you know that we see Robotics as voodoo, only meant for the initiated in the ivory towers of Europe and America? Are you aware that Robotics is an interdisciplinary branch of engineering and science that includes mechanical, electronic, information engineering and computer science to deal with the design, construction, operation, and use of robots, as well as computer systems for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing? Do you know that these technologies are used to develop machines that can substitute for humans and replicate human actions?
Do you know that robots are used in many situations and for lots of purposes in dangerous environments (including bomb detection and de-activation), manufacturing processes, or where humans cannot survive? Do you know that robots are used in space, under water, in high heat, and clean-up and containment of hazardous materials and radiation? Do you know that the advent of nano-robots, microscopic robots that can be injected into the human body are now defining what Medicine and Healthcare is likely to be in the future? Do you know that Robotics is now over-lapping with electronics, computer science, artificial intelligence, mechatronics, nano-technology and bio-engineering to define the world in which we live in? Do you know that our education should reflect these changes in orientation so as to be counted with the rest of humanity? Do you know that the current curricula in all our Universities are not having the resolution to take us to the next level? Can we afford to stand aloof as driver-less cars or flying cars pass us by in our streets? Do you know that the war going on in the North East of Nigeria is enough opportunity to improve our Science and Technology spectra?
Are you aware that the 2018 World Bank Report titled “Facing Forward: Schooling for Learning in Africa” argued that sub Saharan Africa is ‘behind’ other regions of the world in developing its knowledge capital; the ability of individuals and nations to fully realise their talents and potential? Are you aware that the report focused on 46 of the 54 countries in Africa? A statement from the report cuts in: “ Education – or lack thereof – will underpin the direction of Africa’s growth. It will be the single biggest factor in determining the future cohesion and prosperity of Africa – a Continent that is experiencing remarkable social, political, economic and demographic changes.”
Do you know that the global water crisis has severe effects on education and health in rural countries in Africa? Do you know that the disease of malaria, cited to be a main cause of death in Africa, is a mosquito-borne disease that can commonly be found in unmanaged pools of still water in nearby neighbourhoods where open defecation of man and animal is the norm rather than exception? Do you know that as we celebrate this year’s International Day of Education, we need to reflect on the trajectory? Do you know that in 2012, Nigeria ranked 20th position in the world in the area of allocation to education when it allocated 10 percent? Do you know that it came down to 6 percent in 2017 at a time Ghana voted 31 %, Cote d’ivore30%, Uganda 27%, Morocco 26.4%, South Africa 25.8%, Swaziland 24.6%, Mexico24.3%, Kenya23 %, United Arab Emirate 22.5%, Botswana 19% Iran 17.7% and the United States, 17.1%? Do you know that Nigeria allocated 6.7% in its 2020 budget for education? Do you know that there are wide rooms for improvement as we celebrate International Education Day on 24th January, 2020?
Do you know that we have to commend the Governor of the State of Osun, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola for taking the issue of education serious in the scheme of things in the State? Do you know that his preference to promote Vocational and Technical Education should be encouraged by us all? May his administration be richly blessed. Happy celebration.