By Olowogboyega Oyebade
Do you know that Mr Adegboyega Oyetola, the Governor of the State of Osun has the greatest respect for the teachers? Do you know that he has directed that their salaries should be paid first among all workers? Are you aware that his constant interaction with the leadership of the teachers has activated the morale of the teachers and the atmosphere in our schools is warm and convivial? Do you know that he joined them to celebrate this year’s Teachers’ Day declared by UNESCO? Are you aware that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) based in Paris, France? Do you know that it coordinates the global agenda to promoting international collaboration in education, sciences, and culture in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter? Are you aware that as at September, 2019. UNESCO has 193 member States and 11 associate members?
Do you know that UNESCO State parties are the United Nations member States (except Liechtenstein, United States and Israel, as well as Cook Islands, Niue and Palestine? Do you know that the United States and Israel left UNESCO on 31 December 2018? Do you know that the governing bodies of UNESCO are: Director-General, General Conference and the Executive Board? Are you aware that the World Teachers’ Day, also known as International Teachers Day, is held annually on October 5? Are you aware that it was established in 1994 to commemorate the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers ass a standard-setting instrument that addresses the status and situations of teachers around the world? Do you know that these standards relate to education personnel policy, recruitment, and initial training as well as the continuing education of teachers, their employment, and working conditions? You care for more? Come along, please.
Do you know that World Teachers’ Day aims to focus on appreciating, assessing and improving the educators of the world” and to provide an opportunity to consider issues relating to teachers and teaching? Do you know that with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 on education, and the dedicated target (SDG 4.c) recognizing teachers as key to the achievement of the Education 2030 agenda, World Teachers’ Day has become the occasion to mark progress and reflect on ways to counter the remaining challenges for the promotion of the teaching profession? Do you know that World Teachers’ Day is co-convened in partnership with UNICEF, UNDP, the International Labour Organization, and Education International? Do you know that the theme for this year’s celebration. Are you aware that UNESCO has reported that 34.4 percent of the teachers had neither the pupils’ textbook nor the teachers’ guide for any of the school subjects in Nigeria? Do you know that it has equally launched a report that teachers’ salaries are low? Do you know that the theme for this year’s Teachers’ Day is ‘Young Teachers, the Future of the Profession! Do you know that UNESCO has declared that about 69 million teachers are needed for elementary and secondary education to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030? Do you know that the agency has put us on red alert that over 48 million new teachers are urgently need in the world to fill immediate vacancies of teachers that are retiring through age or voluntarily? Do you know that it was against this background that some opinion leaders mooted the idea of increasing the retirement age of all levels of teachers from 60 to 65 years? Do you know that the bill has been passed and still awaiting presidential assent?
Do you know that teaching is a profession? Do you know that bad teaching is a liability to the entire country? Are you aware that before 1998, the minimum teaching qualification was a Teacher Certificate Grade II (TCGDII) from Teacher Training College? Do you know that this was phased out in 1998 when the Nigerian Certificate of Education (NCE) became the required diploma for all primary and junior secondary school teachers? Do you know that the government created the National Teachers Institute (NTI) in 1978 to conduct programmes that would upgrade teacher qualifications to the NCE level, with most of these training carried out by distance learning? Are you aware that a Bachelor of Education programme with National Teachers Institute received approval by the government at the end of 2000? Do you know that as at September,2019 there are 152 Colleges of Education in Nigeria consisting of 21 federal, 49 State and 82 private colleges training teachers? Do you know that we have one full university of Education named after Dr Tai Solarin? Do you know that as at today, the National University Commission listed 40 federal universities, 44 State universities and 68 private universities in its website? Do you know that the Nigeria Union of Teachers is pressing for Teachers Special Salary Structure? Do you know that this is the practice all over the world? Do you know that many of them have faculties of Education to train teachers? Do you know that in a good effort to promote education, President Buhariapproved in May, 2019 the inauguration of National Secondary Education Commission , the Act which had been enacted since 1999 and which did not see the light of the day? Do you know that with these facilities Nigeria does not need to have any business with quackery in teaching? Do you know there are still many quacks in teaching? Do you know that more friendly multi-national companies and banks in this country should extend their acts of Corporate Social Responsibility to promote awards for exllence in teaching and copy the example of Nigerian Brewery that instituted Maltina Best Teacher Award for secondary schools in Nigeria?
Do you know Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, TRCN ? Are you aware that it is an agency of the Federal Ministry of Education of Nigeria, established by the TRCN Act CAP T3 of 2004? Do you know that the major mandates of the agency are the regulation and control of the Teaching Profession at all levels of the Nigerian Education system, both in the public and private sectors to assure excellence and professionalism among teachers at all levels of the nation’s education system, using effective registration? Do you know that the Federal Government on Tuesday last week declared that there will be no more room for unregistered or unqualified teachers in both public and private schools in Nigeria as from December 2019? Do you know that this was disclosed by Minister of State for Education, Professor Anthony Anwukah in Ibadan while declaring open a three day workshop on “Training of the Trainers? Do you know that on Thursday in Abuja, the Registrar of the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, Prof Olusegun Ajiboye disclosed that although Nigeria has two million qualified and registered teachers, the country is in need of 250,000 teachers annually to cater to the growing population of pupils? Do you know that Prof Olusegun Ajiboye noted that in some States of the federation some government-owned schools could only boast between two and four teachers? Do you know that new qualified teachers will be appointed as disclosed by Mr. Sonny Echono, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, and that every qualified and licensed teacher would be employed as part of efforts to rid the system of unqualified teachers? Do you know we need this efforts as there are more questions on ground in our country to take to the classroom for solutions? What are these questions? Come along, please. The statement of Prof Olusegun Ajiboye cuts in:
“Education is very critical to the development of any country. Just like every other profession, quackery is a problem and we want to remove quack teachers from our schools. What we are doing is to sensitise the people that quacks must be reported. Also, teachers who are still in school without the TRCN certification should do this before the deadline. So far, the TRCN has registered two million teachers all over the country since the inception of the council was registered. By registering, we mean those teachers who are qualified and have come forward for registration. In Sub-Saharan Africa, we still have a shortfall of about seven million school teachers and Nigeria carries a large chunk of that number. This is because we have the largest number of out-of-school children in the region. This is why Nigeria has a need of large number of teachers. When you get to some states, you will be surprised at the number of teachers you find in schools. We have been meeting with states to address this problem.”
Are you aware that Nigeria is facing perhaps the worst challenge of making governance work for all Nigerians? Are you aware of widespread poverty, illiteracy, dilapidated infrastructures, large number of out of school children, derelict health care facilities with consequent avoidable and needless deaths apart from the carnage of some entrepreneurs of deaths scattered across the length and breadth of the nation? Do you know that millions of Nigerians are hungry and jobless? Do you know that scores are dying as kidnapping, ritual killings, terrorism, banditry, armed robbery have become the order of the day? Do you know that Nigerians are paying for darkness instead of light from the PHCN? Do you know that there is public distrust for government and everything that stands for or represent government across board? Do you know that these are nagging questions this administration wants to resolve to take this country to the next level?
Do you know that the National Assembly is crucial in this matter? Do you know that this ugly scenario bothered the Senate President last Thursday that he had to say that we must ensure that our procurement process is well monitored, that there must be efficiency and prudence in the way we do procurement and that we need diversification in various sectors of our economy like the agricultural sector, solid minerals and tourism and that the mono-economy is not working for this country and that Nigeria needs to have an economy that provides jobs and creates wealth? Do you know why Senate President Lawan was sad? How can he be happy as a patriot to see that out of N3.96tn revenue generated by the Federal Government in 2018, about N3.1tn was spent on recurrent expenditure, representing 78 per cent? How can he be happy to see the low allocation of N2tn for capital expenditure in the 2019 budget out of about N9.1tn appropriated? Ho can he be happy to see over 50 of the revenue receipt going for servicing of debts?
Are you aware that Senator Rochas Okorocha, the Senator representing Imo West Senatorial District at the National Assembly, while responding to the Lawan Challenge, recommended one Senator per State, instead of the current three from each State of the federation as a way to reduce cost of governance in general, while speaking during the Senate plenary last Thursday? He said:
“We must begin to make sacrifice and cut down our cost of governance by having just one Senatorial representative, instead of three (3) per state. We should fund the productive sector of our economy.” Do you know that Senator Okorocha fired some bullets of questions on the floor of the Senate which only our teachers in Nigeria could assist us to answer? Do you know that these questions could best be taken to all our classrooms as our version of celebrating this year’s Teachers Day? Do you know that teachers are the only men and women of knowledge? Why? Come along. Okorocha cuts in:
“Mr. President of the Senate, distinguished colleagues, let’s tell ourselves the truth. Look at the number of House of Representatives members and Senators. To me, what is too important that a House member is doing that a Senator from the same state is not doing? It is time for us to sacrifice and I want to say that a Senator is enough to represent a State in order to cut cost. We must do sacrifice for the nation. ”
Do you know that all these failures of our system should be blamed on all our teachers for not giving us the right all-round education? Do you know that a nation cannot grow beyond the level and quality of its teachers? Do you know that it was the Nigeria Union of Teachers that first of all spear-headed the struggle for our independence? Do you know that when the military cancelled the parliamentary system, the teachers did not wink and they made the spirit of Ransome Kuti, the first President of NUT to shake in his grave? Do you know that when the military abused us and gave us diluted version of American Presidential System, the teachers kept quiet? Do you know that it was the teachers in the military that failed to teach their students very well that made them to fail in copying rightly the American system that has been put into writing for more than 200 years? Do you know that our military copied a wrong thing for us that is making us to suffer collectively? You care to know? Come along.
Do you know that on 4th July, 2019, the United States of America celebrated its 243rd anniversary of its Constitution? Do you know that the Senate of the United States is the upper chamber of the Congress and its composition and powers are established by Article One of the United States Constitution? Do you know that the Senate first convened in 1789 and was formed on the example of the ancient Roman Senate? Do you know that there are 50 states in the United States since 1959and there are currently 100 senators? Are you aware that the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico each additionally elect two “shadow senators”,but they are officials of their respective local governments and not members of the U.S. Senate? Do you know that by virtue of Article I, Section 3, of the Constitution, the three qualifications for senators are: (1) must be at least 30 years old; (2) must have been citizens of the United States for the past nine years or longer; and (3) must be inhabitants of the States they seek to represent at the time of their election and not necessarily an indigene of the place as we relish in Nigeria? .
Are you aware that each State, regardless of its population size, is equally represented by two senators who serve staggered terms of six years? Do you know that between 1789 and 1913, senators were appointed by legislatures of the States they represented in the United States? Are you aware that by virtue of the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913 Senators are now elected by popular vote? Do you know that Senators serve six years in the United States instead of four years here? Do you know that staggered elections are organized for them and that there has never been a time when all Senators will go for elections at the same time as we have in Nigeria now? Do you know that Senators serve terms of six years each and that the terms are staggered so that approximately one-third of the seats are up for election every two years as a cost-saving device and a quick wheel to give smooth traction to continuity and stability? Can you see that the United States with 243 years of experience in the system has 100 Senators and Nigeria with only 20 years of experience has 109 Senators?
Do you know that the duties of the Senate of the United States are the approval of treaties, and the confirmation of Cabinet secretaries, Supreme Court justices, federal judges, flag officers, regulatory officials, ambassadors, other federal executive officials and other federal uniformed officers? Do you know that in cases wherein no candidate receives a majority of electors for vice president, the duty falls to the Senate to elect one of the top two recipients of electors for that office and that the Senate has the responsibility of conducting the trials of those impeached by the House? Do you know that it is not the duty of any Senator in the United States to dabble into personal execution of constituency projects? .Do you know that the presiding officer of the Senate is the Vice President of the United States, who is President of the Senate? Do you know that the Vice President of Nigeria does not have such role? Do you know that in the absence of the Vice President, the president pro tempore, who is customarily the senior member of the party holding a majority of seats, presides over the Senate? Are you aware that the annual salary of each senator, since 2009, is $174,000? Do you know that the President pro tempore and party leaders receive $193,400 each? Do you know that along with earning salaries, senators receive retirement and health benefits that are identical to other federal employees, and are fully vested after five years of service? Do you know that Senators are covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) or Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS)? Do you know that as it is for federal employees, congressional retirement is funded through taxes and the participants’ contributions and under FERS, senators contribute 1.3% of their salary into the FERS retirement plan and pay 6.2% of their salary in Social Security taxes? Do you know that the amount of a senator’s pension depends on the years of service and the average of the highest three years of their salary? Do you know that all these details are not in Nigeria? Can you now see that we copied the wrong version and our teachers are to blame for not teaching us enough literacy to copy rightly? Do you know that our soldiers of war copied a wrong version of bicamerallegislature for us, a legislature that has been judged to be too expensive than what our resources can continually carry without murmur? What are the effects of copying the wrong version? You care to know? Come along.
Do you know that we are not alone unhappy about the expensive mistake which this administration must try to address before it expires? Do you know that Lauretta Onochie, President Buhari’s Social Media aide has joined the debate by releasing her contribution to Senator Rochas Okorocha’s call for the reduction of lawmakers in Nigeria? Do you know that while reacting on the courageous speech of Okorocha, Onochie took to her Twitter page, and praised the former governor for his suggestion at the senate, adding that he had spoken the mind of Nigerians? The statement of Onochie cuts in: “I never thought that we would hear this on the floor of our National Assembly. In Nigeria. Wow!I must applaud Sen. Okorocha for his bravery. I hope he spoke the mind of the majority of our Assembly men and women because he spoke the mind of most Nigerians. God bless Nigeria.” What are the effects of our copying a wrong version? Come along, please.
Are you aware that Nigeria has too many laws that are vagrantly ignored, side-stepped and violated for political and selfish interests while the NASS looks on despite the power of oversight and audit? Do you know that these laws include: the National Health Act, Violence Against Persons Act, Administration of Criminal Justice Act, and relevant Acts in the water, housing, agriculture, and education sectors, among others? Do you know that despite various Appropriation Acts, Nigerian annual budgets are poorly implemented with very little evidence of impact on the living conditions and critical development index? Do you that we are not giving strong attention to legislations and policies capable of deepening rule of law, transparency and accountability and the rights of Nigerians throughout the foreseeable future? Do you know that accountability laws are left for the President and the Vice President only to advocate? Do you know that the National Assembly must put biting teeth to ensure compliance with the Public procurement Act, Freedom of Information Act, Fiscal Responsibility Act, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Act, and all other relevant legislation capable of promoting good governance in the oil, gas and mining sectors and improve the management of the Nigeria economy? Why is it that we need Senator Uba to remind us that we are short-changed by the multinational corporations with trillions of Naira as we refuse for 20 years deliberately not to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill? Do you know that we expend billions of Naira on electoral reforms and still find our elections too controversial in courts and that each winner has to be confirmed in court by few Nigerians who are judges to prove that Nigerians actually voted? Do you know that may mock power as belonging to the people? Do you know that such exercises are only putting to test the strength of character of our Lords in wigs, gowns and gloves, an action that might provoke Niyi Osundare again to sing: “ My Lord! Where do I keep your loot?” Do you know that the road of such litigations became slipery for a former Chief Justice of the Federation and he had to be tipped off the tipping-edge of the cliff? Who does not know that this country needs to separate position of the Attorney General from that of the Minister of Justice and why do we copy a wrong version? Do you know that the Government of the United States does not have any Secondary School and does not have any Federal University and that all issues relating to Secondary and University education are within the purview of the States? Why did we copy quota system, a system that wastes 60 percent of admission provisions in all our Universities every year? Where did we copy only one centrally-controlled police? Do you know that each State and each County (Local Government) has its own police in the US? Where did we copy the Act that says that all minerals belong to the Federal Government? Do you know that in the United States, mining of resources can be done by individuals and communities?
Where did we copy the law that the Federal Government should appropriate more revenues than all the 36 States and 774 Local Governments put together? Which Federation in the world did we copy the idea of a uniform minimum wage in every Geography of the country whatever the meanness of resources? Where did we copy the idea to jettison the idea of ensuring that our health and agriculture budget allocations meet with the AU standard of 15% and 10% respectively? Why do we copy this version of rule that allows agencies to duplicate functions? Why did we choose to copy a contradiction that has made us to spend an outrageous percentage of our Gross Domestic Product on its political class, especially the legislature with or without mandates from the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission?
Do you know that these issues were not just bothering Okorocha and Onochie alone,? Are you aware that the issues of wrong version that our teachers forced us to copy bothered Ozekhome, who noted that the salary and allowances of a senator were higher than the take-home of a professor, recommended a reform that should include the adoption of a unicameral legislature or making the legislative duty a part-time job? Are you aware that the issue bothered the chairperson of Transition Monitoring Group, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi when he said that data coming from the assessment of the just-concluded 8th National Assembly indicated that less than 30 per cent of them actively participated, either through support for a motion or sponsoring bills? Do you know that the issue of wrong version must have bothered some concerned Nigerians who filed a lawsuit asking a Federal High Court in Lagos to restrain, prevent and stop the National Assembly Service Commission from paying members of the 9th National Assembly individually and/or collectively over N4.68bn as ‘welcome package which they are seeing as a breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers (Fifth Schedule Part 1) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999, oath of office (Seventh Schedule) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999 and Section 6(1) of the RMAFC Act 2004? Do you know that the immediate past Chairman, Shettima Abba Gana, absorbed the agency of any blame and hinged the high cost of governance in Nigeria on “expensive nature of the presidential system of government; large bureaucracy – duplication of government Ministries, Departments and Agencies and endemic corruption? Do you know that this wrong version seems to be the reason why people like Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Olu Falae and Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, have advocated for a return to parliamentary system and a reversion to 1963 Constitution? Do you know that the Presidential Advisory Council (PAC) chaired by Lt-Gen. Yakubu Danjuma once advised Nigeria to reduce the number of ministries from 42 to 18 and fuse together the non-ministerial agencies to avoid overlap, duplication and redundancy? Do you know that Pastor Bakare once asked all Nigerians to raise up their hands if they could live in their houses to govern like Awo or ride their old cars as official cars like Papa Ajasin? Do you know that no Nigerian accepted to say Yes? Do you know that in the opinion of Ray Ekpu in an interview, the resources committed to law-making in Nigeria are higher than the cost in the U.S., U.K., Germany, South Africa and Brazil? Do you know that the growing resort to borrowing to cover the cost of recurrent expenditure and the increasing debt service burden are warning signals for the political leadership at all levels to act fast to ensure that Nigeria does not fall off the fiscal cliff and plunge into a debt peonage? Do you know that this is the reason Senator Okorocha took the floor again to say:
. “Let’s proffer solutions and not creating more problems for the executives. They are waiting for us. What do we have different to show? The summary of what we have been talking about is money, we don’t have enough funds to support the needs of Nigerians, to create jobs and put food on the table of the common man. This problem arises from the fact that we depend on only one source of income which is crude oil, which consists of over 50% of our revenue and 90% of our foreign reserves, and this oil is static. We should look inwards. Let’s cut our clothes according to our materials, not our sizes. The budget of Nigeria is cut according to our size not the material available,and according to the solution.”
Are you aware that Mr Lawan, the Senate President thenadvised Mr Okorocha to sponsor a bill which would amend the part of the Constitution that provides the current representative number in both Houses? Do you know that Section 48 of the Constitution provides for three senators from each of the 36 States of the federation and one from the FCT (totalling 109)? Do you know that section 49 provides for 360 members of the House of the Representatives elected from the constituencies in each State of the federation? Do you know that only a constitutional amendment can thus lead to the kind of reform that Mr Okorocha calls for? Do you know that all our teachers must comply now with best practices to teach good things so that we may not copy wrong things in the future?
We rejoice with all the teachers in the State of Osun and we appreciate the kind gestures that the Governor MrAdegboyeyega Oyetola is extending to them. The young teachers that are coming should be able to meet their students on all E-Platforms to be able to cope with the new curricula. We wish teachers happy anniversary. The song of Fela cuts in” Teacher! Don’t teach me nonsense.”
It is time to make the necessary amendments to the Constitution to save Nigeria from eventual financial disaster and possible national bankruptcy. You