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INSECURITY AND POLICE RESPONSE UNDER ALKALI

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CRIME fighting in the modern world is fast changing and progressively evolving. The landscape of crime has so significantly changed that a paradigm shift in modern security arrangement is inevitable if the world must be kept safe and secured. The traditional line between local crimes and external aggression has become so considerably nebulous that an efficient internal security apparatus is dependent largely on an elaborate collaboration between the security agencies notably the police and the military.

Joint operations of police and military personnel in intelligence gathering, anti-crime and counter-terrorism operations have become the hallmark of a new shift in paradigm in the world of security. While this is common knowledge to security experts, the ordinary Nigerian who can’t travel, work or sleep freely in recent times because of the threat of kidnappers, robbers, bandits and terrorists are solely looking up to the Nigeria Police to keep them safe.

As an integral part of the nation’s internal security arrangement the commitment of the Nigeria Police Force to the security and unity of Nigeria has never been in doubt. As a public institution, every year, the Force loses gallant men and women in the line of duty; this notwithstanding, it has remained committed to the safety of Nigerians.

Unfortunately, Nigerians have continued to bash the Force because of the activities of a few bad eggs and an age-old stereotype which continue to becloud the massive transformations ongoing in the Force.  Fortunately, the Inspector-General of Police, Alkali Baba Usman, is turning the tide and a new Police Force is already emerging under our noses.

X-raying Nigeria’s Security Challenges: In the last two decades, Nigeria’s  six geopolitical zones have become swathes of varying forms and degrees of criminality triggered by an upsurge in the activities of an array of petty and oil thieves, pirates, cultists, kidnapping gangs, murderous ritualistic groups, cyber criminals, secessionists, militants, bandits and terrorists. The sheer number of these criminal gangs, their effrontery, the increasing sophistication of their operations, their use of top-grade military hardware and infiltration by influential trans-border extremists and ideologists have combined to stretch the nation’s security apparatus and unsettle the citizenry.

The Nigeria Police effectively curtailed the spread of cultism among youths in the Southern part of Nigeria. The killings and kidnappings which made the South-East unsafe a few months ago are gradually coming under security check as security forces are increasingly winning the battle against the ruthless Unknown Gunmen who have enforced a reign of terror in the region. There is much to achieve, but the success so far recorded is encouraging for citizens and investors.

The most serious threat to Nigeria’s internal security today is the activities of insurgents and terrorists ravaging the North-East and North-West. Experts believe there are close to 30,000  well-armed terrorists and bandits organised into roughly a 100 groups and very well-oiled with cash, extremist ideologies and possession of military-grade weapons and ammunition, including RPGs. These groups survive by attacking residents, organising kidnap

and mass abduction of students, collecting taxes and levies from communities in exchange for protection from other bandit groups and carrying out raids on one another in a vicious competition for land, resources and dominance. Their stature and influence appear to grow largely as a result of their access to huge cash, seemingly inexhaustible cache of ammunition, mobile nature of their operations and their ability to thrive in ungoverned or under-governed spaces in the North.

Notwithstanding these security challenges, President Muhammadu Buhari will go down in history as one of the presidents whose administration has spent the most on military equipment in order to re-equip the nation’s military and make it formidable in modern warfare. The President has also approved an annual recruitment of at least 10, 000 new recruits into the Nigeria Police Force. However, Nigerians expect more!

A New Police Force is emerging

For me, the appointment of Alkali Baba Usman as Inspector General of Police in 2021 has turned out to be one of Mr. President’s most perfect decisions. IGP Alkali’s policy drive and strategies have shown him to be a man designed and built to lead the Force into a new era of policing in this generation. To close watchers of the police institution, the IGP has remained determined, goal-oriented and fully focused on his mission to make the Force more operationally strategic and more effective in policing activities.

Police officers are now more conscious of their interactions with the public because the dark days of police brutality and impunity are gone! The IGP has completely digitalized police recruitment through a transparent process which has been highly applauded. The training department, in line with the IGP’s vision successfully institutionalised the process, thereby removing unnecessary bottlenecks and barriers which often characterize the recruitment exercise in many of our institutions.

Continuity is key: The appointment of a new IGP has always signalled a massive change in the top echelon of the Force. However, IGP Alkali Usman introduced several epoch-making innovations and retained a few necessary ones.   This expressly demonstrates his unique quality and sterling leadership style. His drive has always been to prepare the Police Force to face the challenges of a modern Nigeria.

Training, retraining and capacity building: IGP Alkali Usman has approved several training sessions for officers in order to build their capacity to function in their roles and to fine-tune their skills to better function as professional police officers. The Conference and Retreat for Senior Police Officers, first organised in 2019 by Matchmakers Consult International, has grown to become an annual capacity building gathering for all senior officers from the rank of Commissioner of Police.

The last edition was held in Uyo, the capital of Akwa Ibom State. The IGP played a very active part both as a participant and as a Resource Person. In preparation for next year’s general elections, I understand the IGP has again approved the organisation of another edition in October 2022 to prepare senior officers for effective policing during the General Elections.

Effective policing at elections: Since assuming his role as Inspector General of Police, IGP Alkali has mustered the Force to police three off-cycle elections: Anambra, Ekiti and Osun elections. Characteristically, all three elections have been largely peaceful as a result of a change in policing strategy. Surprisingly, the IGP has achieved this almost effortlessly, thus giving Nigerians hope of a peaceful general elections in 2023.  

Rebuilding Police infrastructure and welfare: On assumption of office, the IGP had singled out the welfare of officers and improvement in education in the Force as a cardinal focus of his tenure.

VANGUARD

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WHY UZODINMA ‘WELCOMED’ BUHARI WITH OSADEBE INSTEAD OF WARRIOR, CHIMEZIE

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Right from January 14, 2020, up until now, the people of Imo State have continued to live in suspense with their governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma. The relationship between Governor Uzodimma and Imo voters simulates that of two adults in a forced union. The governor does not lose any opportunity to flaunt, like a wife from a privileged and influential home, her status.

Imo people believe that their governor was not their original intention, but forced on them by unexpected pregnancy outside wedlock.

That could explain why ever since the Supreme Court pronounced on the 2019 governorship election appeal that sacked Hon. Emeke Ihedioha, Governor Uzodimma has been struggling to win the confidence of the people, even as he rubs the fact in that despite their reservations, he remains their governor.

Using the foregoing as a backcloth, it could be understood why the recent visit by President Muhammadu Buhari came exactly one year after a similar visit in 2021. Governor Uzodimma and his supporters in the All Progressives Congress (APC), wanted the world to see the President’s visit as evidence of the governor’s political savviness instead of as a makeup visit to right the wrongs of the previous stopover.

And, as happened last year, the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) proclaimed the legendry sit at home (SAH), which many have described as part of the Biafran calendar in Southeast.

Unlike the usual Monday SAHs, the decision of the IPOB leadership to slam a SAH on Tuesday September 13, 2022, took many surprise, even as it was given different interpretations: While some observers held that the SAH was targeted at President Buhari’s visit, others argued that the Governor Uzodimma orchaestrated the SAH so that the president’s visit could be without chance occurrence.

Those who expressed that sentiment remarked that the governor stoked the shift of IPOB leader’s trial from October to September 13, ostensibly to instigate IPOB to make their usual declaration.

Recall that in the more than three-year long bitter-sweet relationship between Imo people and Senator Uzodimma, IPOB had been on the forefront in writing off his administration as antithetical to Igbo socio-political interest.

Although there was no official confirmation that Governor Uzodimma had a hand in the shift of Kanu’s trial date, the IPOB’s statement outlined its intentions for declaring SAH on a Tuesday.

In the statement dated September 10, 2022, and signed by Emma Powerful, the IPOB spokesperson, the group declared: “The global family and movement of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) under the command and leadership of our indefatigable liberator, Mazi Nnamdi Okwuchukwu KANU, wish to announce to the general public, especially Biafrans, that Tuesday September 13, has been declared a day of civil action in the form of Sit-At-Home in Biafra Land.”

Powerful noted that the Tuesday, September 13, 2022, civil action was very important for two reasons, “First, Our Leader’s Appeal Court hearing that was supposed to be on October 11 has been brought forward to September 13, 2022.

“As usual, we call on Biafrans and lovers of freedom to demonstrate our solidarity with our leader, who is bearing our yoke in detention for over a year now. IPOB never issued a new directive to Biafrans, but is simply implementing an existing order to lock down Biafra Land any day the Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra will appear in court at Abuja.

“It was based on such agreement with our leader that informed the suspension of the initial Mondays sit-at-home declared by IPOB leadership in August of 2021. It is imperative that our people understand this and go about their daily work and businesses on Monday and get prepared for Tuesday the 13th of September 2022, because Biafraland will be LOCKED DOWN COMPLETELY.

“Secondly, it has come to the knowledge of the leadership of the Indigenous People of Biafra that the vulture in IKONSO HOUSE in Owerri, the Imo State Government office has decided to insult the memories of our gallant men and women and of the youths of Imo State that he has been murdering in collaboration with the Nigerian terrorists in Army, police and DSS uniform by inviting Buhari to Oweeri the Imo State capital Tuesday September 13, 2022, the very same day the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra Mazi Nnamdi Kanu will be appearing in Court. What an affront and insult upon the land of Biafra and the people of Biafra.”

Consequently, that fateful Tuesday 13, when President Buhari’s aircraft touched ground at the Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri, Governor Uzodimma felt relived and seemingly fulfilled that he was killing two birds with one pebble: First, the President’s visit helped the governor to clear the pervading impression that President Buhari swore never to visit Imo State on Uzodimma’s watch as was being pandered by opposition in the state.

It could be recalled that shortly after President Buhari’s visit to Imo State last year, his remarks that he would consider before accepting another invitation, supported the impression that Governor Uzodimma tricked the President on embarking on the visit.

The President had remarked: “I am overwhelmed by this reception; overwhelmed in the sense that, when I accepted the invitation by the Imo State governor, who wants to justify investments the government has done to the people, I thought I would see the bridges, the roads and a few renovations.

“He didn’t tell me he was going to get the whole Igbo leadership here. So, in the future, when he invites me, I’ll know what to do.”

Also, apart from claims that the President was disappointed by the scant projects executed, opposition alleged that the projects were mostly uncompleted. This was just as the President’s attire was made the butt of ribald jokes on the social media as keyboard happy youths called for the arrest of the tailor who put together the Isiagu piece, particularly the President’s trouser.

In the Presidency’s efforts to come to Uzodimma’s aid, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, released a statement, explaining that Buhari’s closing comment was carefully taken out of context.

Adesina had stated: “We have observed that President Buhari’s concluding remarks at the meeting with South East Leaders during his one-day visit to Imo State is being deliberately contorted and twisted out of context.

“The purveyors of disinformation want Nigerians to believe that the President bluntly told Governor Uzodinma, ‘‘I’ll be careful with your future invitations. They have adduced different meanings to the phrase, contrary to the context wherein the President spoke during his successful dialogue with leaders of thought from Igbo land…”

The Second Coming
ON his second coming precisely one year after, it was a dapper President Buhari that walked briskly and majestically in a contrasting all white caftan, in a manner suggesting a response to all those that won’t mind their business and focus on his attire.

There were near silent whispers of “hey, he appears to be younger and smarter.” But, the height of the pantomime was during the breaking of kolanuts, which is a welcome ritual in Igbo land.

President General of Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo, Ambassador George Obiozor, informed the august visitor that breaking kolanut in Igbo land is a sensitive and tricky business. Governor Uzodimma used the interlude of the kolanut breaking to speak in idiom, which Chinua Achebe describes as the oil with which elders eat words in Igbo land.

Why the governor chose late Osita Osadebe’s Osondi-Owendi, was not lost on many of the dignitaries present, who are aware of the tenuous relationship between the governor and his people. In Osodi-Owendi, Uzodimma was passing a subtle message to IPOB and the opposition that he does not give a damn.

Osondi-Owendi translates loosely to different strokes for different folks, but in the context of the hanky-panky politics of Imo State, the governor seems to have given up on his efforts to warm his administration into the hearts of Imolites.

Apparent from Buhari’s visit to Imo State also, was the fact that the governor was not apologetic about his membership of All Progressives Congress (APC), which has a low acceptability rating in the zone. It is such setting that would have spurred Christogonus Obinna Opara (Warrior of Oriental Brothers) to render his Jide nke gi kam jide nkem, onye ana na ibeya (keep to your lane).

Had Governor Uzodimma wanted, he could have brought Bright Chimezie of Zigima Sounds. The problem with that alternative is that instead of taunting his opponents, Chimezie would have reminded the governor Onuru ube nwanne agbalaoso (be your brother’s keeper) or Meere ndi obodo iheoma si gi n’obi (Serve your people with a sincere heart).

However, oblivious of the coded political diatribe, President Buhari felt at home as he met with Southeast leaders present, even as he declared that in spite of daunting odds, his administration has performed extremely well since it came on board in 2015.

And, as if echoing the Osondi-Owendi lyrics, the President lamented that those who should have been vociferous in marketing his administration’s marvellous deeds are regrettably silent.

Dignitaries present at the reception included, the Deputy Senate President, Omo-Agege; Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Idris Wase; Minister of State for Education, Goodluck Nana Opiah; the Deputy governor, Prof. Placid Njoku; Chairman of Elders Council of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu; a former military administrator of Imo State/Foreign Affairs Minister, Maj.-Gen. Ike Nwachukwu (rtd) among others.

While recalling his government was welcomed into office by a multiplicity of economic challenges, including dwindling oil prices, crude oil theft, Boko Haram insurgency, among other drawbacks, the President declared: “To be frank with you, I blame the Nigerian elite for not thinking hard about our country. Between 1999 and 2015 when we came in, I will like people to check the Central Bank and the NNPC, the average production was 2.1million bpd. Nigeria was earning at this time 2.1 million times, but look at the state of infrastructure, look at the roads, look at the railway, it was virtually killed. Power, we are still struggling.

“But, when we came, unfortunately, the militants were unleashed, production went down to half a million bpd. Again, unfortunately, the cost of petroleum went down from $28 to $37.”

Referring to his previous visit, Buhari noted that his appeal for support to Governor Uzodimma to bring progress to the state was bearing fruit, which could be seen in the infrastructural growth recorded by the administration.

The governor in his welcome address had noted that, but for the prompt intervention of President Buhari, bandits and hoodlums would have overrun the state. He informed the President that, “your prompt intervention helped to restore peace and order in our state. But, for your timely, prompt and fatherly intervention through the security agencies, bandits and hoodlums would have overrun Imo. For this, I also say thank you Mr President.”

While remarking that his administration’s goal is to leave Imo better than they met it, Uzodimma noted: “We refused to be distracted by pockets of insecurity and social media blackmailers and propaganda, especially those that are politically contrived.”

He noted with glee that the Owerri-Okigwe Road, under construction, traverses seven councils, leading to Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi and other states, adding that construction of most of the roads undertaken by his administration, including Amucha-Njaba erosion area on Owerri-Orlu road, were abandoned because of their topography.

However, taking on the governor, the opposition PDP described the President’s visit as a meaningless jamboree and waste of public funds, explaining that Governor Uzodimma lured Buhari to the state to commission uncompleted projects.

Although the state governor outlined that the President was coming to commission the first phase of the Owerri- Okigwe Road, and the Owerri- Orlu Road, PDP decried the rush to inaugurate the projects when they were still ongoing.

In a statement by the state PDP publicity secretary, Collins Opurozor, the party declared: “For the avoidance of doubt, the Imo State House of Assembly Complex, the best in Nigeria, was built and commissioned by Chief Sam Mbakwe in 1983. The project was handled by an indigenous firm, Okigwe Construction Company, owned by Chief John Enyogasi.

“For Imo PDP, therefore, Uzodinma’s attempt to take credit for Mbakwe’s landmark project is an intolerable dimension to his insult and disrespect to Mbakwe, and it is the most audacious attack on the memory of the late respected leader.

“What makes the issue more outrageous is that President Mohammadu Buhari, who Uzodinma has concluded plans to bring for the festival of shame, has always been known for his abiding disdain for the progress and development of Imo State.”

While the opposition continues to wail and rail, Governor Uzodimma will continue his Osondi-Owendi till October 2023, when the voters will have the opportunity to introduce their kinsmen, Oriental Brothers and Warrior’s Iche na mmadu bu eghu (who is fooling who)?

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[DRAMA] DAN KPODOH’S INTERPRETATION OF OLA ROTIMI’S ‘GRIP AM’

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Scene from the play

The name Dan Kpodoh has deservedly etched himself as one of the proponents and vanguards of the renaissance of live theatre performance in the city of Port Harcourt and by necessary extension the Niger Delta region.

By Don Kester Oshiarome

Through his Active Play House, Dan, a script writer, choreographer, artistic director, Festival curator and Event Manager, has produced and hosted with consistency performances in the last few years. Some of his productions which are usually laced with dance and music, include but not limited to; Bolobolo, _The Struggle_, Biokpo, _Unbroken_, _The gods are not to blame_, etc. His choice of scripts for productions reveals his artistic commitment to socio-economic reconstruction. Whereas he addressed the burning issue of domestic violence which I describe as the scourge of the marital space today in _Unbroken_, however, for the most part, Dan’s artistic endeavor tilts toward the ideological dramaturgy of the Osofisans and the Fatundes because evident in his thematic construct is the passion for the liberation of the Niger Delta from the shackles of depravity underdevelopment.

A scene from the play

On Sunday, 11th September 2022, Dan Kpodoh took another giant stride with his cast and crew to bring to live theatre enthusiasts in Port Harcourt and environs, one of Ola Rotimi’s classics in the comedy genre; _Grip Am_.  For those not familiar with this very popular script, it is an adaption from vernacular into Nigeria Pidgin English by Ola Rotimi. For some it may have been nostalgic entering the auditorium and perhaps with an air of predictability (that feeling of knowing what to expect). But with dexterity and artistic license, Dan Kpodoh tweaked this comedy into a musical somewhat, suggesting that the present transition in theatre development in Nigeria into Musical Theatre is gradually becoming a norm.

The play started at 05:07 pm; 1 hour 37 minutes from the earlier advertised commencement of 3:30 pm, at the Arena Event Centre, Tombia Street, GRA, Port Harcourt. No thanks to the heavy downpour. The hall was half full; comprising mainly of theatre practitioners, who came to show solidarity and support for one of their own. The main show was preceded by rib cracking jokes by the duo of Angel the Laff (pioneer, Port Harcourt Comedy Club) and Kunle Tatafo (of the Funky Four). They both reeled out spontaneous jokes which relaxed and prepared the audience for what was to come; more laughter and entertainment.

Scenes from the play

The play opened with a Sunny Neji’s hit track, _Tolotolo_; incidentally that was the name of Alabo (the protagonist) and Warri’s neighbor. The director set the play in the Niger Delta, judging from the names of the protagonist and his wife; Alabo (played by Alfred Fadar Otite) and Warri (played by Favour Nabofa). Tolotolo (played Doubra Agwana) is depicted as a ‘been to’ character, in her speech, nuances and mannerism. But we would discover later that all was for show, she’s never been anywhere but her community. Whereas the Arena is proscenium in orientation, Dan from the outset was not pretentious about his avant-gardist approach to directing in the manner he broke the fourth-wall, introducing his first character on stage from the audience. That singular act created a tacit intercourse between the audience and the actors on stage.

In terms of content, the director made superfluous insertions of social issues, phrases, words, jokes and malapropism into the original dialogue, all in a bid to evoke laughter and indeed it resonated with the audience. So we heard issues like PVC and its importance to good governance going forward. Songs like _Enjoy_ by Tekno, Alpha Blondy’s _Sweet Fanta Diallo_, and of course ‘Carry me dey go, carry me dey go my father house’ (from a skit creation that has gone viral on social media), etc, were freely but appropriately used to the delight of an appreciative audience.

There were three entrances that were innovative for me; the first was that of the Angel (played by Olivia Chinwendu Onyeji) heralded by George Frederick Handel _Halleluyah Chorus_. The Angel appeared on stage spotting a medicated  glasses, when asked why, she replies that she doesn’t see correctly. That generated guffaw on stage and in the auditorium. The beggars’ entrance was equally exciting, though unexpected; it added fervor to the dramatic piece with its sonorous songs. However, the entrance of Death (played by Jessica Oluebube Sunday) was the show stopper. Death was introduced with his team, all clad in black and danced in unison to a parody version of Michael Jackson’s track, _Billie Jean_. It was a lively performance. The landlord (was played with panache by Dan Kpodoh). His interpretation of the role held the audience captive especially with his phrase uttered in Yoruba-English; ‘Nor dey S’out’ (shout). Deinmoara James Profit played the typical Ijaw woman’s role effectively too, accent and all. Wisdom Edet as Skiddo, the landlord’s son gave a good account of himself in the few moments he graced the stage. Overall, the acting was excellent.

Don Kester Oshiarome

Ultimately, this was a successful show performance wise. Although there were deliberate attempts at slapsticks by some actors to elicit laughter, it didn’t take anything from the general performance. Alabo (Alfred Fadar Otite) didn’t manage his voice properly, he was shouting in an attempt to project, even with a lapel mic. That was a disservice. If this play ran for 3 days, I doubt he would have retained his voice. Also, the actors played for the most part on the same plane Down Stage, that wasn’t good directorially, as it robbed the play of the needed depth. The Set was as simple as austere as it can be but was too neat like a new project about to be commissioned. The technical director could have aged it a little though. The costumes and make up and sound were on point. The play ended with Kizz Daniel’s anthem; _Buga_.

Like we have always advocated, we should be collaborating and not seen as competing with each other. We should support one another. To that extent, I salute Crabites who defied the rain to patronize one of us. It is okay to acknowledge Boma Kiri-Kalio who single handedly bought 20 or so tickets to share to friends. Also, Mr Yibo Koko, gave an open invite to every member of cast and crew of Seki to attend the show at his expense. Indeed Dan was enthralled by the solidarity.

In all, the feedback attests to the fact that the audience had value for their time and money. Congratulations to Dan Kpodoh, Cast and Crew of _Grip Am_, and the Active Play House on another successful outing.

POSTSCRIPT

Finally, thanks Dan for asking me to do this review. It reminds me of what I consider the best definition of a critic yet; “critics are like manure, they smell but you need them to grow”. Dan is one who is ready to grow, and grow he will.

Don Kester is a creative arts critic and writer based in Port Harcourt

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FG APPROVES 33 PRIVATE VARSITIES IN 16 MONTHS

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National Universities Commission, (NUC)

Data obtained from the National Universities Commission on Friday revealed that a total of 33 private universities were approved by the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari[retd.] within 16 months.

The period under review is January 2021 and April 2022.

Sunday PUNCH reports that while 21 of the private universities were approved in 2021; 12 were approved during the present strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities.

Prior to the establishment of the 33 universities, the total number of universities in Nigeria stood at 186 comprising 49 federal universities; 59 state universities and 78 private universities.

Private universities established in 2022 include Pen Resource University, Gombe, Gombe state; Al-Ansar University, Maiduguri, Borno state; Margaret Lawrence I -University, Delta state; Khalifa Ishaku Rabiu University, Kano; Sports University Idumuje Ugboko, Delta state;  Bala Ahmed University, Kano; Saisa University of Medical Sciences and Technology, Sokoto state;  Nigerian-British University Hasa, Abia state ; Peter University Acina-Onene, Anambra state;  Newgate University, Minna, Niger state ; European University of Nigeria in Duboyi, Abuja and  North-West University, Sokoto.

Some of the private universities approved in 2021 include Opfaith University, Mkpatak, Akwa Ibom; Thomas Adewumi University, Oko-Irese, Kwara; Maranatha University, Mgbidi, Imo; Ave Maria University, Piyanko, Nasarawa,;Al-Istiqama University, Sumaila, Kano.; Mudiame University, Irrua, Edo; Havilla University, Nde-Ikom, Cross River; and Claretian University of Nigeria, Nekede, Imo.

Others are NOK University, Kachia, Kaduna; Karl-Kumm University, Vom, Plateau.; James Hope University, Lagos; Maryam Abacha American University of Nigeria, Kano;Capital City University, Kano;Ahman Pategi University, Kwara; University of Offa, Kwara; Mewar University, Masaka, Nasarawa;Edusoko University, Bida, Niger;Philomath University, Kuje, Abuja and Khadija University, Majia, Jigawa ,among others.

Speaking in an interview with our correspondent, the Programme Director, Reform Education Nigeria, Ayodamola Oluwatoyin noted that while private universities have their benefits; they shouldn’t take the place of public universities.

“The failure of the government to efficiently manage the public university system gave rise to the birth of private universities in Nigeria. While one cannot fail to admit the importance of private universities, it is very important to note that not everyone in Nigeria can even afford payment of fees in public institutions, not to talk of private fees who charge exorbitant fees.

“However, the government should ensure that sanity is returned to the administration of our public institutions. For instance, ASUU has been on strike for months now and nothing has been done.”

Sunday PUNCH reports that the strike by ASUU which started on Monday, February 14, 2022 entered its 180th day on Saturday, making it the second longest strike since return to democracy in 1999. The longest strike ever was in 2020 under the regime of Muhammadu Buhari.

The National President, ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke could not immediately be reached for comments.

Foreign education

Meanwhile, the release of dollars for foreign education by the Central Bank of Nigeria increased by 13 per cent in quarter two of the year 2022.

The period under review was between April 2022 and June 2022 according to the latest statistics made available by the apex bank.

The figure is contained in data obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria, calculated based on the data provided on the amount spent on educational service under the sectoral utilisation for transactions valid for foreign exchange.

Within Q1 [January to March 2022], Nigerians spent $217.36 million dollars on foreign education.

$60,202,730.84 in January; $69.9m in February 2022.

There was a significant increase in March when a total of $87.26 million was spent.

So far in Q2, Nigerians have so far expended a total of $246.2 million.

$78.62 million in April; $82.70 million in May 2022 and $84.9m in June 2022 making a total of $462 million in 2022 altogether.

Sunday PUNCH reports that education in Nigeria, especially in the tertiary education sector, has been marred by industrial actions by tertiary institution-based unions such as the Academic Staff Union of Universities, the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics and the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union.

Currently, academic activities in Nigerian universities are grounded on issues bordering on lecturers’ welfare.

The data from the apex bank revealed that Nigerians remitted more than $462million to foreign academic institutions in five months without significant reciprocity in form of inflows from foreign sources to the local education sector.

The huge net dollar outflows have dual adverse effects of underinvestment in domestic education and creating pressure on the naira exchange rate.

The high demand for dollars to pay foreign educational institutions affects Nigeria’s foreign reserves and increases pressure on the exchange rate.

Sunday PUNCH reports that the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation observed that about 76,338 Nigerians were studying abroad as of 2018, the highest from an African country.

While commenting on the state of tertiary education in Nigeria, a Professor at the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba, Victor Olumekun siad, “Education is an essential ingredient for national development hence the government needs to substantially invest in it. However, universities can then look for other sources to complement.

“Unfortunately, our leaders have stolen more than enough to cater for their great grandchildren that are yet to be born. They can afford to send their wards to Oxford, Cambridge that charge in excess of #35,000 per session”.

So far, the ongoing strike by ASUU seems to have no end in sight as the union has vowed to sustain its strike until the government meets its needs,

The union is seeking for the release of more funding for universities; release of earned allowances; deployment of the University Transparency Accountability System for the payment of salaries and allowances of university lecturers; Renegotiation of condition of service among others.

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