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Former Nigeria international, IDAH PETERSIDE

Former Nigeria international Peterside Idah, who has declared interest in becoming the next President of the Nigeria Football Federation has debunked news making the rounds that he instigated the 2004 Super Falcons protest in South Africa after winning that years African Women’s championship.

Speaking with Sports Vanguard over the matter, the former Super Eagles safe hands denied ever having anything to do with the alleged protest, stating rather that he bailed the Nigerian contingent out of the messy financial situation it was in by paying a whopping $10,000 US Dollars being cost of their hotel bill.

He started, “the management of the hotel had threatened to throw the team and officials out. I got a call from Precious Dede that they could not get accommodation for like two days. They were supposed to lodge in Oakland Park, one of the holiday inns. They came back from training and were not allowed to go and change. So they called me. When I got to the hotel, these players were all outside. They told me they had just returned from training, they had not taken their bath and had not eaten. So I went to the management of the hotel and asked what the problem was that they kept our national team outside.

The management told me that the team had been there for three nights and had not paid one cent. Though there was an initial deposit which was not enough. I asked them ‘how much was the money? They told me about 8 or 9 thousand dollars. I went and brought 10,000 US dollars which I paid. Till date that money has not been refunded to me.”

He continued, “because they were many, I told them to reduce the number of rooms by increasing the number of occupants per room. Instead of two, they should make it three per room. This arrangement also affected the officials. I also asked them to reduce the number of times they ate. They ate breakfast and in the evening I arranged with a lady who was cooking Nigerian food for them. Ann Chiejine and Perpetua Nkwocha can attest to what I am saying.

“When they won the Cup, they brought the trophy to my Church for a Thanksgiving service, and in appreciation of what I did for them. It was later that Late Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi, then NFF Secretary General of the NFF came with money and paid their allowances. They did not refund one penny to me.  I wasn’t involved with the NFF in anyway. I did it because of the love and passion I have for my country. Till today, those girls never forget me. Anytime they see me they remember that episode in South Africa.”

Peterside I dah also denied the rumour that he instigated the players to stage a protest during which he gave them the flag of Biafra.

He asked, “Was there any agitation for Biafra 19 years ago? I can’t remember if IPOB was there then. I think it was MOSOP. In the first place I am not Biafran, I am from Rivers State. What have I got to do with Biafra?

“No! Somebody is lying against me. From where could I have got the flag of Biafra 19 years ago? Me that just finished playing for Nigeria a few years back, to go and carry another country’s flag. Certainly, somebody wants to tarnish my image because I want to become NFF president. For God’s sake, I am a pastor. How can I be political. I think people are just being mischievous.”

He said the players couldn’t enter their room. “There was no protest. They were outside the hotel. And by the way, why would I instigate the girls? What could I have been protesting against? These are all lies.”


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Veteran Journalist, Reuben Abati

With the traffic infraction saga involving Arise Morning Show co-host, Rufai Oseni being resolved, it is pertinent to look back and point out valuable lessons that need to be learned. As the incident unfolded, it emerged that his colleague Reuben Abati, was equally involved in a back-and-forth with the irrepressible Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.

The whole episode must have been frustrating to the management of the Arise News Channel; under whose umbrella the flagship program the Arise Morning Show is produced. There is nothing more embarrassing to a media outfit, than for its presenters or reporters to become subjects of news reports for the wrong reasons. It is the major reason  journalists are admonished to cultivate a low profile, and conduct their affairs quietly, hoping only to attract positive news reports if at all. No media organization wants its internal affairs laid bare in public. Not because media houses do evil, but out of a sense of professional etiquette. Furthermore, it would be akin to scoring an own goal, as Tundun Abiola would say, and a serious breach, for a media house to actively engage in reporting a negative story about itself, how much more creating stories for others which it cannot report.

For the avoidance of doubt, the Arise Morning Show has become a must watch for most Nigerians. The in-depth analysis by Abati and his co-anchors; Tundun Abiola and Rufai Oseni, coupled with their masterful interviewing skill has made it so. To have two of them embroiled in avoidable media uproar must have rankled with management. I am happy however that no actions were taken against the journalists by management, as witnessed in the recent case of CNN anchor Chris Cuomo who was fired, following revelations that he was involved in a scheme to shield his brother Andrew Cuomo, the erstwhile governor of New York State from justice due to allegations of sexual misconduct.

Rufai Oseni

Oseni committed traffic offence and was confronted by traffic officers. I’m happy he has acknowledged as much, following his apology. A careful analysis of the entire saga reveals that those who live in glass houses should never throw stones; this is because the Arise Morning Show is seen as the people’s court, where government officials are interrogated and made to answer questions which ordinary Nigerians cannot ask them. It follows that the anchor of such a program is like the goldfish which has no hiding place.

Many years ago I was guest analyst on television when the Super Eagles B team, the CHAN Eagles, took on the Atlas Lions of Morocco. By the end of the first half, the Moroccans were 3-0 up against the Eagles. I was so frustrated at the Eagles play and forgot my role, I became emotional and stated that the Eagles had lost the plot and had no hope of a comeback. Unfortunately for me, the Eagles scored three goals in the second half and took the game to extra time before triumphing via penalties.

For months I was heckled to no end by football enthusiasts for not knowing my job, messages were sent to me directly and through friends abusing me. Lucky for me Social Media was not in place at the time, if not, I wouldn’t have seen the end of the matter. Since that time, I have learnt to keep emotions out of my analysis.

I believe in the same sense that Rufai Oseni now realizes that there is a target on his back, and that a man who wants others to be upright, must himself be upright. As a social critic, the searchlight is always on you, and your detractors are always on the prowl waiting for you to stumble so they can feast on your carcass. The glee with which rival television and radio stations, rushed to publish the news bears testament to this fact. Oseni knows by now that he must always be on his best behavior in public.

The other side of the story involves Abati using the opportunity of a side swipe by Nyesom Wike the governor of Rivers State to remind Nigerians of his journalistic credentials, and posit that Wike does not have the premise to teach him journalism.

I believe Abati needs no introduction in matters of journalism in Nigeria, those who were old enough to read newspapers back in the 1980’s know very well what The Guardian Newspapers alongside The Vanguard and Concord Newspapers meant to journalism in Nigeria. In later years especially in the 1990’s and 2000’s, Abati made his mark as a columnist with The Guardian, and endeared himself to Nigerians with his erudite essays.

It was therefore surprising that Abati took time to respond to Governor Wike. I followed the PDP presidential, and vice presidential nomination processes on the Arise Morning Show, and I believe Abati was objective in most of his analyses especially as pertaining to Nyesom Wike. One cannot rule out however, that Wike may have found Abati’s objectivity somewhat irritating, and therefore nursed a grudge. In that sense the governor used a recent media opportunity to take a swipe at Abati over an interview with Atiku Abubakar which Abati conducted.

I must state here that no journalist anywhere in the world can ask all the questions in people’s minds in tandem with their perceptions. When going for an interview, the journalist has a mandate and the pertinent issues he wishes to tackle, if his respondent answers to those issues, then his job is done. It is not the journalist’s place to know the issues on everyone else’s mind and begin to probe his respondent for answers to them. It was therefore unfair of Governor Wike to challenge Abati over the Atiku interview.

In the same vein however, I did not expect Abati to respond to Wike’s comments. As the revered late American president Abraham Lincoln once said; if you stopped to throw stones at every dog which barks at you, you’ll never get to your destination. In that sense, I expected Abati to take the Wike criticism as what comes with the territory, and did not require a response.

All in all however, I am happy to see both Abati and Oseni on the job, and keeping Nigerians abreast of goings on in our country. I’m sure that Rufai Oseni realizes now that there are enemies waiting for him to stumble. This should in no way stop him and especially Reuben Abati, from doing the great job they are doing; keeping our leaders on their toes, and keeping Nigerians informed.

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One of Nigeria’s finest Hip-Hop/Pop mavericks, Folarin Falana, professionally known as Falz,

Two years ago, Nigeria witnessed one of its most bohemian civil protests. A crop of young, daring voices dared to stand against the country’s Federal Government, in a war that is currently controversial as an uprising against police brutality, economic stagnancy and venal law enforcement.

It remains a bittersweet memory in the minds of the myriads of young Nigerians who wore their motivations on their chest while they chanted, trekked and roared against the systemic anomalies in the country’s governance.

At the heart of that expedition was one of Nigeria’s finest Hip-Hop/Pop mavericks, Folarin Falana, professionally known as Falz, who was among the pioneers of this democratic process.

Born to lawyer parents, Falz, who has become infamous as one of Nigeria’s entertainers slash activists, has always chaperoned any pro-humanitarian movements since his early days as a singer, when he was barely 19. A decade later, the musician is one of the most vocal prodigies of his generation using his voice for socio-economic good.

However, at the heart of Falz’, aka FalztheBahdGuy’s artistry, is an undying resolve to be radical. And this has now morphed into his latest musical adventure, his fifth studio album dubbed, Bahd, which sees the layer turned musician tread unusual waters in the realm of loverboys, sonics and storytelling. Now, the young musician turns inwards, leaning towards his romantic persona, churning a subtler, mellow groove across the 12-track album.

Sitting across a Zoom call, the 31-year-old peels his layers of activism, stripping bare the loverboy and life enthusiast that underscores the persona of Falz within Bahd. In this Guardian Music Special, he opens up on the stories behind Bahd, the influences bootstrapping his activism, as well as why he remains the Chairman of Nigeria’s Single Men Association, among others.

You have an exciting new project out. How do you feel about it?

I am excited about it. Like you said, it’s refreshing. I wanted to do something that reflected that; something that was different from the norm. That’s why I worked on this project.

Let’s dive into the project. What exactly was the concept of Bahd when you were creating this project?

Basically, Bahd is an album that captures me in completely different lives; it captures me being emotional. It captures me being vulnerable and at the same time, me being very sexy. So, it’s a very different kind of project, in that it is more solemn in the feel. It’s very psychedelic in the way that it makes you feel. It was meant to be that sort of beautiful dreamy project, but at the same time, it breaks away from the norm.

On this project for example, you hear me singing on a majority of the tracks, you know. I’m not doing that much rap and that shows how much I wanted to tear away from my regular style. I think I have been able to achieve that, and I am happy with the end product.

So, when did you first have the idea for Bahd?

I have actually been working on it for some time. Basically, the recording process started during the entire lockdown, spilling into 2021; between 2020 and 2021.

Let’s go into the creative process of this record. What influenced you to work with the people you did on this record?

Yeah, I wanted people that would fit in nicely to the sort of sounds that I was creating on this project. I wanted people that I am naturally a fan of; people I have always wanted to work with. So, it was beautiful to be able to put them together.

I also wanted people from as diverse a range of sound as possible, you know. So, that’s why I had Tiwa Savage on the track, and in another track, I had Cavemen. On another track, I had L.A.X, you know and there’s BNXN. It’s a big mix of different folks from a diverse range of sounds. That was what I wanted.

Speaking of sounds, you are rather mellow on the record. Was that all you or mostly influenced by your producers?

It’s a mix actually. I conveyed, of course, what I wanted to achieve in the project and they said, ‘say no more, we got you.’ And we created this idea, then they helped me to achieve that mellowness and sweetness I was looking for.

If you were to pick two of your favorite records on this album, which would you pick?

Wow, that’s a very tough one; my favorites kind of vary. This week, I might be feeling something, tomorrow, I might start feeling something else, but every track is special. Every track on the project is special for its own cause or what it stands for. But right now, my favorite probably is Kneel Down, the one with Chike.

That’s the one stressing people up on social media?

Yeah, that’s the one making people do some exercise.

There is a record called Beautiful Sunflower featuring Tiwa Savage on this album, what’s the backstory?

I wanted to make a love song – a love song that is very different. I wanted to make a love song that is from a completely different angle and unfamiliar. It is almost like Afro-funk, you know. I wanted to have it be very psychedelic and I also needed a very sweet touch.

I knew it had to be female vocals and I couldn’t think of anyone else but Tiwa Savage. We had been planning to work together for some time and this just happened to be the perfect record. The synergy, I think, was also A1.

What was the most stressful record to produce on this album?

There was no stressful record, if I am going to be honest with you. All the tracks were as easy to make, as they sound. It was sweet; it was all nice and neat. So, I wouldn’t say there was any stressful record to make.

Leading up to the album, you were releasing a lot of Amapiano and Rap tracks; we didn’t really see you coming out like this. Was there any fear that people might not receive this?

Literally, there is always that you know, ‘you don’t know how it’s going to be received, you are not sure how you’re going to do this.’ But at the end of the day, I have always been that one to break away from the norm. I have always been the one to sort of do things that are unexpected and for me, it was another adventure. So, I am happy I did it.

Leading up to the album, what were you listening to?

Well, leading up to this project, I was listening to a lot of Drake and a lot of The Weekend. Yeah, I will say these guys do these things a lot too, in terms of sound, mood and the mellow vibe. You know, how they convey on their records, there were definitely some similarities on how I wanted to convey.

Also, I am always listening to Afrobeats. There are tons of talented guys out there that are killing it. So, it was I finding that nice, little balance between what I was listening to and what I wanted to create.

Now that we have seen the lover boy Falz, are we still going to see the serious Falz again?

Yeah, of course, the serious Falz is always there; it can never go away. The serious Falz is always going to be there, today, tomorrow and the day after.

Probably, my next project, I can’t say for now, because I am still focused on this project. But in my next project, yeah. So, stay tuned.

Speaking of serious Falz, tell us about how your childhood influenced your activism?

I mean, definitely. I grew up in that type of setting, you know. My dad and my mum are activists in their own rights. They, being both lawyers and I grew up in that too. So, naturally and inevitably, it was always going to show up in my life, character and that is something that has always pushed me since the very beginning of my career.

I have always used music to reflect this and it just came out a lot more in recent times but definitely, my upbringing was a big part of it.

What do you really hope to get out of this activism?

It has never been about what is in it for me. For me, it has been about what is in it for everyone. You know, at the end of the day, it is compassion. Music is expression. It is a medium for which you could voice out your thoughts. So, if I am saying this a lot, then it shows you that I am thinking this a lot.

You know, these are matters on my mind; these are matters that genuinely disturb me. These are matters that I genuinely want to see something change about. You know, music is just reflective; what is around me is what I am always going to talk about. There is absolutely no ulterior motive. It is just compassion and I will continue to do that.

There is a song on the album that I don’t understand. Can you please explain what the Parampe song is about?

Parampe is like a ginger song; it is like a sort of motivation. It makes you feel like a super villain.

Oh, So, is that a word you formed?

No, it is that song that is going to give you utmost ginger. So, when I say ‘them dey blow me Parampe.” You know, Parampe is like mimicking the sound of a trumpet. That is why there are lots of horns on the record. It leans toward Afrobeat, the original; that is, the Fela Afrobeat. You can hear that.

Yeah, it is just meant to be that ginger song. So, ‘dem dey blow me Parampe,’ is basically you know, they are welcoming me; they are blowing me that trumpet, like the Bahd guy has arrived.

Let’s go a bit more personal. You have gone into the lover boy Falz, from the look of things are we looking at a relationship?

Maybe in the near future, stay tuned.

How about now?

I am still a single man. I am the chairman of the Single Men Association.

Where did you get the inspiration for these songs, if you are still single?

Well, while I was making them, maybe things were different, but now I am single.

If I was to present you with any amount of money you desire and tell you to quit music and go back to law, would you do it?

No, no, no I will not. Law is not something that I did not enjoy; don’t get it wrong. I did enjoy it. While I was practicing, it was something I enjoyed. But at the end of the day, you want to do something, especially something that you are doing everyday of your life. Something that you absolutely adore, like this is my passion, and a lot of this is what gives me utmost pleasure, you know. So, I would not want to drop that even for money.

Do your parents tease you about going back to law?

Yeah, definitely; he is still super proud of me. Him and my mum are my biggest fans, but there are days they still talk about how much of a great lawyer I would have been. For them obviously, that is their perspective. So, yeah, it is always going to be like that.

Going forward, what is the vision for Falz?

At the end of the day, I just want to keep on making beautiful music. I want to continue to inspire; I want to continue to educate as much as I entertain with my music. I want to continue to make my music an avenue for an awakening and at the end of the day, it is still a tool for entertainment. You know, music is an art form. When I am 99 years old, I will still make music and I will always make music.

Tell us three things that most people will be shocked to know about Falz?

Errm, let me see what I can come up with. Funnily, I am actually a shy guy. A lot of people find it hard to believe when I say that, but I am actually a shy guy.

Also, I cannot swim and I think those are two fun facts I can think of. Also, my favorite meal has to be pounded Yam and Egusi.

I was hoping you were not going to say Amala…

Amala too is mad o, with Gbegiri and Ewedu.

We are going to have issues, Falz…

You don’t like Amala? Who doesn’t like Amala? Anybody that doesn’t like Amala should be arrested.

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The National President, Parent-Teacher Association of Nigeria, Haruna Danjuma

The National President, Parent-Teacher Association of Nigeria, Haruna Danjuma, speaks to GODFREY GEORGE about the lingering industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities which has gone on for almost six months.

How would you assess the response from the Federal Government as regards the demands of the Academic Staff Union of Universities which has made students of public varsities be away from school for nearly six months?

The Federal Government is now beginning to respond in a more pragmatic manner concerning the ASUU strike. The issue of ASUU has raised a lot of reactions that even the Ministry of Labour and Employment had to come in. Now that the President, Muhammadu Buhari, has mandated the Ministry of Education to take over the matter, I think there will be light at the end of the tunnel. We hope that within the two-week ultimatum given to the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, changes will come. We need tangible results as parents and stakeholders in education. Our children need to go back to school. They are tired of just sitting at home, doing nothing. They need to continue their academic exercise.

The ultimatum expired over a week ago. Don’t you think this shows the government’s unwillingness to meet the demands of ASUU?

No. Adamu just came on board. He needs time to make recommendations and will do so soon. He understands education better.

It has been almost six months since the strike began. Is this intervention not belated?

People need to know everybody’s role. It is the role of the government to establish universities and engage the services of lecturers and educators that will teach our children. They also have the responsibility of equipping our universities with adequate equipment so our children can learn properly. I just hope Adamu will take this recent call by the President seriously and play his role to make this strike come to an end. Even though he is not an educationist, he has been an educational administrator long before he assumed office. He used to advocate for quality education in Nigeria. He used to run a column in a Nigerian daily. I do not want to talk about the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, who has bastardised this struggle with his words and actions. This has made the amicable settlement of this crisis to be farfetched. Ngige thinks he can do this all by himself. He thinks the issue of handling academics is like other unions in other sectors. What ASUU is asking for is for our own good – revitalising our universities and making sure that all the equipment needed is in place. That is why they asked some stakeholders led by Prof Nimi Briggs to go to the public universities and assess the facilities themselves on the ground. They have done that and they submitted their findings and their recommendations. It is now left for Ngige to take that report and meet with Mr President and explain in detail what to touch, what to do and not to do, but he has not done so till now. This is why the President had to reassign Adamu, who is at the helm of affairs in education ministry, to take over the matter and deliver it in two weeks. It is such a shame! The issues of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System and University Transparency and Accountability Solution, are things that we ought to sit down and talk about and come to an agreement on. As parents, we are surprised that this has taken so long. It is something that an employer and the employee are supposed to sit together and talk about and reason together. With what is happening now, I just hope Adamu will intervene and things will return to normalcy.

Speaking of the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, he has not been on the scene for quite a while, leaving much of the negotiations in the hands of a former Minister of State for Education, Dr Emeka Nwajuiba, and Ngige. Why do you think this ‘new’ intervention would be any different?

If one is in the government, one cannot just go and do what one has not been assigned to do even though your ideas are the best and you are very versed and have experience. Once a boss assigns someone else to oversee or resolve an issue, there is nothing one can do. Now that Mr President has mandated Adamu to take over the matter and deal with the issue, he can do that now because he has the right to put in his best. At the early stage, there was very little he could do because he was not a member of the committee assigned to meet with ASUU. The deliberations have taken place already and there is a report, too. All he has to do is to take the document to meet with Mr President and advise him on what to do. Adamu also needs to invite ASUU leadership for another roundtable discussion for a  possible resolution of the dispute. It is not about starting from the beginning again because the bulk of the work has been done. If one is not fully involved from the beginning, one cannot just go and meet Ngige and ask him what is going on. He was not the one who assigned Ngige to do the job. It was Buhari who did so. Even the second committee led by the Chief of Staff, did you hear if Adamu was invited to be part of the committee? We are expecting that Adamu will use this opportunity to make the whole nation know that the matter is now with someone who understands the issues. Anything less than that, Adamu will find things difficult going forward.

How has Ngige’s intervention helped this struggle?

No, no, no. Ngige has failed. He handled things too arrogantly. He thought the matter was something he could toss about the way he wants. Issues bothering education affect the life of the country and should be treated with urgent care. We are talking about the lives of future leaders, who we don’t want to deviate from the right track. This is the reason we have the issue of banditry and terrorism everywhere. Now, we have our children at home and Ngige and his cohorts are insisting that there is no money because his children do not attend school in Nigeria. He does not care about education in Nigeria; that is why he feels he can do and undo it. In fact, Ngige is sabotaging the government’s effort to end this strike. It is only by sabotage that his government is being brought to a level that makes the citizen unhappy with the government. We are now expecting Adamu Adamu to change this narrative and prove to Mr President that he is the right person to handle this issue.

The Minister of State for Labour and Employment. Mr Festus Keyamo (SAN), urged parents to beg ASUU to resume classes. Have you picked a date to beg the striking lecturers as recommended?

(Laughs) Keyamo misinterpreted the whole matter. He looked at the whole thing from the perspective of a lawyer, maybe. What he has forgotten is that the PTA did not employ lecturers. They did not establish universities. We don’t own universities. We don’t own the lecturers. We were only asked to send our children to school which we have done. It is surprising for him to ask us to go and beg the lecturers. We can have a meeting with ASUU, FG’s representatives and NAPTAN’s representatives for us to witness the whole deliberations to see where we can come in and contribute. But, if Keyamo wants us to kneel and beg ASUU and the FG, we will do that for all this to end. From the beginning, we were not invited to come and witness any proceedings. We will keep appealing to both the FG and ASUU to come to an agreement so our children can go back to school. We cannot do anything more than that. If we are then invited as observers to the meetings, then, we can contribute. We will tell them why we need our children back in school and why we need to revitalise our universities with modern facilities and equipment. This is why most politicians take their children overseas, even to neighbouring countries to go to school. I am sure those politicians sending their kids abroad attended school in Nigeria themselves. That is why up till now, we have not heard their voices on this critical issue concerning our children. We have not heard that a motion has been moved by either the House of Reps or Senate about this issue. It is even a good thing to hear from the elders – the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities – and other stakeholders who have made an appeal to the FG and showed concern.

I will not fail to also thank the media for the kind of support they have shown. We have to team up to tell the government to meet ASUU’s demands and be honest about what it can do and what it cannot do. The back-and-forth is too much, and it is getting nauseating. ASUU should not expect that it will get all that it requested; that will be them being childish. It said it wanted A, B, C and D. If the government says, “We can do A and B to an acceptable level,” ASUU should succumb to the government and negotiate further even concerning its rights. But, if you see the way Ngige treats these professors, you will marvel. He treats them like they are his children, and that is so unfair. How far can we tolerate this impunity?

Between December 2021 and February 2022, a Central Bank report showed that Nigerians spent over $221m on foreign education without significant reciprocity from inflows from foreign sources to the local educational sector. What is your reaction to this?

This is very sad. Who are those whose kids are abroad? Politicians. That is the issue. That is why they are not showing any interest whatsoever because that money is not from the right source. They spend it anyhow. Ask them, “How many of them studied abroad?” Most of them studied in Nigeria. Some attended the University College, Ibadan (now University of Ibadan, Oyo State). Others attended Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna state; University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State; Bayero University, Kano, Kano State; and the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun state). I know some of them. But now, they are taking the same system for granted because they are in a place of power. Do they think sending their kids abroad makes them acquire more knowledge than the locally-trained graduates? Time will tell.

We know who we are. As I am talking, I am a father of 13 children.  I have nine graduates. All of them attended public primary, secondary and universities. At a time, I had seven undergraduates among them at the same time. They are all graduated now. Call them and they will show you who they are through their performance. I have a PhD holder in Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering and Communications Engineering among my children. I have a biochemist and a political scientist, all pursuing their master’s in Nigerian universities now. I have the ability to send them to foreign universities but I refused and decided to stay here. We need to support education in Nigeria. That is why we have our medical doctors leave here and go abroad and emerge the best in exams and performances. Many Americans prefer Nigerian doctors to work with them because of their level of excellence and professionalism. What is wrong with the system? We have failed to focus our attention on education in our Nigerian universities. I know how much the government budgets for education but our number one problem is the state governors. They do not take education seriously. That is why we have issues. That is why the governors have teamed up to say they do not want people above 60 years to be retired. Do they know what they are saying? They don’t contribute anything to education except when they decide to build schools so they would make huge benefits for their personal purses. This is why these politicians are sabotaging education in Nigeria, allowing the masses who voted them into power to suffer.

Despite having 49 federal universities, 57 state universities and 111 private ones, the National Assembly proposed recently to build additional universities. What is your response to this?

It is laughable. The ones that we have are not being funded, yet they want to build more to add to the already existing ones. This is a misplaced priority. They should be talking about building more polytechnics because that is what brings developments in China, India and South Korea. We need skilled graduates, not paper qualifications. Why can’t we be proactive in this country? Why can’t we expand the existing polytechnics? Let us engage the qualified lecturers; train and retrain them to give our children the best and forget about this political funfair of building more universities. They took one to Buhari’s hometown, Daura, Katsina State, because they wanted to please Mr President. Why can’t they improve on the ones that we have, add more faculties, and more teachers? Why can’t they secure the universities that we have?

What do you think can be done about the brain drain in the educational sector, where most universities do not have enough professors to cater to the needs of the students because the available ones are retiring while the ones eligible to be promoted are moving abroad in search of greener pastures?

It is all because of the negligence the government has on the educational system. There are no facilities and this frustrates our lecturers. They want the latest equipment, a system that works; that is why they are travelling. People are running away from Nigeria because many have lost faith in the country. We need a turnaround in the educational sector. No matter the amount of money spent on education, it will not be enough. If the government is doing its best, the lecturers will stay. If they all run away, who will stay back and train the ones here whose parents cannot afford foreign education? My son was given an appointment to work in a hospital in Saudi Arabia. I said no to it. He is a father of three, and he had decided to carry them along but I resisted, noting that he got his knowledge here in Nigeria. And should help build the system. He is still in Nigeria, and he is a medical consultant.

What do you think about the no-work, no-pay policy of the government against the striking lecturers?

The government is joking. They think that restricting the payment of the lecturers’ salaries will suffocate them and make them back down on their demands. They don’t know lecturers. The best thing is to meet with the lecturers and dialogue with them. Show them they are important to the system. The government needs to do more to show respect to our lecturers and send our children back to school.

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