It is unpatriotic, disgraceful, shameful, and criminal, that at a time when the nation’s public universities have been on a lockdown for some six-odd months, members of the political class have taken their penchant for sending their wards to foreign universities at the expense of the state to a ridiculously absurd level. Not satisfied with frittering away our national patrimony on their children, they embark on a gaudy and offensive display of convocation photographs all over social media. When will this madness come to an end?
Muhammad Sani Badaru, son of the Jigawa State governor Badaru Abubakar is the latest in a long and growing list of Nigerian politicians’ children who have graduated from foreign universities. He joins the ranks of the children of Nyesom Wike, Ahmad El-Rufa’i, Bukola Saraki, Yemi Osinbajo, the President of the Federation himself, Muhammadu Buhari, and many others.
While these privileged children smile proudly and confidently into the camera during graduation ceremonies, surrounded by the equally happy faces of their loved ones, the children of the ordinary Nigerian remain languishing at home, sad and dejected, despair written all over their poor faces as they reflect on a future that holds only the promise of uncertainty for them.
The sad truth is that these privileged children are not in any way better than their counterparts here who have to work even harder to earn their grades amidst crushing economic hardship and incessant avoidable and preventable strikes. It is estimated that Nigerians spend over a trillion naira in school fees abroad. Consider the impact a trillion naira could have if invested in the Nigerian tertiary education system.
The federal government claims it has no money to revitalize universities yet individual members of the ruling elite spend a trillion naira between them to educate their children abroad. ASUU has unsuccessfully shouted itself hoarse to get the government to do right by its universities.
But why would the governing elite repair a system in which they are not invested? Why should they create a system that gives equal opportunity to all? Ours is a despotic system of governance and as Mecha Constantine says “In despotism, the systems are there to protect the privileged and oppress the underprivileged”.
While the ordinary Nigerian continues to suffer, our rulers loot public coffers to educate their children abroad. With impunity and inhuman cruelty, some of them even have the audacity to place their children on fully funded state or federal scholarships so that they do not have to pay the school fees themselves.
And these are scholarships meant for children from indigent homes or children with exceptional academic records. Many a brilliant Nigerian student has ended up on the streets because his opportunity was given over to a privileged child.
None of this is irreversible. If we are really serious about education in this country we should put a ban on political appointees educating their children abroad. ASUU has called for a biil banning public officials from sending their wards to foreign universities.
If every governor, senator or president knows his children’s future lies in Nigerian universities surely they would take the Nigerian education sector more seriously. The same people will do everything to raise Nigerian universities to international standards.
As things stand Nigerian tertiary institutions are doing so badly that they no longer attract either foreign teachers or foreign students.
The money that the political elite spend on their children’s school fees is sourced right here in Nigeria but it is converted into dollars and pounds and shipped off to foreign schools.
Is it any wonder our Naira keeps falling against the dollar? If our political office holders are really serious about our education system, let them invest their money in it by educating their children here at home.
The Trumpet says to political office holders, “Put your money where your mouth is instead of pleading with ASUU to go back to the classroom”.
A university professor at the zenith of his career earns less than a thousand dollars a month. In other words, in a year, a Nigerian professor earns less than the minimum amount required to pay tuition for a year studying in the UK.
What a shame this is for Nigeria! It is no surprise since our elite’s privileges are more important to them than any principles. We leave our political elite with the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower when he says,
“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both”
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