Former Federal Commissioner for Information and South-South leader, Chief Edwin Clark has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency, declare a state of emergency in the education sector.
According to Clark who was Commissioner for Education, Midwestern Region (1968-71), it has become very imperative for the federal government to declare the state of emergency to save the Education sector from total collapse, adding that as a teacher, a former headmaster in local authority schools, he is today very sad that the standard of education is falling and if not checked, would further deteriorate.
Speaking exclusively with Vanguard yesterday at his Asokoro residence, Abuja on the second graduating set of students of his own, Edwin Clark University, Kiagbodo, Delta State, the elder statesman called on the Federal Government to reorder its priorities by spending less on administration and focus more on education.
On his own University, Clark who noted that the University has come to stay, will outlive him, said that he is fulfilled that the school which was given provisional licence to operate in 2015, full accreditation by the National Universities Commission, NUC in 2019, with 23 programmes, graduated the second set of students in the 2019 /2020 academic year, adding that out of the 147 graduating students this year, 16 got first class, 73 with second Class Upper, 50 with second Class lower, and 8 with third class.
He said, “the University has come to stay whether Clark is alive or Clark is dead, Edwin Clark University will continue.”
The Elder statesman however attributed the present security challenge in the country with continued cases of armed banditry, kidnapping, rape, insurgency, among others across the country to lack of proper attention to the education sector.
Clark who called on the government to give loan facilities and bursary to students as obtained in the United Kingdom, Great Britain, United States of America, USA, among others in order to facilitate their education as well as help the poor, however, urged the government to place emphasis on training of teachers and lecturers.
The South-South Leader noted that Education is key to development, stressed the urgent need for the Federal and State governments to see the girl- Child Education as a major priority which must be encouraged through the award of scholarships as was done during the Midwestern region, thereby leading to mass education of women against the backdrop that educating a girl, the nation at large has been educated.
Recall that Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, when he received Gov. Abubakar Sani-Bello of Niger State had said that the Federal Government would declare a state of emergency in the education sector in April.
He had said, “By the end of April, we are proposing there will be a declaration of a state of emergency in the education sector all over the country.”
Clark who noted that the declaration of State of Emergency must be now said, “education matters a lot, education has fallen because the government is not spending enough money on education. In our Universities, for a whole year, it is ASUU versus the federal government always and if ASUU is not fighting, the non-academic staff will take up their own.
“One young man was telling me the other day, that he was now in year two in a private university while the man with whom he took JAMB who got admission into a federal university has not even started because of the strike. So you have such children roaming about in the streets.
“And the federal government should, therefore, I am saying this today declare a state of emergency on education otherwise the situation will get worsened.
“So if they are now saying today that about 13 million children are out of school in Nigeria, it is very shameful, very disgraceful. What is happening today in Nigeria, in the Northeast, Northwest and most parts of Nigeria is as a result of lack of education, some of these children have not gone to school, they have been begging on the streets and when they grow up politicians use them as thugs, during politics and what happens, once they have won the elections they dump them.
“And you see some of these boys begging for money in the streets, but now realized that it was time for them to fight back. One can see the case of Boko Haram, these ones do not believe in western education and they have their own sort of religion.
“So they have been moving from place to place, no one will say Boko Haram has not been there even since Obasanjo, they were there, but they were driven to Sambisa Forest, so they were there in Borno.
“One of the governors used them to fight his election and they won, but later gave them motorcycles, helmets, and other things, they disagreed and that was why during President Yar’ Adua’s time, they fought in Maiduguri where Yusuf was killed extra-judicial manner. But the argument between the army and the police that they handed him over to the governor and is the cause of Boko Haram today.
“But if at that time when they say they don’t believe in western education and the governor of Borno state insisted that the children must go to school instead of taking advantage of the opposition to western education in using them to fight the election, the situation in the North-East would not have happened today.
“Similarly I have also said that in 2020 when the governors of the northern region were moving Almajiri children from state to state of origin, I warned at that time that the repercussion was going to be great because these children, some of them don’t know where they come from and so no one should pretend that they will hand them over to their parents, where are their parents?
“Some of these children came back, some went to the south, most of them are now the herdsmen with AK-47, they are the bandits, they are the kidnappers, they are the killers, they are the rapers. Some of them may come from other countries, but I want to say that majority of them are Nigerians.”