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Rhythm of Thought

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In the present fast developing and competitive global space, education has become very important in the generation and use of ideas. Ideas rule the world. Advanced and some developing economies having invested sufficiently in their education sectors, continue to generate robust ideas that shape the global space.

Africa is yet to partake in this global market of ideas because its population is yet to be adequately prepared for the unfolding global competition. The result is a consumer Africa that depends on the ideas of others for its sustenance. There is no doubt that the continent has a narrow world view, the reason it is yet to rise above the primordial political sentiments holding back its development.

In the book “Emerging Africa” Chiedu Mogahalu, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is of the position that "if world view is what motivates, inspires and organizes the thinking and action of societies that have achieved development and industrialization, then it must be the fundamental basis of the organization and the political economy of Africa."

A clear indicator of Nigeria’s narrow development view is its education system. Public primary and secondary schools are in terrible states. The children of the rich have moved to the expensive and better private schools available. Some have even gone beyond the shores of the country in search of quality education.

Figures show that between 2006 and 2012, Nigeria’s economy grew at an average rate of 6.8%. Within the same period, unemployment rose from 12.6% to 22.9%. This is economic growth without poverty reduction. In 2010, about a 100,000 persons accounted for 80% of Africa’s GDP. Not much has changed since then. These rich ones are mostly the comprador elements behind the poverty of the majority.

Nigeria has the poor in the majority. Children from such backgrounds are confined to poorly funded public schools. Due to the quality of education received by the children of the rich, the likelihood that they will dominate the commanding heights of the Nigerian economy is very high. Good education translates to better productivity, the reason every employer in a market driven economy goes for the best brains to improve their profits. The children of the poor who end up being drop-outs are then denied the opportunity to compete at the highest level because of the distortions caused by their backgrounds. The patronage system in Nigeria has further compounded the issue as politicians and economically powerful Nigerians have positioned their children in the top management cadres of multi billion Naira corporations.

Every society has a way of paying for this lopsidedness. In the case of Nigeria, some children of the poor who operate at the lower rung of the economy, constitute themselves into terrorist groups, criminal and freedom fighting gangs that threaten the security of the state.
Nigeria’s narrow development view has allowed this to persist. With the majority suffering from hunger and deprivation, the chances for development is slim. The country therefore sits on a keg of gunpowder.

The present political reality of Nigeria is the concentration on politics, believing it holds the key to the economic emancipation of the political elite. This is tragic.

Nigeria still finds itself battling ethnic and religious issues - another confirmation of its narrow paradigm. The country has not evolved into the realm of organizing its people to break away from mundane issues to engagement in science and technology, economic planning, cultural and value reorientation and education enhancement.
Its political class channels its energy towards politicking with the end result being unprecedented corruption. The concept of using budget as an analytical tool for policy implementation is lacking. This is the reason blocks of class rooms are built without provision for desks and chairs, and without recruitment of qualified teachers to man them.
This vacuous state of affairs leaves the Nigerian pupils sitting on bare floors waiting for teachers that will not come. The system is not organized to respond to projections and damage control. Leadership is too ordinary, disorganized and dominated by pettiness.

A crystal ball is not needed in the case of Nigeria. What is required is a sense of responsibility, tact and common sense to reposition the “giant of Africa”. Those in leadership must be broadminded enough to accept superior ideas, while also encouraging the generation of ideas by improving the human capital of the Nigerian state.

Education is the foundation of development.

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