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Sunday Mirror


Sunday November 3, 2013


Lessons from Jonathan’s tour of Israel Kayode K Fasua (08034101207; SMS only, pls)


he much-publicised tour of the state of Israel by President Goodluck Jonathan and his stream of aides and loyalists was two-pronged: to woo both God and investors. At least that was the impression created when it was announced, shortly before the gathering jetted out, that the visit would cover pilgrimage rites and bilateral talks with the Israeli government and to some extent too, the Palestinian authorities.

Though this powerful team of special national pilgrims would have made the trip unnoticed, its health of purpose was somehow jaundiced with the queer involvement of the embattled Aviation Minister, Ms. Stella Oduah, while the religious rites and other activities lasted. While the minister had left for Israel in advance, perhaps to escape the stir of controversy likely to arise from being sighted with the intending pilgrims of national importance, she was soon to be re-united with her severed co-travellers in Israel. She would possibly thank God for the wisdom granted her or to any such person, resulting in the be-gone movie of a classical, power-packed pilgrimage. Otherwise, Oduah’s roiling controversies relating to the purchase of two armoured cars for an eye-popping amount of N255 million was enough to drop weather-beaten jaws of angry Nigerians who have now seen leadership as being

synonymous with stealing. Nonetheless, the non-sighting of Oduah in the official line-up to Israel only for her to be viewed on prime TV beaming with smiles in the presidential team was not as particularly embarrassing as spotting Col Sambo Dasuki, the National Security Adviser, who was the head of a presidential committee probing Oduah, among the historic pilgrims. There, the natural conjecture would be that the unthinkable had happened: the image of an Oduah on her knees before both President Jonathan and Col. Dasuki, begging in the name of God to whose headquarters they had all come, that the two powerful men should, please, save the day. To that extent, George Orwell’s Animal Farm comes to force in that, ‘All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.’ It is equally a bemusing reality which many have failed to realise, that sooner than expected, the Oduahgate hoopla will first wane, then fizzle into the bottomless pit of history, once there is another national controversial thing to distract. Therefore, would it not now be apposite to start analysing the gains of the President’s tour of Israel instead of continued flog of a dead horse as per the import of an Oduah in Israel? Aside the presidential team’s excursion to Jerusalem and other Israel’s communities to view monumental artifacts that evoke the deeds of Christ Jesus and his followers, there was also the bilateral angle. This particularly titillates upon realising how strategic Israel has become to global agro-allied renaissance of a peculiar genre. Here was an enclave won or if you like, re-claimed through a long drawn war of possession remotely derivable from the mass immolation of the Jewish race by German’s irascible Adolf Hitler who

sought to ‘give’ them what he described as ‘final solution.’ To Hitler, the Jew’s importunity of stalking various lands of which they have no clear claim should be helped to an end by capturing them en mass, and burning them off, inside a gas chamber. This has become known till today as Pogrom. Rising from the ashes of that nearutmost annihilation, coupled with other allied persecutions elsewhere, the remainder of the stock of Biblical Israel, a race said to have eternally attracted God’s soft spot, was soon back on its feet, smarting up with uncanny stoicism, over the reality of its fate. And so in 1948, the assemblage was able to take over its ancestral homelands, many of which had been legitimately occupied by the Palestinians. There, they hoisted the pristine Star of David amid hostile neighbours. Hostilities against Israel by its fellow Middle East neighbours were not just limited to what was considered as illegal occupation of the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the West Bank but Israel had also had to conquer hostilities from nature, to attain greatness. Its frightening topography of swallowing hills composed sometimes by interlocking spurs amid wide expanses of parched landmass was a qualified setback. But through ingenious recourse to irrigational adaption and innovations, and bearing the reality of hunger without work, Israel soon rose from the shackles of an impoverished, young country to take its right of place in the 1970s, among the comity of nations. This is not however without immeasurable assistance from the United States of America where the Jewish population can never be ignored by any candidate wishing to be elected US President.

Apart from the fact that this God’s pet-country is leading in the agro-allied strides of planting seed without soil, Israel over time has also come tops with exceptionally high growth rate in its Gross Domestic Products (GDP). Apart from breaking fresh grounds in bio-chemical and bio-physical accomplishments, Israel’s expertise in communication technology today also wows the entire universe. But Nigeria, a country that attained independence in 1960, where are we? Run jerkily and wasted by bad leaders, Nigeria is today a dumping ground, a consumer nation and a suckling still being breastfed with the proceeds from the sale of exhaustible oil from the southern part of the country. Regrettably, the country’s universities, which are now in comatose owing to lecturers’ industrial action are not actually offering anything to national growth in terms f technological and agro-allied accomplishments, such that would enable for diversification once the oil wells dry, as they eventually will. Surviving, scanty industries in the country today are gasping for breath as many of them have relocated to neighbouring West African countries from where they import their products for sale in Nigeria. The resultant effect of this killing reign of bare industrialisation is no more than growing unemployment, mass poverty and increase in crime rates; and they all walk on all fours. Now that President Jonathan was able to meet with Israel’s President Shimon Peres with assurance of bilateral cooperation from the latter, isn’t it high time Jonathan seized the moment? Or what else can make this crowded tour of Israel meaningful?

Of ASUU strike and half-baked labour force OLUSOLA DANIEL


oes being a graduate of a Nigerian university guarantee you a good job these days? The answer is no! In a country like ours where our youths are daily faced with the herculean task of successfully completing a bachelors’ degree under the severest of conditions, this is what we have come to expect.

Our graduates, when they finally complete their academic sojourn, enter the labour market with varied degrees; some with a BSc, and others a B.A and what have you...degrees that should make them proud. But, this sense of pride in themselves soon diminishes when prospective employers disregard their degrees and tag them ‘unemployable’. What else could possibly crush the dreams of a fresh graduate with more ferocity? Unemployable? After spending more than the requisite number of years only to come out of school and be thus labelled. It can be disheartening. This issue of ‘half-baked’ graduates churned out by our tertiary institutions is highly demoralising on several counts. Education at the tertiary level is swarmed with a host of problems and challenges of which poor funding seems to have stolen

the spotlight. However, other issues such as outdated curricular, poor staffing, and even management’s incompetence have been swept under the carpet. ASUU has stated emphatically that they consider it unfair to continue to take the blame for the poor quality of graduates, and this should rather be blamed on lack of facilities, expertise, and the inability of our academic institutions to retain bright minds; hence the need to take a definite stand and fight for an upgrade in the academic standard by way of a strike action. If that was all there is to the prolonged strike action, one might applaud their efforts, and even call them noble. However, in the wake of recent developments, there is cause for us to ask whom they are really fighting for. The fact that funding is not as it should be does not in any way justify the outdated curricular and obsolete courses brandished by many government owned universities. There are cases of lecturers resenting students who dare to question the status quo and question the old knowledge harangued by their lecturers with modern ones. You see lecturers who have not bothered to find out the current trends in their respective fields of study still dishing out outdated facts as if it were the government’s responsibility to improve their

own minds. Today, even in the wake of federal government’s agreement to disburse funds to the universities, we must ask ourselves, how much will really go into infrastructure and academic learning? Must this union of academics that has shamelessly resolved to cling to the breast of our motherland milk her dry? The Minister of Finance, herself a daughter of professors, has become a victim of their verbal assaults. These learned people have forgotten so quickly that the allocation recently approved for them is from a fixed pool. It is ludicrous to even think, suggest or imply that a woman who has herself boosted the economic productivity and opportunity for our youth to thrive would want them either to sit back at home or to be taught under the worst possible conditions. These name-calling and placard-holding people, who should be an embodiment of learning, however seem to think so. How have they helped the economy when they themselves have held to ransom the very thing that they claim they want to fix? What they deem to be a selfless act to protect the citadel of learning will be no more than a show of their lack of sensitivity to the plight of the Nigerian youths after all, who is the most affected so far by this shutdown? Certainly not the lecturers

who will still be paid salaries for every single month they sit in their homes and leave the youths to languish. ASUU must remember the saying of our fathers that when you point one finger at someone, the other four fingers point back at you. What are they teaching our youth? To wait for the government to do everything for them? Shouldn’t these people set an example for us, challenging us to be self-reliant, to think outside the box? I find it disheartening that till date they have not mapped out creative and innovative ways to generate funds. No thanks to our dear lecturers, half-baked graduates flood the labour market and the value of a Nigerian-based education diminishes by the hour. While we bemoan the fate of the education sector, the poor infrastructure and learning aids, let us remember that the main object of our concern should be the students themselves. I wish I had confidence in ASUU that the funds, once disbursed, would be used for the very things they claimed they are fighting for. Are they nobler than the politicians and public office holders whom they say should be burned at the stake for their lack of competence and compassion? Only time will tell. *Daniel, a political analyst, lives in Lagos

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