Alhaji Atiku Abubakar
Former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has cautioned against excessive security expenditure in the fight against the religious sect, Boko Haram, explaining that it may not serve as solution in curtailing the present security challenges in the northern part of the country.
He also warned against the rising rate of unemployment in Nigeria, citing the estimation of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) that there are about 75 million unemployed Nigerians in a population of about 150 million people.
Atiku was the guest lecturer at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Memorial Lecture, during which the Secretary to the Government of Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, former Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani, former governor of Lagos state, Senator Bola Tinubu and other Nigerians extolled the virtues of the former Chief of General Staff, Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua who died in the Abakiliki Prison, Ebonyi State on December 8, 1997.
However, the event held at the Musa Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja was almost marred by the absence of some of the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua associates, including, former president, Olusegun Obasanjo whom he served as his deputy, Chief Anthony Anenih, northern governors among others.
Though he spoke on “Rebuilding Public Education as a Bridge to Nigeria’s Future”, Atiku warned that the security challenges in the northern parts of the country and especially those posed by the activities of the terror group, Boko Haram, would not be addressed with too much expenditure on security.
“But problems that are widespread and which have festered for a very long time cannot be solved simply by throwing money at them, like the too much expenditure to curtail the Boko Haram security challenges,” he said.
Likening too much expenditure on security to too much expenditure on education without any solution in sight, he said, “Americans call such a thoughtless practice ‘throwing good money after bad’. We must make the structural, institutional and policy changes that are crying out for attention. As we do those and engage in proper planning we shall have a better sense of the resources that are needed for our educational rebirth, what we can afford and the best way to deploy them – as a country, state or locality as the case may be. In any case, I believe that if we reduce corruption and waste in our system, we will be able to allocate a quarter of our budgets to education, in line with the recommendation of UNESCO. And it will be a sound investment to make.”
Decrying the high rate of unemployment in the country, the former vice president said, “The International Labour Organisation estimates the number of our unemployed young people to be 75 million this year. Ironically, we also have thousands of jobs available in certain sectors such as information and communications technology, which cannot be filled because of the scarcity of requisite skills in the available graduates. Many of our young people are roaming the streets of our major cities either begging or engaging in the marginal hawking of products with little income to justify the risks to them and the nuisance to society.”
He therefore called for the decentralisation of education, saying, “We have thousands of university graduates who remain unemployed or underemployed despite the enormous resources put in by their families and the government for their education. Enrolment and admissions have not kept up with our population growth, and quality, rather than keep pace with our needs, has actually deteriorated a great deal, making our degrees increasingly worthless.”
He proffered solutions ranging from proper planning, professionalism, proper identification of policies and lack of adequate funding as panacea to improved level of education in the country.
Also speaking at the event, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Pius Anyim, who was represented by the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Labaran Maku, extolled the qualities and lifestyle of late General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, who he said dedicated his life to the unity of Nigeria as a country both when in the military as an army officer or in politics.
According to Anyim, “He served Nigeria as a patriot, a nationalist, but as a soldier in the battlefield or as the number two in command between 1979 and 1983. He was a courageous soldier”, who in his short spate of life left a lasting legacy.
Anyim also said that Nigeria missed his advice and service especially now that the country is encountering some challenges of insecurity in some parts of the north, adding that his service and that of General Usman Katsina would have helped to solve the crisis facing the north.
In his eulogy of the late General Yar’Adua, the former senate president, Nnamani described him as a symbol of unity and dedication to service, while calling for all hands to be on deck to uplift the falling standards of education in Nigeria. Nnamani said that Nigeria should emulate Singapore and South Korea who through education have risen to where they are today.
According to the former Lagos state governor, Ahmed Tinubu who was represented by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the late Yar’Adua lived and died for the unity of Nigeria and Nigerians.
He said that though, the former Chief of General Staff was born into loyalty, he lived and died for the enthronement of democracy.
Tinubu described Yar’Adua as the Nigeria’s equivalent of the United States of America’s George Washington, as through his quest for democratic rule and good governance he founded the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) which fought for the return for democratic rule in Nigeria.
As a true Nigerian, Tinubu said that Yar’Adua does not believe in tribalism or advocate religious bigotry or regionalism, stating that his death was a painful sacrifice he made for democracy to take place in Nigeria. He launched the book, “Shehu Musa Yar’Adua: Neither North nor South, East nor West: One Nigeria” with the sum of N2.5 million. Anenih, though absent, launched the book with the sum of N7 million.
Former President Obasanjo whom Yar’Adua served as Chief of General Staff, was absent, northern governors were equally absent at the memorial. The governors of Niger State and Katsina State were however represented at the occasion.