By Paul Chukwuoke Ogbannaya
•President Jonathan must hear this
â€¨â€¨I read in the This-Day of February 1, 2012, page 40, a comment on the above subject written by the Education Editor of This Day Newspaper Mrs. Bukola Olatunji. First, I wish to say unequivocally that in a democratic society such as ours, one is entitled to his or her own opinion. However, a piece on a sensitive matter such as this, one needs not only to do a proper finding but should learn to be courteous irrespective of who is concerned.â€¨
To start with, the writer said she knew little about Alhaji Jibrin Yusuf Paiko “beyond the fact that he was a local government chairman in Niger state in the botched third republic”. I have thought that since she asserted in her piece that she had followed the issue in question with keen interest, she would have patiently sought to know the pedigree of Paiko whom President Jonathan appointed as the Executive Secretary of National Mass Education Commission (NMEC).
â€¨But, for the avoidance of doubt, Alhaji Jibrin Yusuf Paiko, was the Director monitoring and Evaluation in NMEC till 6th August 2009 when he was made the Acting Executive Secretary and was finally confirmed as the substantive Executive Secretary in December 2011 by President Jonathan.
Paiko holds a Master’s Degree in Adult Education from the prestigious University of Ibadan between1989-1990. He is presently running a PhD programme at the University of Abuja. He had been a lecturer at the Niger State College of Education, Minna, during which he served in different capacities as Head of departments, Chairman of Committees and Dean School of Education. Besides, Paiko has authored many books on Education, such as: Introduction to Adult Education; A Handbook for Adult and Non-Formal Education Monitoring Officers; the Integrated Quranic Schools, to mention a few. All these are adding values to the development of Non-Formal education sector.
Worthy of mention is the fact that, when Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) invaded National Mass Education Commission (NMEC) in 2009, arrested Dr. Olagunju, some staff and about seven Directors, on issue of financial misappropriation and award of contract without due process, Alhaji Jibrin Paiko was the only Director that was found to be transparent in all ramifications and therefore came out clean.
Nobody ever implicated him or say anything negative about him.â€¨He is a man of impeccable integrity who has discharged his responsibilities to Nigeria honestly. No panel of inquiry had ever found him negligent in all the governmental positions he had occupied. Not even when he was seconded from NMEC to act as the Chairman of Suleja Local Government Area during Political Transition Era.
â€¨The allegations of financial misappropriation and award of contract without due process which befell National Mass Education Commission (NMEC) in 2009 were so strong that the corporate image and integrity of the Commission nose dived to the extent that all the International Development Partners of NMEC such as the World Bank, UNICEF, UNESCO, USAID, Action Aid, UNDP and other Stakeholders did not only distanced themselves from NMEC but stopped all forms of supports and collaborations they had with the Commission.
But with the recent confirmation of Jibrin Paiko as the substantive Executive Secretary of NMEC, these organizations are gradually beginning to show renewed interest in the Commission. â€¨The Education editor in her notebook compared what happened in NMEC as similar to what happened in National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE). She said while Dr. Nafisa Dahiru Mohammed of NCNE had since been recalled back to assume her duties, Dr. Olagunju was rather replaced.
I wish to state here that the two issues compared are not the same. Dr. Olaguju’s case borders on financial misappropriation and award of contracts without due process which was charged to Court, while Dr. Mohammed’s case is purely an administrative matter. â€¨She went further to query the authenticity and validity of replacing an officer who is still on suspension. Let me assert here that Mr. President has the power appoint into a key position whoever he considers capable to handle such position. Not only that, he has the responsibility to ensure the sustainability of government institutions. This was evident in the recent appointment of new Inspector General of Police even when the former IGP still has few months to retire.
Similar to that is the appointment of new EFCC chairman. The instances are many. Therefore, Jibrin Paiko’s appointment as the Executive Secretary of National Mass Education Commission should not be an exception.â€¨The concern in this case should not be about the desire to protect the ambition of individuals. We should rather emphasize how the principle of rule of law and due process can be applied to ensure the selection of men of integrity to govern our public institutions to make them deliver on their mandates so as to satisfy majority of our people that are desperately in need of quality services in government.
Ogbannaya writes from NMEC, Abuja
When Mr. Ogbannaya, assuming he wrote the fore-going (considering all that transpired), talked about courtesy, I had to go over my piece again to see where I was discourteous. I stand to be corrected, but I found none.
Was he referring to my saying I knew little of Alhaji Paiko, I was only echoing the commission. If in announcing the appointment of its Executive Secretary, the only information that NMEC could supply the public about him was, “Paiko a former local government chairman in Niger state in the botched third republic was the acting Executive Secretary of the commission between August 6, 2009 and 2011”, in this age and time when people’s curriculum vitae are available at the click of a button, how is that my fault?
I should not bore the readers with how Ogbannaya himself had to take a lesson in courtesy on his rejoinder.
Olagunju’s letter of suspension, which I quoted, told us what Paiko was before his latest appointment. What purpose would my repeating this elsewhere serve? I knew he had a master’s degree in Adult Education, but I remember saying that the piece was not about the person of Alhaji Paiko. Should my following a case of the arrest of some officers for misappropriation of funds include the educational qualification and work experience of an individual that was not in any way connected to the matter?
It is clear that NMEC’s Spokesman (or is he?) would rather dwell on his Executive Secretary. He can do with some help at the appropriate time. That will also include all the Directors that served along with him under Olagunju and where they are now.
So ‘…Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) invaded National Mass Education Commission (NMEC) in 2009, arrested Dr. Olagunju,…’ ?
Ogbannaya said, ‘The allegations of financial misappropriation … (Pls see Paragraph six above). Really? So these agencies tried the concerned officers, found them guilty as charged and have had no dealings with NMEC until less than a month ago when Paiko was appointed? I challenge the commission to make the evidence of that renewed interest public.
The last time I checked, the Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa’i and then Acting Executive Secretary of NMEC, representing the federal government and UNESCO, represented by the Country Director, Dr. Joseph Ngu, announced a major collaboration in the establishment of a self-benefitting Funds-In-Trust of $6.46 million, on ‘Revitalising Adult and Youth Literacy in Nigeria’ April last year. Rufa’i later signed an MoU to that effect with the Director General of UNESCO, Ms. Irina Bokova, in Paris, the following month.
It is obvious that this NMEC Spokesman can also speak for the National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE). ‘Dr. Olaguju’s case borders on financial misappropriation and award of contracts without due process which was charged to Court, while Dr. Mohammed’s case is purely an administrative matter. â€¨For Ogbannaya’s information, I learnt last week that, following further investigation, Dr. Mohammed has again been suspended for that purely administrative matter.
I am still trying to understand the relationship between the events that led to, and, the appointment of the NMEC Executive Secretary and those of the ACTING Inspector General of Police and Chairman of the EFCC. I am trying to see the connection, but I can’t.