Key contenders for education top job
As President Muhammadu Buhari continues to earn high grades when it comes to getting people to guess who bags key appointments in his fledgling administration, the education sector is not spared the high drama. And while the conjecture game persists, names of certain persons are beginning to pop up as likely candidates for the arduous assignment. ENO-ABASI SUNDAY profiles some of those who may likely get a look in by the Commander-in-Chief for the Education Ministry’s plum job.
During the 2015 electioneering campaign, President Muhammadu Buhari, and indeed the All Progressives Congress (APC) had promised to radically improve the country’s education fortunes if Nigerians gave the party the mandate.
President Buhari was economical with words regarding how his government intends to revamp the all-important education sector in his inaugural address. All through the 1, 945-word speech, the only mention education had was when he said, “For the longer term we have to improve the standards of our education.”
However, since that pronouncement, he and his assigns including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo have continued to make statements regarding the administration’s plans for the sector.
Bringing this to fruition, many opine, would demand that the sector be manned by a tested hand who, working with like minds, would muster enough courage, wisdom and understanding to rejuvenate the increasingly comatose sector.
It is in the light of this, that names like that of the outgoing vice chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Isaac Folorunso Adewole and Prof. Claudius Omoleye Daramola came up.
The third contender is seen as a dark horse of some sort, who is lurking within the precinct. He is neither an educationist nor a major stakeholder in the education sector, but he is politically grounded and the “field marshall,” who directed the APC Presidential Campaign team to ensure a successful take over of government from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). He is Mr. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi. He may be handed a sensitive and humongous ministry like education as “compensation” for his contribution to the emergence of the government.
Born on May 5th, 1954 to a trader mother inside a moving car conveying her to the hospital, Adewole, the outgoing vice chancellor on the University of Ibadan (UI), and former President of the African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer, is reputed to have performed above average in his current post, which he is leaving in a matter of weeks.
The 11th vice chancellor of UI, who is a professor of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, had also earlier served as Provost, College of Medicine, of the largest and oldest medical school in the country. Instructively, his choice of career was informed by his father who was an agent of UAC. His initial plan was to choose a career in aeronautics specifically aerospace engineering.
However, the prominent education administrator ended up yielding to the advice of his school counselor who recommended a career in medicine.
Adewole started his primary education at Ogudu Methodist Primary School, Ilesa, moved to Methodist School 1,Oke Ado, Ibadan and thereafter to St. Mathias Demonstration School Akure. He later attended Ilesa Grammar School, where he obtained a Grade I Certificate with distinction in 1970 and Higher School Certificate (HSC) in 1972 from the same school.
On October 1973, he enrolled at the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan and obtained an MBBS degree from the college. He won the Glaxo Allenbury prize for outstanding performance in pediatrics in 1978.
Same year, he joined the University College Hospital, Ibadan, and in 1979 he left the hospital to Corps General Hospital, Sokoto, for the compulsory one-year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme. On completion of the service, he worked as a medical officer for a year at Adeoye Maternity Hospital, Ibadan before returning to the college hospital as a Senior House Officer of the department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. He held the position for one year before he became the registrar in 1982.
In 1985, he left Nigeria to the United Kingdom for a research fellowship in the Department of Medical Oncology, Charing Cross Hospital. Following the completion of the fellowship program, he returned to Nigeria to join Royal Crown Specialist Hospital, Ibadan where he spent four years before returning to the College hospital as Consultant, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist.
Adewole’s academic career began as Lecturer I at the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan where he rose to the position of a Senior lecturer in 1992. On October 1, 1997, he was appointed a professor College Of Medicine, University of Ibadan, the same year he made it to the Senate of the institution.
In 1999, he was appointed as Acting Head of the department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. He served in that capacity for one year and on August 1, 2000 he was appointed as the Dean, Faculty of Clinical Sciences and Dentistry. He was in that office till July 31, 2002.
On May 1, 2010, he became an Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois till date. On December 2010, he was appointed as the 11th substantive vice chancellor of the University of Ibadan to succeed.
Adewole, a scholar of note and an erudite administrator is also a member of the governing council of Adeleke University. He is the only Nigerian professor appointed as member of council of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, an association that represents 535 universities from 37 Commonwealth countries, and currently chairs the National Panel on Cervical Cancer Control Policy.
Adewole, who has been involved in Nigerian medical politics, in the 1980s was elected Secretary General of the University of Ibadan Chapter of the Association of Resident Doctors. One year after, he was elected President, National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria. After leading a nationwide strike, Buhari, then a military Head of State sacked him and declared him wanted. He went into exile thereafter.
Upon returning to the country, he was elected as Deputy Secretary-General of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in 1988. In 1990, he was elected secretary general of the same association. In 1993, he was elected as chairman of the Oyo State Chapter of the NMA. Earlier in March 1992, he was elected, assistant secretary general of the Confederation of African Medical Associations and Societies and following the end of his tenure in August 1997, he was elected secretary, African Regional Task-force on the Control of Gynaecological Cancers.
Adewole is a fellow of several academic organisations organisations including Nigerian Academy of Science, National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, West African College of Surgeons and of the Charring Cross Hospital, London.
He is also a member of Pan African University Council, Cancer Ethics Committee( IEC), International Agency for Research on Cancer, African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer, National Panel on Cervical Cancer Control Policy and Ethical, Legal and Social Implication (ELSI) Group, The International HapMap Consortium among others.
During his presentation at the ministerial nominees screening at the National Assembly, Adewole blamed the declining standard of education on under funding, dilapidated infrastructure and lack of staff motivation.
The university administrator who noted that skills and certificates would guarantee a better life for Nigerian youths, curiously, claimed that the ranking system used to rate universities in the world was usually not fair to Nigeria and Africa.
He called for the establishment of better equipped universities, open universities and skills acquisition centres, where youths can equip themselves for the future, just as he added that continuous education and awareness that cultism does not pay anyone was needed to stamp out the scourge in Nigerian campuses.
Ministerial nominee, Claudius Omoleye Daramola, is a professor of Education from Ondo State. He is also an astute politician as well as a grassroots mobiliser, who hails from Ode-Aye in Okitipupa council area of the state.
Born to the late Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Daramola, Daramola attended the Divisional Teacher Training College for the Teacher Grade II Certificate, before proceeding to the University of Sokoto (now Usmanu Dan Fodiyo University) where he received B. Sc. Ed. in Sociology.
Thereafter, he earned a M. Ed. in Sociology of Education from the University of Jos. For his Ph. D. degree, he settled for the University of Ilorin, where he has been a distinguished professor of Sociology of Education.
En route to the top, he has held a number of administrative positions at the university, and at the national level. He has been Head of the Department of Arts and Social Sciences Education, UNILORIN, as well as been external examiner to some universities and colleges of education.
Daramola, who has served on quite a number of committees in the university and edited and/or co-edited several academic journals within and outside of Nigeria.
During his presentation at the Senate, Daramola gave his views on how to sort out some of the major issues plaguing education in the country, even as he blamed the incessant strikes in Nigerian universities on communication gap between the government and the universities’ management.
While appealing for more funds to be injected into the education sector, he advised the setting up of a monitoring team to ensure that funds released to the education sector are judiciously applied for maximum impact.
His mindset was further reflected in his call for skills acquisition to be infused into the Nigerian universities’ curriculum just as he added that a synergy between parents and school authorities would serve as a recipe for curbing cult-related activities.
Having taken a cursory look at the remuneration of teachers, he appealed for an upgrade to boost their economic power. He also urged that for the good of the nation, teachers’ salaries must not be delayed just as he called for the re-training of teachers as well as the re-introduction of mid-day meals in schools.
During his reign as governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, made some efforts to shore up the fortunes of the education sector in the state. That notwithstanding, his critics believe the large sums of monies spent were not commensurate with the results on ground, while some say the efforts were a far cry from what would ensure qualitative and accessible education for a majority of knowledge seekers at all tiers of education in the state.
If his nomination is eventually confirmed by the National Assembly, some believe that Buhari could hand him the education ministry, not necessarily as a result of deep experience in the sector as a key player, or too much of what he achieved in the sector while governor, but as a reward for facilitating victory in the epic presidential contest.
Born on May 27th, 1965 at Umuordu-Ubima, Ikwerre council area of Rivers State, Amaechi attended St. Theresa’s Primary School, Ubima and later Government Secondary School, Okolobiri. He read English Language at the University of Port Harcourt, the school he also obtained a Masters in English Literature from.
Amaechi, who served as speaker and governor of the state for eight years apiece, cut his political teeth during his undergraduate years, and his blossoming leadership potentials saw him being elected National President of the National Union of Rivers State Students.
From a humble start, Amaechi’s sojourn in mainstream politics started when he joined the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC). He went on to serve as secretary of the party in his council area. He was later appointed special assistant to Governor Rufus Ada-George in 1992. He was also personal assistant to Dr. Peter Odili, when the later was deputy governor.
Amaechi, who later joined the People’s Democratic Party in 1999, won a seat to represent Ikwerre Constituency, at the state Assembly. In 2007, Amaechi was declared Governor of Rivers State by the Supreme Court and was subsequently re-elected in 2011. Amaechi, who served as chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) was as Director General, APC Nigeria Presidential Campaign Committee.
However, upon becoming governor, Amaechi had lamented the decrepit condition of educational infrastructure in the state, after which he set out to correct the anomaly.
During his tenure as governor, Amaechi commenced the construction of 750 model primary schools to replace the ones he met on ground. A good number of this have been completed and put to use. Indeed, some of the schools are really a sight to behold.
Apart from the importance his administration placed on Early Child Education (ECD) as reflected in the makeover enjoyed by basic education under his watch, his administration also bolstered enrolment figures in schools, just as his education policy ensured that learning and examination ethics were imparted into the psyche of the pupils. Consequently, the state examination malpractice index stood at 13. 09 per cent by 2014, compared to the 34 per cent in 2007.
Apart from establishing the Rivers State Education Quality Assurance Agency, which had the mandate of monitoring, supervising and evaluating standards for establishment and performance of both public and private schools in the state, the administration also initiated various skills development programmes for teachers in the state, including the immediate up-skilling of teachers with the University of Cambridge teachers’ certification in collaboration with the British Council and renovation of schools staff quarters and Ministry of Education zonal offices. The government under his watch also took over the payment of primary school teachers from the local government areas.
These and some other strides recorded by Amaechi, within the period he served as governor, towards revamping the educational system could count in his favour as Buhari shops for someone to revive the comatose sector.
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