The boy boarded a taxi happily and headed for the capital
city with dreams of landing a job. He was disappointed. When
they ushered him into the deputy governor’s office, the man
asked him the course of study he graduated in. The young man
proudly announced in a heavy Tiv accent that he studied “
Inglish Longage”. The Deputy Governor flared up instantly
and started fiddling with his purse to give my cousin
transport fare to go back to the village. “When you went to
study ‘Inglish’, what were you thinking? Where did you think
you would secure a job? Supposed I employ you in my office,
you would come here every day to speak and speak ‘Inglish’,
and then we pay you at the end of the month?” He asked him
in quick succession. Needless to say my cousin was
embarrassed and speechless. The Deputy Governor, like a
joke, put him on the next taxi back to the village.
This story is a highlight of the orientation on education in
Nigeria which has always been (and still is) to enable the
graduates secure white collar jobs. There is no conscious
effort to build practical problem solving skills and
entrepreneurship in the students. That is why thousands of
graduates are turned out every year to chase very few jobs,
in the midst of abundant and untapped resources and business
opportunities in our environment.
In the meanwhile, governments after governments keep
mouthing their agenda to create jobs and tackle
unemployment, without any significant achievements. The
reason is simple; they have all failed to address the root
causes of unemployment in Nigeria. That is why you hear
about fire-brigade programmes like “skill acquisition
programmes” that don’t work.
Why train a graduate for ‘between 4 to 6 years ,
without him acquiring any skills, only for him to graduate,
with a mindset of acquiring a job, only to be told, there
are no jobs, therefore he should learn new skills? What was
the degree programme meant to achieve if he would now have
to start afresh with the learning of new skills?
The absence of problem solving skills is not limited to the
younger generations alone. It is endemic even among the
older generation, in whose hands the fate of the Nigerian
nation has been committed for decades since independence.
These people have run the country aground like a ship whose
captain had no compass. When they venture to talk about
plans to build Nigeria, you hear the most absurd ideas, from
people one would ordinarily expect to be more intelligent.
I was miffed for instance when the agriculture minister Audu
Ogbe earlier in the year said, Nigeria was set to import
grass from Brazil as a measure to solve the perennial Fulani
Without too much argument, I state here, and wish to
be quoted; that this idea is just plain stupid. No
apologies. Come to think of it, Nigeria is the home to three
Universities of Agriculture, one of which is located in the
Ministers own state capital. There is another college of
Agriculture situated at Yandev, still in Benue State. We
have an International Institute for Tropical Agriculture in
Ibadan. Several faculties of agriculture also exist in
several federal and state universities across the nation.
Audu Ogbeh cannot convince me that all these institutions
have no clue on the type of locally available grass species
that could match the characteristics of the Brazilian grass.
If they have no clue, then Ogbeh concern should be to ensure
they do rather than seeking a fire brigade approach.
For the records, Nigeria is home to hundreds of species of
grass that our local variety of livestock feed on. Common
sense should dictate that, rather than import some exotic
species from elsewhere, we should be looking for ways to
enhance our locally available species to improve nutritional
efficiency and boost productivity. The irony of this whole
laughable proposition is that I am made to understand, the
so-called Brazilian grass originated from Nigeria. The very
specie being hailed as exotic (perhaps simply because it is
coming from Brazil) was introduced to brazil by an academic
from Ogbeh’s state; Benue born professor of Agriculture,
Agishi Emmanuel(now late).It is shameful that Ogbeh did not
even acquaint himself of
the rudimentary background knowledge of the grass he
wishes to import into the country. This is the same manner
Malaysia took palm tree seeds from Nigeria a few decades
ago, and has now become our teacher in Oil palm business. No
thanks to intellectual laziness of policy makers like Audu
I make bold to say that unless the minister has a personal
interest in this absurd project, he should abandon it as
quickly as he rushed to the press with it. He should look
inwards in corroboration with our many institutions of
agriculture and surely he would find out that “what he is
searching for in Sokoto is right here in his shokoto”.
Indeed local grass cultivation for fodder is a lucrative and
untapped business opportunity that could generate thousands
of jobs, create a new industry, and develop a unique and
sustainable value chain with multiplier effect. It holds a
promise to mitigate the recurring conflict between nomadic
Fulanis and peasant farmers.
It is sad enough that Brazillian hair has taken over
the heads of our women, pushing our young girls into “RUINS”
and even ruined some relationships; so before we import
grass, let’s go back to the classroom and make our education
practical and problem-solving.