By Yakubu Abolaji Isowo
RECENTLY, President Muhammadu Buhari pledged to give a boost to the education sector. Irrefutably, the alarming crime rate in the country resulted from the neglect of the sector for decades. The leadership class patronized foreign and private universities but abandoned public schools which the majority of citizens could afford. And to make the matter worse, they’re never bothered about what goes on in public schools except pecuniary interests.
Consequently, the quality or products are affected. All the misconducts, atrocities they without restrictions embraced and practiced in schools followed them outside the walls of the institutions after their graduation. Today, scamming, banditry, kidnapping and ritual-killings are rampant in the society, and the policymakers alongside their children they sent abroad or private schools and the general public are all the victims. It means everyone is paying the prize, and therefore points to the fact that the sector deserves critical attention.
Discernibly, public schools over the years breed more of questionable characters that constitute menace to national security. And except checkmated, the future is bleak. By the rampant incidents of crimes involving young persons in the recent times, it is obvious the society has started paying for the neglects. Hence, President Buhari’s resolve is on track.
Relatively, the unending frustration of law graduates of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) that have been waiting since 2013 for admission quota into the Nigerian Law School leaves much to be desired from federal government. The crisis is now in the fifth year since Buhari assumed office, and altogether seven years after their graduation. The quagmire, to say the least reflects thriving corruption and system failure.
From investigations, NOUN law students in 2012 contested alongside other home-based universities and emerged overall winner with a great margin. Still, some folks reportedly recommend them for a strange qualifying programme. What then is the criteria to arrive at the conclusions that the star-prize winner is deficient than the beaten counterparts? This is indeed absurd. Nigeria must not continue to enthrone selfish interests at the expense of public interest thereby ridiculing itself in the world.
As Buhari extends premium attention to education which is commendable, ensuring that these victims are admitted into the nation’s law school without further delay is important. The law school is a government’s facility, and therefore cannot be used by some individuals to settle personal scores. This matter has lingered excessively and should be addressed forthwith. It is inane that despite Senate’s amendment of the controversial clause in NOUN Act which Buhari gave assent, the matter is still dancing. This is bizarre.
The question is, why must officials that are evidently frustrating government’s policies and citizens’ careers be retained in the cabinet even when insecurity is alarming? In which country of the world would students that studied in a government’s institution be encumbered like this scenario? Yet, the government is voting much resources in fighting crimes. Anyway, Buhari has a duty as the President to ensure that no vulnerable citizens are oppressed by advantaged individuals.
Perceptibly, NOUN was recommended for a strange one full-year Bar Part-1 to possibly, separate her graduates for malicious doses particularly mass failures. Or is it possible that the separation plan is to prevent them from competing with others for fear of another win? Otherwise, on what ground will they exclusively undergo a strange qualifying programme even after defeating their counterparts in a national moot-court competition? Arguably, their win sufficiently attested to their proficiency and superiority.
The greatest danger is that to execute hidden agendas can easily succeed if they will be in secluded class which is unprecedented in the history of the Nigerian Law School. From inception, all students from various universities attend classes and sit for examinations together without any discriminations. Obviously, to settle scores is foreseeable.
The second is; NOUN is not a foreign university that undergoes Bar Part-1 which is purposely to remedy about six home-based courses that are not offered overseas but essential for practice in the country, and NOUN offered all those courses as approved by National Universities Commission (NUC) like other home-based universities.
Again, the Bar Part-1 in the law school is a three-month programme with a tuition of N220,000:00 (two hundred and twenty thousand naira). By the absurd plan, it means NOUN law graduates will even pay more as the strange classes will run a full year, and not three months. Note this is different from the compulsory Bar Part-2 for all students; foreign and home students with a tuition of N310,000:00 (Three hundred and ten thousand naira) preceding call to bar.
The third issue is the strange ‘fail-once-and-quit’ proviso discriminatorily for NOUN law graduates. In other words, they will possibly be victimized through mischievous mass failure in the Bar Part-1 after spending such a volume of money, and encumbered from qualifying for Bar Part-2 while their counterparts can rewrite failed modules in Bar-1 & 2 for many times. This therefore is a pointer to a sinister motive to ground these citizens’ career as alternative option. Presidency should take note.
Of course, the authorities can review academic programme in the law school if needful, however, it must be applicable to all students. It is imperative to reiterate that NOUN as a home-based university offered the same courses approved by the regulatory body; NUC like her counterparts in the country. Hence, there is no basis to subject them to undergo any strange programme.
Clearly, their opponents do not have strong arguments but mere hostility. Federal government should critically note that these victims are grown-ups from families and have responsibilities. Above all, it is despicable for President Buhari’s assent to be facing such resistances from his own appointees fearlessly. To summarize, these students must be admitted into the law school they qualified for accordingly. They shouldn’t be pushed further to take laws into their hands. Thus, let their admission quota be released.
Isowo is a social activist and wrote this piece from Ilorin, Kwara state.