By; Babayola M. Toungo.
There seems to be no more shame in our land. Or the level of impunity is far beyond what we are all thinking. How do you explain the recent boast by erstwhile vice president that graduates of public universities cannot compare with those of his secondary school? What gall! Have we reached the stage where those who steal from our till, will rub it in our face by reminding us how unfortunate we are? Have we so lost our humanity that we can berate the poor and the honest for being unable to send their kids to schools established by modern day pirates?
Atiku Abubakar was the vice president of Nigeria when he established his American University of Nigeria in Yola. He and his supporters didn’t see anything wrong in establishing a private institution while superintending over the systematic destruction of all government social services, education inclusive, while serving as the vice president. The unprecedented decline in the capacity of public schools to accommodate, train and graduate students reached its zenith during the period he was vice president. The former vice president’s schools were established when Boni Haruna, his political son was holding sway in Yola as governor of Adamawa state, therefore conventional wisdom has it that the schools were established using public funds – the same funds meant to run these same institutions that the former vice president is running down its graduates. As a matter of fact, the American University was established at a time the Adamawa state government was not able to pay WAEC/ NECO fees for students of public institutions.
I think it is the height of insult for this carpetbagger to come out bragging about the quality of his students, rubbing it in the face of those less fortunate to occupy public offices thereby availing themselves of our common patrimony and sending their kids to such schools; established by pirates for the nouvea riche. Yes, the quality of graduates of public universities may not be at par with those who passed through his schools – but how about the satisfaction of knowing you don’t have to deprive the less unfortunate in order to send your kid to such schools like American University and Bells University?
I know that the likes of Atiku Abubakar feel the poor lacks understanding of their social importance to the society and to the politician. This lack of understanding may not be unconnected to the deliberate policy of those in government to pauperise the people and destroy government social services and making sure those they established becomes unaffordable to us. Thus the poor have been conditioned to think of themselves as only important to the politician either only as a voter or a political thug with no higher purpose than to be at the beck and call of the same people that turned him into a zombie. Isn’t it time to pause and redefine our position and importance to the politician?
I do not have any problem with Atiku’s desire to be the president of Nigeria. I equally do not have any problem with firing his first campaign shots this early in the life of an administration he was supposed to have midwifed (though anyone observant enough knew he never gave Buhari a chance of winning). But for him to have the guts to come out and tell Nigerians what he was credited to have said is the height of insensitivity. But this is Nigeria where criminals are canonised – the more you steal the more you are revered.
Anyone with a modicum of compassion in his heart won’t be so callous as to denigrate the same system that he once benefited from and help in destroying. Most of those from Atiku’s generation attended public schools because it was free. Whatever position they attained in life was largely due to this free education they were given by a caring and result-oriented government of that time. Most of them might not have been lucky to attend school for the same reason we now have school-age children hawking and begging on our streets. The few that are lucky to attend public schools are now facing ridicule from the likes of Atiku, who helped in no so small way in destroying the very foundations of their successes.
Atiku Abubakar lined up activities to mark his 70th birthday – doling out handouts to IDPs, visiting his various business interests in and around Yola and hosting political jobbers. I don’t have any quarrel with that. But to think he can use the serene environment of his University to denigrate us? Ah, ah! Feeding IDPs who made IDPs in the first place by the (in)actions of the same man Atiku was wining and dining with on the eve of the 2015 elections is bad PR as far as I am concerned. We still remember vividly the night Goodluck Jonathan visited him in his house in Abuja in the heat of the 2015 campaigns. When all thought he was leading the campaigns in the north for Buhari, he was actually hosting Goodluck to a nocturnal visit. Atiku should therefore be held vicariously liable for the plight of the IDPs since he played a passive role when Goodluck was fiddling while the villages of these IDPs were set ablaze.
We attended public schools from LEA primary schools to public universities and we are proud of these institutions. For anyone to think he could put them down, good luck to him, but first he must tear his certificates.