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Transforming education sector in Borno State – The Zulum example

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Transforming education sector in Borno State – The Zulum example

By Chidi Omeje

Recently, the administration of Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State came under a media campaign of calumny aimed to smear his good image and distract his resolve to reinvigorate the lame-duck education sector he inherited in the state.

Through misinformation, mischief makers are spreading spurious allegations that some teachers in the state are being paid N7,000 monthly salaries in spite of the economic crunch in the country.

The architects of this and other fake news are careless to investigate and verify such claims before waxing their axes so as to avoid misleading the people on the remarkable feats achieved in the education sector in the last five years of Zulum’s stewardship of Borno state.

After a two-week intensive investigation, the Citizens’ Initiative for Security Awareness (CISA), an Abuja-based non-governmental organization, has exposed the underlying motives of those destabilizing the system. The research revealed that certain policies implemented by the Borno State Governor aimed at overhauling the troubled education sector have been obstructed by individuals who have benefited from the ongoing disarray for many years.

A group of CISA fact checkers deployed to Borno for the independent investigation, discovered that allegation is misleading. The fact remains that, based on Gov Zulum’s intervention, the majority of teachers who have been verified, retrained and newly recruited are now placed on minimum wage of N30,000 or more.

Sadly, this campaign is targeted at an astute academic and seasoned public administrator who exhibited great passion and concern for teachers’ welfare as well as demonstrated high political acumen to demystify the teaching profession to enable them to perform maximally towards meeting the educational needs of the modern society.

Arguably, the problem bedeviling the education sector ranging from teacher recruitment, retention, remuneration and decayed infrastructure pre-dated the Zulum administration owing to the political negligence, and flagrant abuse of national policy which allowed Local Education Authorities (LEAs), to fill employment gaps without recourse to best practices resulting to quantum of unqualified teachers and ghost workers in the state.

CISA has also found out that Education stands as a key pillar in the Borno State’s 25 -Year Development Plan; the 10 -Year Strategic Transformation Initiative, and the Infrastructure Development Master Plan, to which governor Zulum believes that a sound educational system driven by an adequately-paid and a highly-motivated staff, is necessary to drive the Borno Restoration Project (BRP).

To reposition the education sector and achieve the administration’s goals of sustainable social and economic development of the state, Zulum initiated viable reform programmes and restructure public institutions to herald Borno as one of the best educationally advance state in Nigeria.

In 2020, governor Zulum ordered the Ministry of Education to clean-up the mess of local education authorities.The ministry through its verification exercise and discovered that 15,823 out of the 18,451 teachers presented for verification are fit to teach, and 2,628 others were unqualified based of the requirements inline with national and global best practices.

Zulum established a Review Committee to appraise cases of candidates who did not appear in the previous verification exercise. The committee reaffirmed the findings of the earlier committee, and recommended 144 candidates to be relocated into the payroll based on merit.

Succinctly, the results of the competency test conducted by the Lawan Wakilbe committee revealed that 5,257 teachers passed, while 6,227 were found trainable and 4,339 failed. Therefore, the governor out of compassion decided not to throw to the bins those who failed the test, and directed that they should be placed on a monthly stipend pending their transfer to other sectors.

On new recruitment, the Wakilbe committee also recommended engagement of 3,000 out of the 19,313 candidates who applied as teachers, on N30,000 minimum wage.

To enhance teacher development, the Zulum administration in collaboration with the National Teachers Institute (NTI), implemented the Emergency Teachers Upgrade Programme (ETUP), to scale up the competence and pedagogy of trainable teachers for 3,524 candidates. At the end of the exercise, some 2,396 teachers passed, and 1,468 had been recommended for immediate engagement and retention on the minimum wage.

Furthermore; the Zulum administration successfully restructured the Teaching Service Board (TSB); the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), established the Senior Secondary Education Board (SSEB) and Arabic and Sangaya Education Board, all in a bid to repositioned the education sector on a solid pedestal.

In the same vein, Zulum has recently approved and released the sum of N1 billion for the training of 1,949 teachers found trainable following the competency test which revealed that out of the 15,823 teachers who sat for the test, only 5,257 passed; 6,227 performed below the required pass mark, but were considered trainable; while 4,339 others were found to be untrainable

In this regards, the governor approved the training of 1,949 teachers under the first phase of the programme at the College of Education, Waka Biu; Umar Ibn Ibrahim Elkanemi College of Education, Science and Technology, Bama, while 2,730 others were billed to benefit under the second phase of the exercise.

The state government also organised a three-month sandwich programme for 1,884 beneficiaries, while 846 others who do not have tertiary qualification will undergo a full-time NCE programme, to build their capacities towards enhancing the standard of education.

This is in addition to the N1.3 billion scholarship for 997 nursing and midwifery students as well as N201 million bursary awards to over 2,000 indigent students of higher institutions of learning across the country.

Apart from viable teacher development and welfare programmes, CISA has also found out, with evidential facts, that Zulum has spent millions of naira in the execution of school infrastructure, construction of classrooms, establishment of new mega schools, provision of furniture and instructional materials to basic and post basic schools all geared towards enhancing delivery of free quality education for all.

Governor Zulum’s strong commitment to educational advancement has led to the enhancement of all state-owned tertiary institutions to meet world-class standards. This was made possible through the provision of infrastructure, state-of-the-art equipment, teacher development programs, scholarships, and bursaries for both educators and students, all aimed at fostering academic excellence. Additionally, thanks to Zulum’s efforts, the Borno State University (BOSU) successfully obtained accreditation for its programs from the National Universities Commission (NUC).

To attest to these feats, the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Borno State chapter commended the efforts of governor Zulum in transforming the education sector.

The NUT Chairman, Comrade Zali Audu Garba said: “Your Excellency, it is my candid belief that the education sector is undergoing a tremendous transformation, ranging from human and infrastructural development”.

Our team of investigators also interviewed Comrade Bulama Abiso, a former NLC chairman, who provided insight into the education sector crisis, particularly concerning primary school teachers who fall under the authority of the local government council. He explained that the Governor, like his predecessors, inherited a longstanding issue that dates back many years.

He attributed the problems to the local government education secretaries who neglected their responsibilities when they should have been upholding them. According to him, these secretaries engaged in unethical practices such as appointing the children of deceased senior staff members to positions within the Local Education Authorities (LEAs) illegally. These individuals, hired as staff, received a fraction of their late parent’s salary.

For instance, if a senior head teacher previously earned N100,000, four individuals would be employed as junior staff to divide the salary among them. This resulted in the enrollment of numerous unqualified individuals as teachers, compromising the quality of education provided.

Interestingly; in recognition of Zulum’s commitment and giant strides in education development, the governor has been invited to deliver a speech at the 2024 Edition UN Dialogue on Education Transformation in Africa Series (ADS 2024), held at the United Nations headquarters in New York, from May 6 to 24.

According to a publication by the UN on its website, the programme titled: “Africa Month” is to mobilise actions by leveraging science, technology and innovation to transform education in Africa. Governor Zulum, H.E. Mr. Dennis Francis, President of the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly, Ms. Cristina Duarte, UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Special Adviser on Africa, and many other stakeholders will be attending the dialogue.

This year’s dialogue series has the theme: “Education through Science, Technology and Innovation toward the Africa We Want.” It will focus on obtaining a concerted Africa-centred policy shift needed to fast-track the transformation of the educational landscape on the continent.

These invitations serve as a testament to Zulum’s significant contributions to educational development in both the state and Nigeria as a whole. This underscores the importance for well-meaning citizens of Borno State to come together in support of the administration’s efforts to realize its objectives of establishing a new, peaceful, and prosperous state.

_Chidi is the National Coordinator of CISA, and he writes from Abuja.

Transforming education sector in Borno State – The Zulum example

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UNODC Insists Proper Classification of Inmates would Make Correctional Facilities Truly Reformatory

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UNODC Insists Proper Classification of Inmates would Make Correctional Facilities Truly Reformatory

By: Michael Mike

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, (UNODC) has said with proper classification of inmates at correctional facilities across the country, correctional centres would truly become reformatory institutions.

Speaking at the training of officers of Nigerian Correctional Service, (NCoS) in Lagos on Tuesday, the Project Coordinator, Prisons and Penal Reforms, UNODC, Munchaneta Mundopa said it was imperative for proper classification of inmates at correctional centres, insisting that his would make administration at the various centres easy.

She added that it would also enable the needs of the various inmates to be met since the various classes of inmates have different needs.

The training which commences on Tuesday and runs through Friday is the second in the series as one was earlier held in Abuja. It is sponsored by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, the U.S. State Department, (INL), and implemented by UNODC in Nigeria, with major focus on six prisons in Adamawa, Borno and Gombe States

She noted that “classification, empowers the Nigerian Correctional Service to tailor rehabilitation plans based on the individual needs and risks of an inmate. So rehabilitation does not need to be a ‘one size fits all’ approach, it needs to be tailored to the specific inmate(s), so that when they go out into the society they are able to harness the power of what they’ve learnt in prison.

“In our partnership with the Nigerian Correctional Service, we realize that while the list of classification systems currently exist, there is a gap in terms of implementation and also in aligning it to the Nelson Mandela Rules.

“Our project is sponsored by INL and is part of the work that we are doing in Nigeria in the space of prison and Penal Reforms. Broadly we refocus on three areas including improving prison conditions, strengthening the capacity of actors to look at alternative ways of dealing with the criminal justice system or alternatives to imprisonment.”

In attendance at the training are about 30 officers of NCoS selected across the country.

UNODC Insists Proper Classification of Inmates would Make Correctional Facilities Truly Reformatory

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We will stand behind you – UN assures, as States Action Plans for Durable Solutions in Northeast are launched

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We will stand behind you – UN assures, as States Action Plans for Durable Solutions in Northeast are launched

By: Michael Mike

The Federal Government and United Nations have launched the States Action Plans on Durable Solutions to Internal Displacement in Nigeria targeted at ending the displacement in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) States brought about by Boko Haram crisis.

United Nations Assistant Secretary General, and Special Adviser on Solutions to Internal Displacement, Robert Piper, speaking at
the launch held at the Presidential Villa Abuja, on Tuesday said: “We will stand behind you. Let me reiterate our commitment on behalf of the United Nations: We will keep supporting on the ground; We will help rally donors; We will chase missing partners; We will celebrate your successes,”

The Action Plans, according to him, are anchored in international standards and the Kampala Convention; driven by real political leadership; and are geared to mobilize development investments.

Piper explained that: “The plans you launch today provide a model of how governments can take responsibility for ending displacement.The plans recognise that displaced people can choose between going back home, properly integrating where they are right now or relocating elsewhere in the country.”

Vice President Kashim Shettima, on his part, emphasised that: “We must invest in sustainable development, education, and economic opportunities to build resilient communities. By doing so, we not only address the immediate needs of the displaced but also create a foundation for a more stable and prosperous future.”

He noted that the launch of the state Action Plans was meant to craft solutions that would outlive the present generation, and offer future generations a place of hope, a home for all, and a land of opportunity where dreams could be pursued without worry.

Shettima noted, “As we launch these State Action Plans, let us commit to collaborative efforts that transcend borders and political divides. Let us harness the strength of our partnerships, both local and international, to bring about lasting change. The task ahead is immense, but with determination, unity, and a clear vision, we can make a profound difference.”
 
Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed commended the governments of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe for their actions to scale up solution pathways in their state action plans, noting that achieving durable solutions is a priority for both Nigeria and for the United Nations secretary general.

“Finding durable solutions to internal displacement is central to achieving the sustainable development goals in Nigeria and beyond, and they must become an integral part of development plans in areas affected by forced displacement.” Said the Deputy Secretary-General.

She emphasized that durable solutions required long term investments in infrastructure, education, health care, as well as in security and the enablers social contract with the people.

Mohammed added that “Our joint efforts must offer the promise of inclusive governance, human dignity, and a world where we leave no one behind.”
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ambassador Richard Montgomery, who spoke on behalf of the informal North-East Ambassador Group, emphasised that the group shared a collective interest in government’s efforts to bring peace to the North-East.

“We stand in support of the Renewed Hope Agenda of the current administration. As regards the durable solutions to internal displacement in the North-east, Montgomery noted, “No one country has the answer. We must join hands to ensure sustainable solutions to internally displaced persons (IDPs) issues in Nigeria.”

At the launch were the Governor of Borno State, H.E. Prof Babagana Zulum; Governor of Yobe State, H.E. Mai Mala Buni; Governor of Benue State, H.E. Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia; and Hon. Commissioner for Reconstruction Rehabilitation Reintegration & Human Service, Bello Hamman Diram, representing Adamawa State Governor, H.E. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri.
 
The publication of the United Nations Secretary General High Level Panel’s Report on Internal Displacement, and the accompanying Action Agenda on Internal Displacement created a pivotal moment in how durable solutions in situations of internal displacement are approached.

Building on the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, the renewed attention to durable solutions puts a significant emphasis towards government-led and -owned processes.

In line with this recommendation, and following the visit of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to Borno in May 2022, theauthorities in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe initiated a process to develop their own action plans to address internal displacement as part of overall and long term development of their state.

Progress towards durable solutions requires an approach that steps away from a needs-based way of working towards an area-based approach. The activities, processes and budget elaborated on in the State Action Plans, ensure that attention is given to all communities affected by displacement – including internally displaced persons, returnees as well as members of the host communities. Addressing forced displacement in this way bears the promise for the State Action Plans to contribute to the overall development of the state and to leave no one behind.

Through their State Action Plans, the authorities acknowledge the need to ensure that methodologies, processes, and activities which form part of the vision to achieve durable solutions need to be evaluated in a timely manner with an aim to amend and strengthen their approach to achieving solutions. As an integral part of the overall governance system
for durable solutions, the people-centered approach described in the monitoring and
evaluation chapters will significantly contribute to ensure displacement affected communities participate in the overall development of the state.

All plans recognize the need to maintain humanitarian assistance where needed, work around preventing future displacement andprogressing solutions where possible.

Driving these plans forward and recognizing the longer-term systematic sustainability that is needed, ambitious budgets have beendeveloped. While a significant amount of these budgets is reserved for access to housing –including elements related to secure tenure –they cater to a wider set of interventions such as economic development and access to services.

We will stand behind you – UN assures, as States Action Plans for Durable Solutions in Northeast are launched

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ECOWAS Doing It Can to Make Mali, B/Faso, Niger Rescind Their Exit Decision- ECOWAS VP

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ECOWAS Doing It Can to Make Mali, B/Faso, Niger Rescind Their Exit Decision- ECOWAS VP

By: Michael Mike

The Vice President of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, Damtien Tchintchibidja has revealed that the regional bloc was doing all it could to make Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger rescind their decision to exit.

Tchintchibidja described the efforts at getting the trio back as “work in progress,” gave the comment in an interview with journalists in Abuja an event set to mark at ECOWAS @ 49 Celebration, dedicated to sensitizing young students in Abuja about the missions, achievements, and vision of ECOWAS for the future.

He said: “Well, it’s still a work in progress, quite frankly, for us it’s heartbreaking to know that three member states would like to exit from this community.

“We are stronger as a community. It’s like a family. You know, you’re always stronger when the family is unified, united.

“And for us, we are still working at it, you know, we still engage in negotiations with these member states to ensure that they remain within our community.

“But even if they were to leave, they still remain our brothers and sisters.

“As you know, our borders are porous, where citizens have families all across our borders, and we are all one people,” Tchintchibidja said.

The intention of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger to exit ECOWAS was made known in January after the coup in Niger received a backlash from the regional bloc who also slammed various sanctions on the three countries over the military takeover of power in their countries, which their military leaders considered irresponsible and unbrotherly.

Though ECOWAS has since February lifted the sanctions, but there is no public knowledge that the three departing countries may reverse their stand on membership.

ECOWAS Doing It Can to Make Mali, B/Faso, Niger Rescind Their Exit Decision- ECOWAS VP

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