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They Deserve To Be Re-trained, Not Sacked

By Emeka Asinugo
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In a recent interview with Emmanuel Aziken of the Vanguard newspaper, the Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, was asked if he was bothered that those who championed the election of President Buhari were complaining that they had been abandoned and that members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) were now the ones literarily in government. His answer to that question was not only revealing. It went a long way to underscore some of the skewed policies that governments in Nigeria have adopted over the years which have continued to stall the march towards true democracy.

Mr Mohammed said: “I know many states where people are complaining that it is not those who ought to be compensated that were rewarded by government. But again, it is not possible to compensate everybody at the same time. Certain boards are not due for dissolution because some of them are tenured while some are governed by certain rules.”

In answer to another question, the honourable minister said: “Clearly, in politics they say ‘never empower your enemy.’

Starting from there, what this means is that generally Nigerian politicians tend to view their political opponents who do not share with their visions or policies as “enemies”. Again, this is the wrong thing to do. The politicians must realise that the umpire should be the voter and whoever the voter chooses is the right person, in the absence of election rigging which is beginning to phase out of Nigerian political history.

Talking about board appointments, could Mr Mohammed have been suggesting that board memberships have now been reduced to the level they have become a form of compensation for work done by party members during electioneering campaigns? If that is the truth, where then does the APC government place the interest of the nation at large?

It is obvious that boards are essential government tools for the delivery of the dividends of democracy. But when the idea is to compensate party faithful and not to enhance the living standards of the ordinary Nigerian, the policy becomes questionable. With a policy aimed at compensation of party members, what criteria does anyone have to believe that those boards would be free from corruption and would be accountable to the voting masses? And here is government shouting from the roof top about its commitment to eradicating bribery and corruption in the country!

All these years, I have quietly watched Nigerian politicians campaign. But I have never seen or heard of their campaigns that are based on FAMILY. Politics should not be about the wealth that comes from oil and the numerous other resources that this country is endowed with. Politics should be about the people, about Nigerians, about Nigerian families. That is when the politicians will have a clear head as to what is expected of them.

But in all fairness, the blame for the seeming failure of Nigerian politicians to deliver effectively cannot be fully laid at the doorstep of the politicians. In a great measure, much of the blame should go to the voters themselves.

Politicians who are voted into public offices are voted to represent members of their constituencies. They are voted to cater for the interest of the families that come under their constituencies. They are expected to serve their people. And in that case, they are paid from the people’s public fund to serve and not to be served. But when the voters reverse the standards and get paid by the servant, of course they automatically turn the servant into the master. Naturally, it is the master who pays the servant. The servant does not pay the master. By asking for or taking money from aspirants to public offices, the voters sell their rights for a pot of porridge. And afterwards, they turn around to blame the politicians. Why, in the name of the ancestors, would they do a thing like that when they are the ones at fault?

Nigerian politicians do collect constituency allowances. But what they do with the money, only God knows. In more developed democracies, they have constituency offices and staff. They have surgery days – one or two days in the week when they are met by members of their constituencies who have any form of financial or social problems. They sit down and patiently listen to their constituents’ complaints. And they do whatever they deem necessary to sort

them out of their difficult situation. That is what Nigerian politics should be about – the people, Nigerians and Nigerian families.

And talking about Nigerian families as the mainstay of political activities in Nigeria, the recent media reports of a highly educated man like Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El Rufai sacking or proposing to sack as many as 22,000 teachers for failing competence tests leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. That President Buhari supported such a move even goes to show the mediocre calibre of state actors that are now operating the national robot called government. At a time the unemployment rate in the country is extremely high and the APC government of General Buhari is finding it difficult to grapple with the many social and economic challenges that face it, one would have thought that especially someone like El Rufai who passed through Harvard University would have seen a need to believe in and utilise man power training in a situation like this.

In modern times we all know the need for re-training while on a job. Some call it upgrading or updating. Others call it in-service training. So, those teachers did not need to be sacked. They needed to be re-trained to do better on their jobs. So, El Rufai got it all completely wrong. He never thought that those people he sacked or was about to sack had families and relations who depended on them. What would happen to them after their carers have been thrown out of job? How do these families cope with life?

Honestly, I think I agree with Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State on this. As soon as the news of the sack or proposed sack went public, the governor quickly made his view known. He mocked President Muhammadu Buhari for backing the Kaduna State governor’s plan to sack the 22,000 teachers who were said to have failed competency test.

Fayose who is the current Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governors’ Forum said it was sad that Buhari, whose government promised to create jobs for Nigerians, is in support of throwing the teachers into the labour market after causing the collapse of several companies and the subsequent loss of millions of jobs in the private sector. Fayose warned that the President’s position was a pointer that labour leaders in the country should prepare for mass sack of workers by the APC government at both the federal and state levels. Fayose said that by openly supporting the sack of about 22,000 teachers in Kaduna State, President Buhari has approved loss of jobs as the official policy of the All Progressives Congress (APC) instead of creation of three million jobs per year that the party promised Nigerians.

Although Fayose himself has had serious challenges with paying his workers as at and when due, honestly, I think I agree with him on this one. Whether we call

it governance or government, it should be all about Nigerian families and how they are faring. Those Kaduna teachers should be recalled. They deserve to be re-trained, not sacked.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Emeka Asinugo and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."