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Teacher’s Day Celebration: Tackling Fundamental of National Educational System

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By Blaise Udunze

Every day is for the Teachers! The moment we start giving preferences to the profession and the people as the most important members of our society, the moment there will be the emergence of true instructors and educators who are ready to instill the requisite knowledge for nation building.

Alas! The society is in quagmire and stagnated in this part of the world. Over the years, least attention has been given to the whole of the educational sector- the citadel of learning. The Citadel that houses the army of teachers. Today, can it be said to be a great citadel of learning? Can it be said to be a fortified environment that promotes excellence in academics through sound teaching and learning that influences people becoming better and ideal citizens who are able to shape a better society to live in, by knowing and respecting rights, laws, and regulations?

Alas! This must be one of the reasons our nations have been locked to dangerous and usually complex situation which is difficult to exit. We have been embroiled in inextricable complexities amongst civilians during the electioneering processes that come with its reverberating effects in democracy with support of the Judiciary.

This is informed by the monumental corruptions and the lack of interest in the sector caused by bad government policies and lack of political will amongst the ‘elites’ to enforce or implement laws.  Hence, the Nigerian educational system is bedeviled with myriad of glitches that has led to near-comatose of the sector in recent years.

The system is faced with problems such as lack of adequate funding, negligence of teachers’ welfare, poor governance, corruption, lack of Infrastructure, indiscipline, lack of teaching aids and outdated curriculum. Though, the entire sector is wracked by endemic corruption, so much so that it has eaten deeply into the fabric of the entire system; the fundamentals must first be addressed.

Alas! The lacuna in the educational sector of our country that happens to be the rudiment impeding the sustainable development meant to intrinsically translate to the nation of ‘my dream’ and ‘your dream’ invariably stems from the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (5th Alteration) (No. 8) ACT, 2023. And it has gone largely unnoticed!

Meanwhile, the ACT created the National Policy on Education (NPE) 2004 and the compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education (UBE) ACT 2004. The NPE affirmed that education in Nigeria is an instrument ‘par excellence’ for effecting national development. Primarily, amongst its objectives, the NPE is focused on the need for functional education for the promotion of progressive united Nigeria, and to this end; school programmes need to be relevant, practical and comprehensive whilst interest and ability should determine the individual direction in education. This is expected for the country to spell out in clear and unequivocal terms the philosophy and objectives that underlie its investment in education (for the welfare of Teachers and Students). However, the Nigerian Constitution provides that it shall be the responsibility of the government to direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels, it shall provide science and technology, it shall strive to eradicate illiteracy, and to this end, government shall, as and when practicable, provide free, compulsory and universal primary education; free secondary education; free university education; and free adult literacy programme.

Consequently, regardless of the prevalence of robust laws and legislative measures towards ensuring the right to education and its role to maintain a great citadel of learning that fosters the worth and development of the citizens for individual’s sake and for the general development of the society, education system in Nigeria is still a chimera.

One could have also believed that Nigeria as a member of the United Nations and a signatory to many international human rights instruments that provide for the right to education and made recommendation to promote teacher’s status in the interest of quality education would have addressed the enigma in the system.

In spite of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recommendation that developing countries should dedicate 15% to 20% of their annual budget to public education, less than 2% of Nigeria’s GDP only had been committed to education in more than 10 years. This shows that the national budget for education has remained abysmally poor over the period. This regardless of the fact that half of the money budgeted still ends up being stolen away by corrupt government officials, leaving the sector almost comatose.

UNESCO proclaimed 5 October to be World Teachers’ Day in 1994, celebrating the great step made for teachers on 5 October 1966.

Specifically, I must say that the recommendation has failed to promote teachers’ status in the interest of quality education.

The prevalent violations in the sector, however, revealed that making provision for quality education and welfare of teachers in Nigeria have become anathema amongst successive governments.

With the current health of the country’s citadel of learning, the citadel that houses the army of teachers for the desired nation of our dreams remains elusive, which does not call for celebration of any sort.

No doubt, the narratives of the dream of our nation can be upturn through improved educational system by funding the sector adequately, embracing technology, curriculum reform, putting safeguards in place to stem the tidal wave of massive corruption that has stymied the growth of the sector in recent years.

Most importantly, the legislators should go back to the drawing board to ensure that the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s Constitution wholly captures the welfare of our teachers as integral part of the education sector.

To get it right as a nation that values education, teachers’ sacrifices should be treated as blood is to life. I strongly agree with the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi who said, “Teaching is not a profession, but a way of life.”

So, how well this important ‘way of life’ is handled determines to the nations of our dreams. If this concept has been in practice over the years, it would have curbed the concerns of this years’ (2023) World Teachers’ Day celebrations, themed, “The Teachers We Need for the Education We Want: The Global Imperative to Reverse the Teacher Shortage.” Unfortunately, what value do we place on teachers in Nigeria?

Alas! Brain drain may hit the country’s educational sector soon, as exodus of teachers from our country looms.

The daily appreciation and celebration by individuals and governments will address the unprecedented teacher shortage and showcase practices to attract, retain, and motivate teachers and educators in Nigeria and other African countries. I am of the opinion, it is high time the yearly 5th October, Teacher’s Day celebration is scrapped.

Permit me to buttress my point further with an extract from an aspiring linguist, Julia S’s narrative, titled, “In Japan, there is no Teacher’s Day”.

“In Japan, a teacher is the most respected profession, the most respected person. Japanese entrepreneurs are delighted when teachers visit their stores; they consider it an honor.
During my time in Japan, I repeatedly saw how Japanese people deeply respect teachers. There are separate seats for them on the subway, dedicated stores, and teachers don’t wait in line for tickets on any form of transportation.
Why do Japanese teachers need a separate holiday when every day of their lives is like a celebration?”

I believe that every day is for the Teachers! Because Teachers across the world, work tirelessly daily, often without accolades.

Just like the Japanese cultural belief that provision of quality education has been hallmark of prosperous nation, in our little ways, everyone can help by celebrating the profession, by generating awareness about teacher issues, by ensuring that teacher’s respect and welfare is part of the natural order of things.

Indeed, teachers are the backbone of our democracy – fostering curiosity and creativity, building skillful individuals, and strengthening informed citizens in pursuit of the nation of our dreams.

Let’s take the opportunity each day to reverence the important roles teachers play in our lives because their determination and sincerity will shape the destiny of the nation as they are laying the foundation and the building blocks of the society.

Blaise Udunze is a Media/Public Relations & Communications Professional. He writes from Lagos.

 


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How Afam Osigwe Emerged New NBA President

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Afam Osigwe, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria has emerged as the president-elect of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) following the 2024 NBA election held online.

Afam Osigwe

Osigwe secured the highest number of votes, with 20,395, surpassing his closest rival, Tobenna Erojikwe, who got 10,970 votes, and Chukwuka Ikwuazom (SAN), who received 9,007 votes.

He will succeed the outgoing president, Yakubu Maikyau (SAN).

See below the other positions filled by the newly elected executives of the NBA:

1st Vice-President: Sabastine Anyia defeated Bartholomew Aguegbodo

2nd Vice-President: Mrs. Bolatumi Animashaun with 26,534 votes, defeating Pius Oiwoh, who scored 11,121 votes.

3rd Vice-President: Mrs. Zainab Garba with 23,550 votes, defeating Michael Olorunmola, who received 13,897 votes.

General Secretary: Dr. Mobolaji Ojibara with 25,713 votes, defeating Abdulwasiu Alfa, who received 11,730 votes.

Assistant General Secretary: Henry Ehi with 28,552 votes, defeating Oluwaseun Aka, who received 8,317 votes.

Treasurer: Mrs. Blessing Udofa-Poromon with 17,998 votes, defeating Mbamala Chukwuemeka, who garnered 9,825 votes.

Publicity Secretary: Mrs. Bridget Edokwe with 19,542 votes, defeating Charles Ajiboye, who scored 10,989 votes.

Assistant Publicity Secretary: Miss Ebiere Ekpese with 26,955 votes, defeating Lawrence Ayewa, who scored 9,690 votes.

Welfare Secretary: Nyada Auta with 18,369 votes, defeating Oaikhena Osagie, who scored 12,855 votes.


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Nigeria Makes Giant Strides in Economic Growth and Continental Leadership with the Launch of Guided Trade Initiative Under AfCFTA 

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Nigeria has embarked on a historic endeavor with the launch of the Guided Trade Initiative under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), signaling a pivotal moment in boosting intra-African trade and fostering economic diversification. Spearheaded by President Bola Tinubu, this initiative is anticipated to unlock an estimated $50 billion in economic opportunities for Nigerian businesses.

President Tinubu underscored AfCFTA’s transformative potential, positioning it not merely as a trade pact but as a catalyst for industrialization, equitable growth, and continental prosperity. Nigeria is steadfast in creating an enabling business environment that fosters innovation and enhances the competitiveness of local enterprises across diverse sectors.

The launch event, supported by international partners such as the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation (BMZ), celebrated Nigeria’s leadership role in AfCFTA’s implementation. The Country Director for GIZ Nigeria and ECOWAS, represented by GIZ ECOWAS Cluster Coordinator, Svenja Ossman, highlighted Germany’s commitment through the ECOWAS AfCFTA project, aimed at bolstering the implementation framework across West Africa.

“We are pleased to witness Nigeria’s official commencement of trade under the preferential regime established by AfCFTA,” stated the GIZ country director. “Germany acknowledges Nigeria’s proactive stance in advancing regional economic integration and pledges support in aligning national efforts with ECOWAS-coordinated AfCFTA strategies.”

The GIZ ECOWAS AfCFTA support project has been pivotal in providing technical assistance to Nigeria through the AfCFTA National Action Committee, now called, the Nigeria AfCFTA Coordination Office (NACO). This support includes the development of a comprehensive Action Plan aimed at optimizing trade facilitation and maximizing opportunities for Nigerian businesses, including women and youth entrepreneurs.

“We commend Nigeria’s dedication in preparing the AfCFTA implementation Action Plan,” continued the GIZ country director. “In collaboration with relevant Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), we anticipate finalizing this plan to ensure robust financial and institutional support for its successful rollout.”

Emphasizing the importance of collaboration, Mr. Olusegun Awolowo, National Coordinator of NACO, highlighted the transformative impact of AfCFTA on Nigeria’s economic landscape. The conversion of the National Action Committee on AfCFTA into NACO underscores Nigeria’s commitment to effective AfCFTA implementation, including finalizing tariff concessions to enhance competitiveness within the continental market.

Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite, reiterated Nigeria’s dedication to leveraging AfCFTA for industrial growth and job creation. Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, emphasized the strategic importance of the Guided Trade Initiative in propelling Nigeria’s economic growth and fostering regional integration.

President Tinubu concluded the event by affirming Nigeria’s commitment to assuming a leadership role in continental and global trade through AfCFTA. Beyond immediate economic gains, AfCFTA promises a transformative future for all Africans, grounded in collaboration, innovation, and the collective strength of the continent.


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FCCPC Slams $220m Fine on WhatsApp, Facebook over ‘discriminatory practices’ in Nigeria

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Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has imposed a $220,000,000 penalty on Meta Platforms Incorporated over alleged discriminatory practices against Nigerian data and consumers.

This was disclosed on Friday in a statement signed by acting chief executive officer, FCCPC, Dr. Adamu Abdullahi.

The penalty follows a joint investigation by the Commission, and the Nigeria Data Protection Commission (NDPC) into Meta platforms’ conduct, privacy policies, the operation thereof, and practices between May 2021 and December 2023, and over this period of 38 months.

According to the statement, in May 2021, the Commission had directed WhatsApp LLC and Meta Platforms, Inc. (formerly called Facebook Inc.) to defend themselves regarding its investigative report which detailed how their conduct allegedly violated relevant data laws.

Meta was said to have provided some information in response to the requests and summons under the joint investigation.

“Meta Parties by themselves, and retained counsels have also repeatedly engaged with, and met with investigators and analysts from the Commission, and the NDPC, including as recently as April 4, 2024,” the statement added.

The Commission disclosed that the totality of the investigation has now concluded that Meta platforms over a protracted period of time have engaged in conduct that constitutes continuing infringements of the FCCPA and NDPR, “particularly, but not limited to abusive, and invasive practices against data subjects/consumers in Nigeria, such as appropriating personal data or information without consent, discriminatory practices against Nigerian data subjects/consumers or disparate treatment of consumers/data subjects compared with other jurisdictions with similar regulatory frameworks, abuse of dominant market position by forcing unscrupulous, exploitative, and non-compliant privacy policies which appropriated consumer personal information without the option or opportunity to self-determine or otherwise withhold or provide consent to the gathering, use, and/or sharing of such personal data.”

FCCPC stated that being satisfied with the evidence on the record and that Meta Parties have been provided with every opportunity to articulate any position, representations, refutations, explanations or defences of their conduct and practices under law, the Commission has now entered a final Order and issued a penalty against Meta Parties including $220,000,000 fine.

The final order highlighted Meta’s alleged infringements to include, denying Nigerian data subjects the right to self-determine; unauthorised transfer and sharing of Nigerian data-subjects personal data, including cross-border storage in violation of then, and now prevailing law; discrimination and disparate treatment and abuse of Dominance.

“The Final Order of the Commission mandates steps and actions Meta Parties must take to comply with prevailing law and cease the exploitation of Nigerian consumers and their market abuse, as well as desist from future similar or other conduct/practices that do not meet nationally applicable standards and undermine the rights of consumers.

“The Final order also imposes a monetary penalty of $220 million (at prevailing exchange rate where applicable) which penalty is in accordance with the FCCPA 2018, and the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection (Administrative Penalties) Regulations 2020 (APR).”

The Commission stated that it remains committed to its respective mandates to protect the privacy of Nigerians under the Constitution and all data protection laws and regulations, as well as to ensure that consumer rights are respected, and the markets operate in a fair and transparent manner.

The Commission in collaboration with the NDPC plays a role in ensuring compliance with the law relating to data, competition (businesses) and consumers.

The decision is coming less than seven hours after the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja struck out a N30 billion alleged illegal advertisement lawsuit instituted against Meta Platforms Incorporated (owners of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp platforms) and its agent AT3 Resources Limited by the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON).

Justice Peter Lifu struck out ARCON’s case on Friday, in suit no: FHC/ABJ/CS/1701/2022, following a notice of discontinuance entered by the plaintiff’s lawyer, Barrister Micheal Okorie.


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