Showing posts with label Political Sycophants. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Political Sycophants. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

To All The Ignorant Political Sycophants Of President Goodluck Jonathan

Please, read the following article and honestly say if your idol is worthy of your support.

A Budget of Consolidated Poverty

~ By Education Rights Campaign

ON Wednesday December 15, 2010, President Goodluck Jonathan presented the 2011 appropriation bill to the joint session of the National Assembly. Speaking on the bill which was glowingly labeled 'a budget of fiscal consolidation, inclusive economic growth and employment generation', President Jonathan expressed optimism that the 2011 budget would make Nigeria one of the 20 most advanced economies by year 2020.

Against the calls of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), Staff Unions like the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU) as well as the numerous protests, demonstrations and agitations by stakeholders in the education sector for the government to increase funding to education up to UNESCO recommended standard of 26% as a step towards the provision of a free and functional education at all levels, President Jonathan and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) have prepared a budget that totally relegates education to the background while allocating a larger unmerited chunk to the Presidency and the National Assembly.

According to the 2011 appropriation bill of about N4.226 trillion, only a meager sum of N35 billion is being proposed for capital projects in the education sector. This compared to huge sums of N39 billion proposed for the Presidency and over N350 billion for the National Assembly is an absolute rip-off of Nigerians! Allocation for refreshment and meals alone for the office of the president is a scandalous N312 million! Similarly, about N12 million has been allocated for refreshment and meals for the Senate and N47 million for honorarium and sitting allowance. Their House of Representatives counterparts will get about N8.1 million and N55 million respectively for refreshment and meals, honorarium and sitting allowance! This is aside the jumbo salary packages for members of the executive and legislative arms of governance. Meanwhile, this heartless sharing of the collective resources of Nigerians by a few capitalist ruling class is taking place without regard for the worsening state of public education and the fate of over 12 million Nigerian children who are out of school.

The ERC considers the 2011 appropriation as a breach of the October 2009 FG-ASUU agreement and the recent judgment of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice sitting in Abuja which upheld the right of every Nigerian child to free and compulsory education. The breach of the judgment of the ECOWAS Court of justice is all the more scandalous considering the fact that President Jonathan is the Chairman of the ECOWAS. It is an embarrassment that Nigeria which wants to be seen as the giant of Africa is failing to implement the court judgment of ECOWAS – a regional body whose chairman happens to be the President of Nigeria. We ask: How effective and respected will ECOWAS be in the eyes of the world and in the West African sub-region when its Chairman flagrantly disobeys the judgment of its court?

To us in the Education Rights Campaign (ERC), the 2011 appropriation bill is nothing but a budget of consolidated poverty. Contrary to President Jonathan false assurances, it will not make Nigeria one of the 20 most advanced economies by year 2020. Instead this budget will make Nigeria a country with one of the worst education sectors, a country with one of the highest numbers of illiterate youths, the largest rate of school drop-outs and unemployable young graduates, the lowest in Human Capital Development and the highest in brain drain by the year 2020. This is because the amount allocated to education is too minute to resolve the massive infrastructural deficit with which the Nation's education sector is currently bedeviled and the amount allocated are usually looted by corrupt politicians and bureaucrats.

We therefore call on the National Assembly to debate this budget proposal with the intention of doing a service to the Nation's youths who are desirous of a free, functional and accessible education by increasing allocation to education up to 26 per cent of the total budget as recommended by UNESCO. Unless this is done, the ERC will continue to reject this appropriation bill and we shall mobilize Nigerian students and youths to reject it not only with words but also with political actions.

Already the state of education in Nigeria has gone from bad to worse as the year 2010 witnessed a meteoric rise in fees in tertiary institutions across the country. Describing the terrible conditions in our education sector, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has observed that, 'Due to poor funding of education, education at all levels suffers from low academic standards; lacks requisite teachers; both in sufficient quantity and quality. Even the few qualified teachers available are not sufficiently motivated in terms of remuneration or conducive operating environment to maximize their output into the education system. Schools are over-populated and classrooms are over-crowded, facilities are inadequate and over-stressed, library shelves are empty and covered with cobwebs, while laboratories lack up-to-date equipment'. Equally, no Nigerian University can be found among the first 5000 in the world and the first 50 in Africa and over 12 million children of school age are out of school. Last year, there were 98 per cent and 74 per cent mass failure in the 2009 National Examination Council (NECO) November/December SSCE examination and 2010 May/June WAEC examination respectively!

These statistics to us are enough frightening signals and warnings for any serious government to begin to address these problems by improving funding of the education sector. Actually to begin to turn around this dismal fortune of the education sector, government will have to invest massively in funding the education sector by providing facilities like adequate lecture theatres, hostel facilities, ICT facilities, equipped laboratories and libraries, enhancement of wages and working conditions of staff in order to attract the best brain to the teaching profession at primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education.

Also the products of the investment- the students – upon graduation have to be provided with jobs so they can give back to the economy. In that case, government have to invest massively in industrial and agricultural development, which will ensure the transformation of Nigeria to a producing economy while guaranteeing jobs for all graduates of tertiary institutions. For optimum utilization of the resources invested to be achieved and to discourage corruption at all levels, schools must be democratically managed by workers/experts and the communities.

However, none of these will be achieved unless the government jettisons all IMF/World Bank-inspired neo-liberal policies of privatization and place the commanding heights of the economy under public ownership and management. Only this can ensure the full mobilization of the huge amount of money needed by government to invest in education, job creation and social services.

However instead of government taking the issues in this direction, all key economic policies of Jonathan's administration especially those canvassed in the 2011 appropriation bill pander towards reducing government role in funding of social services while prioritizing the sale of education, health, roads and infrastructures to profit-seeking private sector in the name of privatization, Public Private Partnership (PPP) and commercialization. The net effect of these misguided neo-liberal policies of the Jonathan administration is that things will continue to get worse in the coming period. If government continues these ruinous neo-liberal policies of education under funding, indeed by year 2020 public education will have collapsed thus turning the current and future generations of Nigerian youths into criminals, love-peddlers and destitute.

• We call on the National Assembly to increase allocation to education in the 2011 appropriation bill up to 26 per cent of the budget otherwise the ERC will not hesitate to lead Nigerian students and youths on a protest march to the National Assembly.

• Immediate setting up of budget monitoring committees by Governing Councils of all Universities in accordance with 2009 FG-ASUU agreement. These budget monitoring committees must comprise elected representatives of students and staff unions with the sole purpose of monitoring government allocations to tertiary institutions and ensuring judicious use of resources.

• Downward review of the salaries and allowances of public office holders, payment of living wage to workers and placement of all public office holders on the same wage of civil servants and professional workers.

• Cancellation of the illegal and unconstitutional practice of constituency projects of members of the National Assembly. Projects are the duties of the executive arm of government.

• Payment of N40,000 Cost of Study Allowance (COSA) to students of tertiary institutions to offset the cost of books, accommodation, transportation etc.

• Reversal of all fee increments especially the atrocious fee increases at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU). We call on the Vice Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) to immediately reverse the proposed increase of acceptance fee for fresh students from N2,000 to N20,000 and introduction of a health insurance fee of N1,600 or face mass protest and demonstrations of students.

• Public ownership of the commanding heights of the economy under the control and management of the working people.

• Hassan Soweto (National Co-ordinator) and Chinedu Bosah (National Secretary) sent this piece on behalf of the Education Rights Campaign (ERC).