In the immortal words of former U.S president Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”
Indeed, a sound mind can only be built through quality education, which enhances knowledge and skills to practice proficiently in a field and helps to build competence, character, and a sense of purpose. Nations that have made significant investments in building sound minds through education are rapidly developing, leaving behind those who pay scant attention to this all-important pillar of national development.
In Nigeria, nationalists like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who invested massively in education, remain eternal heroes for the level of political awareness of their regions. Conversely, a new breed of leaders, many of who are beneficiaries of Awolowo’s education intervention and strategic development of South-West Nigeria, has continued with the laudable initiative.
One such leader is Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State. Taking the equally far-reaching and commendable education programmes and policies of his predecessors to the next level, Sanwo-Olu and his team of education leaders are taking on a full-course re-vitalisation of all the weight-baring structures for quality education.
In 2018/2019, Sanwo-Olu, a rather unobtrusive actor in public service and the politics of Lagos State came out of the backroom to literally snatch the APC gubernatorial ticket from the incumbent Governor Akinwunmi Ambode. His controversial emergence was met with tentative acceptance by most Lagosians. Still, the people would rather keep the progressive, proven governance structure entrenched by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu since 1999 than experiment with the opposition parties.
Sanwo-Olu’s campaign was anchored on six pillars of the strategic development agenda termed ‘Project T.H.E.M.E.S (Traffic Management and Transportation, Health and Environment, Education and Technology, Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy, Entertainment and Tourism, and Security and Governance), which he espoused robustly that they are sine qua non to achieving the vision of a greater Lagos and placing the state among the comity of great global cities. He won the governorship election convincingly and was handed the tough task of surpassing the giant strides of his illustrious predecessors including Babatunde Fashola, SAN.
A surveyor by training, banker, and public servant, he, immediately, brought to bear his uncommon leadership qualities of patience, innovation, and methodological approach to governing Lagos State. At the first public review milestone of his 100days in office, Lagosians had begun experiencing the exceptional leadership abilities of Governor Sanwo-Olu especially as the state’s education sector had begun its steady ascent to a place of regional and global competitiveness.
Sanwo-Olu’s administration began with a comprehensive assessment of schools to determine their immediate needs for prompt and proper attention. The administration also started developing plans to hire more well-trained teachers to strengthen the quality of education and establish 300 fully-equipped and functional computer laboratories in secondary schools across Lagos while imbibing a long-term maintenance culture. The governor communicated the ultimate goal to develop an educational system that can provide skills that will meet the needs of the 21st Century economy by prioritising the global STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) model.
As his first term nears its twilight, the vision of Sanwoolu’s administration is beginning to flesh out. Several key metrics underscore this for Doubting Thomases. A major one is the severance of ties between Lagos tertiary institutions and the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, with its unending strike actions. This was achieved through qualitative leadership, funding, massive welfare programmes, and infrastructural development. All the state’s institutions have moved up in various global rankings in the past three years.
To ensure the effectiveness of the plethora of intervention projects, the state Ministry of Education partnered with the Lagos State Infrastructure Asset Management Agency (LASIAMA), which is charged with the management and maintenance of the vast portfolio of Lagos State government assets.
The government’s intervention in bringing back to school young girls who missed their education due to early pregnancy, trafficking, poverty, or other such factors is also a very commendable move. Through sensitisation, thousands of these girls have been provided with alternative school systems to re-enrol for secondary education and learn a vocation that would make them become entrepreneurs.
Below are some interventions in key areas of education as at September 2022.
- Infrastructure, Facility, and Equipment have been prioritised by the Sanwo-Olu administration.
- Commissioned over 1,097 school infrastructure projects, covering 970 schools across the 20 Local Governments and 37 Local Council Development Areas.
- Renovated 322 dilapidated public schools
- Providing 87,000 units of dual composite furniture for 775 primary and secondary schools
- Built additional 300 classrooms
- Built seven new blocks of students’ hostel students
- Over 500 libraries updated and upgraded with IT learning facilities to go with them in our schools
- Teachers’ Welfare and Capacity Development
- Over 15,000 teachers trained in the Eko Excel Programme and given tablets preloaded with the curriculum
- 12 brand new cars presented to outstanding teachers, as a motivation to do better
- Disbursement of N12.8 million housing loan to teachers
- Financial Support and Out-of-school Children Intervention
- N679million paid to WAEC for 45,447 for the final exams of SS3 students in all public schools
- Over 4,500 out-of-school pupils were brought back to the classroom
- Stem the intrusion of hoodlums in schools by providing security facilities such as security alarm systems, fence upgrades, watchtowers, and floodlights.
- Initiated a security programme to engage and interact with security agencies on proper ways to secure the students while in school.
- Curriculum, Future-proofing Learning & Schools Management
- The school curriculum has also been reviewed just as the State Government launched new schemes of work integrating 21st Century skills, which are aimed at preparing the children for an excellent future.
- Partnered with Casio and SKLD Integrated services to install a Casio Mathematics and Science Laboratory at the Education Resource
- Centre to further enhance the teaching and learning of science-related subjects.
- Re-introduced the school-based management board and initiated the Volunteer Teachers Mentoring Corps Programme to improve the capacity of school personnel, thereby, creating opportunities for education stakeholders to support the government in mentoring the present and upcoming teachers/school administrators.
- Public-Private Partnership programme of the Ministry provided over 27,000 additional mobile devices and MP3 devices preloaded with the curriculum. items were distributed to students to further enhance their learning and make them technologically savvy
- Skill Acquisition and Tertiary Education
- Youth centres established to impact out-of-school children. Over 60,000 for the Job Initiative Lagos across tertiary institutions inclusive of those empowered by Eko Digital, which adds up to over 200,000 plus.
- Establishment of the Lagos State University of Science and Technology and upgrading of the Lagos State Polytechnic to a University.
- Planned establishment of Lagos State Tertiary Education Trust Fund as an innovative solution to the growing need for funding. This will replicate the success of the Lagos State Security Trust Fund model.
- The state government has concluded plans to establish new schools, including vocational and special schools in addition to the plan to launch an educational radio station to cascade learning to the grassroots.
The above list is not exhaustive, but only paints the full picture of the scale and dimensions of Sanwo-Olu’s education intervention programs.
It is not in doubt that Sanwo-Olu and his education sector team are chattering a new course towards a highly competitive future for not only Lagosians but Africa. As countries around the world deal with the severe gap in their labour market, Africa, particularly Nigeria, has become a major channel to fill them up.
Our collective future will be at risk if there isn’t a more concerted effort to develop the skills of the future for our massive youth population. Sanwo-Olu is leading this effort to ward off this unfortunate possibility with ingenious interventions in education that will develop a citizenry with the finest minds and enhanced capacities to choose the best leaders for a more prosperous democratic future.
Why change a working formula?
This article was first published in the 10th anniversary edition of Metronews magazine.
This thing called life is heavy – Timi Dakolo shares deep thought
Singer, Timi Dakolo has taken to social media to share his deep thought about the human being existence, ‘life’.
The father of three took to micro-blogging platform, Twitter to share his thoughts. According to him, life is heavy and it only requires grace to live through it.
Sharing his two cent Dakolo advised that when the burden becomes too much, one should take out time to rest before forging on.
He tweeted: “This thing called life is heavy o, NA God Dey help Us carry am gracefully. Sometimes the weight go too much you even begin hear the cracks for ya shoulder. Abeg Sometimes Just stop and catch your breathe, before you move again. NA WHO DEY ALIVE DEY GET PURPOSE”.
Timi Dakolo shares powerful motivation with men
TheHeute News recalls that Timi Dakolo shared a powerful motivation with men who might be going through a hard time in life.
Timi who fondly refer to himself as the ‘chorus leader‘ shared a powerful post on his Instagram page. In the post, he shared a picture of himself in black and white while a crown is being placed on his head.
Captioning the post, he told men that their crown didn’t fall but shifted; however if it did ever fall, they should pick it up, dust and wear it again because it is a symbol of glory.
Timi wrote: “Dear kings, the crown didn’t fall, it shifted. but even if it did, pick it up; dust it up and wear it again. Crowns are symbols of glory. Stay glorying, that’s what kings do”.
The ‘havoc’ of bad leadership affects us all, take 2023 seriously
By Chukwuemeka Ezike
Plato is an ancient Greek Philosopher from centuries BC, whose philosophical influence still hold sway in the modern day. So, when he philosophised that the heavy price for apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men, and worse, by our supposed inferiors, he was not just stocking up quotes for use after his demise. Indeed, time and again, world over, this has been proven true.
Now it’s the politicking season again, an important period in the life of our dear nation. Though, today, we are seeing politicians covertly, overtly and systematically campaigning across ethnic, religious and regional divides-some doing their best to divide us along those lines, we will be doing ourselves an obvious disservice in believing that politics and governance are one and the same thing. It takes the aftermath of the elections to realise that the impact of bad leadership is not selective. It doesn’t discriminate against the Christian or Muslim, the Yoruba or Hausa or even the Idoma man in Agatu. It doesn’t even look at age, status or any other ‘lines’ that most of our politicians love so much.
So, the obvious question is, how do we rise above our own disinterest or even better, self-interests to serve the common interest? We must come to the reality of who we are as a people. Like Pythagoras, another philosopher cum mathematician advised, “Man, know thyself.” As Nigerians, we are different people with different orientations, identities, religions, etc. I was born as a Nigerian into a Christian Igbo family. It was not a choice of mine, but something to identify with. That is the organic nature of life! We are born into a certain identity that becomes part of our life. Our differences make us, who we are, make us unique. But despite these differences, we have common interests.
When I go on Twitter, I see different forms of interest pursued diligently by people who have enjoyed the dividend of being close to the corridor of power. Such individuals will sell a goat as cow. Do you understand what I mean? How do you, the common man, buy into the message of the few who have been well-fed by the institution that has milked the country? There are situations that have become troubling for us as a nation and have not helped to harness the potential of us as a people.
The need for a leader that addresses the nation’s challenges in a disruptive way is what we should all seek as Nigerians. Decades have been spent on recycling the leadership of ‘settlements’ or ‘I need to be President.’ It should be a thing of the past. It has not helped move the nation forward.
We in the tech industry seek a better form of leadership to enable what we do. Great leadership will boost the tech ecosystem on a global scale. If you study blockchain technology in Nigeria, it has been self-sustaining and the tech founders have remained persistent in building on innovation within an unfriendly ecosystem. This will be due to belief in the potential of the nation.
In this forthcoming election, every Nigerian should seek the kind of leadership that will enable the different stakeholders in this country build toward a nation that we can all be proud of. At this point, we need to be positioned for all, not just for the few who have the privilege of globe-throttling whenever they want.
When you go to common places like a marketplace where you find all tribes and religions, ask if the leadership of today has affected their lives differently. I am sure you will get a certain answer that goes to show the common citizen will always get the dividend of bad leadership served. It is a call from your fellow citizens to go about this election season asking yourself the right question. The few people from this party who go door-to-door and fly around are trying to get into the circles of power to feel good about themselves.
We have had enough of decades go by with promises made, repeatedly slammed in our faces and never delivered upon. How will Nigeria become a better nation if the people are not setting a course in that direction? As a people, we need to start demanding accountability from the leaders that we be put into positions. Let us not forget, they have demanded enough from us over the years, we have given but have received very little in return. We need to ask ourselves what we need to do differently to ensure that we are on the right track as a nation, this time.
For the 2023 elections, some of these politicians still believe that it is going to be business as usual and they are already forcing down non-existent ideologies, promises in well scripted manifestoes down your throats. They promise Eldorado itself and push ‘a superhero’ hero or heroes for the next four years. I implore you to ask yourself if that candidate is truly a superhero. How has he communicated his or her intentions to you? If a leader is communicating with only those that are seeking to keep an occultic form of fellowship, then you might end up voting a cultist into Aso Rock!
Why you are on the street facing reality on the ground. Those political influencers who talk more than they execute for any common interest will leave you behind and be settled in a position of power.
I’m from Nigeria’s tech community, and I think that with the right kind of leadership and a little bit of empathy, Nigeria will once again be able to play a big role in the world. Again, I say to you, don’t let anyone sell you on sentiments but focus on one with character towards nation-building. Due to inflation, every tribe and religion is paying more for items. This means that Nigeria is for Nigerians, and no one is safe from bad leadership except the few political operatives who rant on Twitter and elsewhere. Take the process of selecting a candidate for the 2022 elections seriously. This means a lot to the future of the nation.
With 90 million plus voters as declared by INEC, now is your time to take that voting decision process like a research project. Obey the call for a better nation.
Ensure you take the process of choosing your candidate very seriously. Not by sentiments or parades of beautiful uniforms sown by the milked wealth of the masses. However, through observations of practice and effective communication with the people they intend to serve, my hope is to see a greater Nigeria before my time elapses.
Chukwuemeka Ezike is a public affairs commentator who wears the dual caps of the Vice-President, Media and Publicity for the Stakeholders in Blockchain Technology Association of Nigeria (SiBAN), and Community Lead, Emurgo Africa.
ARCON reforms: Is ADVAN in love with the industry status quo?
By By Izuchukwu Ewa
More than ten years ago, Dr. Daniel Olukoya, Founder of the Mountain of Fires and Miracles Ministries wrote a book he boldly titled, ‘SLAVES WHO LOVE THEIR CHAINS’. As if to buttress the paradoxical titled, he added an even more puzzling subtitle; “…shall remain in their bondage.” The book’s title is a good illustration for sticking to the status quo even when doing so is detrimental, even when it appears to be a hindrance to growth.
The advertising industry in Nigeria is plagued with a lot of challenges and issues that have been begging for immediate intervention since the late 1980s when the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) act was signed into law. These challenges have remained for decades until the Federal Government saw a need for reforms to be carried out to strengthen the nation’s integrated marketing communications space. That began with the appointment of Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo who is the Director-General of the agency. The Minister of Information Alhaji Lai Mohammed had revealed that he believes that if properly carried out, such reforms would enable the apex regulatory body in the industry sanitise the advertising regulatory environment, encourage inclusive growth, attract investments to the sector, and enhance the operating environment for practitioners.
But at every twist and turn that APCON (now ARCON) has tried to create sustainable solutions to these problems, the Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN) appears to be at loggerheads with the regulatory body. How else can the impasse between the association and the regulatory body be explained? Is ADVAN comfortable with the chains of the status quo that has held the industry down? Is it allergic to any form of change that will place the industry at par with other thriving markets like Kenya’s and South Africa’s as well as those outside the shoes of Africa? Is it implying that the status quo is a global best practice this industry should maintain?
ADVAN consistently appears to dog every move of the regulatory body, every chance it gets, in recent times. Among the many sweeping reforms made by ARCON, perhaps the most controversial, is the one it made on October 6, 2021, when the Advertising Industry Standard of Practice (AISOP) was introduced. Among issues AISOP targeted is the perennial problems of payment circle, pitch fees, seeking to regulate engagement policy, payment terms, and method, media rates and commission, remuneration model, disengagement protocol, returns on advertising investment and measurements, dispute resolution, and other related business procedures.
But despite being part of the process that led to the formulation of AISOP, ADVAN rejected it completely. As reported by one of the industry magazines, Brand Communicator, “consternation buzzed across the industry when details of the new advertising standard of practice were released.”
ADVAN immediately issued a press statement describing the new Standard of Practice as an “unconstitutional attempt to infringe on the rights of private entities to determine their contractual terms.”
In one breath, ADVAN stated that is very supportive of the plan to create a Standard of Practice for the advertising industry, and that one of its key objectives is to facilitate and support progress in the advertising and marketing communications industry, while in another breath, it stated, “… as principal benefactors of Advertising services, our role and input with regards to this AISOP has not been fully on boarded. The current AISOP is void of critical elements that protect the rights and interest of the ADVAN community,” adding, “It is the submission of ADVAN and all its members, that the current AISOP does not serve the collective interest, but rather permits unfair authority of certain parties over others and creates an unfriendly business framework.”
Despite this, ARCON insisted that AISOP is a business framework that must be allowed to work because it seeks to improve mutual respect, eradicate unfair advantage, unethical competition, and un-equitable policies among relevant stakeholders in the advertising and marketing communications industry in Nigeria. Within the industry, AISOP clearly.
To better understand the necessity for AISOP, before now, contract rules were hardly obeyed. Advertisers dictated the pace and called every shot. With the new law, the tide is poised to change, a development that apparently, ADVAN is not comfortable with. ARCON is insisting that previous practices made it difficult for media organisations and agencies to survive.
Again, the signing into law of the ARCON Act which repeals the Advertising Practitioners (Registration, etc.) Act, Cap. A7, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and enacts the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria Act, 2022, to establish a Council for advertising, advertisements and marketing communications as the apex regulatory authority for the Nigerian advertising industry, make provision for the regulation and control of advertising, ensure the protection of the general public and consumers, promote local content and entrench the best international practices, is another example.
It was hoped that with the Act which gives ARCON exclusive power to determine, pronounce upon, administer, monitor, and enforce compliance by persons and organizations on matters relating to advertisements, advertising, and marketing communication in Nigeria whether of a general or specific nature, will be welcomed by all, with open arms as this has given teeth to the regulatory body to enforce the bulk of the most needed changes the industry needs to make headway. One would have also thought there would be fireworks of jubilation across the industry, as this means advertising is headed for the much needed change.
But this was not to be as ADVAN through if President, Osamede Uwubanmwem has been granting interviews on how the new ARCON law will stifle the industry, threatening legal action.
Then again, ARCON announced a ban on the use of foreign models and voiceover artistes in Television Commercials (TVCs) and other related materials including billboards that would run in the country, with effect from October 1st, 2022. The news of the ban reverberated across the world with the President of the Association of Voiceover Artists of Nigeria (AVOA), Segun Arinze, taking to the CNN to commend the move and explaining why it was necessary to grow that space.
ARCON had noted that the ban is expected to stimulate and revitalise the Nigerian advertising and marketing communications industry which has suffered a massive setback due to the unbeneficial and untenable preference for the use of non-Nigerian models and voice-over artists on advertisement targeted at the Nigerian market. The ARCON Director-General also explained that the ban is in line with the Federal Government’s policy of developing local talent, inclusive economic growth, and the need to take necessary steps and actions aimed at growing the Nigerian advertising industry.
“Nigerian ambience, cultural heritage, language and mannerism are unique and reverberate in advertisements produced domestically. The relegation of Nigeria’s eminently qualified models and voice-over artists and the redundancy of the ancillary service providers in the industry due to imported advertising services becloud the advancement of creative potentials seeking a foothold to thrive.
“The risk of allowing domestic creativity to wither due to lack of support and patronage in favour of imported advertising services has negatively affected the small, medium, and macro enterprises in the chain of advertising and marketing communications production in Nigeria. Being the highest employer of labour in Nigeria, the SME sector deserves every support of the Federal Government for growth,” he was quoted as saying.
“This new ARCON policy is aimed at empowering the Nigerian youth who aspires to earn a decent living as a model and voice-over artist in Nigeria as well as create jobs, improve advertising service delivery with a positive multiplier effect on the Nigerian economy.”
“It is not taken for granted that some stakeholders may feel adversely affected by the ban. The overriding necessity to develop local inventiveness and to ensure that advertisements resonate with the society where they are targeted and exposed to, is important to ARCON and to the general public,” ARCON had said.
Again, this development did not go down well with ADVAN. In yet another press statement, the association wrote: “It is ADVAN‘s standpoint that the recent ban on foreign models, was not well thought out. It is a poorly researched and ineffective attempt at seeking a solution for sustainable growth in the advertising industry.
ADVAN had gone ahead to reason that the ban presents Nigeria – a country that has a significant percentage of its population seeking income opportunities outside Nigeria, as a strict, insular, and nonreciprocal society. It had also reasoned that “While it is beneficial to create opportunities for local businesses and talents, it is counterproductive to do so in a manner that creates a harmful perception of the Nation, as an over-regimented and unwelcoming society.”
In its recommendation, ADVAN said, “In seeking development for the Nigerian advertising landscape, our recommendation will be for government to embrace comprehensive stakeholder interactions and inclusivity in their policy creation and implementation. This will provide clarity for reasons behind the decline of advertising budgets, and the most beneficial solutions in attracting increased spend. Regulation and regulators must be collaborative and inclusive, rather than confrontational in nature to help develop a given industry.”
While the argument may sound tenable on some fronts, same ADVAN On AIT’s breakfast show, Kakaaki, through its Chief Executive Officer, Ediri Ediale-Ose while speaking for the association said that there is very little negligible number of foreign models and voiceover artists in practicing in the country while suggesting that instead of an outright ban, ARCON should concentrate on ‘other’ issues plaguing the industry. With her submission, ADVAN clearly sees the ban as a non-issue…but it must antagonise ARCON!
Conversely, these other challenges Ediri spoke about are not problems or issues that are not being considered. Laozi, a wise Chinese man had once said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a step, a single step. Since the Dr. Fadolapo came onboard, ARCON has been taking a lot of these small steps towards sanitising the industry. Is ADVAN oblivious of these moves or do they think problems that have abounded for decades can be solved all at once? Certainly not.
Also, ADVAN came for ARCON for its intervention in a case involving Mainsail and Hayat Kimya, accusing the regulator of meddlesomeness. It beats the imagination that the apex regulatory body of the advertising industry is ‘meddling’ in an affair involving two parties operating within its jurisdiction. A case that had been comatose for months after was revived with ARCON’s intervention following the 7 days ultimatum ADVAN had issued. This has brought all players to one table.
“ADVAN states unequivocally that ARCON’s statement reeks of an underhand attempt to subvert the ongoing process in what has been alleged a criminal issue. This is against the rule of law as espoused by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. ADVAN, therefore, wants to use this medium to reiterate that Hayat Kimya Ltd, a member of ADVAN, is a responsible and law-abiding organization in Nigeria,” the statement stated.
ADVAN’s antagonistic stance against everything ARCON does is a cause for concern considering that all subsectors within the gamut of the industry need to work collaboratively to grow the industry. Though a wide sector, the advertising industry is a small space where everyone and subsector is interwoven. This is the only industry that there is almost no retirement. This is a sector where professionals cross divides, where people on the client-side of business sometimes retire to agency side. An ADVAN member today is a potential member of either the AAAN, EXMAN or any other subsector and vice versa. In fact, some examples that readily come to mind are Seni Adetu with Algorithm Media, ID Enang with Corporate Shepherds, Lampe Omoyele spearheading operations at Nitro121, Kola Oyeyemi with Axiom International Limited, Femi Adelusi with BrandEye Media among tens of others.
With this in mind and with the realisation of the fact that regardless of the divide of the industry anyone plays in, the growth of the industry is everyone’s business. Rather than dogging every move ARCON makes, why not seek more grounds for participating in solving the problems of the industry? At the end of the day, Dr. Olalekan will not remain at ARCON forever and the reforms he would have completed would be for the gain of the industry.
Izuchukwa Ewa is a public affairs analyst, a marketing communications professional and a political commentator. He writes from Afikpo in Ebonyi State.
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