The Chancellor of the University of Ilorin and Emir of Katsina, Alhaji (Dr.) Abdulmumini Kabir Usman, has attributed the falling standard of education in the country to the failure of the primary school system, which, according to him, “is the bedrock of every other educational system”.
Dr. Usman, who stated this in an interview with Unilorin Bulletin, also bemoaned the lack of adequate infrastructure required for teaching and learning, lamenting that the “quality of our primary education has been destroyed completely.”
The royal father, who was installed the Chancellor of the University of Ilorin at the just concluded 31st Convocation ceremony of the institution, said, “Primary school education is the foundation and it must be very strong; we need to have a very sound foundation on which we build the nation’s educational superstructure. It will be good to have a very sound primary education because it is the basic.”
He stated further, “When you go to a classroom you see about 300, even 500 pupils. How can you teach effectively under that condition? This is a crowd. I did my primary school in Dutsin-ma and we were just 30 in a class. While I was a District Head, I did a blue print on that. Among the point I raised was the need to have adequate accommodation for the pupils and to limit the number of students per class.”
The Chancellor called for greater commitment by those charged with the responsibility of imparting knowledge through qualitative teaching. He canvassed the enactment of a “law that a person has to be at least an NCE holder, a graduate or Diploma holder before he/she could be employed to teach in our public schools.”
Dr. Usman described as unacceptable a situation “where you have wives of directors, permanent secretary and what have you who don’t know how to teach but are only there just collect salary”, pointing out that, “When the late Umaru Yar ‘Adua was the Governor of Katsina State, we were allowed to interview some people who applied to teach in our primary schools. But unfortunately, the first person we interviewed couldn’t spell black board! This shows that such person lacks the background. And people like this flood the nation’s education system.”
The royal father, who was also conferred with the Doctor of Laws (LL.D) Honoris Causa by the University of Ilorin during the convocation, further revealed that he had already written a memo to the new Governor of Katsina State, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari on the issue, expressing confidence in the ability of the Government to “correct all the anomalies in the entire system including the educational system.”
Expressing support for President Muhammadu Buhari’s effort at tackling the scourge of corruption in the country, the Emir said, “I am happy that the entire world is behind Nigeria in this crusade to rid the country of corruption so that we can be counted once again among the countries to be reckoned with. I pray that the government will succeed in this mission.”
The Chancellor took exception to the agitation in some quarters for constitutional roles for traditional rulers in the country, saying, “When some senior Emirs met and a communiqué was to be issued to canvass for specific roles for traditional rulers, I specifically said my signature would not be there, because I don’t advise traditional rulers to be in the constitution. Let’s remain the way we are now. I specifically advocate we remain the way we are”.
The Emir of Katsina opined that “when you see traditional rulers in the constitution, a governor or whoever is not in good terms with the Emir can withhold what is due the community and along the way, they may instigate the community against the Emir. So, I don’t think it is good for us. We are in Allah’s constitution that is the Holy Quran. If we remain the way we are now, God will assist us. If we agree to go into the man-made constitution, it can jeopardize our system. So, I don’t’ believe in the call for constitutional role for traditional rulers”, he stressed.
According to him, “You don’t have to put it in the constitution before the job could be done; it just needs a circular from the government detailing the Emirs to do this and that. It is as simple as that. We are doing it already”, he observed.
The royal father said, “When you go into my palace now, you will see a lot of people there. I sit down there and arbitrate between my people. All Katsina people are always here. Even from Lagos, Jos, Port Harcourt etc, you will see people coming to my palace soliciting for arbitration on debt issues, land matters etc”, maintaining that, “nobody has asked me to do this. But I know it is my duty and nobody will stop me. I don’t discriminate here and I don’t take any nonsense from anybody. You are here to obey the rules and regulations of the government and the traditions of the community. I don’t discriminate.”
“When you see me talking with a Christian, you will think that I am a Christian, when you see me talking with any other sect, the Izala sect, the Tariqa sect, and so on, you will feel I am one of them. I relate with everybody equally. When I am relating with an Igbo, you will not know the difference between us. That is why Katsina is tagged the most peaceful community in the entire federation. So, whoever is in Katsina, I see them as my own and treat them equally and that is why Katsina is one of the most peaceful places in the country”, he noted.