In 1955, the Western Region introduced free education. Today, the products of that policy and their offspring dominate education, the civil service, business, financial services, medicine, law and a host of other professions in Nigeria and beyond. Today, which of the region’s 19 states has a free education policy?It is an interesting and important question, leading to an even more important and unexpected conclusion.
Today, a single state in the South has more school enrolments than an entire geo-political zone in the North. A primary school in Kaduna State (Rafin-Pa) has 300 pupils who share two classes. A chalk line on the floor serves as demarcation for the different classes. It has two teachers, including the headmaster.
There are more private universities in a state in the South than all federal, state and private universities in a Northern zone. There is only one state owned university of science and technology in the entire North. A single university in the South graduates more students than several in the North.
Ah, the beauties of government education. And with all the monies spent, the bureaucracies built, the educated class employed, the gap between North and South is greater than ever. Now that government education is well and on its way to employing the elites, it is time for zoning.
Agriculture, the region’s great area of comparative advantage and mainstay of its economy remains subsistence and dependent on the vagaries of weather. This is in spite of the many dams and huge tracts of fertile land the region possesses. The Sahara desert is inching downwards every year. Entire settlements have been engulfed. Water sources are drying up rapidly; deforestation is exposing millions of people to the elements and making the region vulnerable to drought, flooding and other environmental catastrophes.
What? The government can not help preserve the nation's resources? Heresy I say.
Of course, many Northerners have worked and succeeded in many fields, but most of those fighting for zoning are people who have served in one public position or another and used their positions to divert public funds for personal use.
The writer suggests the private sector is much more adept than government policy at developing the economy and preserving the land from the Sahara. He goes on:
If we looked into it, how much would you wager that it is the IMF or the World Bank, or some other foreign aid consultant, that is urging the Nigerians to adopt the 'civilized' policy of zoning?Zoning is an issue the elite use to preserve their interests. Regardless of who is in power, the majority of Northerners (regardless of ethnicity or religion) have nothing to show. Our leaders systematically narrow the economic and political space to the exclusion of the majority, while illiteracy, poverty, unemployment, insecurity and ethno-religious crises continue to tear the North apart.
Read the whole article. It is a beautifully written piece about the issues that are government.