In defence of Education Minister, By Hafsat Magaji

Posted by News Express | 20 January 2017 | 3,337 times

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A member of the yellow press in Nigeria has just published another story in the campaign to discredit top officials of the administration of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari. In its latest hatchet job titled How Adamu Adamu Turned The Education Ministry To Cesspit Of Cronyism And Corruption (sic). The online publication by the name: www.247Report.com made some wild allegations that easily gave away the intention of its sponsors. These are claims that could easily be seen through by any pertinent observer.

This piece is by no means an attempt to defend the Minister of Education or speak on his behalf. As an internationally-acclaimed columnist and a seasoned writer, Mallam Adamu Adamu could have done a far better job in his own defence. Better still, a more robust defence could have been put up by media aides to the Honourable Minister. But, the point is, it serves no good to ignore what could be termed as a dubious attempt at putting hardworking Nigerians on the spot for no just cause.

Perhaps, it would have been appropriate to ignore the campaign of calumny directed at the person of the Honourable Minister of Education, but for the fact that the campaigners are either ill-informed about the issues at stake or they deliberately chose to be mischievous in their attempt to stain the minister. It needs to be pointed out at the onset that the dirty campaign against the education minister started the day he was assigned his portfolio by President Muhammed Buhari.

The story by 247Report was to project Mallam Adamu Adamu as unworthy of his appointment as Minister of Education because, according to the sponsors of the publication, he has ‘turned the education ministry to cesspit of cronyism and corruption’(sic). The publication specifically alleged that Adamu oversaw “the appointment of blood relatives to virtually all available political positions” at the ministry as well as “illegally awarded” over N5 billion contracts to friends and business partners.

Like all hatchet jobs, the 247Report did not even bother to substantiate its claims, before concluding that ‘the ongoing war against corruption may have dwindled down to mere vocal exercise for the Buhari administration.’ (sic), because of its spurious claim that the minister “is too much in bed with the ousted corrupt PDP chieftains.” It is not a mere coincidence that the story by 247Report came at a time of rumoured plans of a cabinet reshuffle by President Buhari, which the Presidency has denied, anyway.

It is hoped that 247Report is not trying to create the impression that the minister committed a crime by having highly-placed Nigerians as friends, because it is unthinkable of anyone to imagine that a man who took a Bachelors degree in Accounting from the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, more than 40 years ago cannot or should not have, friends in high positions in the public and private sectors. The sponsors of the story gave themselves away by refusing to answer some basic questions: Did the minister enrich himself through the contract award(s)? Did he breach official guidelines in the process of awarding contracts? Was it an offence for Adamu to be assisted by friends long before he was appointed minister?

The publishers of 247Report may not know it but, as a mark of his closeness to prominent Nigerians, Adamu once wrote in his Friday column in the Daily Trust that he had been an unofficial Special Adviser/Personal Assistant to Gen Buhari for many years. The column in which he so described himself was published long before President Buhari was elected in 2015. From what he is doing at his post, Adamu has proved that he merited his appointment and nobody can, in all honesty, say that he was appointed on compassionate ground.

To show how unserious the publishers of the 247Report is, they shamelessly wrote that they contacted one Mr Bem (Goong) who is Chief of Staff to the Minister of Education to confirm the story. This is the same minister whom they accused of corruption and cronyism that has one Mr Ben Bem Goong as his chief of staff! If Mallam Adamu is the kind of Nigerian citizen his accusers depict him to be, nothing could have stopped him from appointing his ‘blood brother’ to the position.

The dirty campaign against the education minister started at the birth of the present cabinet in late 2015. Without even taking the time to look at his resume, many questioned Adamu’s credentials and preparedness to head the education ministry. Several gutter publications even claimed that the designation of a former vice-chancellor as minister of state in the ministry amounted to marginalisation of a certain ethnic group! It is not surprising that cynics fail to see the giant strides taken to sanitise the education ministry, and breathe new life into the ministry’s two dozen agencies.

President Buhari must know many things about Mallam Adamu to have appointed him Minister of Education. This is because the President is aware of the centrality of education in the new Nigeria his government is building. No one knows better than Mr President that education is crucial, if the country is serious about resolving the contradictions in Nigeria.

The much we know of the Minister of Education, through his Friday column in Daily Trust Newspaper, reveals a father-figure with a fertile and progressive mind. The picture of Adamu that television sets continue to beam into our homes has been that of a man who, like President Buhari, is averse to false and ostentatious lifestyle. The Honourable Minister has wormed his way into the heart of many Nigerians, especially by the silent way he is working to achieve set goals. For instance, the minister has shaken up and repositioned agencies under the education ministry, and challenged management and staff to key into the Federal Government’s change agenda. The anti-graft campaign has received added bite and, even, the universities are not insulated from it.

Nigeria may have got it right with the appointment of Adamu as education minister. The minister has all it takes to get it right and, therefore, needs the support and goodwill of compatriots. The way it is, Mallam Adamu has his hands full with the rot he has to clear at the Ministry of Education. The minister is like the driver of a wobbly truck, who may crash his vehicle if distracted by petty people in pursuit of petty parochial interests.

Our education system can do with a quick fix because it is in an awful shape. Those who are fixing the problem do not need the distractions of yellow journalism.

Mrs Magaji, MA, PGDE, is of the National Examinations Council.


Source: News Express

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