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El-Rufai’s son in public school

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Gov El-Rufai and his son, Abubakar. Photo: TWITTER/ ELRUFAI

Criticisms have trailed the action of the governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nassir El-Rufai, putting his six-year-old son in a public school. Many sneered at the fact that he personally took the lad, Abubakar, to Capital School, Malali, which is in the state.

I have nothing but applause for Mr. El-Rufai for doing so. One, the step is in fulfillment of his promise made in December 2017 to enroll his son in a public school whenever he turned six. Two, to knock the governor is to underrate the importance of symbolism in public affairs, coming particularly from those at the helm of our affairs—from a president or from a governor.

We all decry the state of our education, the environment in which children learn. Many receive instruction under trees, in structures with caving in roofs. In a number of schools, pupils sit on the ground. There are no benches. What El-Rufai is saying is that we are all in it together; we must salvage it together. We know that if children of public figures and indeed captains of industries are in public schools as in the time of old, there is no way the governors will close their eyes and ears to the conditions under which Nigerian children learn today. The condition of service of teachers will improve for them to have job satisfaction. They will also be paid regularly.

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The schools and colleges are in such a sorry state today that such a step by El-Rufai is a masterstroke. In the First Republic children of public officers went to public schools. It is, therefore, not a new thing as many of his critics have argued. Awolowo’s children went to public schools in Ibadan. Yes, that was the situation, but times have changed. Ask your neighbour where his child is or where he would like to put his child. In the past, in the time of my generation, who would not want to go to Kings College; Government College, Ibadan; Government College, Ughelli; Queens School, Lagos; Queens School, Ede or Barewa College? They had everything from facilities to quality staff. It was, therefore, a stampede to get enrolled in these institutions.

Because they set the tone, all other schools, private and mission schools, had no choice but to match them, facility for facility, and quality of instruction for quality of instruction. Can we easily forget CMS Grammar School, Lagos, the oldest secondary school in Nigeria; Igbobi College; St. Gregory’s College; Ijebu-Ode Grammar School; Olivet Heights; CKC , Onitsha, BBBHS, Abeokuta; BBHS Shaki, BBHS Port Harcourt; Molusi Collge, Ijebu-gbo: Mayflower School, Ikenne; Methodist Boys’ High School, Lagos; St. Anne’s, Ibadan or Loyola College, Ibadan; Ahmadiyya College, Ibadan; and many more? But for the efforts of the Old Boys Associations in some of the government colleges, they would have been in total ruins. Is King’s College what it used to be today or GCI, Ibadan? The mission schools taken over by the government out of ignorance and misguided patriotism are today practically shells of their old selves! ASUU is crying itself hoarse now, no one is listening. In no time everyone will be sending his wards to Afe Babalola University; Babcock, Bells or Covenant University where you have conducive environment for learning.

We have El-Rufai to thank for his good sense and courage. This symbolism means the beginning of a transformation of our public schools. What this means is El-Rufai has dared his brother governors. Let them accept the challenge. We are waiting.


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