Federal College of Education in Osun State
Sir: I wish to commend and congratulate the Federal Government of Nigeria for its recent decision to establish six Federal Colleges of Education in six states including Osun. This congratulatory message is based on two grounds. First, any public or private expenditure on education is money well spent. Its trigger effects on other critical sectors of development can be monumental. Secondly, in the document which conveyed the establishment of these colleges, the Federal Government of Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari was emphatic in admitting that its choices of those six states of Bauchi, Benue, Ebonyi, Osun, Sokoto and Edo were driven by the fact that those states had no Federal College of Education.
The Public Relations Officer of the National Commission for Colleges of Education, Mr. Amen Isaac, made it known that the decision to situate those six colleges in the six states was to right the injustice of the past. This is reassuring for Nigerians who feel that the government at the federal level is not unresponsive to Nigeria’s diversity. States, where these are being established, are urged to demonstrate the same sensibility and sensitivity in sitting the colleges and employing them to right past wrongs.
Arising from the above decision of the Federal Government is that public institutions and decisions on their locations are partly meant to spread the gains of development and confer advantages on the choice of geographical location. Some facts on previous locations of federal and state institutions in Osun State will be of help. Permit me to give a few examples.
Osun State as it is the case with most states in Nigeria has three senatorial districts. It has nine federal constituencies. The three senatorial districts are Osun West, Osun East and Osun Central. Of the nine Federal Constituencies in Osun State, Ayedire, Iwo and Ola-Oluwa Federal Constituency is one with its headquarters in Iwo. Of the nine federal constituencies, this Federal Constituency is the only one without either a federal or state institution. Oshogbo has several tertiary institutions. Ilesa and Ile-Ife have the highest concentration of state and federal institutions. The same goes for Ila Orangun with the Federal Police College and Osun State College of Education. Yet, Iwo local government has the highest population in Osun State.
If respect for constitutional provisions on federal character, logic, social justice, social inclusion and the desire for peaceful co-existence are the sole criteria for deciding locations of institutions, no federal constituency headquarters has a superior argument or moral justification than Iwo. I have no doubt that Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State is God-fearing, cool and calm and will be persuaded more by logic in using his discretion on where in Osun this Federal College will be sited. No doubt, he will come under severe pressure and intense lobbying to defer to emotions and political pressure.
Fortunately for us in Osun State, we have leaders who share the broad mind set of Chief Obafemi Awolowo during the golden years of his administration of Western Region. Ikenne was the least on his mind. Chief Bisi Akande remains a phenomenon – cosmopolitan, politically savvy, prudent, live and let live, shun greed and one whose philosophy of life is to live things better than he met them. Other political leaders should act in concert and be persuaded by rationality in conceding this Federal College of Education to Iwo.
The Federal Government has shown that this is the way of civility that is deserving of emulation. This will go a long way to assuage frayed political nerves in Osun State and particularly in Iwo. May the Almighty strengthen and guide Oyetola as his government takes an appropriate decision on the location of this college. May he be able to place objective reality and logic above parochial consideration.
• Lai Olurode wrote from Department of Sociology, University of Lagos.
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