By Steve Osuji
What manner of columnist writes one thing today only to write a direct opposite tomorrow? But this is what our Honorable Education Minister, Mallam Adamu Adamu does. He has proved to be a hypocrite of no mean order. Adamu has been education minister for nearly eight years and tertiary education faces the worst crisis in Nigeria’s history while education generally has floundered. Yet not a word of sanction or reprimand to him. But we must put all this down to his boss, President Muhammadu Buhari.
If there’s anything Nigerians are certain about today, it’s the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari is a poor leader. In the estimation of this columnist, Buhari will easily pass as the worst head to lead Nigeria in her over six decades’ history. The first measure of the quality of a leadership is annotated in his team. The mettle of his cabinet and the management of same is the first test of a leader’s acumen.
In the case of President Buhari it is apparent that his primary interest is in pleasing his family members, friends and political associates. He seems not to give a damn about the ability of his appointees to deliver the goods to the people. He seems more interested in making his cronies happy. It’s the crudest kind of nepotism and unbridled corruption.
First, it doesn’t matter whether the appointee is a misfit for the job; and second, it’s not a big deal that the fellow is abysmal on the job. So long as he or she is part of the family, it’s all well and good.
This has been the curse of the Buhari administration. This explains why hardly any cabinet member has been changed or fired in the two terms of eight years.
Unfortunately, so many members of the Buhari cabinet are misfits and this is largely the reason the Buhari era has turned out a catastrophic failure.
Mallam Adamu Adamu, Education Minister and his Aviation counterpart, Hadi Sirika are the shining examples of the Buhari bauble that has laid waste the land going on to eight years. Ironically, members of the Buhari gray gang are so poor, they can’t fathom how bad things are.
A trained accountant, for many years, Adamu was a notable columnist and quasi journalist. He held longstanding columns in the defunct New Nigerian, Daily Trust and Citizens Magazine, among others. As a columnist, his writing was lacking in flair. Didactic, mechanical and merely passable, he could be described as a jobman, eking out a living from churning out a weekly column.
Of course he wasn’t among my favourite as a budding journalist and later columnist. I honestly do not remember wading through an Adamu piece. Not when you had Dan Agbese, Yakubu Mohammed and Haruna Mohammed to savour. It was actually his name – Adamu Adamu – that was memorable, not his writing skills.
Adamu became one of the Buhari acolytes and young turks who formed the PTF ‘cult’ group.
The Petroleum Trust Fund was one of the worthy initiatives of the dictator, General Sani Abacha. An upthrust of one of those period of petrol price hike. Abacha had created a palliative fund to assuage the pains of a pump price hike. Buhari was made executive chairman over the billions accruing to PTF. But the arch-nepotist, ring-fenced the agency with his boys which included Nasir El Rufai, Adamu Adamu, Salihijo Ahmad, among others. About N150 billion passed through Buhari’s PTF and the performance record at the end of the day, was woeful. True to character, he devoted the lion share of the fund to the north while the south that produce the oil with attendant negative environmental impacts, got little.
The hounds around him dissipated the fund and proper accounts was never rendered.
Working with Buhari in the woebegotten PTF is Adamu’s qualification to become Nigeria’s education minister for eight years. In today’s world, this is the most important government agency to be found anywhere. Education is the soul of the modern world and its impact on humanity widens and deepens everyday. He is certainly not the man to sit over the all- important portfolio.
Adamu has proven to be dim. I wager he is as dim as he looks; there’s no pretence or mistake about it.
Like his boss, Adamu is reportedly infirm. He has been in and out of foreign infirmary over the past years.
Regardless that there’s no record of lifting of nary a stick in Nigeria’s education sector by Adamu for the first four years, he was reappointed in 2019 upon Buhari’s second term.
The only time Adamu has come to public reckoning as a minister was the baleful encounter when he walked out on members of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS). The students had gone to plead with him to show some understanding in negotiating with the members of the Academic Staff Union Universities (ASUU).
The student leaders may have spoken provocatively as young people are wont, but Adamu’s reaction before live television coverage and numerous recording devices was less elegant than the students’. He stood up and walked out on them!
Not just the students, not only Nigerians were scandalised, the watching world was dumbfounded. How could this fellow be in charge of Nigeria’s education – the largest youth segment of any country.
An up and doing minister would engage ASUU daily and feed the nation with daily updates and progress report. The strike should never have started at all under a smart minister.
But not Adamu. The tedium of ASUU negotiations were abandoned to the Labour Minister while the Education Minister, a petit emperor, is unperturbed, neither seen nor heard. He never spoke to anyone. Not his boss, not ASUU nor Nigerians.
As one month rolled into five months, his boss suddenly stirred and issued him two weeks to resolve the crisis and have the schools reopened. Four weeks have passed since the deadline. Zilch. Strike enters 7th month. Not one word from Adamu; not a word from his boss, Buhari.
When Adamu finally spoke for the first time, he stoked the fire. He is said to have singlehandedly reviewed the teachers’ emoluments and handed it to them with a take it or leave it air. Of course they are not taking it. He also chided them never to expect to be paid for the six-month sit home. To that, the lecturers reminded him the implications of his actions: two awaiting sets of fresh intakes and lost academic grounds would never be revisited as they would not backtrack or fasttrack.
This is where we are today.
Under Adamu’s watch, since 2015, federal tertiary institutions have been shutdown five times with a cumulative 15 months lost so far. It may lapse into two academic sessions following the obdurate track into which Adamu has rigged the narrative.
Adamu’s poor spirit and kindergarten ego has gotten the better if him. He’s gone on an ego trip with Nigeria’s tertiary education. He is fighting turf battles with the educational destinies of over 1.5m students, their teachers and workers in the system.
But this fellow has proved to be a hypocrite which is probably why he failed as a columnist. The hallmark of a good columnist is in the strength of convictions: your believe and belief. The strength to hold that little public space in trust for the people. What you say today is what you believe and what you believe must stand the test of all time.
But it’s not so with Adamu. He’s a two-faced monster. He wrote to destroy President Goodluck Jonathan and to General M. Buhari, his paymaster. He was a paid hack after all. He was writing with an axe and not a pen.
Here’s an example that has gone viral: In 2013, barely nine years ago, writing in his Daily Trust column, Adamu says: “The nation owes a debt of gratitude to ASUU and the strike should not be called off untill the government accepts to do and does what is required…”
Adamu is a hypocrite. He wasn’t writing his conscience, he was writing to ruin the Goodluck Jonathan government of the day. He never thought this day would come. Dim wits never see beyond their noses. Now karma bares its backside at Adamu and today, he looks as stupid as he actually is.
Today, Adamu is the government. This strike must go on until he accepts to do what is required… this strike must go on until Adamu does what is required lest the Buhari/APC government would be interred in the graveyard of this ASUU strike!