President Muhammadu Buhari said on Monday that members of the “Nigerian elite” are failing the country on education.
The president made the statement in reference to the Almajiri situation in the country while hosting the Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, and other government officials during Iftar (breaking of fast) at the presidential villa.
What he said: According to President Buhari:
- “When I drive around the country what upsets me very much is the status of our poor people in this country – you see young people, the so-called Almajiris with torn dresses, with plastic bowl. They are looking basically for what to eat.”
- “The question of education (to them) is a luxury. I think the Nigerian elite are all failing because I think we should have a program that will at least guarantee some basic education for our people no matter how poor they are.”
- “I welcome the Vice-President for initiating the School feeding program. If you check in your localities the enrolment into schools improved because a lot of children can get at least one good meal a day. This is the position of this country. They are fantastic programs and I have to admit quite honestly that the Vice-President was ahead of me by insisting on them.”
Bottom Line: Buhari’s concern is understandable but blaming an unidentified elite is laughable. Responsibility for turning around the failing education sector rests with him, and he’s had four years to do it without tangible progress. For instance Nigeria’s out-of-school children, those between ages 5 to 14, number up to 10.5 million (UNICEF) and this figure is not one of the highest in the world, it is the highest in the world. Nigerians will need much more than handouts and a promise of one decent meal a day to move beyond this situation. It would be useful for the president to remember the next time he needs to blame someone for the unfortunate situation, that he is currently the leader of the so-called elite.