The Columnist and Adamu Adamu – the Minister – by Ismail Hashim Abubakar
The sense of venomous might in the proverb that says “pen is mightier than sword” is often perceived to be only drastic against whom it is brandished or targeted at. Unlike sword, pen can still refuse to work against its target and return to shoot at its master – a rare discovery many pen soldiers scantily observe. In fact, if pen is not used with due shrewdness and adequate sagacity, it has all the potentials to not only cause its exploiter to commit suicide, but be the most active party to rush the funeral rites and burial of its subdued victim to the grave of history.
I was just dusting the shelves of my mini-library when I swiftly remembered to exercise one comparative experiment on whether words used to unleash political offensives against previous governments’ administrative directions would really match with one’s actions when offered an equal opportunity one seemed to be aggressive towards.
I quickly threw the rag and curiously moved to the catalogue of my used copies of Daily Trust (I don’t give them away to commercial okra cooks or butchers as I see many people do after reading) in order to obey the recommendations of my two good intellectual mentors Mahmud Jega – the Trust columnist and Farooq Kperogi – the writer of the two exceptionally popular weekend columns, also for Trust – the Notes from Atlanta and Politics of Grammar.
The two columnists had on the eve of the education ministerial appointment of the unarguably most competent Friday columnist Adamu Adamu, whose command English words never disobeyed, written excellent pieces eulogizing and crowning the appointment as well deserved.
Kperoqi in particular, while reasoning the deservedness of Adamu Adamu’s appointment in his December 18, 2015 column, concluded that the incumbent minister of education had written on education with greater depth and clarity more than any previous minister of education.
Farooq admitted that he and many other prolific writers cannot hold candle to the accountant-turned journalist. On his part, Jega earlier asserted in his November 15, 2015 column that Adamu Adamu “has vast and varied oeuvre spanning decades of a variety of subject-matters, particularly education”.
Interestingly, the two writers encouraged readers like me to weigh the actions of Adamu Adamu as a minister of education on the scale of his no-nonsense write-ups, given that the minister has extensively written on education, and the lackadaisical approach with which authorities used to handle its matters. Adamu Adamu as the columnist, exploited every inch of opportunity to unleash pen attacks on the previous governments, especially the immediate past.
He was the columnist who vehemently advocated the reform of education sector especially at tertiary level. He wrote to vigorously defend and support ASUU for its infinite strikes. He fuelled the furnaces of the strike by adding more points of agitation to ASUU. In his November 15, 2013 column, the current minister of education suggested that no government was serious when it didn’t at least allocate 20% of its annual budget to education sector.
“And while the percentage of expenditure to total national expenditure in Nigeria is a paltry 8.4%, South Africa spends 20%, Morocco spends 26.4%, Botswana 25.6% and French-speaking Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire spend 25.6% and 21.5% respectively”, Adam the columnist then wrote. He added, “In spite of this, how Nigeria still dreams of joining the big league remains the biggest mystery”.
What Nigerians would want to know is whether when the current administration under PMB which allocated the same 8% for the education sector has stopped Nigeria from nurturing such optimistic hallucination not only by allocating pittance to the sector with Adamu Adamu at the helm of it affairs, but by outright trampling over the spirit of autonomy of Nigerian universities through the so-called TSA.
Had the carnage on education sector that is happening today occurred during past regime, Adamu Adamu wouldn’t limit his venomous pen to discussing matters of education alone, but would actually dwell on other issues like food scarcity occasioned by the government’s straitjacketed measures on food importation, hiding behind the pretext of promoting locally produced items, but ironically ending up allocating one 1% of this year’s annual budget to the agricultural sector.
One couldn’t help to believe that the former columnist wouldn’t only condemn, but ridicule the narrative of a president who dissuades his subjects from relying on imported food items, but only to choose to fly abroad for a treatment of a single ear.
Many Nigerians would equally want the minister to explain whether all the points raised above are also a neo-PDP self deception or not when he asserted in his November 15, 2013 column, “Sometimes the self deception in official circles can be quite inexplicable”?
However, I am sure many readers of Adamu Adamu as the columnist and now watching him from the rear as the education minister would understandably excuse him if they get to remember that in his Trust Friday column of May 16, 2014, the acclaimed redresser of government policies admitted that, “… the new rule is: if you can’t break them, join them”
Ismail wrote from Kano and can be reached through: email@example.com or 08132456004