First In Class of Education and Leadership

by Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
Charles Chukwuma Soludo

Unhappy is the country whose leader is not properly educated.

Going to school is a matter of urgent national importance unless Nigerians want to submit to the thesis of Boko Haram that “Western education is unwanted.”

Incidentally, coming first in class is a special icing on the cake of going to school.

A country like Nigeria, needful of the enthronement of values, should embrace the celebration of genius and excellence instead of the lionising of dropouts and nonentities.

The author of The Trouble with Nigeria, Chinua Achebe, once lamented that Nigeria does not field its first eleven in leadership matters.

Little wonder the country hardly ever wins when good governance is the matter at stake all over the world.

The celebration of genius was done in Singapore, and it worked wonders, as eloquently evinced in the book, From Third World to First – The Singapore Story: 1965-2000, written by the first leader of the country Lee Kuan Yew, a 1949 First Class graduate of Cambridge University, England.

Lee Kuan Yew left the legacy such that the third Prime Minister of the country, Lee Hsieng Loong, who was sworn in on August 12, 2004 happens to be a 1974 First Class graduate of the selfsame Cambridge!

The Singapore government that Lee Hsieng Loong headed had a First-Class cabinet as follows: George Yeo – Minister of Foreign Affairs (Cambridge Double First Class in 1976); Lim Hng Kiang – Minister of Trade and Industry (Cambridge First Class with Distinction in 1976); Teo Chee Hean – Minister of Defence (University of Manchester First Class).

Need I go on?

There is hardly any wonder why Singapore is a model for all other countries in dire need of progress on all the cardinal points of the globe.

The Singaporean government richly deserves its motto: “Integrity, Service, Excellence.”

Nigeria can definitely do much better than the current rage of making role models out of characters whom no one can attest to their past, shadowy figures who have no visible means of livelihood.

A man with a leading degree ought to be a role model for any self-respecting country because the exploits in school ought to stand one in good stead toward conquering the many challenges of life.

The abuse of distinction in Nigeria cannot grant us a cherished place in the sun of human development.

The mind is the vital source to stick to in the march of civilization, and not the promotion and celebration of cows.

The setting-up of the then University College, Ibadan by colonialist Britain was aimed at sourcing the minds of pre-independent Nigeria.

Nigeria can indeed strike back at the centre through the knowledge gained from the university system.

University-educated Nigerian poets, playwrights and novelists have already smashed the global canon, and it is incumbent on the government to uplift the geniuses of intellection in our midst to run the government and thus rule the world.

Nigeria must celebrate her own genius.

The geniuses ought to be the icons Nigeria should promote; not the raucous society types and barons so long on cash but quite short as per knowledge and application.

The university idea represents the best of the best, where all makes of students gather: from bush schools to the most elitist secondary schools.

For one to come first in the class should not be an exercise in futility through the country’s embrace of wrong values as entrenched in the promotion of such distractions as zoning, federal character, catchment area, geographical spread, land mass and whatever.

This leads to the absurd situation where, for example, a student from Anambra State needs to score 139 marks and more to get admitted into the so-called Unity Schools while a student from Yobe State can be admitted after scoring only two (2) marks!

Crucially, Anambra State is on the drive for a November 6 governorship election in which educational competence is on the front-burner.

The governorship candidate of the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) party, Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo is a 1984 First Class graduate of Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

He held forth as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from May 29, 2004 to May 29, 2009 and undertook the banking consolidation exercise in which the then 83-odd banks in the country were asked to shore up their capital base to N25 billion in 18 months.

At the end of the exercise, the number of banks in Nigeria was reduced to 25, and the banking consolidation initiative has been credited with helping the Nigerian banking industry to survive the adverse effects of the global economic meltdown.

Now there is the contention that Anambra State is too sophisticated for characters with dubious school certificates to govern!

The Soludo matter has raised much dust amongst the certificate-less other contenders such that one of them has vowed that he would make the Nigerian power-that-be to eventually get the Supreme Court to appoint him Anambra State governor as was done in Imo State!

The gubernatorial wannabe who could only speak in Igbo said: “First Class gbakwaa oku!”

This simply means: “First Class, burn in fire!”

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