Sokoto State government and Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) are locked in a war of words over recent comments by the latter that 50 per cent of teachers employed by the state government “cannot read and write.”
Sokoto State government, apparently not taking kindly to such scathing comments, last Thursday fired back. In full-page advertorial in two Nigerian newspapers, the state government accused Modibbo of sour grapes. The State Commissioner for Education, Alhaji Yusuf Danchadi, signed the advertorial.
Apart from questioning Modibbo’s qualifications to head UBEC, Sokoto State government said it would love to see a “more focused and purposeful.. .Executive Secretary, who is willing to partner in our struggle to provide the best basic education to our children,” head UBEC, not a man given to “personal interests.” The State Government accused the UBEC boss of using his office for personal gains, and for fighting any state government that fails to meet his terms. Said Sokoto State government: “We are not alone, as the UBEC Executive Secretary has not been entirely without issues with other states of the federation, most of them bordering on his personal interests. “Indeed, Sokoto State Government has been accommodating to the UBEC Executive Secretary, as he himself knows. He has had very easy access to the administration whenever such need arose, and for his personal pursuits, which he has always facilitated using government machinery.
“If therefore, Professor Modibbo has (sic) found no difficulty in accessing government for his private pre-occupations, he would certainly not experience any encumberances in getting attention for the more important matter of ‘illiterate teachers’ in the State,” submitted the Commissioner.
In apparent reference to Modibbo’s crocked credentials, the state government, said: “Our greater concern is pertaining to giving enormous
power(s) and control of this critical sector to an agency that is being managed by someone who is has had very serious and widely reported questions to answer about his integrity.
The government also submitted: “It would, we feel, do no good to the development of basic education in Nigeria if a more empowered UBEC continues to be in the hands of a supervisor who openly associated with serious moral. Ethical and disciplinary issues at all stages (as) a public servant.”
In what sounded like a piece of advice to the Federal Government, the Sokoto State Commissioner, offered: “Education is so critical to the resolution of most of the nation’s problem, that the sector should be managed by persons of transparent sincerity and uprightness, not unscrupulous characters, for whom progress is only synonymous with personal profit and aggrandizement.”
On UBEC’s unending flag-offs of distribution of text books which Modibbo told a court were printed by his wife’s companies, the state government
said: “The grandiose and expensive ceremonies to mark the mere distribution of text books to schools are in our opinion, not only ridiculous but also an affront to Nigerians, especially children whose future is being toyed with by the very element whose illusive hands hold their basic rights.” In his response, which was published in a national daily, Modibbo said he would not join issues with the Sokoto State government’s “libellous imputations on (his) hard-earned integrity.” He described the State Government’s advertorial as the offshoot of “a smear campaign and blackmail posted on social media as online ‘news'”. On claims that he isn’t a qualified teacher, hence unfit to head UBEC, Modibbo held that the Sokoto State government was ignorant of the National Policy on Education which he said “prescribes the National Certificate in Education (NCE) as the minimum qualification for anybody to be appointed a teacher in the basic education sub-sector.”
The UBEC boss, who in the seven-page advertorial, was silent on the allegations by the Sokoto State Government that he frequented the state “for personal gains”, held that his assessment of teachers in Sokoto State was based on a 2010 National Personnel Audit Data of all states.
“It is good to put the records straight that it would amount to sheer mischief to regard Dr. Ahmed Modibbo Mohammed, who was a former lecturers in ABU, Zaria, former Head of Department and Dean of Faculty, and ex-Director-General of the National Teachers’ Institute (NTI), with numerous academic certificates including those from Harvard and Oxford on education matters, as unprofessionally trained,” the UBEC boss declared.