Browsing: Prof. MK Othman

Senegal has over 30 languages, but Wolof is the most widely spoken one, with 80% of the population speaking it as a first or second language, and it acts as Senegal’s lingua franca alongside French. Unlike other immigrants, the Senegalese people are restless and hardworking, earning a living from multiple jobs in France but hardly seen in crimes.

As time ticks, our university system’s perilous situation is deepening, creating an unpleasant scenario. The current administration seems irresponsive to the happenings on our university campuses. Apart from the sweet-coated but unfulfilling statements, award of 25/35% salary increase, presidential amnesty to release four months withheld salaries of the striking workers, approval to remove payment of university workers from IPPIS, etc, the hopes of the university workers for a brighter tomorrow are dashed. The students are oblivious to the flight of their teachers; they are only interested in graduating even if they will be “half-baked” and join the labour market. Why is society unconcerned about the deteriorating quality of Nigerian university graduates? The academics are under exacerbating economic pain, and their Union, ASUU, cowed by the past administration through a judicial technicality, is confused about deciding on the following line of action. ASUU’s rhetoric is in limbo. Is there an alternative to industrial action – strike? Can the university workers embark on another strike with the entrenched government policy of “no work, no pay”? Should they continue to teach their students under unbearable conditions with a peanut as a monthly pay?   

In 2001, during my postgraduate program in Montpellier, South France, one of the most observable features of banks in France was the sparse population in banking halls. You can hardly see ten people in the banking halls, comprising bank workers and customers. The only reason for a customer to be in the banking hall is to open a new account or negotiate a loan, not to withdraw cash or make a deposit. ATMs perfectly serve these functions. Even when you need a bank statement, a printing machine is poised at the gate for the customer’s self-service. Then, banking operations in France were about 70% digital. I am happy today in Nigeria; we are almost reaching where developed countries like France were over twenty years ago in banking operations. The advent of ICT has globalized all developmental sectors and made banking services effective, efficient, and timely. Nigeria has the potential and wherewithal to be on par with any nation in ICT and innovative technologies for the nation’s development. However, we still face poor infrastructure, human resistance against change, sabotage by the beneficiaries of the old order, and other mundane and archaic reasons to slow down progress. The plan to relocate the Central Bank of Nigeria from Abuja to Lagos can be viewed within this context. 

My last week’s piece closed with a poser: Are the two Ministers of Agriculture and Food Security, Senators Kyari and Abdullahi, capable of breaking the jinx of poverty and hunger associated with Nigerians? Answering this question requires an in-depth analysis of Tinubu’s policy and direction toward achieving food security for Nigeria. Petroleum subsidy withdrawal skyrocketed the fuel price by 217% that caused astronomical cost of living. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu declared a state of emergency on food security on July 14, 2023, to cushion the effects of the subsidy removal. As I wrote in this Column, the declaration of emergency is the best policy pronouncement of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu (BAT).

Even Zulum’s staunchest enemies cannot but agree with the facts that Borno state and, indeed, other states in Nigeria have never experienced remarkable, comprehensive, and significant progress in all aspects of human life and infrastructure similar to the feats recorded in five years of governor Babagana Umara Zulum in Borno State. The recording continues for the next three years.

At the 2013 Annual Conference of Nigerian Institution of Agricultural Engineers (NIAE) held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, an amiable personality with a giant physique and business-like character approached me at the registration center to register some agricultural engineering graduates into the NIAE membership fold. It turned out that, a mentor was leading mentees and initiating them into the realm of professionalism. My immediate impression was a warm jovial and pleasant interaction that symbolizes respect, loyalty, trust that exemplifies a leader and the led relationship. Later, I realized that, I came into contact with the Rector of Ramat Polytechnic, Maiduguri, and the graduates were the lecturers of the polytechnic whom he led to their first-time participation in the NIAE conference. Going forward, I discovered that the Rector was Professor Babagana Umara Zulum.

In 1994, representatives of two sworn foes stood before the world to accept the Nobel Peace Prize for their leadership in promoting a truce and peace in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine, the two arch-opposing camps. The Nobel Peace Committee recognized Yasser Arafat (1929–2004), the leader of the Palestinian people, and Israeli politicians Shimon Peres (1923–1923) and Yitzhak Rabin (1922–1995) for their efforts to bring peace to the unstable Middle East.