Who Is After Professor Tahir Mamman?


“But then if Tahir Mamman is the target of a targeted smear campaign, it is really unfortunate. Tahir Mamman is the Minister of Education today, but he is still who he is, an accomplished lawyer, a scholar and an education administrator. No amount of smear campaigns can change that”.

 BY AHMAD SAJOHRecently, it appears Nigeria is under the vice-grip of some evil forces bent on destroying everything and anything that is good in the country. And to make it very easy for these evil forces, a number of persons have made themselves available as mercenaries for hire or as purveyors of evil narratives. These agents of destruction have no qualms undertaking such destructive paths and in the process maligning individuals they have no reason to malign. Unfortunately what they destroy are the reputation of individuals although a number of them aim to discredit policies of government as well. But in all honesty to what gain do they do this? Only God knows. However, what is certain is that such persons gain undue visibility and even money from such actions. This is because they are cashing in on the gullibility of many citizens which is occasioned by the current situation. Trust deficit within the public space provides a fertile ground for such actions.

One of such hatchet men was recently commissioned to lie that Prof Tahir Mamman, the Minister of Education had bought a house at an unbelievable cost and is using a similar amount to renovate the structure. Not only is that information a lie from the pit of hell, it is definitely a hatchet job. Prof Tahir Mamman is a lawyer who rose through the ranks of legal practice to the highest level of Senior Advocate of Nigeria. He is a University lecturer who rose through the ranks to the peak as a Professor. He was also at one time the Director General, Nigerian Law School and also a University Vice Chancellor. In politics, Tahir Mamman was a member of the Interim National Working Committee of the ruling party, the APC before the election of the current NWC. So, why will such an accomplished person wait for a Ministerial appointment before acquiring a house in Abuja? Certainly there are lies that cannot be rationalized even for the most extremely gullible. Tahir Mamman acquired his Abuja residence long before becoming a Minister and hasn’t shown the huge appetite usually associated with most elites for countless material possessions.

But some people have made malicious destruction of people’s reputation a way of life. For such people we have only one challenge, if for any reason they feel justified in their wild allegations we are now in an era of information availability at the finger tips and instantaneously almost at the speed of light. Why not acquire and expose transaction details for the new house such as receipts and other payment details since the author has put specific figures forward. Properties are bought with title deeds not through speculative nonsense in the cyber space. Most of these name spoilers want a possible denial from their victims which will draw them out for further malicious brick brats. Probably their payments depend on the number of malicious write ups they make on any individual they are paid to malign. When ignored by their subjects they feel deeply pained because the source from where they draw the resources due to them for their evil actions often dries up if they don’t continue or if the smear campaign yields no intended outcome. In this case, the hunter has pursued the wrong prey. Tahir Mamman may be a target for the sponsors of the smear campaign, but the subject they choose as the basis is inherently false and ignorable. It needs also to be mentioned that the writer is someone who doesn’t know or have a fair idea of the value of properties in most estates in Nigeria. That someone can place such an exaggerated cost to what is usually known as carcass in building terms as the supposed cost even in the realm of speculation fully exposed his lies. Even though it is appropriate for public officials to be scrutinized, they too need some respect and protection from malicious attacks. Malicious attacks on leaders may be their own occupational hazard, but the purveyors of such actions are a disgrace to the Nation.

Another charlatan who was once exposed as a fake and a pretender who staged a drama on a supposed sickness and who claims activism, said Tahir Mamman has pledged to sell public universities. This is another fat lie from the darkest recesses of hell. The Hon. Minister of Education never said so. In fact as a beneficiary of public education and having spent practically all his life promoting public education as a teacher and scholar, Tahir Mamman has never acted in any way to suggest a desire to scuttle public education. Even within the last days of his service when he presided over the affairs of a private University, Tahir Mamman still lectured in public universities, supervised postgraduate students in public universities and contributed to the development of public universities. However, if the pseudo activist thinks that to oppose certain government policies in the education sector whether good or bad is his stock in trade, he is definitely misguided. Let him know that the policy of creating avenues for the private sector to contribute to improving public education beyond just contributions to Tetfund has predated the current government. Tahir Mamman met such a policy on ground and is committed to evaluating its benefits for proper implementation. There are many such valuable policies in almost all Ministries waiting for visionary and committed leaders to implement. Being from the domain of public education and with sufficient knowledge of the terrain, Professor Tahir Mamman as Minister of Education is well equipped to deliver on that policy.

For all the misguided pseudo activists who think all government policies are bad let me explain some of the areas the private sector could participate in enhancing public education in Nigeria. Take Agriculture for example. Almost all our Universities and even other institutions have large parcels of land lying fallow. Most of these institutions may never utilize half of the land areas throughout their existence. At least the first and second generation universities have provided ready evidence of the inability of our universities to utilize all their land. Some of these lands were acquired in order to provide for experimental farms and other productive enterprises. In that case therefore what stops the Institutions from inviting investors to set up large scale mechanized farms, green houses, poultry houses including feed production, fish farms and several other ventures on a lease basis? The benefits of such interventions will raise the income of the institutions, increase food availability in the country, provide avenues for practical lessons to the students and turn our institutions into productive units. Additionally such ventures will contribute to the expansion of our knowledge capital as well as inspire students to identify opportunities in the Agriculture sector. How could such a development impede the learning process or increase costs for students? The mob mentality of making everything from government bad is not good for us as a people or Nigeria as a country.

In the area of research and development, the private sector has a lot to contribute. There is nowhere in the world that the private sector does not contribute to research in Universities as a means of identifying new knowledge that will lead to the creation of new products or improvement in existing products. It is only through research and development that advances in the way goods and services are produced or utilized will be understood. Every organization worth its salt has an R and D department. Such research and development departments are supposed to collaborate with the knowledge industry for its operations. Universities are obviously the pinnacle of the knowledge industry. How can anyone in his right senses claim that the private sector has no contributions to make in turning our public universities into centers of excellence? The participation of the private sector in research will empower University lecturers as well and help in the development of new knowledge for the benefit of the students. If such research findings yield new patents, it then means that both the scholars and the Institutions will continue to earn from the outcome perpetually. So, just because our fake activists are living in the past. For them, the country will have to stagnate within their limited knowledge level. And if Tahir Mamman calls for the involvement of the private sector to play its role in the development of public education, he should be brought down. What a warped thinking!

What of the fake insinuation that students will suffer from private sector contributions to the educational institutions? That is the most backward thinking in an era where the world has moved beyond the pedestrian thinking of such archaic thinkers. How could the injection of capital to enhance research and learning adversely affect students? Beyond research and development, there is a need for private sector intervention in the provision of infrastructure that will enhance the learning environment. Every University in Nigeria has two major problems affecting students. One is the provision of safe, secure, comfortable and affordable hostels, and the second is transportation within the campus or inter campuses of universities with multiple campuses. Just go to the so-called off-campus accommodation our students occupy today where greedy landlords charge very exorbitant rents. Most are ghetto like and they are far away from the campuses. If we have to either admit students based on the existing hostels or wait for new hostels to expand admissions then we will deny many eligible young persons opportunities to go to universities or tertiary institutions due to the increasing number of eligible candidates. There is a need for all our institutions to embrace a BOT (build, operate and transfer) models in providing affordable and decent hostels within campuses for the safety and comfort of our ever expanding student population. What the owners of such hostels will charge students will be regulated by the Universities rather than the off-campus arrangement that currently exist. It is the same with transportation. If intra-campus transportation is structured and codified, all these stories about difficulties in mobility within campuses would have been addressed. And because the institutions will regulate the process, safety and controlled prices will be assured. Today many students ride very unsafe transportation means to school resulting in deaths due to reckless driving or even one-chance. Society is dynamic, so should our thinking be. To think otherwise is seriously retrogressive.

One may add that even housing development could be undertaken by the private sector on a build, operate and transfer basis. If all or most staff could be accommodated within the campuses, efficiency will increase in achieving the University mandate of teaching, research and community service. Cases of lecture cancellations or fixing due to distance of lecturers’ home and the difficulties associated with transportation during difficult periods such as rain or fuel scarcity will be addressed to the benefit of students. So, for someone to say that there is no role for private sector participation in improving public institutions within international best practices is just backward thinking. It is archaic and retrogressive.

But then if Tahir Mamman is the target of a targeted smear campaign, it is really unfortunate. Tahir Mamman is the Minister of Education today, but he is still who he is, an accomplished lawyer, a scholar and an education administrator. No amount of smear campaigns can change that. Such hatchet jobs may continue unabated but they serve no purpose at all. One thing that is very interesting about all that, is that the subject of all the unwarranted attacks, Professor Tahir Mamman has remained focused on his assignment without bothering to respond to the hatchet men or their unseen sponsors. My advice is that he keeps it so. He should never glorify them with a response. The best anyone desirous of supporting Tahir Mamman should do is to continue to pray for his continued success, and for the progress of education in Nigeria. Certainly education remains the most veritable tool for the development of the country.

…Ahmad Sajoh, fnipr writes from Wuse Zone 1 Abuja.

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