The Academic Staff Union of Universities(ASUU) has suspended its three-month old strike.
ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi announced the suspension after meeting with the Federal Government.
He said the strike would be suspended from midnight today.
How We Produced Best A-Level Results in UK – Dayo Olukoshi
In this interview, the Nigerian principal whose school produced the best 2018 A-level results in the UK, Dr Dayo Olukoshi, and who was also honoured by the Queen, told us how his school made it happen – and why it can happen even in Nigeria.
Do you remember how you received the news that over 100 of your students obtained straight As in this year’s A-Level?
I was of course very delighted but not surprised. We have a robust tracking system in place in our school to monitor the progress of our students and act swiftly on any indications of underachievement or underperformance in relation to targets.
Brampton Manor Academy has produced many students who went on to Oxford. More are going there this year. What is the school doing differently?
At Brampton Manor, there are no gimmicks. We focus strongly on getting the basics right: consistently good quality teaching; ambition; excellent attendance and hard work. Our school motto ‘success through effort and determination’ sums up our approach here at Brampton.
This year 20 students gained places at Oxford and Cambridge universities, with many more securing places at world class universities like Imperial College, London School of Economics (LSE), Durham University and St Andrew’s University to name a few. We believe very strongly that there is no ceiling to what our students can achieve.
How do you keep teachers motivated and committed to their job at BMA?
Our teachers get a lot of job satisfaction and motivation from seeing the fruits of their hard work translate into life-changing outcomes for the students they are privileged to educate.
When we recruit teachers, we are looking for people that share our missionary zeal – life changers! We eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy and empower our staff to take risks and innovate in their classrooms.
Learning is fun and enjoyable and our teachers do their utmost to make sure that every hour they spend with their children is purposeful and impactful.
Apart from having committed teachers and hard-working students, what other factors have contributed to the school’s the academic success over the years?
At Brampton Manor, we have a shared vision and a common purpose. Although we are located in a deprived part of the country, we believe that so-economic disadvantage must never be allowed to be a barrier to our students’ academic and social achievements.
So, we have a culture of high expectations here at Brampton and you will never find a teacher here at Brampton say to a student that they can’t achieve their dreams.
In return, the students are motivated by the belief of the staff in their potential to achieve great things and as school leaders, we tap into this by creating an enabling environment in which dreams translate into reality.
What specific lessons can other schools, especially those in less privileged areas/parts of the world, learn from Brampton Manor Academy’s success story?
There are no secrets or short-cuts to success: you need good quality and passionate teachers. An education system can never be better than the quality of its instructors/teachers.
“We believe very strongly that there is no ceiling to what our students can achieve.”
The quality and standard of education in Nigeria continue to be a source of concern. What do you think could be done to improve them in Nigeria?
I was quite fortunate to receive good quality education during my secondary school education in Nigeria at Federal Government College Sokoto under the excellent leadership of the Principal, Mr. Harwood and the subsequent Principals (Mr. Adigwe and Mr. Ajepe).
The teachers were first rate: very well qualified in their subjects and they had a strong passion for teaching and our wellbeing. We also had excellent teaching and non-teaching resources to ensure that we developed into well-rounded individuals. We need to go back to that era in Nigeria.
When you meet Nigerian parents sending their children to schools abroad (in the UK, and elsewhere), how do you feel, especially because Brampton Manor is a public school?
I think this is a matter of personal choice for each parent. Schools shouldn’t just be about results (important though they are) but about a nurturing environment that would enable each child to grow up into confident and well-rounded individuals prepared for the world of work.
So, my advice will be that parents should schools (fee paying or not) that they believe will best meet the individual needs of their children.
Tell us how you got to work in Brampton
I joined Brampton Manor as the Principal/headteacher in 2008, having previously worked as a teacher and senior leader in various UK schools since 1992.
What sort of challenges have you faced over the years and how did you overcome them?
I consider every challenge I have faced as an opportunity to excel rather than an obstacle to overcome. A single-mined focus on the end goal is always helpful in overcoming challenges.
Have you been faced with racism?
Of course I have encountered racism (both direct and indirect) but you must never allow bigots to define who you are or alter your destiny.
How do you stay focused especially when you find yourself in difficult, racially-charged situations at work?
To lose focus is to hand victory to bigots! A person with clear mission and purpose cannot and must not allow themselves to be deflected by the ‘noise’ of a tiny minority of petty-minded individuals.
Having said that, I must say that the UK and London in particular is such a racially diverse community and the harmony that exists between the different groups (whilst not perfect) is still worthy of celebration.
Have you ever considered coming back home to teach?
At Brampton Manor, a significant portion of our students are from Nigeria and other African/Caribbean countries, so in a way, I feel like I am at home already. I am a man whose paths are led by God and where He sends me, I will go without question or hesitation.
Do you belong to any network of Nigerians in diaspora?
Not as such – I attend KICC church though and enjoy the inspiring and motivational teachings of Pastor Ashimolowo.
How do you stay in touch with home (Nigeria)?
I still have a lot of family in Nigeria who I am in touch with regularly.
You’re one of those the Queen will decorate with MBE. What does that mean to you?
Actually, I was awarded an OBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire), which is a higher honour than the MBE by Prince Charles on behalf of the Queen on my birthday! The OBE was for ‘services to education’.
Although the honour was given to me, it really is for all the staff that have worked tirelessly over the years to help make a difference to the lives of our young people.
How do you balance work with family?
Now, that’s an area that I still need to work harder on. I am fortunate to have the support of a strong leadership team, to whom I am able to delegate a lot of responsibilities.
I also enjoy the steadfast and unalloyed support of my beautiful wife (Sola), which makes so much easier for me to achieve a better balance. I think my scorecard in this area will read ‘can do better’.
What is your biggest concern about the state of education in Nigeria?
There is no question that Nigerians are talented, hardworking and intelligent people and we are currently operating significantly below our capacity and potential. Education must be prioritized, otherwise, we risk condemning generations of our young people to a life of underachievement and failure.
What do you think can be done to change the course?
We need committed leadership and a re-orientation of the populace. Nigeria is our country and home and we have no other.
No one can make Nigeria better other than Nigerians! In order to change course, we first need to recognize the status quo isn’t acceptable and this isn’t just a matter for the government!
It’s been reported in some circles that CNN and Sky did not report/or under-reported your school’s achievement. Is that correct – and you think there’s a racial motive, if it’s true?
I am not aware of this and even if it is true, I am not bothered. We don’t do what we do here at Brampton Manor for media and public acclaim.
Speaking personally, my confidence and trust is not in man, but in God. As far as I know, the news of the school’s success was reported by the BBC, Voice Newspaper and Huffington Post amongst others.
Is any of your children interested in becoming a teacher?
I don’t know yet – I simply commit them into the hands of God and ask Him to direct their paths. However, I cannot think of a more rewarding profession to be paid to do what you enjoy!
There appears to be an upsurge of Nigerian professionals migrating abroad. Do you think the trend would be reversed anytime soon?
There are many talented and excellent Nigerians occupying prominent positions in virtually every sphere of human endeavor all over the world. These Nigerians are making a difference that goes well beyond their current place of abode/residence.
It also the case that a number of professionals are migrating in order to be able to upskill themselves better and practice their craft more effectively.
I am sure that as Nigeria becomes a more enabling environment for such people, the trend will be reversed. There is hope for our beloved country and I am confident that Nigeria will one day become the envy of the whole world.
What is your next goal?
As the Lord leads me.
Aisha Buhari set to establish a private university named “Muhammadu Buhari University
Mrs Aisha Buhari, wife of the President, has expressed her plan to establish a private university to be known as “Muhammadu Buhari University”.
She disclosed this on Saturday during a townhall meeting in Yola organized by her in collaboration with concern indigenes of Adamawa.
Aisha, who did not however reveal when or where the university would be sited, explained that the university would be established in collaboration with partners from Sudan and Qatar.
Aisha who lamented the challenges facing education and various sectors in the state, called for active support of the state indigenes in complementing government efforts.
“I cannot conclude without suggesting how we can complement the efforts of government in achieving some of its developmental goals.
“On this note, I would like to advocate for the establishment of Adamawa Development Trust Fund through which prioritized developmental projects can be financed and implemented,” she said.
Amb. Fati Ballah also called for reconciliation and forgiveness among the people of the state and the setting up of a committee to come up with a blueprint for the development of the state.
Alhaji Sadiq Daware, who spoke on agriculture at the meeting, noted that 80 per cent of the state land was arable and suitable for farming.
Daware added that with River Benue which passes through the state, the state has the potential for massive irrigation and all year round farming programmes.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that other speakers at the meeting include Prof. Shehu Iya of Modibbo Adama University, Yola, who spoke on education; Prof. Auwal Abubakar of Federal Medical Centre, Yola, who spoke on health; and Mrs Helen Mathias who spoke on women and youths.
Othersvare Mallam Umar Abubakar who spoke on security; Gen. Buba Marwa on drugs; Sen. Silas Zwingina on Good Governance, and Dr Umar Bindir who spoke on Poverty.
The meeting was also attended by politicians, particularly APC, PDP and ADC members in the state.
Read: Osinbanjo speaks on Nigeria’s debt rating at UNILAG convocation
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo said on Monday that Nigeria’s current debt burden, when compared to the size of the economy, is among the lowest in the world.
The vice president spoke in Lagos at the 50th convocation of the University of Lagos in Akoka.
He delivered UNILAG’s convocation lecture with the theme, “Nigeria Rising: The Path to Prosperity.” Osinbajo said inflation in Nigeria had stabilised at 11 per cent over the past six months.
He said, “We restored medium-term planning with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan which served as a useful loadstone in improving macroeconomic performance, boosting the real sector of the economy and building infrastructure.
“The decline in growth, which started at the end of 2014, has been reversed, inflation has stabilised at about 11 per cent over the past six months and our current account was in surplus around 1.3 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product last year.
“Our foreign reserves can cover at least six months of import of goods and services and despite understandable concerns, our debt burden is only about 22 per cent of the size of our economy, which is one of the lowest ratios in the world.
“We have very clear objectives. As you know, the problem of our country is not the planning or designing of great projects, it is in the actual implementation. We are fortunate that Muhammadu Buhari is not an orator, he is a doer.”
The vice president said the next four years would feature reforms in the aviation and export and import sectors, just as the regulatory agencies would broaden into business facilitators.
The Chairman on the occasion, Chief Arthur Mbanefo, during his address said the lecture was special because it marked the significant homecoming for the vice president.
On his part, the Pro-Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Wale Babalakin, said the whole essence of an academic environment was to display a diversity of knowledge, as he insisted that “only academics should be in the environment of academics, not a person that sees the academia as a last resort.”
The Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, said the institution was growing and by the end of the year UNILAG’s ranking would be higher because the university had done a lot of research with the various grants it received.
Pius Adesanmi’s last interview as written by Musikilu Mojeed
Nigerian-born Canadian Professor, Pius Adesanmi was a satirical writer who confessed of his abusive relationship with Nigeria as well as his near death experience in a car crash. Pius died on March 10th, 2019 after his flight, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed shortly after take-off.
One evening in early September last year, Pius Adesanmi, telephoned me frantically from his base in Ontario. He had been calling for days and due to my excessively busy schedule at the time and the time difference between Canada and Nigeria, we missed each other repeatedly. He would call while I was asleep, and I would do the same while he was perhaps dreaming away in Ontario.
In frustration, the man I called Akowe (Book man), left a message for me on WhatsApp: “O ga o. Olorun a fun alagbara yin ni suuru o.” (May God give the powerful the patience to be gentle with the masses). He was tactically and wittingly and proverbially reminding me that my editor-in-chief job was making me more and more unavailable to my friends.
I started calling Pius Akowe in April 2012 after he delivered a funny, brilliant and illuminating keynote at the African Literature Association in Dallas. At that event, the writer had cracked ribs when he narrated how his uneducated palmwine tapper in his native Isanlu, perched at the neck of a tree, would telephone him with a Blackberry to announce that his regular supply of palmwine would be delayed.
“Akowe, mo ti gbe de o,” (Book man, I’ve brought your wine), the tapper would say anytime he arrived the professor’s home, Pius wrote in the keynote entitled: “Face Me, I Book You: Writing Africa’s Agency in the Age of the Netizen.”
So from the day I read that piece, I began calling Pius Akowe. I would say, “Akowe, e tun tide” (Book man, you have come again) whenever he telephoned me. He would laugh animatedly, and respond: Musikilu Oniroyin agbaye, mo ti de o (Musikilu the global journalist, I have come again o). He would then launch into the real reason for his call.
I returned Pius’ call that day last September, and he updated me on his recovery. It was then about two months since he had a ghastly accident in Nigeria, and was evacuated to Canada. He had been away from work and from his column for PREMIUM TIMES and from social media. I convinced the professor to grant us an interview. He agreed. He wanted it done on the telephone, but I told him WhatsApp was better. He agreed.
But two days later he left me a message: “Musikilu can we do the interview by email instead? Won’t be easy for me to type answers here (WhatsApp).”
“If you insist,” I responded. “But it’s better here. It allows for follow-up questions.”
Pius: Ok. But my responses will be slow in coming o. U know Naija has adapted u people to doing serious work in certain conditions ?
Me: Yeah.. it can be slow. But it’s better.
As agreed, both of us showed up on WhatsApp at the agreed time for the interview.
“Ok, fire the questions,” the professor said on arrival on September 17. “Today makes it exactly two months since the accident so we should start.”
The interview you are about to read, conducted between September 17 and November 17, was never concluded. Pius was as busy as a bee. He would disappear for weeks and then for months. I was hoping we would complete it this March. But my Akowe slipped into mortality, devastating everyone who encountered him in person or through his exceptional work.
Below, for posterity, is what appears his last extensive media interview on earth.
PT: You have been out of circulation for two months since you had a car crash. How has life been so far? How are you recovering? What has life been not being able to tweet, Facebook and write your column for PREMIUM TIMES?
PIUS ADESANMI: Thank you very much. It’s been a very long and tough battle to recovery. The car crash was pretty serious and I still don’t know how I made it out alive. It was after my medical evacuation to Canada that I came to terms with the full extent of my injuries. It has been one complication after another since then. It has also taken quite an emotional toll. I’m still doing intense physiotherapy. Of course, I’ve missed life in the public trenches of Nigeriana. I’ve missed my readers and followers in the public sphere. I’ve missed my column. I’ve missed my Facebook and Twitter communities. Not being able to engage at this critical conjuncture in the life of our nation has been tough. However, my accident taught me one lesson: only the living can fight for Nigeria.
PT: How close are you to full recovery? When are you likely back to work and to travels?
PIUS ADESANMI: You know, I’ve started to write a book about this entire ordeal so I should be careful not to give too much away to Premium Times in an interview in order not to incur the wrath of my publisher, Premium Times Books?.
On a serious note though, I am hoping to be fully back to work and travels before the end of the year. I still have three problem areas: my right leg which was nearly amputated because my injuries were badly infected in Nigeria before I was evacuated to Canada, my right wrist and right shoulder also suffered ligament and nerve damage.
As I heal, I am eager to return to work and travel. You know, this accident happened in July in Nigeria. That was my fifth working trip to Africa this year. I’d been to Kenya (twice), Ghana (twice), and South Africa before Nigeria nearly got me. Since the accident, I’ve cancelled lecture trips to South Africa, Ghana, and France. I was in fact on my way to an African Union consultative meeting in Senegal when the accident happened so, obviously, I didn’t make it to Dakar. So, I am keen to get back to life as a peripatetic public intellectual.
PT: Sorry about the troubles this accident has caused you. I recall you were returning from a training tour when it happened. It was an emergency. Hope Nigeria did not do badly evacuating you and driver from the crash site. And then stabilising you.
PIUS ADESANMI: If you think of Nigeria as a system, as a state in a social contract with the citizen, then, obviously she failed me tragically and nearly killed me. But is that not the story, the personal tragedy of every Nigerian? That we have not been able to create even the most rudimentary forms of civilizational frameworks to secure our lives in the 21st century. I spent the first five hours after the accident in what is said to be the emergency unit of the general hospital in Oyo. If you put pigs in such a filthy environment in Canada, no, Canada is too much, make it Ghana, if you put pigs in such a place in Ghana, you’d go to jail for animal cruelty. That is where Nigeria puts her ordinary people in “hospitals” all over the country. As I said, my injuries were so badly infected in that filthy hospital environment in Oyo that I nearly lost my leg when I got to Canada.
PT: Hope this incident will not slow your commitment to Nigeria, your country of birth. The country that nurtured you and then exported to the world to rise, shine and explode.
PIUS ADESANMI: I am in an abusive relationship with Nigeria. No experience, no matter how horrific, can reduce my commitment to Nigeria. Nigeria is that malevolent, abusive, beastly husband who is physically violent, beats and hurts you but you remain in that relationship and people wonder why.
Well, you know that Nigeria’s beastly, cannibalistic nature (she feeds on her own ordinary citizens) is the handiwork of a few. The road that nearly claimed me is the handiwork of the visionless animals in the political leadership of the country. To reduce my commitment is to surrender to our enemies in the leadership. As I always say, Nigeria is a struggle for meaning and we must not allow the filthy political leadership to have the last word in that argument.
PT: Again, we are sorry about all you went through. We thank God you are alive and recovering. The last time we interviewed you, you agonized about those kinds of situations ordinary folks go through everyday. I recall you lamenting that your social activism was not making an impact. You said you were considering running for political office to aggressively push for change. Is that plan still alive?
PIUS ADESANMI: I think you are missing out on some of the nuances I teased out in my response to that particular question in the interview. I believe it was in specific reference to a political appointment. I recall saying that I wanted no such thing. Remember it was even still early days in the Buhari administration when Buhari’s cluelessness, incompetence, and irredeemable nepotism were not as manifest as they turned out to be.
I said I was not out for a political appointment precisely because we have a certain depraved national culture which makes what ought to be a transient phase of service in a citizen’s life become a shameful stage of accumulation and conspicuous consumption. This is what we mean when we say a person has arrived or God has blessed the person.
A political appointment becomes our singular indicator of success. Here I am for instance. Without being immodest, I’ve been one of Nigeria’s most prominent academic experts in my generation for over a decade now, highly in demand in Universities in North America, Europe and all over Africa. I average 30 keynote lectures per year across continents. I won the Penguin Prize for African Writing in 2010. Yet a Nigerian will look at me and consider a political appointment “a promotion”.
Here, at my level, colleagues who accept political appointments see it as a demotion. It is a sacrifice they make for the collective. I said I aspired to be one of the very few Nigerian public intellectuals to change the Nigerian perception of appointments as “arrival” instead of service. I want no part in the culture of arrivism. If you want me to address the part about the limitations of activism, I am happy to do that.
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