- Education: Why Kano ancestors stoned Driver Gwalagwaje, Part I
- Education: Why Kano ancestors stoned Driver Gwalagwaje, Part II
- Education: Why Kano ancestors stoned Driver Gwalagwaje, Part III
- Education: Why Kano ancestors stoned Driver Gwalagwaje, Part IV
Barbushe has given the floor to Gwalagwaje to rebuff the allegations against him and set the records straight, Faruk Ahmed narrates
The moment Dankani finished narrating the ordeal education is passing through in the hands of Driver Gwalagwaje, a cold chill of disappointment passed through the spines of all those present. Even papa Barbushe couldn’t stand upright. He shook his head left, right and centre in disbelief. Then, shuffled from one foot to the other. And the crowd took up in murmurs.
After regaining his composure, Barbushe tapped his staff on the ground with a thud and called out with a frown, “It is hard not to feel saddened by what this son of ours has just relayed. But to be fair to the accused, let us call him to give his own side of the story.”
He paused for a while… Then boomed out, “Gwalagwaje! Your turn!!”
Gwalagwaje rose from his seat with some pompousity, while Aunty adjusted his babbar riga. He looked round, flashed a smile that looked like the silver plate on a coffin and begun: “O greatest fathers and mothers of Kano, I greet you all! Permit me to refute all what this ingrate, who eats from my palms of my fingers, has just spewed from his maggot-filled mouth!”
The crowd looked on with their mouths wide open, while Gwalagwaje’s hangers-on jubilated in the background.
There I could sight Mudansir Garaugarau and Audu Abasu Kala jumping and laughing. And when I strained my eyes, I saw conductor Goruba seated in a corner, contemplating whether to back his Oga or those doubting him.
While I was still searching for the pockets of Gwalagwaje’s supporters, the chief driver continued, “Dankani is a barefaced liar! And I suspect he is a member of Kyankyaso’s party. All these allegations against me are not true!”
‘Aliya in wonderland’
Gwalagwaje adjust his gait and Aunty who was standing beside him, readjusted his babbar riga. “Since assuming office, I have taken a keen interest in addressing the issues in the education sector. This is in consideration of the myriad problems of the sector which I inherited from Kyankyaso’s government.
“The quality of basic education was extremely poor, leading to low demand and unacceptably low academic performance. In virtually all public educational institutions, be they primary secondary or tertiary levels, the classes are overcrowded.
“Aware of the enormity of these educational challenges in the state, I wasted no time in reversing the negative trend by using the state government/Universal Basic Education matching grant projects, worth N2.2 billion of which the state government I paid over N1.2 billion as counterpart funding.
“Under this scheme, 61 two-storey blocks consisting six classrooms per block, including offices, were constructed and furnished. This project accommodates an estimated 21, 960 pupils, as each classroom will contain 60 pupils. Each block will have six classrooms and each classroom will accommodate 60 pupils, so more opportunity will be provided for our teeming children to attend public schools.”
There was a round of applause from the crowd and Gwalagwaje grinned gleefully from the cheers.
“In addition,” he continued, “20 out of the 60 new blocks constructed are sited in Kano metropolis, and the remaining 41 are spread across the rural areas of the state in view of disparity in pupils’ density.
“My government believe that basic education is the mainstay of all levels of education. That is why, we spent the last four years implementing educational policies and programmes and adopting ground-breaking policies to tackle the various issues militating against functioning of the sector. The introduction of Free and Compulsory Basic and Secondary Education Policy is also not only consolidating such gains but also setting the standard in policy formulation and implementation in the sector.”
The mention of ‘free’ and ‘compulsory’ education made the crowd to muffle a chuckle.
But Gwalagwaje was unfazed. He continued, “With the new policy in place, payment of school fees has been abolished in all the primary and secondary schools. The state government is directly funding primary and secondary schools numbering 1,180 with a total students’ population of 834,366 at a total cost of about N200 million per month or N2.4 billion per annum. Furthermore, N357 million has been budgeted to take care of free-feeding for pupils in primary four to six classes in all primary schools across the state…”
When Gwalagwaje stopped to catch a breath, the crowd erupted in another round of murmurings.
And before you say what, a member of the crowd, Nafarko burst forth and interjected, “It is not true! We are not seeing any good effects of your administration’s policy on ground!! Except bad ones…,” he said while pointing an accusation finger at Gwalagwaje.
Barbushe got up quickly to shut down Nafarko before the place would degenerate into a battle ground.
With his thunderous voice, which we felt will tear the skies open and let down tears on us, “How dare you rise and talk without my leave?” Barbushe boomed at Nafarko.
“How many times have I warned you people from interrupting other people’s speech?”
On hearing this outburst, Nafarko quietly recoiled to allow Gwalagwaje continue his monologue.
The driver mentioned that his administration allocated the sum of N52.2 billion to the education sector in the state 2202 budget, which was about 25.32 percent of the total budget.
With this boast, the driver was trying to impress the gathering that his government had surpassed the SDG-Education Framework for Action which states that “Governments must allocate 4-6% of their gross domestic product and/or 15-20% of total public expenditure to education, ensuring efficient spending and prioritizing the most marginalized groups.”
But it is one thing to budget and another thing to put it in action. You can also say you budgeted such and such for such sector but divert the fund to another. Worst still, after the budgeting you could also elect to pocket the money and refuse to do nothing as the chief driver is being accused presently.
Well as Gwalagwaje continued his address, I got lost in my reverie.
It was the enthusiastic ovations from Gwalagwaje’s supporters that brought me back to planet Dala. Garaugarau and Abasu Kala were ululating, jumping and summersaulting.
Garaugarau even went to the extent of removing his shirts and whirled it above his head as if in a trance. From all indications, you could say the chief driver’s address was well received by his followers.
But the majority of the crowd was not moved, because it was as still as a graveyard.
Once again, Barbushe rose quickly to arrest the situation before Gwalagwaje’s cohorts turned the avenue into a marketplace. He cried out:
“O ye Children of Dala. You disturbed my sleep with cries of neglects. But as it seems, your complains were only ingratitude and sabotages. That is, if we are to believe what this chief driver has just enumerated. From the looks of things, you are ahead for the Promised Land.”
There and then Nafarko raised up his hand in protest. Sensing blood, Barbushe gave him the floor…