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LAGOS, NIGERIA.     Tuesday, July 22 2003





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New education ministers assume duties, seek support
From Mohammed Abubakar, Abuja

FABIAN Ngozichukwuka Osuji and Hajia Bintu Ibrahim Musa yesterday assumed duties as Minister of Education and Minister of State for Education with a pledge to revamp the ailing sector.

To achieve the objective, they have solicited the cooperation of the workers of the ministry and those of the parastatals under it.

During their maiden meeting with directors and chief executives of the parastatals, Osuji, who spoke at length about the high level of decay in the sector, said they had the mandate to put things in order.

His words: "Those of us who have the opportunity of being educated here in Nigeria are no doubt embarrassed by the state of education which is characterised by loss of direction, learning time and standard."

According to him, the situation is so bad that people send their kids to Ghana, The Gambia and even as far as Uganda to study.

"These countries, I'm sure you will agree with me, do not have half of the resources that we have in this country, except that they seem to have managed their educational systems better than we have done here," he said.

Osuji alluded to the six months' strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) where no teaching took place, saying: "It is impossible to quantify the loss as a result of that closure."

He expressed regret that no university has steady academic calendar, saying: "It is an embarrassment, that is part of what we are out to find means of correcting and also to improve the quality of teaching and learning."

He added: "It is our desire that Nigerian certificates start to mean something worth being there, it is a challenge today, that is what Nigerians want us to do. We should come out with the solutions."

Osuji, who until his appointment was the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), said he would build on what he found on the ground and rely on the experience, expertise and cooperation of the workers to fulfil the aspirations of Nigerians."

Speaking in a similar vein, Mrs. Musa solicited the workers' cooperation, noting that they (workers) owed them a duty to draw the minister and the minister of state's attention to whenever they (ministers) are going astray.

"We are here as leaders and as such, we are subjects to making mistakes and where that happens, do not hesitate to draw our attention," she said.


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