Dec 1, 2007

Challenges Before Tallen

Mrs. Pauline Tallen, without any shadow of doubt, is one of the power brokers in the People's Democratic Party, PDP, in the federation not just in Plateau State. It is also clear that her political boat experienced little rocking if any at all. Her profile is that of a rare female politicians who rose steadily to become a strong pillar of the PDP resulting in her appointment as the Minister of State in the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology during the administration of Olusegun Obasanjo.

Following the impeachment of Joshua Dariye late 2006 and the automatic qualification of Chief Michael Botmang as the new Chief Executive of the state based on our constitution which provides that the Deputy Governor of a state shall become the Governor of the state in the event of the death, impeachment, resignation or ill health that renders the Governor incapable of discharging the responsibilities of the office, Botmang nominated Tallen to serve as his deputy. The ex-minister declined the offer only to join the Jang Political Train as a running mate eventually taking the position she refused six months earlier.

Analysts in politics have x-rayed her refusal of the same position when Da Micheal Botmang offered it to her. General and popular opinion has it that the big auntie was driven by her vision to give the state a long lasting service. Botmang's government was to last for just a few months, six at most and as such would not have provided her with a convenient platform to serve the state satisfactorily, which is the only way that will ensure that the dividend of her service is in a measurable quantum.

Following the successful inauguration of the Jang-Tallen administration the Ministry of Education became attached to the Deputy Governor's office. Most people have often seen the Deputy Governor's office as one that is mostly redundant, becoming active only in the absence of the Chief Executive. The attachment of one of the most sensitive ministries to her office ensured she to stood up to deliver, leading to her famous tour of educational institutions in the state. With the tour, she built a reputation as the hope of the youths. This is because education is regarded as the tonic of tomorrow given today.

Education in the nation as a whole has been left in the cold for so long and as such the problems are colossal. The problems associated with the ministry of education in Plateau State is a broad beginning with poor pay at one end to absence of the necessary infrastructures at the other end of the spectrum. In between are irregular promotions, political maneuvering of teachers' recruitment, students' lack of interest and the collusion of some unethical 'professionals' to help their students cheat during external examinations. Fortunately the Governor's sidekick is undaunted by the complexity of the problems. As her tour of education drew to an end she entered the next phase of her struggle against the woes with which she had a direct encounter during her tour.

As part of the second leg of intended reform in the ministry, a workshop was held for mathematical science teachers. The workshop titled 'Retraining of mathematical Science Teachers was undertaken in three phases which include the northern, central and southern zones. To underscore the seriousness of the administration, the reputable National Mathematical Centre Abuja that has made the country proud as a result of their escapades in the international Olympiad competitions administered the training. The training was structured to include the training of the participants to adopt a new method referred to as the 'active method' that demands that students should not just be conversant with the formulae used to find solutions to mathematical problems but understand how those formulae were derived. The method is considered superior to the old method known as the 'Traditional Method' as it enables the student to retain a topic taught no matter how long it takes. Furthermore, the new method strongly encourage the use of teaching aids and a lot of activities for students to make the study of the subject very interesting. The challenge facing the ministry is to be able to reverse the ugly trend the state's education had faced in the past few years were the state ranked among the worst in national performance charts.

The effort of the administration appears to be enjoying some benevolence as one of the participants, Mr. Nankap Wuyep from GSS Fobur discovered how to construct angle seventy using a compass and a ruler only. In the past it was considered impossibility. The resource persons at the workshop confirmed the authenticity of the method used and have agreed to forward it to the world of mathematics for further confirmation and endorsement before Mr. Wuyep would finally be crowned a hero. If this happens it will make up for the disgraceful performance of the past few years.

This very training was for secondary school teachers. Teachers who attended the workshop agree that it was very rewarding. The workshop however has served to raise the question of other factors that influence the performance of students as a good number of factors must work simultaneously to ensure a good outcome. During the tour of the Deputy Governor, she came face to face with instances where student are taught under a tree. Going backward in history it will be recalled that following the near destitute situation of the state civilian government in the early eighties the government resorted to declaring schools to communities but leaving the development of the physical infrastructures to the affected community. The unfortunate change in policy affected the ability of such schools to live up to the provisions of the national educational policy that demands that students learn practical vocational skills in the first three years of Secondary Education, considered the basic. Since such schools have to share classrooms with pre-existing primary schools it frustrated the ability of such schools to teach the practical vocation skill that should have given the students the option of self-employment on completion of that level of education. Hence the expected correlation between the Junior Secondary School education and employment generation failed to materialize satisfactorily. Meanwhile employment generation is the biggest problem of the nation as a whole. The point that well-meaning persons in the sector have been trying to make successive administrations to understand is that leaving the development of the physical structures to the communities was a result of the bad economic status of the government at the time. The situation is however different today.

A second issue that the government must come to terms with is how to find a lasting solution to the puzzle of inadequate manpower in the field. The difficulty is not caused by the refusal of the ministry to recruit teachers but by the fact that teachers will always leave in search of better paying jobs. Since the government is a big organization, there is no way a teacher can leave today and a replacement found the next day. There will always be red tapes.

The Deputy Governor prior to the closure of the northern zone of the workshop again stressed the sincerity of the administration when it vowed to take the bull by its horns. She entered the venue of the workshop with a broad smile on her face, greeting everybody. She left in much the same way. By her actions it is hoped that the citizens will have reasons to wear such smiles on their faces.

Lucky Dube, a Victim of His Own Prophecies

Nobody can stop reggae cos reggae is strong. They tried to kill it many years ago. Killing the brothers of reggae, destroying the brothers of reggae   -Lucky Dube,

They evils Lucky Dube sang about were, indeed, the forces that wrenched him off the surface of this sinful world. At the time that Lucky Dube got the inspiration that saw his transition from Mbaganga, a South African native music, to reggae, the most prominent reggae men that played his style of music were either dead or retired. Bob Marley died of cancer in 1981. Peter Tosh was assassinated six years later. Eric Donaldson and Jimmy Cliff had all taken a bow. Events were working to kill the music. Lucky Dube stepped in. Exactly twenty years after the assassination of Peter Tosh, his inspiration, Lucky Dube was also killed violently in an abortive car jacking incident. Except somebody steps in now, the music is sure to die.

We hear him crying so bitterly. Trying to get people to help him but nobody. His son was brutalizing people every time but you said nothing. Coming back with stolen things. Instead of telling how wrong he was, you told him how cleaver he was. Driving stolen cars every time, but you say nothing- Lucky Dube,

From the above song one will understand that car theft is common in Dube's native South Africa. Unfortunately, the singer was to fall victim of the crime costing him his life in the process. Dube definitely fell victim of the issues he sang against.

So much has been written about the accomplishments of the rocking South African Rastafarian but this column feels the biggest accomplishment of the man was his ability to do what the politicians, with all the power and the resources, could not do. He used his music to sell his country around the world. Hence Dube is one of the single most important phenomenal to emerge from South Africa. The impression of the nation around the world was that of a notorious nation b best known for its apartheid policies. He used his music to add a colorful and brilliant shade to this picture. At home he joined freedom fighters with his militant music to fight down apartheid. The 'Prisoner' (1991) and 'House of Exile' (1992) albums represent the climax of his career. The single, 'prisoner' from the Prisoner album is a song that highlighted racial injustice against the black during the apartheid era. 'War and crime' from the same album addressed the killings due to the struggles during the apartheid. In the album, 'House of Exile', the song 'Group Areas Act' celebrates the end of apartheid after Fredrick De Clarke, the white South African President at the time, announced it.

The relationship between ordinary South Africans and their heroes appears to be some how blurred. Is it that the South Africans are conforming to the saying that 'a prophet is not recognized in his backyard? In 2001, Lucky Dube was almost shot by a policeman while shooting a video. In this last incident the mistake could not be averted. He was shot and killed.

A man who is face to face with death thinks first, about his children. In Dube's case the children witnessed, with their own eyes, the killing of their father. This is one of the most grievous sins of man against man. Luckily, the culprits are in the net. When justice is eventually carried out, the children will get the re-assurance that their father was not the subject of hypocritical love. They will then feel secured thereon.

The vacuum created by the death of Lucky Dube will take a long time to fill.

CEPAN Recognizes the Heroes of Peace

A society that lacks record setters is not a dynamic society. Everything remains in a standstill. Most record setters derive their energy not from the quest for material things but the intrinsic desire to serve mankind. If we must encourage such persons so that others can be prompted to carry on from where the older ones run out of steam and entrench a traditions of record breaking we must be able to recognize the heroes. Jesus Christ in his days was known to have healed a lot of people. But only one came and expressed his gratitude. Jesus Christ was deeply troubled and was compelled to ask about the others that failed to come to him to express their own appreciation. This underscores the significance of recognition to deserving members of any community.

The Center for Peace Advancement in Nigeria (CEPAN) has been in the lead as far as recognizing outstanding individuals in the area of peace building in our community. The 2007 edition of CEPAN's Peace Award was hosted by the organization at the Lamonde Hotel here in Jos on the September 27th. Prior to the presentation of the award the Executive Director of CEPAN, Mr. Yahuza Iliya, explained the criteria for nomination of deserving individuals. First a nomination committee is set up. This committee sends invitations to the general public to nominate individuals in their communities whom they deem to have worked hard in the area of peace building. These nominations, which usually come in thousands, are then screened to a final number. The successful nominees are then notified. A date is then set for the presentation of the awards.

This year (2007) seven individuals were honoured with the piece award. The men and woman who stood out include: - Reverend Istifanus Dodo of Salalma Baptist Church, Gindiri Road Mangu, Imran Abdulrahaman of CEPID Pump Street, Jos Plateau State, His Royal Highness The Ponzhi Bwarat, Mr. Sambo Selchak Sambo, the Paramount Traditional Ruler of Bwarat District in Langtang-North Local Government Of Plateau State, The Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Movement (JPRM) Dogon Dutse Jos Plateau State. Others include the Nigerian Aid Group of Jama'atu Nasril Islam, Massllacin Juama'a Street Jos Plateau State, Adesiyan Adesola Adejoke a corps member posted to Shendam Local Government of Plateau State in 2004 and Mrs. Julie Emmanuel Job Sier the Director of Personnel Management (DPM) of Bassa Local Government of Plateau State.

Mrs. Julie Emmanuel Job Sier was recognized post-humously following her sudden death on the May 11, 2004 as a result of kidney complications. Mrs. Sier was when she died was the President of Nigerian Christian Women Society (NCWS), Plateau State. She was also the co-founder of the Country Women Association of Nigeria(COWAN), Plateau State and also the Executive Director of the Center of Gender and Rural Development (CEGARD)

She left her impressions in the areas of peace building, awareness, social and economic empowerment of the rural woman and the youths in particular. Under CEGARD she was involved in creating awareness and computer training among the youths. Under the same organization she embarked on peace missions during political elections thereby helping the concerned communities to avert some of the crisis that usually follow the declaration of election result and the lost of lives and properties associated with such. Under COWAN she was the heroine of the rural woman when as she provided them with hope through creation of awareness, skill acquisition and the provision of revolving loans. Working under COWANS ensured that she was always with the rural people and was thus able to have a firsthand experience in the event of any crisis. The most spectacular event, for which she became popular, internationally, was the event of Black Wednesday. On this day, she led a women demonstration that expressed their condemnation of the September 2001 crisis. The provoking revelation of the crisis was that Conflict brings no gain. It only brings a backlash and economic losses. Those who suffer most are women and children thereby rendering previous effort in the rural community abortive. Her followers were women, in black costumes, drawn from the 23 local government areas of the state. They gathered in the heart of the city and matched to the State Government House where they expressed their feelings. CNN and the Nigerian television authority (NTA) gave the event its global prominence. She accomplished this as the President of NCWS.

CEPAN the organizer of the award night is itself an organization that has been involved in peace building since 2001 when it was founded. The Peace Award is just one among its numerous activities towards the consolidation of peace in Plateau State. The occasion was well at

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