We Need More Brain Infrastructure!

All the conspiracy theories about the Boko Haram uprising collapse when you consider the data painstakingly acquired by the Africa Health, Human & Social Development Information Service (Afri-Dev).

I was just going through the data the other day and my thinking was that our chickens are coming home to roost.
Nigeria has neglected education for so long and the grim statistics leave us no hiding place.

According to the data 52.4% of males in the Northeastern region of Nigeria have no formal Western education. This represents the highest level of illiteracy among men in the federation.

It is therefore not surprising that the Northeast is also the most insecure part of Nigeria.
46.9 % of the adult male population of the Northwestern region have no formal Western education. Again, the pattern is consistent as the Northwest is the second most insecure region of Nigeria.

But it is not until you begin to look at the trend on a state by state basis that you see even more clearly the connection between illiteracy and insecurity.

Yobe and Borno have the highest illiteracy levels in the country and the two states are precisely the states at the epicenter of insecurity in Nigeria.

A whopping 83.3% of boys over 6 and adult men in Yobe state have no formal Western education. The figure for Borno which is number two on the list is 63.6%.

The data from Afri-Dev is proof positive that the only sustainable way to fight insecurity in Nigeria is through education not guns and bombs.

Nowhere has this been more demonstrated than in Anambra state.

Before the election of Peter Obi as governor of Anambra state, the state was notorious as the kidnap capital of Nigeria. It also featured prominently when other violent crimes were mentioned. But most telling was the fact that the state was considered backward in boy child education.

Now let us pause for a while and note that most violent crimes are committed by males.

Now by 2013, according to the official results released by the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), Anambra state had the highest percentage of students who passed the examinations with a pas rate of 67.85%. This from a state that used to be at the bottom!

If you thought that was a fluke one time occurrence, then consider that the state bettered that performance in 2014, again emerging the number one state with a pass mark of 65.92%.

So, how did Peter Obi achieve the feat of turning an educationally backward state like Anambra to the front runner amongst the most educated states?

Careful study of the budgetary allocation of the Peter Obi administration will reveal the answer.

During his years as governor, Obi ensured that education had the highest sectoral allocation. He also ensured that capital allocation consistently dwarfed recurrent expenditure which meant he spent more money building schools, roads and hospitals than he did paying salaries.

For instance, in his last year as governor, Anambra’s budget was 140 billion Naira. 73% of that budget (100.29 billion Naira) was earmarked for capital expenditure, while only 27% (39.71 billion Naira) was earmarked for recurrent expenditure.

That year, as in subsequent years, Obi allocated the highest sectoral allocation to education (7.172 billion Naira).

The secret to Obi’s success in education is increased spending on Capital projects and reduced spending on recurrent expenditure as well as giving education the highest sectoral allocation.

It is worthy of note that those states that are poorer than Anambra and which actually suffer from high levels of insecurity budgeted more than the 7.172 billion Naira that Anambra budgeted on education for security!

For instance, in 2014, Ambassador Baba Jidda, the then Secretary to the Borno State Government revealed that Borno state had spent over 10 billion Naira on security!

The facts are clear that when spending on education increases, insecurity will reduce within a year or two. However, when spending on security increases, there is no data that shows that insecurity also reduces.
The facts are also clear that when education levels increase, crime and insecurity reduce. When education levels drop, crime and insecurity increase.

Another state which proves this is Kano. Kudos goes to the people of Kano and to their immediate past Governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.

What Kano achieved under Kwankwaso could qualify as a modern day miracle.
The state used to be one of the most educationally backward states in the country which in itself was a big cause for concern bearing in mind that Kano has the highest population of any state in Nigeria.

Faced with the startling reality before him, then governor Kwankwaso, through a number of agencies most notable of which is the Kano State Agency for Mass Education, set about to increase literacy levels to an ambitious 90%.
Kwankwaso instituted the policy of free education for all Kano indigenes up to tertiary levels and began to give education the highest sectoral allocation.

For instance, in 2014, he budgeted 21 billion Naira for education. The Kano state government also set up 8,074 adult literacy classes in 484 electoral wards in the 44 local government councils of the state. They made it easy for people to access education.

The end result of this proactive leadership is that literacy rates in Kano state have increased from 48.9 in 2010 (according to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO) to over 60% in 2015.

Now let us again pause and consider that although Boko Haram has been trying to make inroads into Kano state, they have never been able to gain a foot hold. This is pleasantly surprising when you consider that in previous decades, similar sects like Maitatsine had used Kano state as a launch pad for their nefarious activities.

What has changed between December 1980, when thousands were killed in Kano following an uprising by the Maitatsine sect and today? The change is that today, education levels in Kano are dramatically higher than they were in December 1980, thus, the conditions are not ripe for terrorism to flourish there.

What has happened in Kano and Anambra state proves white clearly that where there is the political will to improve education, education does improve.

Nigeria is currently spending 72% of our income paying salaries and other recurrent expenditure with little or nothing left for capital expenditure.

We are even at the point where we have to borrow to pay salaries because we prefer to use our wealth to fund an unsustainable fuel subsidy.
We keep on giving our people this fuel subsidy fish instead of teaching them how to fish through education.
If at all we must subsidize anything, shouldn’t it be education?

The people of the Northeast have been buying petrol at black market prices for decades. Of what use is fuel subsidy to them!
Right now they are not benefitting from fuel subsidy or education subsidy and the result is that they have become vulnerable to the most violent form of terrorism on planet earth and they are not alone. That terrorism is spreading fast and we cannot recruit soldiers fast enough to combat it.
When a nation wastes the minds of her youth by not providing them access to education, those youths will waste that nation.
If a nation does not invest her wealth educating her youth, that nation will invest that same wealth fighting insecurity amongst those same youth.

And when I say a nation, I do not just mean the nation state called Nigeria. I refer to all of us who have capacity including individuals and corporate bodies.

Right there in Borno, where poverty and illiteracy in Western education is most abysmal, are some of the most expensive houses and villas in Nigeria. Maiduguri probably has more oil multi millionaires per square mile than any other state capital with the possible exception of Lagos state.

What have these individuals done in their personal capacity to develop the educational capacity of children of the peasants around them?

I am not from the East, but I admire the custom of our brothers from that part of the country to take community development as a core duty of any individual that has the means.

They do not wait for government to build schools or roads or hospitals or even airports. Men of means within their community pool resources and build these facilities and in that way the community is made more prosperous. And the more prosperous the community is, the more secure the men of means within that community are.

I urge other communities across Nigeria to learn from this community spirit displayed by the South-easterners.

Let me give a modern day parable of how care for society benefits the person who cares.
A rich man was traveling in a convoy to his village. He had police escorts and they made his journey easier.

About an hour to his destination, he met some traffic and his police escorts maneuvered his convoy through the traffic.
He noticed that the traffic was caused by an accident involving two cars which blocked the road. He could have asked his police escorts to intervene, but he could not be bothered, after all they were ordinary people.

Soon, this rich man got to his village and entered his mansion and began to make himself feel at home. And then suddenly, he had a heart attack.

His wife quickly called a doctor to rush down to the village to attend to him. And then the family waited and waited and waited.

Eventually the man died. Ten minutes after he died, his doctor arrived. Enraged, the man’s family accosted him and asked why he had only just arrived.

‘Do you realize you could have saved my husband’s life if you had arrived just ten minutes earlier’ the man’s wife screamed.

The flustered doctor apologized and said ‘I would have arrived more than an hour ago but for some traffic I met on the way. The people told me that some police passed by and did not help them. If only the police had helped them I would have been here earlier’.

You see, by not helping less privileged people in need, the rich man ended up escalating an incident that led to his own death.

Almost 100% of Nigeria’s elite achieved the success they have today because leaders like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Ahmadu Bello and Nnamdi Azikiwe ensured that they benefited from free education. Yet, after climbing up the education ladder, we have removed the ladder that got us there instead of perpetuating it!

I call on our elite to show more concern to their places of origin. Help to educate the less privileged in your village or community.
If you can build a school, then build one beside your mansion. Do not just wait until Ramadan or Christmas to give out food to the poor. Give them education and they will learn how to feed themselves.

If you cannot build schools, then buy books for the children of the less privileged. If you cannot buy books, why not volunteer to teach in the local primary school in your village whenever you are home? You will ‘oppress’ the people more when you impart knowledge into their kids than you would with your latest SUV!

Yes, stomach infrastructure is necessary, but even more necessary is brain infrastructure. Why? Because education is key. A hungry man is hungry for one day but an uneducated man is hungry forever.
I just want to make common sense!

Senator Ben Murray Bruce is the Senator representing Bayelsa East in the National Assembly and is Chairman of the Silverbird Group

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39 replies

  1. Most distinguished, your post is music to my ears. I am a muslim and also a northerner which is the more reason why i appreciate tour frank words. I also saw the stats you premised you write up on and wondederd why we prefer to attribute these problems to conspiracy theories. Even in Abuja, the problem is glaring. Crimes are higher in areas where education is low. Our problems are not rocket science. What is rocket science is finding the leaders that can tell us the truth and apply measure to improve the situation. Cheers

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  2. Brain Infrastructure, Youth empowerment, and innovation. These are Key to development of this country. Nigeria suffers from a lack of investment in Education. we also lack investment is youth and ideas. A lot of Nigerian youth have ideas, great innovations, but don’t know how to develop them to see the light of day.
    The problem with lack of investment in education goes a long way in destroying the system.

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  3. Distinguished Senator Ben Murray Bruce, I sincerely appreciate that wonderful piece you posted in Brain infrastructure. It really made alot of sense and I pray that our other leaders and well meaning elites will work with it to the betterment of our dear country Nigeria which is in turmoil due to insurgency. Meanwhile, I would like to use this medium to remind you of my tweet to you sometimes ago seeking your assistance to enable me proceed for my scholarship in university of Hull, UK of which I didn’t get any reply from you.Sir,the said scholarship is supposed to take effect from this September and up till date I am still having challenges processing my traveling documents.I will sincerely appreciate if you can render any helping hand to enable me realize this noble dream. God bless your good efforts.

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  4. Another Fine piece! God Bless you sir

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  5. Well done senator. The next thing we are all looking forward to is to walk the talk sir.

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  6. Where did you get your Anambra Stats from?

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  7. Ben, Go beyond these write ups! Start the movement for sincere investment into education. We will back you 100% with every resource at our disposal. For people like you who have a NAME already we will support. Check out your Red chamber for like minds who are honest and make them understand the importance of the crusade.
    God bless you. Amen

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  8. It is when leaders begin to think and see in this direction that we can achieve the change we so much desire.Distinguish Senator, we are counting on you for something different form the usual .

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  9. Dear sir, it’s agreeable generally and with the application of natural logic that education inevitably reduces insecurity and crime. The concern here is what does one do about a group of terrorists whose major grievance is the existence of this very same education you are clamouring for. I think this is a clear situation of putting the cart before the horse. I believe in the improvement of the nation’s educational standards and making it widely accessible to all but this can only come afterwards when the mayhem caused by these heartless terrorists is brought to a complete Stop. Nevertheless you have raised a very valuable point which needs to be looked into thoroughly.

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  10. Dear sir, it’s agreeable generally and with the application of natural logic that education inevitably reduces insecurity and crime. The concern here is what does one do about a group of terrorists whose major grievance is the existence of this very same education you are clamouring for. I think this is a clear situation of putting the cart before the horse. I believe in the improvement of the nation’s educational standards and making it widely accessible to all but this can only come afterwards when the mayhem caused by these heartless terrorists is brought to a complete Stop. Nevertheless you have raised a very valuable point which needs to be looked into thoroughly hence emphasizing the fact that security is paramount and of more priority at the time being. Thank you.

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  11. Excellent write up I must say. Please can you make available your email address? Thanks

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  12. must say I concur with you on the issue of getting requisite and quality education, but I beg to digress just a little bit. I had served as a Youth Corper in the North more than five years ago – well the far North-West to be more precise, and I must say I was too impressed with the facilities I met at the Technical College I served. Yes, indeed, education will whittle down the concerns of rising insecurity, but beyond just the investments, I believe, that core to this drive for meaningful education is the Value System. I know some of my Northern brothers may disagree, but I have lived and have family in the North, so I only comment , because I want their good as well. It was unfortunate that the boys we so wanted to teach did not cherish the gains which the initial pains of education had to offer. We would wait for them to resume for the term after a month from the official date – for them, the quick money which came from trading, farming and the sale of petroleum products (which always sells at black market price) was less stress-laden than sitting down to reason out the path of electrons flowing in a Transistor etc. I understand I am writing a lot, but I still bear in my heart the pain of those moments as I see how their lives were being inclined for a worse state of living. So I would plead, before the thrust is made for Education, a re-orientation of the value system and culture should be set. We got to realize that the counsels of the local Imams was gold, and thus I would beg and advise that they be brought into such matters as a way to dissuade these children from short term gains, and attune their consciousness to the discipline of acquiring and seeking to be educated. It is only a man that places value on a thing , that guards it

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  13. I can’t agree with more honourable senator. Your post has bin inspiring , pls don’t know if you can provide an email Address to reach you.

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  14. I am so delighted to come across this piece. I also appreciate C’s comment and his/her youth service northern experience. It’s true, values and culture play a vital role on any educational investment that is why I want to add that “Charity Begins At h Home”.
    As political leaders inspire positive changes from the top, I urge each and every Parent to do same from the home setting by taking responsibility of the welfare of his family including investing heavily on the eduction of his Children. They must not be your biological Children for you to take care of them. Let’s learn to be our brother’s keeper as what affects your neighbour (someone in need) has an indirect or direct effect on you and I.
    Lastly, the rich cannot go to sleep as long as the poor are awake!

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  15. Wow! So, will the executive arm of government get to see this brilliant article and even more importantly, will they follow this route? Good God! Nigeria is soooooooooo close to glory, yet, yet, yet…arrrrrrrghhh!.

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  16. good one sir, i believe if we have more write -up like this, our leader will not short of idea on what to do per time, thank you sir

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  17. Wow, i am thrilled at your write-ups. I believe this will make the president sit up. Thumbs up sir

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  18. Well done sir, may God give you more inspirations on how we can better Nigeria.

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  19. wonderful piece.. sir, pls address the issue of other educational problems like the standard, maintenance, and STRIKE in universities, etc..

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  20. Indeed it is a common sence, thank you on how issues are been delibrated. ride on sir.

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  21. What a speech Mr Bruce. Am a commoner, an entrepreneur who has just National Diploma in computer science but pretty than Phd In common sense sir.. Have a lot to offer but the situation we poor are in is not encouraging neither is it accommodating nor pleasant for us. Have a lot of ideas but where is the little capital to propagate it and enlighten people in my village. What are you doing as per educating the youths in your area? And can you for God sake help to do little in mine pls???

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  22. What a speech Mr Bruce. Am a commoner, an entrepreneur who has just National Diploma in computer science but pretty than Phd In common sense sir.. Have a lot to offer but the situation we poor are in is not encouraging neither is it accommodating nor pleasant for us. Have a lot of ideas but where is the little capital to propagate it and enlighten people in my village. What are you doing as per educating the youths in your area? And can you for God sake help to do little in mine pls??? Would so much appreciate that as people needs it urgently in my state pls

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  23. What a speech Mr Bruce. Am a commoner, an entrepreneur who has just National Diploma in computer science but pretty than Phd In common sense sir.. Have a lot to offer but the situation we poor are in is not encouraging neither is it accommodating nor pleasant for us. Have a lot of ideas but where is the little capital to propagate it and enlighten people in my village. What are you doing as per educating the youths in your area? And can you for God sake help to do little in mine pls??? Would so much appreciate that as people needs it urgently in my state pls

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  24. your speech sir,is so captivating as well as bring to bear wat has been considered by our administrative leaders as unimportant. they fail to no dis simple truth that development in any sector must start from d mind,least wonder then Plato said”…when d mind is harmonised,the will becomes sincere and when d will is sincere,the self is cultivated, and when the self is cultivated ,there will b peace in the community” God almighty will use u to actualise His aims and objectives in Jesus name…….Amen……(my honorable senator Murray Bruce)

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  25. Good one! I believe our leaders are hearing you. We live a nation where public office holders don’t take research work seriously. All they do is political meetings; some late nights without providing tangible solutions to our nation’s problems. Keep on!

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  26. My Distinquished, l love your realist driven admonition coz it accentuate my long standing believe on the solution of Nigeria ;of course, everyone has something to contribute, no matter how small in making Nigeria better and safer. This is so coz the problem of Nigeria is not solely hinged on leadership as the old believe presume but in every Nigerian. Albeit, some have the greater responsibility of making Nigeria better but it will be a height of naivety for Nigerians to shift all the blames to people in government though they have the greatest responsibility of turning things around ;we equally need to help the little efforts of government by maintaining a positive attitudinal disposition so as to contribute when we can and criticze when we can not but to. Is equally pertinent to know that leadership is multidimensional and as such should be discharge with distinction, determination and deginity,regardless of the platform for the discharge of such responsibilities .Remember ,”one must follow before leading, and after leading, must return to fellowership “.that is to say that people carry their habits they were socialize in, to any position they found themselves.

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  27. Overwhelming insight into the current woes that plague our nation. Unfortunately the voice of reasoning is constantly been challenged by collective voices of the few who have benefited immensely from the ignorance of the many. The beautiful thing about what you are doing with common sense revolution is re-education. There is hope as long as you keep beaming the light on areas of our national life that has kept us behind the rest of the world. KUDOS

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  28. I want to say that your comment on current Education policy and its implementation makes an interesting piece. I agree with you that government both Federal, State and Local authorities must show better commitment to improvement of schools’ facilities and teaching tools available to Teachers and prompt payment of teachers’ salaries, these can ONLY be possible through Budget responsibility! The author also identified the wide disparity between Capital and Recurrent expenditure. The case of Peter Obi was a good and rare ONE, most governments in our Nation are only interested in expending our money and not investing in the people they serve, or other infrastructure that will have a positive impact on the people and the Economy!!
    Reason they believe they are there to lord it over the rest of us!!! Well, Senator Bruce you have the opportunity to make a difference in the Senate, keep up the good fight and the Truth will set us free.

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  29. I think the most wasted resources in this country is the human mind. This can be seen on how far we’ve gone in allowing our educational system to rot and dilapidated. countries like China don’t have the kind of natural and mineral resources we have here yet they are far ahead us. why? Because they invested in there human resources in the mind of there people through education. I am not Ben Murray Bruce but I just wanna make common sense.

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  30. Good afternoon sir i haven an idea for you sir i have an idea to incorporate a device that can enable you to vote from any part of the country ,just like using your ATM CARD which would help people to vote without the use of card reader and its energy efficient.

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  31. Distinguished senator may GOD ALMIGHTY bless and protect you as you fight for good cause of improving the common man you are an epitome of wisdom which is common scene that cannot be bought .

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  32. All political are d same saying too many things. but if they take over this the same position called president seat they we be doing d same am not a member of any party. but Nigeria is too big enough for us to be fooling ourselves voting to party let’s us vote man of our choice that we take us to future.

    Dear Mr Bruce
    Please with all due respect please you are close to Nigeria president all this your knowledge why can’t you take it to government house for better of Nigeria not radio station were we just listen and we can’t put it in practice.

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  33. sir please cheeck here to see a scam that is been done on facebook with your name http://www.freelamasta.wordpress.com

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  34. I subscribe to this truth. Nothing can be more impacting than the mentality… The way out of the impending difficult situations in Nigeria is Value Reorientation and that comes from education of the mind.

    Like

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