By Martin Tachio
From the northern to the southern part of Nigeria, almost on a daily basis, travelers and road users are either kidnapped, maimed or killed. The problem is such that security agencies are unable to curtail this persistent loss of lives and insecurity.
One constant name keeps recurring: “Fulani herdsmen”. This minority group has been existing side by side with other ethnic groups in peace and tranquility for centuries. So why the sudden change and stereotypes now attached to their profile?
Understood, that you must not resort to violence before your grievances are heard and there is no shred of justification for any criminal activity perpetuated on the grounds of neglect, since everyone in the larger Nigerian society is experiencing one form of neglect or the other from a government that is supposed to do better.
Then again, have governments in Nigeria been serious enough in reforming the nomad Fulani way of life and giving them social and political inclusion? The answer is yes and no; yes, for creating the template and no, for not implementing as it should have.
Something serious and aggressive needs to be done with this agency, an interventionist parastatal under the ministry of education.
Over 30 years ago the federal government of nigeria established The National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE)
by the NCNE Act (Cap 243 LFN) of 1989, it was meant to provide quality basic and functional education to the nomads in Nigeria, geared towards the attainment of national and global goals by implementing the nomadic education programme started in 1986.
Some of the core functions of the NCNE are; to provide nomads with relevant and functional basic education; to improve the survival skills of the nomads by providing them with knowledge and skills that will enable them raise their productivity and levels of income; and to participate effectively in the nation’s socio-economic and political affairs.
The process of education, especially an educational delivery system for a marginalized group as the nomads is a dynamic one which needs to be constantly evaluated with a view to assessing its relevance, worth and importance in the rapidly changing situations of the modern world.
Three decades of activities since establishment provide enough reasons for stocktaking on its performance and relevance in the face of rising criminality among these peasant groups.
The NCNE programme is bedeviled with Inadequate funding, inadequate infrastructural facilities, indiscriminate transfer of teachers, teachers’ truancy, and lack of incentives for the teachers and supervisors.
Statutorily, the Commission receives funds from two sources, the federal Ministry of Finance for its recurrent cost and the National Primary Education Commission (NPEC), for funding its school-based activities.
For instance, between 1995 to 2011 the federal government budgeted approximately N2 billion for both recurrent and capital expenditure in an entire 15 year period for the commission! It is all the more hard to say what such a critical interventionist agency could have achieved with such a miserly amount of money.
In a situation Report in 2001, some scholars claimed that the main problem of nomadic education as it relates to funding ranges from inadequate funding to late release of funds even when such funds are approved.
The pattern of funding nomadic education, as ridiculous as it is , is further compounded with the fact that less than 30% of its budget request is received, thereby compelling it to fund its activities and field operations at unimaginably meager sums.
The funds are so thin that its impact is not properly felt and its objectives only tangentially realized.
In Nigeria, however, available records have shown that expenditure on education generally is below the internationally acceptable standard. According to the UNDP Human Development Report (2008), Nigeria spends almost an insignificant proportion of its financial resources on education, the expenditure on education in Nigeria as a proportion of GDP averaged 5.84 percent, which falls below the UNESCO’s benchmark of 26 percent of the budgets of developing countries.
In 2017, Nigeria budgeted 7.41%, 2018; 7%, 2019; 7.02%; 2020; 6.7% and in 2021 out of N13.6 trillion national budget only 5.6% is earmarked for all the parastatals and federal government colleges and universities under the federal ministry of education!
This shamefully low allocations out of which more than 50% is not disbursed, accounts for the sluggish educational growth rate of 0.59 % in the country. The poor funding of education in Nigeria has over time deprived a lot of Nigerians access to education especially the over 10.4 million nomads in the country.
Out of the estimated population of nomads in Nigeria, 5.1 million are children of school age, but the participation of the nomads in the existing formal and non-formal education programs is abysmally low with only about 579 thousand of these children currently enrolled.
The national commission for nomadic education despite its lean budget recently built 48 blocks of three classrooms each, in 27 states of the country and looks to do better if properly funded in the face of current realities.
It should interest you to know, that the Fulani are found in 31 out of the 36 states of Nigeria, while others reside mainly on the Borno plains and shores of Lake Chad. The migrant fishing groups account for about 2.8 million, comprising numerous tribes. They are found in the Atlantic coastline, the riverside areas and river basins of the country. These groups of people amongst others do not have access to functional education in the country over time due to poor political will of successive governments in ensuring the national commission for nomadic education meets its objectives.
In a recent survey by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the data revealed that funding is the main drawback for nomadic education, and identified insufficient infrastructure as well as persistent farmers/herders clashes to be some of the reasons why, about 918 nomadic schools in the seven states in the northwest region of nigeria are under threat of being shut down.
President mohamadu Buhari should as a matter of urgency set up a think tank to review and proffer inputs in order to make the National Commission for Nomadic Education vibrant or at most an agency under the presidency to guarantee its funding.
Tachio writes from firstname.lastname@example.org