Saturday, November 18, 2017

USA Africa Dialogue Series - Fallou Ngom wins the Herskovits

And my prediction comes to pass. When I read the draft, we began the regular fights! From the proposal to multiple drafts, he pushed himself.
Over ten years to produce and numerous fieldworks, Fallou took his time. It his first book, and I have read the ongoing one.
This is the seventh book that I will be part of shaping that has won the Herskovits.
And congrats too to Fallou who now heads the African Studies in Boston.
He followed me to Nigeria last summer where he gave lectures at Ibadan, LASU, and the Keynote Address at TOFAC.
As I am phasing myself out, our new leaders have emerged 
I will write more...

Sent from my iPhone

USA Africa Dialogue Series - Social Class Prejudice in Nigerian Teacher Competency Tests

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

The results of the teacher competency test in Kaduna State—and in several Nigerian states in previous years—give literal materiality to Oscar Wilde's satiric epigram about how "everybody who is incapable of learning has taken to teaching."

The samples Kaduna State governor Nasiru El-Rufai made public on social media may be unrepresentative. They probably merely serve to hyperbolize the egregiousness of the teachers' incompetence and to win the governor public support.

 But I cannot in good conscience defend the continued employment of teachers I would never allow to teach even my enemies' kids, much less my own kids. That's my own irreducibly minimum personal morality test on the issue.

But it's also true that the sacking of the incompetent teachers merely scratches the surface of a problem that is considerably high and deep. For one, the remuneration for primary school teachers is now among the worst in the country. When my dad was a primary school Arabic and Islamic Studies teacher in the 1970s and 1980s, his salary was sufficient to sustain a fairly comfortable lower middle-class lifestyle for us. He was even able to save enough to start building a 4-bedroom house until Buhari and Idiagbon struck in 1983, and things went downhill from there.

Today, public primary school teachers aren't just poorly paid; they are usually owed salaries for months on end. As the English saying goes, if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. I'd add that if you pay nothing, you get nothing.  As I pointed out in my August 6, 2016 column titled "Nigeria as a Perverse Anarchist Paradise," "When I grew up in Nigeria in the 1970s and 1980s, private primary schools were few and far between, and the existing ones at the time had a need to boldly inscribe on their signposts that they were 'government approved' to legitimize their existence. Even so, private primary schools were almost completely absent in rural Nigeria.

"During my last visit to Nigeria, the only primary schools that were in session in the whole of Kwara State (and this is true of most other states) were private primary schools. Government primary schools were closed because teachers were on strike to protest months of unpaid salaries. Several people told me even if teachers weren't on strike people with even a little means have learned to not send their children to government primary schools because government schools have become the graveyards of learning and creativity."

So if El-Rufai won't increase teacher pay, his reform would be mere superficial window-dressing because the half-wits he is weeding out now will most definitely be replaced by people who won't be different from them. He would have my full support if he were to say, "I will triple teacher pay and insist that only the most qualified are recruited."

Of course, this should be replicated at all levels of education—and even beyond—for it to be meaningful. Limiting it to only primary school teachers would not just be callous grandstanding; it would be exhibitionistic trampling on the weak and the helpless.

For starters, if the governor is sincere, the people who set and graded the competency exams should also be fired. They, too, have no business being judges of anyone's competence. From inexcusably poor grammar, to inept and fuzzily worded questions, to questionable grading (for example, a teacher lost points for not prefixing "Malam" to El-Rufai's name!), they are nearly as incompetent as the people they are causing to (justifiably) lose their jobs.

And I can bet my boots that if a governance competency test were conducted for Nigeria's leaders—from the very top to the bottom—most of them would fail, but their fiercest defenders would be the very people they routinely oppress and dehumanize. It's the same twisted mentality that explains why poor, petty thieves are burned alive by other poor people but wealthy politicians who feed off the misery of the poor are celebrated and defended by the poor.

As someone whose intellectual and ideological temperaments are irrevocably and unapologetically pro-poor, I hate for people to lose their jobs, but you can't have uneducated and uneducable adults "educating" poor people's children and thereby ensuring an invidious intergenerational perpetuation of a vicious cycle of poverty.

Education is the greatest social leveler. There are very few Nigerians who come from moneyed or aristocratic dynasties.  Access to decent basic public education was the propeller for many people's social rise. That access is now being denied to the children of the poor. They are condemned to be taught by "teachers" who are incapable of learning or who are too poorly paid to bother with teaching, in schools that aren't even fit for animals, and under the watch of political leaders who don't spare a thought for decent public education because their own children are either abroad or in the best Nigerian private schools.

 That means the children of the poor can't escape the poverty trap that many of us children of poor parents escaped through access to decent public education.

In a bizarre way, nonetheless, several (certainly not all) of the people who celebrate the competency tests for primary school teachers and those who condemn them are unified by a common contempt for the poor: several who celebrate the tests do so only because the tests target a weak, poor segment of the society, and those who decry them do so because they're not personally affected by the poor quality of teachers at public primary schools since their own kids are either abroad or in private primary schools.

But overhauling public primary school education through incentivizing teaching and then recruiting the best is crucial to securing our future. I hope that is Governor El-Rufai's ultimate goal.

Fake Lai Mohammed Quote on Nigerian Social Media

When fake, satiric quotes attributed to you are indistinguishable from your real, everyday utterances, you know you're the very proverb for untruthfulness. A quote trending on Nigerian WhatsApp groups— and that is now spilling over to Facebook and Twitter—credits Information Minister Lai Mohammed with having said, "PMB's government has spent almost N2 trillion on infrastructural projects. But you can't see it because of the huge size of these projects."

It would have been insanely rib-tickling if it were true, but Lai Mohammed actually never said that. Search the sentence on Google and you won't find a record of it anywhere. The meme suspiciously never mentions when and where Lai allegedly made the statement. That was a dead giveaway for me. But I honestly don't blame people who were suckered into believing its authenticity. I, too, was almost had, and it's precisely because Lai had told fibs in the past that compete with that quote in incredulity.

A transparently compulsive liar who perpetually says he has never lied in his life (a claim even saints can't and won't make), who barefacedly tells the basest, most audacious lies without the slightest pang of compunction, and who has come to embody mendacity at its vilest is capable of telling any kind of lie. I think that's why people are primed to believe the worst of Lai Mohammed. 

Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Journalism & Emerging Media
School of Communication & Media
Social Science Building 
Room 5092 MD 2207
402 Bartow Avenue
Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw, Georgia, USA 30144
Cell: (+1) 404-573-9697
Personal website:
Twitter: @farooqkperog
Author of Glocal English: The Changing Face and Forms of Nigerian English in a Global World

"The nice thing about pessimism is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised." G. F. Will

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Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Boxing in the Pastoralists - final part


this issue is often presented as if we are not talking about a private business.

why must Nigeria shoulder the economic responsibilities of private business people who are using military and political terrorism to force themselves on Nigerians?



On 18 November 2017 at 19:25, Jibrin Ibrahim <> wrote:

The Dangers of Boxing in the Pastoralists 2


Jibrin Ibrahim, Friday Column, Daily Trust, 17th November 2017


It is clear that Nigeria and indeed Africa have to plan towards the transformation of pastoralism into settled forms of animal husbandry. The establishment of grazing reserves provides the opportunity for practicing a more limited form of pastoralism and is therefore a pathway towards a more settled form of animal husbandry. As the population continues to multiply and violent conflicts make extensive pastoralism more difficult to sustain, alternative solutions would be required and some planning period for conversion set aside and above all gets acted upon. Grazing reserves are areas of land demarcated, set aside and reserved for exclusive or semi-exclusive use by pastoralists.


Currently, Nigeria has a total of 417 grazing reserves all over the country, out of which only about 113 have been gazetted. However, only about 40 of them are currently available and useful to pastoralists. The long-term goal of government has always been to change nomadic pastoralists to settled and semi-settled agro-pastoralists and ultimately mixed farmers. Mixed farming is a system of farming in which crop growing is combined with keeping livestock for profit. The grazing reserve concept originated from a study conducted by the Colonial Government in 1954 to review the conditions of Fulani pastoralists. After independence in 1960, the programme was reviewed and consolidated into a comprehensive plan that included the establishment of grazing reserves in major pastoral areas in Northern Nigeria. As with virtually all Nigerian plans however, it was never implemented even when it was integrated into the Second and then the Third National Development Plans.


Whether we support or oppose pastoralism, it is clear that at least in the short and medium term, many herds must continue to practice seasonal migration between dry and wet season grazing areas, incorporating past harvest grazing farmland in the highly developed and ecologically sound pattern of transhumance evolved by the pastoralist over the centuries. This is an important point to make at this point when many political actors think it is possible to simply and abruptly ban open grazing.


One of the greatest difficulties in addressing and resolving issues surrounding pastoralism is the politicisation of legal regimes and the blockages to the enactment of or implementation of laws that can redress the key challenges we have been discussing. In 2016 for example, a bill was proposed - the National Grazing Reserve (Establishment) Bill 2016. The Bill was aimed at actualising the long enunciated but yet to be implemented policy of developing grazing reserves in all States in the Federation. The Bill collapsed due to deep-rooted suspicion and the argument that emerged that it would favour one group and therefore runs contrary to the principle of fairness and equity. Others argued that it would negatively affect the rights of States to dispose of their land as they deem fit.


There is an emerging conflict between the constitutional principle on free movement of persons and goods and laws emerging in some States restricting movement. In Section 41(1) of the Nigerian Constitution, it is stated that: ''Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit therefrom.''


Transhumance operates at the wider level of West and Central Africa within which the pastoralists operate in. At the regional level, Decision A/DEC.5/10/98 Relating to the regulations on Transhumance between ECOWAS Member States that: "All animals of the bovine, caprine, cameline, equine plus asinine species shall be allowed free passage across the borders of all Member States, under the conditions set out in this Decision." So far, four States have enacted laws or are processing bills to prevent open grazing on their territory. They are Ekiti, Taraba, Benue and Edo States. The Benue law for example prohibits open nomadic livestock rearing and grazing in the State and the law provides that no individual or group shall, after the commencement of this law engage in open nomadic livestock herding or grazing In the State outside the permitted ranches.


The immediate impact of these laws is to restrict the movement of herdsmen excessively into limited areas where they are likely to overgraze limited resources. Indeed, following the coming into effect of the Benue Law on 1st November 2017, the Nasarawa State branch of the Miyeti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) has already spoken about a looming crisis in this regard: "MACBAN Chairman in Nasarawa State Mohammad Hussaini expressed over situation of non-availability of grasses, other animal feeds and water to graze with about two million cattle that migrated from Benue into the State, saying that if not urgently addressed it could lead to clashes between herders and farmers" (Daily Trust, 6th November 2017, page 14). The danger we are facing is that as more States block out the herders, they would be forced to concentrate in only States that agree to accommodate them but their concentration in a few States will result in over-grazing and even more destruction of crops multiplying push factors towards increased conflicts and ecological hazards. 


Over the past five years, ranching has become the "way forward" or desired solution to the problems posed by pastoralism. Ranching however is not the magic solution to the problems that have arisen. It is a practice adopted in zones with low population densities, usually semi-arid land where extensive production can be carried out in the context of the availability of vast lands and small population where ranches could have access to hundreds of square kilometres. What most people mean by ranching however, as is clear from the Benue State anti open grazing law, is commercial animal husbandry in which livestock stay on the farm and are fed therein. They mean therefore intensive integrated livestock system as is found in temperate countries in Europe and North America. The problem is that that is a different political economy that requires huge investments and a commercial process of production and sale of livestock feed. We are simply not there as a Nation.


It is worthwhile posing the question whether laws can be effective in prohibiting pastoralism, which is practiced by millions of Nigerians and other herders from neighbouring West and Central African countries? I doubt it? Can these laws stand if challenged in court? I doubt it? The Constitution guarantees free movement of persons and goods across Nigeria and no State government can withdraw constitutionally entrenched rights. Secondly, following legislation by the Ogun State Government a Supreme Court Judgment on matter cited as "A.G. OGUN STATE V. ALHAJA AYINKE ABERUAGBA (1985)" States were barred from interfering with inter-state commerce and the free movement of goods and services. At that time, Ogun State had tried to control and tax goods entering from other States and the Supreme Court ruled that it would be chaotic if States enacted any laws they please restricting movement of goods and services in the Federation. It was this judgment that led to the introduction of value added tax (VAT) as a State tax that is determined at the national level and collected by the Federal Government, which takes an administrative fee and redistributes the proceeds back to the States. The reality we are facing is that the issue of pastoralism has developed into a national crisis that is leading to increased violence so a legal approach alone cannot resolve the issue. It is therefore important to negotiate a national policy framework that would protect the interests of both farmers and herders. The Federal Government should take the initiative of negotiating a consensual policy framework that would address the issues.


Nigeria must quickly develop a new policy framework that is comprehensive and mutually beneficial to pastoralists and farmers. Any policy that does not take into consideration the welfare of both sides will most likely fail. There must be a consultative process that listens to the concerns of all stakeholders in developing the new framework so that the outcome would have national ownership. Over time, we have to phase out pastoralism. Meanwhile, we should map out the duration, strategy and timelines for the transition plan. As there is no miracle model for solving the problems, the plan should simultaneously pursue a number of models including.

Ranching can be pursued as one of the possible models in areas with lower population densities. This would require huge investments in infrastructure and human capacity development. Semi-intensive systems should be pursued accompanied with requisite massive investment in infrastructure, training, extension, marketing and animal health service delivery. The traditional pastoralism should continue with some improvements in the form of coordinated mobility between wet and dry season grazing areas and effective management of farmers and pastoralists' relations.  The use of grazing reserves should be expanded to target pastoralists with large stocks where skills for pasture production; large milk production, etc can be promoted. The development of integrated crop-livestock systems with farmers and pastoralists being encouraged to keep some animals in their farms could also be pursued.



Professor Jibrin Ibrahim
Senior Fellow
Centre for Democracy and Development, Abuja
Follow me on twitter @jibrinibrahim17

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