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Monday, August 28, 2017

Opinion : in Whose Interest is JAMB Lowering the Pass Mark for Gaining Admission into Higher Institutions in Nigeria?

As the statutory examining body saddled with conducting examination for prospective students who wish to further their education beyond the high school, the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), had some months back conducted its yearly Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) for the 2017/2018 academic year.

It is a modification of the old method of conducting separate examination for those going into either the university or polytechnics.

Now the logistics are streamlined and the exercise cost efficient.

Taking the process forward, precisely on the 20th of August, 2017, the board equally announced the highly anticipated pass or cut off marks for university, polytechnics and colleges of education and other institutions of higher learning respectively.

Why this is necessary or not has been a subject of heated debate for God knows how long now.

Bearing in mind that once upon a time in this country our institutions of higher learning themselves were the ones conducting exams, fixing of cut off marks and interviews for prospective students.

As such they have the historical experience and academic pedigree for things like these and should not be bothered by all sorts of limiting centralized arrangements like quotas system, cut off marks and catchment arrears.

This year's exercise comes as usual with some measure of liberty for the individual citadel of higher learning vis-a-vis the doctoring of these requirements to suit their peculiar circumstances.

And this would come by the way of post JAMB and interviews to be conducted by the various higher institutions themselves through which the most suitable applicants are selected to fill existing openings in their various departments and faculties.

So it’s after all nothing cut in stone as being peddled.

This year, the board had fixed 120 for the university, 110 for innovative institutions and 100 for polytechnics and colleges of education which has not gone down well with a lot of people who strongly feel it should have been the other way round.

I could recall that last year, the pass marks hover around 200 for university and 180 for polytechnics or thereabout respectively.

So why is the reduction?

According to JAMB, in a recent statement, the decision to review the cut off marks downward was reached at a meeting with stakeholders drawn from across the country and not one unilaterally taken by the board.

Ordinarily you will expect that such clarifications would douse the tension; instead it has kindled the fire the more because obviously relevant stakeholders like ASUU, VC's were not part of this decision making process.

And come to think of it who else should have been the first to be invited to such an august meeting if not the like of ASUU and VC's.

A clear case of proffering solutions to problems bedevilling the institutions they were superintending behind them.

And that is most unfortunate and above all unacceptable.

It would then mean that the so call stakeholders and the meeting being referred to by the board are at best ghostly or comprised of aliens to have taken a decision so strategic to our educational progress in such a sloppy manner.

Expectedly, they have come out to condemn the move in very strong terms.

First of all, while I am not holding brief for the examining body; but all I can say they are trying to do is get a good number of prospective students to the gates of the universities of their dream regardless their scores.

And by so doing pitch them against the so call smart students and see what happens at the end of the day.

You never can tell we might just get couple of upsets on our hands, which would really be good.

After all, examination like we always say is sometimes not a true test of knowledge.

But the way and manner they have gone about it arouses the suspicion of not a few people.

Be that as it may, the cut off marks for this year has continues to generate controversy among stakeholders.

As we speak, it is widely seen by many as being ridiculously low and a slap on the nation's drive for educational excellence which for sometimes now has been on a downward slide.

On the other hand, some do see it as nothing to be hypertensive about.

To this set of people, it is just cut off marks and the first hurdle to be crossed by those who applied to go to the university or other similar institutions.

If they cross this, nothing guarantees that they are going to cross the next, they argued!

Imagining that all this is coming at a time when the country universities are still battling to reclaim their past mercurial positions among the global university elites.

It is also coming at a time when there are deafening outcries that the bulk of graduates being produced by our higher institutions are not employable.

In most cases they still require some in-house training to be effective on the jobs.

The near general consensus finally for sometimes now is that our education system is withering away at an alarming rate.

And going by available evidence much of these problems are as a direct results of repeated policy summersaults by one administration after the other.

Still on the matter at hand, going by universal grading standard in the academic circle, 120 marks out of possible 400 marks is a pass because it represents around thirty percent of the total score.

I hope my maths is correct.

If so, it is definitely not enough to advance the cause of a student studying in the lower level of the educational system not to talk of the university whose responsibility it is to develop manpower for the various sectors of the nation's economy,

I ask again whose interests was this decision meant to serve?

Of course it could not have been for the highly motivated students from across the lenght and breadth of the country.

Many of whom over the years have consistently been scoring well over 200 marks.

Everything being equal, it points only in the direction of some lazy crowd somewhere so desperate to go to the university even if it means dragging everybody down their miserable pedestal.

And come to think of it, they are been helped on politically speaking not minding the consequence it portends for the future of the beneficiaries and the nation in general.

Because it is one thing to graduate; it is, however another, to be able to compete in the professional environment without some affirmative actions being taken that seek to correct the imbalance created by an unwilling people who must be forced to the stream like some hesitant horses to satisfy an academic thirst they do not even have in the first instance.

It's has always been a counterproductive option.

It never worked in all entireties.

At best what you get is the disturbing of the peace of the academic stream thereby making other more able and willing to drink from a muddled up academic water.

It brings to nought the genuine efforts of well meaning personalities across the country who stand for educational meritocracy because it is more rewarding than the cheap populist agenda being shamelessly championed by some faceless minimalists in our midst.

By and large I think it is a bad policy to continue to reduce entry requirements into our institution of higher learning.

I honestly think if the body cannot raise the bar out of fears that the chances of some people or sections of the country will be negatively impacted then it would only be proper to retain the status quo.

And this they have not done thereby making their recent action a questionable one and must be opposed by every legal means possible. God bless Nigeria!


Sunday, August 27, 2017

Opinion: Understanding Why You Should Be Wary of Nigerian Police Personnel Bearing Firearms

It is no gain say that the Nigerian police boast some of the most wonderful, the most courageous, the most professional officers and men that can rival any from around the world.

And no one can deny the reverse too that there are more than enough bad eggs in its basket too.

It's only normal you might say after all out of every twelve there is always a Judas.

In spite of this natural mix, it has always managed to achieve resounding successes at the international stage thereby putting the country on the global focus for the right reasons.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

How to Quit Your Odd Jobs, Chase Your Dream and Become Who You Really Should Be.

Hey, now don't get me wrong!

Menial or odd job, so to say, isn't something that I totally dislike.

But making a career out of it consciously or unconsciously is.

Come to think of it, we all someday hope to put up our dream dwellings and these are the guys who will turn the mortar, move the bricks and assist the masons.

The're quote on quote the five and six spanners of the dirty jobs and hardly get the hail.

I think we should also remind ourselves that there are litany of other odd jobs both around the home and office which we simply cannot execute on our own without the help of these hands down the ladder at a fraction of the rates,

And so getting involve in processes so fundamental to our continuous existence on planet earth, you might argue shouldn't be a bad idea altogether.

I didn't say so, and never will.

In fact in the journey of life, this is one sure stopover for a lot of ordinary folks including myself starting out fresh unsure where to go or for lack of bankable skills or when life roughly happens to us.

But one of the tricky parts is leaving it especially when substantial adjustment has been gained.

Another is because the pay is daily it tends to appeal more to people because you don't seem to lack money.

Which is where lies the deceptive pitfalls many people aren't aware of until it's rather too late.

Once more let me say a big shout out to my guys who are honorably grinding out life in back streets and far flung sites. You killed it!

Let me concretize this further with the story of my early life.

After high school, I'd my time at a gas station belonging to an in-law who unreservedly loved and wanted the best for me.

But I was should I say too young to realize this until the opportunity was gone.

I think I make a mess of that golden platform.

That's my humble confession which I'm not ashamed to publicly bare.

I moved on nevertheless, and guess where I found myself shortly: a brick making job among hobos not so proud to brag about what they do for a living.

I thought I've made the right decision but it turned out to be an illusion.

For several years, I laboured junketing from one state to another wallowing in lamentations, misery, anguish and indecision until the Barbershop come to fruition after many failed take off attempt.

It was my first entrepreneurial experience, and one that comes with a lot of lessons too.

And you know the saddest part?

It failed after six or seven years thereabout!

I didn’t stop there though.

I immediately returned to the university.

And today, I'm doing something that I believe I was made to do naturally having repeatedly ignored the bold signpost in the past.

Though I hold it to be true that there's dignity in labour hard or not; but as regard the theme of this post, 'my take is do your bits and move on.'

But in as much as many would love to the truth however is, they simply can't.
Instead, they overstay their welcome worse still.

And consequentially, they get overran by a rush of untowardly developments.

Until their life is literally wasted on drudge that neither give them fulfilment nor financial freedom they so much crave.

Like the Yoruba will say "when one delays on the wrong stuff, one stands the risk of been crashed into by more of the wrong stuff".

This shouldn’t be.


Of course that's often the mouthed desire of many that I've met all my life.

Except that only a fraction of this number gets close to realizing it.

Agreed, there are pockets of wicked, even overbearing bosses everywhere you turn.

But none can stop you from achieving your incredibly lofty aims and objectives in life no matter how hard they might try without your consent.

And by consenting directly or indirectly I mean taking no action.

And here we're talking precisely of and about menial jobs which in all entireties I can't remember having disengagement package no matter how hard you worked, how long you stayed with the employer.

So why stay on?

The best many of the hard labouring guys that I know of have gotten from their employers were insulting and acrimonious departures.

No befitting farewell; No monetary rewards; no matter how token.

What more can be demoralizing for a labouring man than becoming a prey of a system while he preys on nobody?

What I've discovered most time is people serve more time than required on jobs they seem not to like but endured.

They spend more time blaming others while the basics are left untouched.

And this is the root of their miseries and anguish.

In error, they stayed on because the jobs guaranteed some flexibility and the pay seems good in their estimations.

And every day they talk of the business owners as bereft of human feelings, exploitative and selfish.

As if they're getting nothing in return for their sweat as labourers, they speak in sentimental tone that they are just working for their bosses who are seen as some kind of wretched slave drivers.

But I ask you if you're to swap roles now and you become the boss, won't the same thing be said about you?

Won't you boss people around in some ways too?

Would you close your eyes and allow people to mess up your business?

Would you pretend to be nice when there's no need to be?

In spite of all these, all hope is not lost for whosoever truly desire to move up the ladder of life; whosoever truly have a vision to pursue, run with.

Hitting the ground running?

From the example of my life, even as I concur that no two lives are the same; but our ability to promptly deal with the negative forces pulling our lives in one direction while we desire another is key to succeeding in our choosing career path going forward.

At this point I’d stress that understanding spiritual dynamics to life is key and the individual peculiarity to it as well if things are to be taking care of from the onset.

The key word is being spiritually alert or ready. I cannot emphasize this enough that life is spiritual and it should be so treated.

We’re all products of some spiritual causes and effects as it were.

Battles have been and are continually being waged for and against us.

Let he who has ears let him hear. A word they say is enough for the wise.

Like our people would say ‘no good thing wishes you accomplish it’.

It’s all down to how much you wanted it.

"You might be familiar with the sing song in the Nigeria music environment for instance where the bulk of musicians sing of and about becoming like Dangotes, Otedolas and Adenugas of this world.

Forgetting the Yoruba saying that those who don't know the secret/recipe behind the successes of their contemporaries, stand the risk of dying running a needless rat race."

What is the right time to quit, one may ask?

And I'll say when the ovation is loudest!

And when is the ovation loudest?

In the prime of our youth when our energy level is still at the optimum!

When there is more latitude for experimenting with career options in order to know which get stuck at the end of the day.

And not when we've become both physically and mentally exhausted.

In no particular order, below is the strategic road map code name: 'running with your vision' to achieving your short or long term life goals.

Step 1: discover yourself

Believe me, this is one thing that's fundamental to the success stories of most people that I know of whether it's in business, entertainment and sports.

Self discovery entails knowing your endowments. Because like the bible says to some we give one talent, to others two and so on and so forth.

Doing so will help you to plan your life accordingly.

At least it'll give you a clue about where to concentrate your efforts instead of just throwing things around and hoping they stick.

Step 2: have a goal.

There’s an age long saying that he who doesn’t stand for something will fall for anything.
So nothing defines life more than goals setting.

Some inspirational speakers have even said we should set achievable/realistic goals.

I guess what they are saying in a nutshell is we should set goals that take realistic cognizance of our abilities innate or acquired.

But before any goal can be tagged unachievable it must have been conclusively taken on without success.

We have seen in the past people setting out to achieve hitherto improbable things and others have called them foolhardy and other unprintable names.

But in the long run they have brought them to fruition.

A case in point is the 'Wright brothers and the flying machine.'

That's for that.

For the purpose of this article, I recommend that you set goal in line with your talents and leave defining it to the critics.

Whatever it's called is a function of the shape of their mind.

And it's either they have a small or big mind.

Step 3: kill procrastination.

The perfect metaphor for procrastination is 'thief'.

And like the real time thief anywhere he appears stealing and destruction is the rule.

So, the best a man of dream can do it is to kill it at the slightest appearance.

Step 4: save

To begin any business venture fund is important.

And in this wise, a way must be devised to source for money.

One of the ways to source for fund is saving. Another is borrowing.

I suggest you set aside a fraction of your earnings it doesn’t matter how small.

It would surprise you ‘how trickle of water becomes a mighty ocean’ in no time.

Secondly, fund can be source from friends and family to augment whatever you’re able to save yourself.

It’s safer like that because such monies are usually interest free which helps your business in the long term.

What I‘d advise you avoid, however, is borrowing from financial institutions say the micro-finance banks so you don’t go a-sorrowing in the end like the bible admonishes.

The interest rate is not only killing; by the time you finish paying back I can bet it nothing would be left for your business. It happens to many  start ups that I know at close quarters.

You know why?

Your business is new and it takes time for a new business to actually hit the ground running.

At the most it takes a minimum of six to one year of serious hard work.

And you know micro-finance institutions by their modus operandi won’t give you or your business that precious latitude. Repayment for all I know is immediate.

It’s not uncommon to hear from many that have run afoul of this narratives that monetary facilities from micro-finance banks has some kind of diabolical connections. Get the gist.  

Step 5: see the big picture.

While I know there are many who would prefer otherwise, starting small I need to emphasize is the way to go in business.

The big picture is the final destination regardless what happens on the way up.

It doesn’t matter what people say of your vision.

It doesn’t matter also what they say of you.

Picture the chicks from the hatchery and how they slowly they transform into money spinning cockerels and broilers. In the interval there is investment to be made in terms of time and nurturing.

Finally, in the big pictures there is God.

If you don’t believe in him yet this is the perfect time to start.

Step 6: get some training.

All that we have said so far is nothing without it.

The knowledge of your industry is sine qua non to your success.

But then it’s a question of percentage.

Fine, if you can afford to access hundred percent instructions/certifications as regards your industry.

If not make do with what you have and build slowly up.

It’s not even out of place to learn on the job from your employees. The thing is it takes a lot of humility to do so because it comes with disrespecting undertone.

It’s not also out of place to build on your natural endowments too.

Let assume you’re passionate about dressmaking, barbing, hairdressing and the like; it’s very possible to professionalized it in no time.

I personally don’t believe you can learn everything you need to power a business to success in one fell swoop. Knowledge is not only incremental it’s a lifelong undertaking. So be ready and willing to learn new things.

Be that as it may, I’ll insist you get some know how of your business area so you don’t play into the hands of mischievous journeymen/aides who might exposed you to some degree of uncertainty should they take a walk without prior notices like they often do.

Step 7: show enthusiasm.

This is the high spirited disposition you show towards what you do even when things aren't just okay mid-stream.

It might be that the patronage/pay/income /turnover are meagre at start up.

It might be that the situation is nervy and daunting.

It might even that a client is making an unrealistic demand on you.

And come rain or sunshine you must radiate self motivation/morale that you are there by informed choice and not merely by following the crowd.

It’s made more remarkable with the professional readiness to take on new challenge with renew/unwaning vigour or deal with poorly executed jobs returned.

Step 8: show commitment.

Commitment is the avoidance of distractions that may arise to test/try your resolve to get a task completed according to schedule.

It’s the faithfulness you bring to bear on your career vis a vis your willingness to improve on what you do or aspiring to do.

It’s equally the ability to take criticism from clients/supporters/patrons alike in good faith; work on your deficiencies in other to gain the necessary adjustment.

Step 9: persevere.

It would not always be rosy on your way up.

To everything in life there is season. There is a fortune season and there's a misfortune season.

So ability to weather the storm if things aren’t going according to plan is one attribute of all successful men and women.

And it’s one you must court if your hope/desire of becoming like your super duper business hero or star of the gridiron would be any fruitful.

Step 10: succeeding.

Success is relative because no one has it all.

To some success is the participatory joy.

To some it’s being healthy.

To some it’s having plenty of money, cars, and properties.

To some it’s taking the ultimate prize; overtaking their arch rivals in competitive engagements.

Whatever it is to you, you’re well within the mark.

To me, success is being able to do what you do with relative degree of accuracy, being able to adequately provide for yourself, your family, support your friends and community where and when necessary.

In all of these money and character play a big role. That’s to say financial and moral successes are key to the overall definition of success.

In all you do folks get this at the back of your minds. Be fair to your clients, listen to people who criticise you constructively and appreciate your well wishers above all.

They are the primary reasons you’re doing what you do.

And finding innovative ways to satisfy their many needs is the one sure trigger for your own ultimate success especially in business.

Above all, be resolute to see through your plans even in the face of deluge of diversionary calls that are bound to come your way.

See you at the top!


Monday, August 14, 2017

Opinion: In Defence of Under Attack 9ice's Song the 'Living Thing'.

Okay, I'm sure you've listened to 9ice's 'living thing' from the album ID CABASSA many times over.

You must have dissected the lyrical content too word for word, sentence for sentence and verse for verse with view to appreciating its thematic direction among others.

I've too; and it's not just because I love the singer but because I love music generally.

And from the intro to the very end the song pointedly speaks our individual aspiration primarily as living souls or things to use the exact word of the singer except but to the pretending or hypocritical few who prefer to live in denial of their

Friday, August 11, 2017

Opinion | What Is Johnson Bassey Doing On Top Sports On Top Radio? By Deji Olaluwe

Trust me; nothing that I say here is personal.

Deservedly so, it's of essence my honest and unreserved opinion of him based on my observation as an ardent listener of top sports on top radio, a daily sports show anchored by the ace journalist, Godwin Enakhena.

Until only a few weeks back, God bear me witness, I don't know Johnson Bassey from Adam.

I don't know his parents; his upbringing; his education and the likes.

So it's not like because I don't just like his face or something that's why I'm picking on him.

I’m really picking on him? We shall see.

Except that the name 'Bassey' strikes a familiar cord from way back in Nigeria sports journalism fraternity.

But I could be wrong. After all not every 'Paul is a Bassey'.

As it would turn out listening in on the show a few weeks back I got a hint that the young man is the son of the famous sports journalist and administrator, Paul Bassey.

As the show progresses, no disrespect, I realized that he is a stammerer somehow to my utter dismay.

Not his fault though. It's one of many genetic accidents that could happen to anybody.

And I'm not out here to disparage him base on that; far from it.

You know what; he could've been a prophet just like Moses in the bible.

I know from my book of bible stories that Moses was a stammerer too. And had on that account unsuccessfully tried to dodge the messianic commission placed before him by God knowing how important speech is in directing the affairs of men.

He was prevailed upon by God and would go on to become one of the most powerful vessels for his higher divine assignments.

But definitely not sports commentary.

There and then, the question that readily popped up on my mind was: 'what business has he got being on a medium that relies solely on speech for effect'?

Could he just be hanging out with friends as it is?

Could it be that he's learning the rope?

However I tried to think through the first poser I just couldn't gloss over the 'big Bassey' connection in all of this.

I'm of the view that the show's regular anchor, Godwin Enakhena, got him under his wings as a recompense for what his father has done for him in time past starting out as a young journalist.

Again I might be wrong because his father too is a publisher and well connected.

File photo: Godwin Enakhena,  the legendary anchor of Top Spots on Top Radio.

Getting him a job elsewhere wouldn't pose a problem I theorized.

Because for crying out loud, this guy struggle unending to string words, phrases, sentences and thoughts together day in day out on the show; no disrespect to his humanity.

Come to think of it, we all have our flaws.

I've mine too. But I'd be the last to expose mine in an industry where it is the least requirement.

"Like the blind  who went to the cinema, what a sheer joker he's, because he can only hear the noise from others and won't see anything.

And when the leprosied is home alone, there is the tendency for him to feel nobody is like unto him among his peers."

If you ask me, I think he only makes up the number and haven’t done enough to earn his place on the show and in the gang for obvious reasons.

Above all, he's not cut out for a career in broadcasting on the account of his speech flaw.

Whosoever is keeping the young man on the show is doing him a great disservice thereby making him an object of ridicule in the eyes of the public.

Personally I just can't stand him hemming and hawing trying to pick his words in order makes his points heard.

Many of which he never make as far as I know. And it's a shame.

On the part of Godwin Enakhena maybe it's all down to preferential treatment.

I could recall that in time past, people have called in requesting that they be featured on the show even as interns. And I remembered that Mr Godwin has always turned them down for lack of openings.

While I agree that opportunities around him, though glamorous, are few and far between; I nevertheless believe the available ones should only go to qualified persons strictly on merit.

And not dole out to oil the wheel of friendship and comradeship as it were.

Anything short of this would only portray Godwin Enakhena as bias and nepotistic person which he is not.

In all entireties, I know stammerers do make good musician.

The logic still beats my imagination even as we speak.

The late Fuji music icon, Chief Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, was a classic example.

But I can't remember any stammerer who is a broadcaster.

Para venture you know of any, please don't hesitate to let me know.

I would be more than glad to report it to the world as a reference point for the likes of Johnson.

But for now there’s none and I hope Johnson knows this and stopped embarrassing himself on a national radio trying to be what he cannot be till Kingdom come.