One is almost tempted to suggest to school heads to take secondary school students on a “formal” excursion to the various sites of construction across Ogun State for practical learning. These rising columns, which later shoulder some concrete slabs, altering the landscape of an area permanently within a short space of time, how do they come to be? How in operational terms do the heavy machines such as skid steers, mixer trucks, tracked asphalt pavers, waste handlers, drill rigs, blasthole drills, motor graders, asphalt mixing plants, road roller machines, crawler excavators, forklift trucks, wheel loaders and truck cranes contribute to the making of these picturesque structures that confirm a community or people on the path of modernisation and development?
Enough of being welders, carpenters, plumbers, bricklayers, auto mechanics or budding engineers on the pages of textbooks, I once took a group of students on an excursion to the workshops of these technicians, some firms and construction sites for practical experience. You don’t have to pluck tubers of yam on tree tops or dig colanut from the ground! “Go-to-hell” does not imply going to hell after death but a farm tool to harvest cocoa, colanut, etc!
One often rails against a Nigerian system whereby pupils learn Agriculture Science only on the pages of textbooks. From JSS1 to SSS3, they see cocoa plants, colanut trees, cotton, rice, millet and cassava plants only in their textbooks. No, they ought to be taken round farmlands to see these crops. They should see how they are grown, harvested and processed into semi-finished or finished products. They should have beds in their various schools where they plant vegetables, beans, maize, etc. They should learn to “soil their fingers productively”. Such excursions, in relation to Agriculture, could take them to Model Farm Estates built by the current government so they can appreciate the possibility of being gainfully self-employed as graduates of Agriculture.
The Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, is only short of compelling the members of the State Executive Council to go into farming. Just as he has made processing of land so easy for genuine investors interested in agriculture, the process has equally been streamlined for any government employees interested in farming. Public servants and the generality of residents are being encouraged to go into farming. In addition to any government job, the Nigerian constitution makes one exception – it permits one to go into farming.
As the state government is investing massively in agriculture, complemented by rural roads to ensure mobility of men and farm produce, it is hoped that school heads across the state will increase the tempo of the implementation of the agriculture policy of government.
What we have currently in Ogun is an integrated approach to development. Apart from the state government assisting the local councils to meet their monthly recurrent expenditure and providing some access roads, the government has also partnered multilateral institutions to open up rural areas through a network of road construction that meets international specifications. With the encouragement given to the hundreds of multi-billion naira industries flocking to Ogun to engage in backward integration, the international standard roads being constructed across the cities by the current government are planned to link the agrarian communities and commercial farms.
The thousands of youths being employed by the multi-billion naira establishments and construction firms across the length and breadth of the state will purchase food and other items from the markets, who will in turn buy from farmers, thereby further stimulating economic activities.
The decision of the Amosun administration to establish the very first University of Science and Technology is, of course, in sync with the development template of the state. Ogun has in recent years become the hub of industrialisation in Nigeria. The British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Laure Beaufils, said recently in Abeokuta when she led a delegation from the Department for International Development to the Governor’s Office that Ogun State alone cornered 75 per cent of the Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) into Nigeria. Beaufils merely lent an international voice to the report of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN). More and more top-level science and technology-based manpower (graduates) will, therefore, be needed by these industries, whose number grows on a daily basis.
Things can only get better in Ogun State. We congratulate the people’s governor for these giant strides. Indeed, we cannot but agree with the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) for honouring Senator Ibikunle Amosun as the “NUJ Governor Of The Year for his Responsiveness in Human Capacity Building, Infrastructure and Good Governance.” The future belongs to only those who prepare for it today.
Soyombo, public affairs commentator, sent this piece via email@example.com