A popular aphorism posits that while archetypal politicians think about the next election, statesmen think about the next generation. This principle cuts across all facets of leadership with the few exceptions exemplified in leaders possessed of vision.

Governor Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State is a model in the leadership that thinks beyond election with mental forays into succeeding generations. His leadership style typifies a man with unbridled determination to build a State beyond the now and place it on an enviable pedestal of pride for coming generations.

One of the core sectors of human endeavor which ensures accelerated development is education. Aside from its human development index, capacity building and manpower development, education, it must be stated , can also regulate behavioural dispositions and make the citizenry more amenable and law abiding.

The critical value of education to every society is perhaps why the United Nation through one its organs, the United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, perhaps recommended that at-least 26% of national budget be allocated to education. Flowing from the recommendation, it is expected that all the tiers of government must equally implement the same recommendation.

In Akwa Ibom State, Governor Udom Emmanuel seems to be working in strict compliance with the UNESCO prescriptions. Driven majorly by the quest to build a society where the majority would be meaningfully engaged, he also appears to be conscious of the fact that education being the pride of any progressive society, holds the key that would unlock the future to opportunities, economic prosperity and social well- being of the society. Impressed by the unalterable value of education, the governor has invested heavily in the sector and often describes any expenditure on education as an investment, not an expense.

If we admit that one of the ends of government is to ameliorate the burdens of the people, then the Udom administration has made far reaching impact in taking away the burden of school fees from parents and guardians as such money could be ploughed into other sectors of family needs.

But even as generous and magnanimous as the gesture of free tuition appears, Governor Emmanuel has further expanded his coast of benevolence by doling out annually a humongous sum of about N600 million as WAEC and NECO fees for candidates of these examinations. And so never again would the lack of such fees be an impediment to a prospective candidate of the aforementioned examinations.

Despite paucity of funds, the administration believes that it must not just provide Free and Compulsory Education, the said education must be of standard and quality, not quantity. To achieve quality education for a fact, certain needs must be met. The Udom administration has continued to push for the attainment of quality education through the provision of basic infrastructure in schools and the novel policy of training and re-training of teachers in the State. There are about 1,402 public primary, secondary and technical schools in Akwa Ibom State. The administration has undertaken massive renovation and construction of buildings in many of the schools to meet their infrastructure needs. There are , however, still many yet to be reached or touched but the determination and sincerity of the administration provide unflinching assurance that those yet to be touched should remain hopeful knowing that their turn would come soonest.

It is also an agreed fact that teaching like any other facet of life is dynamic and susceptible to changes and renewal of methods and modalities. There is therefore the need to update on consistent bases the knowledge of those saddled with the responsibility of imparting knowledge to our young ones. The Udom administration has thus designed a periodic training and re- training programme to improve the mental assiduity of the teachers.

Tertiary institutions in the State have also benefitted substantially from the education friendly governor of the State. Ranging from the facilitation of accreditation of courses in some of the schools to the provision of infrastructure to construction of internal roads , Governor Emmanuel’s love and support for education have continued to manifest with evidences of outstanding performances by indigenes of the State within the country and across the globe. Today the name of the State which sits pretty on the global calendar of scholarly excellence has continued to provide inspiration to the young ones within the State and even nationally.

But things have only turned out the way Governor Emmanuel has deemed them. As a leader interested in the future, he wants to cultivate and nurture a pool of globally competitive workforce that would be at the command height of the corporate world. That is the dream. His huge investments in education which seem to be compatible with best practice and UNESCO prescription is an acknowledgement that competitive workforce can be built through strong educational foundation. It also reiterates the preparedness of the Udom administration to prepare the manpower that would take charge of the emerging industrial era that the State is already beginning to witness.

It is unfortunate that while the administration is making concerted efforts and adopting strategic approach that would lead to the improvement of our educational system, naysayers are busy prospecting for isolated cases of schools yet to receive attention out of 1,402 and mischievously exaggerating their state out of context and reality. While the need to bring such situation to public attention is in sync with social responsibility, it must be done with manifest good faith laced with the intention to join cause with government in the pursuit of public good. Let us resist the temptation of being drawn into the unprofessional and despicable act of reeling out falsehood to blight leadership and cast it in bad light for cheap political gains. Let us consciously exorcise the demons of hate which may have made us the vessel of egregious falsehood and turn a new leaf to fulfill God’s agenda in our lives.

Joe Iniodu.

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