By Collins Edomaruse
Nigerian leaders, at all levels, could take the country beyond its present state, if they make the real development as their utmost priority all the time.
The Finland Ambassador to Nigeria, Mrs. Riitta Korpivaara, expressed the view in an interview with METROWATCH in her office in Abuja.
The envoy also told METROWATCH that although the country has what she called enormous potentials, but expressed reservation that the potentials were not being adequately harnessed because of ‘jostle for political power’ by the leaders.
She said this had continued to take their (leaders) energy and time away from real development issues that could benefit the electorate.
She said: “I wish they (leaders) could concentrate more on development and less on political power you will see that this will be a very great country.”
The ambassador, who touched on a number of other issues, including, but not limited to education, trade, security, diplomacy, prided her country’s development to her interest and investments in education.
She said: “You see, Finland has the best education system in the world. We don’t joke with issues in that sector; it engenders rapid development.”
Speaking on Nigeria’s education sector, the envoy said: “Nigeria is on the right track. But more commitments, planning and execution are needed.
“Do you know that beautiful school buildings do not necessarily translate to quality of education?
“If you have the best architecturally designed class room blocks and you don’t have the right teachers, the pupils will come out almost empty.
“All you need to progress educationally, is huge investment in teachers’ training. Once you have high quality teachers, the students will equally come out with high competency.
“It does not matter where they are taught, once the teachers are well trained, the students will be well prepared.”
Speaking further on Nigeria’s education sector, the ambassador said: “We have discovered that a lot of money is spent on uniforms. The truth is that several parents cannot afford those uniforms for their children.
“Don’t emphasise much on that; just provide the classrooms, with well trained teachers, the pupils will come in and get the best teaching, even without the uniforms,” she explained.
For emphasis, she said; “Teacher training is the key, not buildings or uniforms. When the teacher knows the subject, he is like the candle of the country. Finland is number one in the world in the last 40 years,” she added.
The embassy, with dual offices in Abuja and Lagos, coordinates the country’s consular activities in Ghana, Liberia, Senegal and Benin Republics; and promotes trade and commerce between Nigeria and Finland.
With global expertise in energy, power, ICT, etc, one of the country’s leading power companies, Dwartsita Power Company, she said, is already doing business in Nigeria.
On her country’s collaborative steps with Nigeria to improve quality of education, the envoy said her country has established contacts with Rivers, Cross River, Lagos States, among others to take the standards to next level.
She said officials of the various states had travelled to Finland to learn about the education system and incorporate it into their states’ curricula.
She added that the relationship between Nigeria and her country was getting “better and better”, especially in the area of trade, among others. She said a number of exchange visits at the ministerial level had been undertaken between both countries since 2010.