By Martin Paul
President Muhammadu Buhari, no doubt, is a man of integrity. His advent as Nigeria’s elected president in 2015, speaks volume of his integrity.
This was exacerbated in the careful selection and appointment of his cabinet members even though the exercise lasted a while, he carefully picked those he knew were equal to his aspirations and reasoning to carry out the needed change that the nation desired after sixteen years rule by opposition party.
That era of change has gone and the country, with the continuation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in power, the time to consolidate and move the country to the next level is now and any failure to achieve that would tantamount to returning the country to twenty years aback.
In the past, concerted efforts were made to rejuvenate the education sector to an enviable heights, but factors, sometimes human, but inimical stood against it.
In its averred determination to grow the education sector since the advent of democratic administration in 1999, the Federal Government has had no fewer than six minister of education with difference ideologies, but the sector “defied known solutions”.
A simple count on the tip of the finger shows that Oby Ezekwesili was minister of education, Fabian Osuji was there and Sam Egwu, too. Professor Ruqayyatu Rafa’i also came on board, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau was there, just like the present Minister, Mallam Adamu is saddling the affairs of the sector now.
The fact is that all these leaders of thought propagated different theories to develop the education sector, but neither stayed long to ensure success or otherwise.
Book and policy makers have contended, in different fora, that achieving Nigeria’s developmental goals, lies with the upgrading of the education system as applicable in other countries of the world.
There is no disputing the fat that over a thousand Nigerians, in education of technocrats, are waiting out there to permeate their services that could change the fortune of education in the country from basic to tertiary.
One of such in thousands of Nigerians, is Professor Peter Akinsola Okebukola, an Ilesha-born erudite scholar, a professor of science education, who has become a globe trotter, could be very fit to take Nigeria’s education to the next level of President Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the country.
Born in Ilesha, Osun state on February 11, 1951, the BSc holder in Science Education had been the Dean, Faculty of Science Education, LASU, an acting vice-chancellor, Lagos State University, Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC) and pro-chancellor of different universities in the country.
Peter Okebukola is an international professor, who has traverse the bound of the world, most importantly for the development of not only science, but education in particular, spanning from basic to tertiary.
His name is strongly associated with the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organization (UNESCO), where he has delivered over 50 conference papers on the growth and development of education in the third world and sub-Sahara countries.
Married with four children, Okebukola attended St. Malachy’s College, Sapele, Delta state from 1964 to 1967, Remo Secondary School, Shagamu, Ogun state 1968 to 1969, University of Ibadan, Oyo state, 1970 to 1973 and 1981 to 1984.
He proceeded to Perth, Australia, 1990 to 1991, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA in 1997 and while he returned to Nigeria, he worked with the Lagos State University as Dean, School of Science Education.
Professor Okebukola, though not an indigene of Lagos state, became a vice chancellor of the prestigious institution in Lagos and grew in wealth of intellect and to enviable heights that adorn him with contemporary and modern education in the world.
When he was appointed Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Okebukola took his wealth of experience to the commission, developed a short and long term programme for the Nigeria University System (NUS).
Suffice to say that today, many of the long term programmes are project being executed by the commission after Okebukola had left the system.
It is at this backdrop that President Buhari, should look outside the political box, but on the pedigree of those, who could lead the country to the next level, understanding the fact that if education is fixed, other sub-sector of economy would also be fixed.
It could not be counted how many times Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on strike during his tenure as NUC scribe, but the record shows that there was a palpable peace in the sector.
One of the magic he used was the development of a long term plan for the development of the university system, which was followed until the centre could no longer hold.