In December 2011, the Kaduna State Commissioner for Information and Home Affairs, Saidu Adamu, allegedly disclosed to the National Daily in Kaduna that more than 18,000 teachers in the State who possessed fake certificates had been sacked.
Although the figure was quite alarming, the report was never controverted. In October this year however, another Commissioner in the State, this time, the one in charge of Education, Alhaji Muhammad Usman in a review of the government's activities in the education sector explained that many teachers in primary schools in the state did not have the minimum teacher's qualification.
According to the Commissioner, 1,800 such teachers had been flushed out. At the second National Joint Graduation ceremony of the National Teachers' Institute in Kaduna earlier this month, a section of the media quoted the State Governor, Patrick Yakowa to have disclosed that a recent verification exercise by the state government revealed no fewer than 2,000 teachers with fake certificates employed in public schools in the State.
Another report on Yakowa's speech which had a different figure, quoted the Governor as follows: "We have assessed and verified the quality of all teachers in both primary and secondary schools which shows us that nearly 50 per cent of teachers in our primary schools lack the required qualifications to teach. The verification also revealed that about 4,000 teachers had been employed with fake certificates. The affected teachers have since been sacked".
The worrisome aspect of the reports is not just that the figures themselves appear to be fake because the inaccuracy of statistics is a common problem in Nigeria; the real pain is the failure of public officers to fully appreciate the implications of their statements.
If Governor Yakowa and his officials are fulfilled that they have successfully discovered and dismissed fake teachers, they are yet to establish that other employees of the state are better than the so called fake teachers. To start with, there is no proof that the sacked teachers are actually the only fake ones in the state or that there are no innocent victims of the said verification exercise.
Oh yes, blackmail thrives in hot cities like Kaduna. In 2009 for instance, Kaduna legislators suddenly declared their Speaker, Ahmed Hassan Jumare, an illiterate because they wanted him out of office. Events later showed that they were aware of his qualification from the State Polytechnic located in the same city as the House of Assembly.
The fake teacher story is not too different because when asked to comment on the allegation that some of the teachers were wrongly sacked, Education Commissioner, Usman admitted that a sub committee appointed by government to review the cases "discovered that about 139 of them were wrongly sacked and government had since given directives for such teachers to be reinstated".
With this in mind as well as the absence of any statement by the state government as to how a large number of fake teachers got into its employment, we are free to assume that the teachers were recruited by another set of fake officials of the same political philosophy.
Since the return of democracy in 1999, Kaduna State has been governed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and succession has been quite smooth. Thus, between 1999 and 2007, some of the fake teachers must have been recruited by the government of Ahmed Markarfi now a distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic. Between 2007 and 2010, another group of fake teachers was probably recruited by the government of Arc Namadi Sambo, our current Vice President.
If there are fresh recruits among the fake teachers they must have been brought in by the present government of Patrick Yakowa. As a matter of fact, the latter cannot run away from the blame of even the past because he has always been up there.
He served as the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) from 2003-5, after which he was Deputy Governor to both Markarfi and Sambo until he became Governor in 2010. Accordingly, the revelation of the prevalence of fake teachers in his state should call for introspection.
It is indeed instructive that Governor Yakowa's statement on the fake teacher story was made at the second National Joint Graduation ceremony of the National Teachers' Institute based in Kaduna. Speaking at the occasion, the Director-General of the Institute, Dr Aminu Sharehu, said that over 40,000 primary school teachers from 20 states were trained in Continuing Professional Development Programmes (CPD) within the last three years.
Dr. Sharehu further said that 825,000 teachers were also trained under the MDGs capacity building programme. The Minister of State for Education, Mr. Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, also confirmed with satisfaction that the Institute had graduated over 58,000 qualified teachers between 2005 and 2011.
What this suggests is that by virtue of proximity, Kaduna State is best positioned to have quality teachers. Why then is there room for thousands of fake teachers in such a state or are the fake teachers presented for appointment by legislators under threats of impeachment, oversight indictments etc?
Whatever it is, the Kaduna State Government needs to go beyond publicizing its list of fake teachers. It should instead, block the institutional openings which make the malaise rampant. Thereafter, it should focus on manpower development premised on training and retraining as well as tangible motivation packets for teachers which are obviously more enduring dividends of democracy.
In Ekiti State for instance, the government observed that things had gone awry when a school in Ado-Ekiti that used to score 90% in the West African School Certificate Examination scored 09% percent in 2012.
Governor Fayemi himself an educationist, decided to tackle the issue frontally by putting its teachers in their best shape through training programmes as well as what he called 'Teachers' Development Needs Assessment Test'- a scheme aimed at having quality teachers in schools all the time.
On its part, Lagos State has an Annual Education Merit Award to honour teachers who have distinguished themselves in their jobs. Kaduna should emulate this and stop employing fake teachers that it later expends energy to 'discover' and sack.