Atiku counters Buhari on economy, says poverty still high in Nigeria

…Urges functional education

Despite claim by the President Muhammadu Buhari led government that the country’s economy is improving, the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has said Nigeria’s educational system and policy requires an urgent review for the nation to pull through the stranglehold of abject poverty which is holding down a larger chunk of its over 170 million people.

Atiku, a Chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC) made his position known in Abuja when he received on a courtesy visit a delegation from NURU International, a U.S.-based social venture that equips the poor, living in remote, rural areas to end extreme poverty in their communities.

The organization is currently engaged in interventionist programmes in the war ravaged communities in Adamawa State.

According to a statement Wednesday by his media office, Atiku told the delegation that a retooled education system that would emphasise functional and problem-solving strategy remains the way to go if the war against poverty is to be won.

The former Vice President said that with functional education, the high incidence of school drop outs will be reduced while products of secondary education on graduation would have acquired skills that would serve as their source of income for life.

The Waziri Adamawa recalled that Nigeria and Nigerians benefited from such an educational system in the past but that things changed after the civil war when the country adopted an education system that mainly took interest in producing candidates for the universities and not for other levels of higher education.

He explained that in the past, incidence of school dropouts was so low because there were government colleges, secondary schools, technical schools and craft centres which provided spaces for primary school leavers to continue their educational pursuits based on their respective intellectual/mental ability and capabilities.

“I remember that in the 1960s in Northern Nigeria all students sit for one examination and their performance determines where they will be placed for further education. Everyone is accommodated within the four levels of higher education that was available then and this reduced the incidence of school dropout to its barest minimum,” he said.

The founder of American University of Nigeria and AUN Academy in Adamawa State said that it is not every secondary school student that is “a university material” adding that there is need to ensure secondary school leavers are armed with skills through which they could earn a living and raise families.

According to him, if the school leavers do not acquire knowledge and skill to engage their energies on graduation, they become willing and available tools for anti-social activities which could manifest in youth restiveness as being witnessed in the country.

Apart from investing in education, the former Vice President said that the micro-finance scheme promoted by him, has empowered 45,000 families in Adamawa state by providing them with micro-finance facilities with which they started small business.

He said that the initiative, which targeted women as beneficiaries of the loan scheme, has lifted many families out of poverty.

Atiku said that the beauty of the micro-finance arrangement which operates in all Local Government Areas in Adamawa, except two, is that it has recorded 98 per cent recovery rate just as the women have become the “bread winners” of their respective families.

Speaking earlier, leader of the delegation and founder/CEO of NURU International, Mr. Jake Harriman said that his organization, which currently operates in Michika and Madagali areas of Adamawa state aims at reducing “abject poverty” in those communities within the seven years the organisation, will operate.

He said that the essence of the visit was to solicit the support of the former Vice President so that NURU will succeed in its poverty intervention programmme in the state.

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