When between 1995 and 1998, Alhaji Dikko Suleiman delivered three papers on “Salvaging an Economically Depressed Primary Education Through Guidance Services”, Moral Education for Good Governance”, and Strategies for Accomplishing the Objectives of Primary Education in a Crisis Environment” at workshops and seminars, little did he know that one day, he would be called upon to put these ideas to practice first in his state and later, on the national level. Today, Nigeria leads the pack of countries harbouring the highest number of out of school children with over 10.5 million of them roaming the streets. Precisely on November 25, 2013, Suleiman resumed as Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC).
Born in 1957, in Danmusa Local Government Area of Katsina State, Suleima attended Katsina Teachers’ College and later Federal Advanced Teachers’ College, Kontagora, Niger State. Although he had become the headmaster of a primary school immediately after obtaining his teachers grade school certificate, the quest for improvement that made him proceed for his advance teachers’ certificate course continued to drive him. He went on to obtain his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the universities of Sokoto and Jos respectively.
As the saying goes, it is impossible to build something upon nothing and recent attempts to improve upon the much acclaimed defects in the tertiary education system of Nigeria is like attempting to erect castles in the air. With some government officials and university lecturers insisting that many current university students are unable to speak or write proper language structure and generally “unemployable”, it became apparent that the country must return to restructure the system right from foundation. Even in the 21st century, some primary school children in Abuja, Lagos and other cosmopolitan states still attend classes under trees or sitting on bare floors. Many primary school classrooms are so dilapidated that roofs have been blown up or walls collapsed. In this atmosphere, teaching and learning are certainly not conducive and children may not be encouraged to continue in such so-called schools. Moreover, there is need for an improved curriculum.
At a moment like this, the country needed a committed, dedicated and prepared individual to lead the crusade of radical transformation or even outright revolution in the primary school management system. Part of the efforts to reduce the number of street children is the introduction of Nomadic Education and Almajiri School System and Suleiman as part of his preparation for the job even when he was unaware that an opportunity would someday emerge, he wrote papers on “Strategies for Accomplishing the Objectives of Primary Education in a Crisis Environment” and “Salvaging an Economically Depressed Primary Education Through Guidance Services”, among other very contemporaneous relevant papers.
To signpost his grasp of the seriousness of the work at hand, Suleiman, while addressing staff of the Commission upon resumption in office said “I am most humbly delighted to accept my appointment as the Executive Secretary of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) by President Goodluck Jonathan.” He noted that UBEC was facing a great challenge on inadequate number of qualified teachers and how to solve the situation where more than nine million school age children were out of school. The UBEC boss therefore, urged members of the commission to continue accelerated intervention programmes to ensure the nation achieved the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in basic education. “In the spirit of Mr President’s Transformation Agenda, we will continue from where our predecessors stopped. I am conscious that the position which I have been called to fill is Herculean task.”
While pledging to perform his duty in line with the guiding principles, and also work diligently with a high degree of transparency, to implement UBEC’s mandate,” Suleiman said “I know most of the problems of the organisation is the denial of the rights of members of staff. During my tenure, welfare of members of staff will be given priority. Don’t be individualistic, let all of us work collectively and bring our ideas to move the commission ahead,” he appealed. In addition to all the societal issues hampering the development of education in the country, the propensity of public officers to steal from the treasury as well as lack of motivation constitutes serious threat and it is comforting that the new helmsman knew this from the beginning.
Suleiman who left as Chairman of Katsina State UBEB is currently pursuing his doctor of philosophy degree and is an internationally renowned scholar with dozens of papers written for academic journals, seminars, conferences and textbooks to his credit. These are aside the several books that he personally authored. He has also been Provost, College of Education, Dutsinma; Dean, Student Affairs, Federal College of Education, Katsina and head of department at various times in various institutions. He was selected as Best State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) Chairman in the delivery of Basic Education in Northern Nigeria, by Pedagogical University, Kier Ukraine and is also a recipient of the Doctor of Philosophy award (PhD) by Dragomonov, Pedagogical University, Kier Ukraine. He is married and is member of many professional and social associations.