The collapse of our system and the dearth of education can be primarily seen as the reason for the many ills within our society. God bless our forerunners who painstakingly ensured that our fathers schooled, making sure education was so prioritized not just in speech but in concrete policy and implementation framework. All these must be acknowledged considering what they bequeathed to us in form of education vis-à-vis the resources they had at that time and the tactless ill-focusedness and ridiculous loss of priority of our elite and political class of 21st century Nigeria. Coming barely two years after a similar forum took place in Bali, Indonesia, the Abuja meeting, according to Director-General, United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation, (UNESCO), Ms. Irina Bokova, is aimed at giving the E-9 countries the opportunity of assessing the successes recorded and the challenges they currently face. Official records shows that Nigeria remains the only E-9 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) facing serious challenges of turning around the illiteracy rate among its youths and adults by the 2015 timeline set to achieve education for all (EFA) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Nigeria assumed the Presidency of the E-9 group at the three-day summit, taking over from Indonesia. The Nigerian Presidency of the group is expected to last for two years. True to form, here is a nation that enjoys status, chairing this and belonging to that…but without any consequent improvement on the lives of the less privileged in the society. This is not the first time that international community is accessing us low, we continue to score low in virtually all life indices. I feel largely irritated by the amount of wealth in this nation, when I see armies of beggars in the streets especially in Northern Nigeria, where people seem to profess faith by lips only instead of in action. The North can only boast of 3 private owned universities (Nigerian Turkish, ABTI University in Yola and I think one in Kwara state) while the south has more than 50 universities and colleges which are run independent of government. Was it the failure of governance or blindness of leadership that affected the Northern print media also? Or it is the dearth in education that collapsed the industries in Kaduna and Kano? And most likely that will be my strongest argument against a 2011 President from the North- how does the language that a man speaks, or the religion that he professes make him a better candidate for the job of leading over hundred and fifty million Nigerians. In what ways will his tribal extraction put him at a plus of leadership? Knowing that our government has failed and may continue to fail since its ears has been deafened by filthy eulogists, praise singers and political profiteers, it is only commonsensical to invest in that which promises us a future that is decent. Education holds this promise. If the North therefore remains largely uneducated, Nigeria remains largely illiterate and the consequences are clear for all to see. Undue acrimony, tussle of ‘good men against tribesmen’, disgust, ethnic malfeasances, compulsive revulsion and the recycling of the worst leaders continues with ease. To phase out bad leaders, we have to chase ignorance into the woods, liberate our people and conquer the prejudices built to keep us away from fraternizing with each other as a people with common destiny. In case you are not aware, there is a perfect correlation between enlightenment, wealth, health and peace. Those who are easily angered to pick up arms and foment troubles are largely the illiterates; it doesn’t matter if they are in Jos today or ethno-religious sword-brandishers in Borno or garage-commanders who sacked the state house of assembly in Oyo or the hoodlums in the creeks. Illiteracy breeds a convoluted series of unsettling societal ills. Countries in the E-9 group are those with a very high number of illiterates who cannot read, write or communicate in any way. They include Nigeria, Bangladesh, Indonesia, India, Egypt, Brazil China and Pakistan. It will be apt to note from the aforementioned that only Nigeria seems too attached to its colonial past in terms of communication. In case you do not know, China has more English speakers than the combined population of the USA, Canada and UK. What this even goes further to show is that if everyone in china was to be a salesman, for an English product, they could make better sales by the leverage of population. India, Egypt, Brazil and Pakistan are countries with high-shoulders in technology and modern agriculture. Education may not give us everything, but that which it will bestow on us will easily secure other things for us. So it is education or education. Jo Ebele did say “If we plan to get our people out of poverty, to join the global information super highway and hope to be counted among countries with developed systems in science and technology and a force to be reckoned with in the world’s socio economic and political arena, we must empower our people through acquisition of literacy and numeracy.” Words! Mere words and nothing more. Words that will elicit ‘Na today?’ from an Ijaw lad. What do we pride ourselves with as a nation, consuming virtually everything and importing all that exist in the world. Nigerians import chewing gums and toothpick! Do they do? Yes they do and I just don’t know how we are going to mature as a nation while all these are allowed to fester. Without education, we will continue to revolve about a spin; the revolving will be as clumsy as it is slow. We will be disrespected as a people and will be classified as scalawags and noisemaking comics, wallowing in a confusing web of despair, despondency and subjugation worse than slavery.