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Published On: Tue, Aug 12th, 2014

TAN: Ambassadors without diplomacy

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By Ibrahim A. Dahiru

Actually when some people coined a term (Jonathanism) for people around or handling Jonathan’s image, little did I know that it has many things to do with mediocrity. There is, of recent, media campaign by a group called Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria, TAN. By merely looking at the nature of adverts they place in media to sell President Jonathan’s Transformational Agenda, one would only see the hand of Jacob where Esau’s voice was.

TAN is probably a group specifically created to improve or rather prop up a gleam image of President Jonathan in the mind of Nigerians especially northerners ahead of the 2015 election. But they are in this instance, doing more damage to the President’s already tainted image than improving it. Some months ago while I was watching one of the matches in the just-concluded 2015 World Cup, an interesting advert about one of the achievements of President Jonathan was shown.

I need not go into much detail about it because I know many of my readers too have watched the clip. In it, a character of a Hausa/Fulani cattle trader who brought his big cows for sell at a market was shown, while a customer from the South, supposedly an Igbo man comes to buy and neither the Igbo man nor the cattle trader understand each other’s language; neither does the Hausa man speak English. For this reason therefore, they brought an interpreter to the scene to help for a smooth transaction. The interpreter in the end, cheated the Hausa man 10,000 Naira per cow, because after a brief bargain, the Igbo man agrees to buy each cow at 100,000 whereas the interpreter told the Hausa man (seller) that it was 90,000 that the Igbo man agreed to pay for each, which the Hausa man conceded.

However, it was at that point that the son of the Hausa man emerged out of the blue and saved his father by telling him what the buyer had actually agreed to pay for each cow. The boy, over whelmed by what he did, thanked Allah and Mr President for giving him the opportunity to attend the Almajiri School which enabled him to learn English and save his father in the process. What message then were these people trying to disseminate?

It is understood from the clip that what the boy was able to learn at the Almajiri School he attended and TAN labeled as education, was only English language. This goes a long way to confirm the disgusting belief among Southern Nigerians that one’s fluency in grammar always determines one’s educational attainment. Averagely,

Northerners were disappointed by this clip if that is only what pupils will learn at Almajiri Schools because our expectation was that they will be trained not only in language, but more importantly in entrepreneurship so that they can be self-reliant and useful to the society. But if the pupils will go to Almajiri School just to understand English as a language, then I wonder if they cannot do that on the streets, for there are already many Almajirai who can speak and even interact in English very well. If however, it is only by speaking correct British English one is considered educated, then, most of Nigerian Oga(s) at the top and their wives need to go back to grammar colleges because they are illiterates. Thank God, one friend of mine is planning to establish a grammar college and I pleaded with him to name it as Na only u waka come grammar college, with easy access online through , so that those ogas can attend and correct their grammar.

An average Northerner for whom the advert was meant, has reservations about this Almajiri school programme, as several questions were asked, observations made and fears expressed with skepticism shown about the programme. Some of the questions raised about the programme were how can a government under which watch education deteriorated to the present state create a new programme? It is also the same government that supervises a collapsing university system in which almost 12 students sleep in a single room meant for only four students and about 300 students using one toilet. If the new schools are going to be fashioned along what government schools are today, then who would maintain them afterwards since the government cannot maintain the ones under its custody?

What mechanism has the government established to ensure system sustainability of the programme because successive governments have been initiating programmes and abandoning them after they have served the leaders that created them? How different would then Almajiri school be?

Secondly, it was understood from the said clip that none of the characters was Hausa because they all spoke and acted such a terrible Hausa language and mannerisms that do not fit the occasion. Does this not amount to character assassination and impersonation? The interpreter was also presented to be from the southern part of Nigeria; so what message were they trying to portray; that Southerners are dupes or what?

In a nutshell, Northerners were depicted in the clip as illiterate lots whom Jonathan came to recue out of ignorance. Thus, unless they don’t mean well, these ambassadors need to learn more about diplomacy because that is the working tool of any good ambassador, even when such an ambassador represents doom.

Dahiru, a student of Mass Communication can be reached at

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