ISIS Not Ispy—The Nigerian Educational System And The Politics Of Entertainment/

 Let’s deal with the common benefits first off, commoda tractemus primum communia, quorum among which by no means the least is that no haut minimum illud erit, ne te pulsare togatus civilian would dare audeat, immo, etsi pulsetur, dissimulet nec to strike you—and what’s more—if he gets audeat excussos praetori ostendere dentes struck, he denies it (16.7–10)< and isn’t willing to show his knocked-out teeth to the judge either.      

                                                                    Satires (Juvenal)

(a) What is the similarity between the Nigerian Educational system and ISIS? In two words it is strike and helplessness. ISIS—The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or what other name it goes by—since it has often changed names, ranging from the “Army of the Levant ”to “mujahidin Sharia Council”  and to Da’esh is constantly on the rise, taking over lands in the Middle East and influencing and supporting affiliate terror groups stretching from Libya to Nigeria. Their acts of terror are such that shocks the moral sensibility of any rational person or group of people. There attacks also touch political groups and States. For instance in August 2014, ISIS attacked Kurdistan and provoked the Kurdish forces, it beheaded the American journalist James Foley and the British aid worker David Haines thereby affecting the US and the UK. It enraged Japan by demanding hundreds of millions of dollars for a hostage who was already dead. It also attacked Syria and Tikrit. This means that their extensive reach calls for a concerted international effort for its confrontation.

(b) “The Mystery of ISIS,” an article that appeared in the New York Review of Books of August, 13, 2015 (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2015/aug/13/mystery-isis.) whose author prefers to remain Anonymous, in my view offers a solution to this policy challenge. The solution is non-conventional and radical. The main strength of its argument is a call for the reevaluation of what we know and the facts we have about ISIS. He opines that “nothing since the triumph of Vandals in Roman North Africa has seemed so sudden, incomprehensible and difficult to reverse as the rise of ISIS.” In other words, a phenomenon of such magnitude requires deep analysis and explanation. He thinks that politicians, journalist and even intelligence officers has yet produced an explanation rich enough—even in hind sight – to have predicted the movement’s rise. The biggest problem he says is that we hide our shallow knowledge of the rise and ways of ISIS with theories and concepts that do not bear deep examination. And also we will not remedy this through the accumulation of more facts. Part of the problem the writer argues is that most commentators still prefer to focus on financial, political and physical explanations, such as anti-Sunni discrimination, corruption, lack of government services in captured territories and ISIS use of violence. This concentration negates the very ideological underlining of ISIS which often appeals to young people and opponents. In ISIS, there is recourse to symbolism. However he quickly added that the ideology of ISIS is also an insufficient explanation for its rise more than AL-Qaeda and the Taliban, not talk of its ability to receive aids from Iran, the Taliban and the Baathists; groups that have no logical ideological connections However the core weakness of the article is its tendency towards skepticism. As the writer says “our analytical spade hits bedrock very fast” and in conclusion holds that “we should admit that we are not only horrified but baffled.” Skepticism is altogether nihilistic in response to our substantive question- namely, how can ISIS be defeated. In so doing, it leaves us empty handed. However there is a US—led coalition to recapture Mosul.

(c) It is no longer news that the Academic Staff Union of Nigeria has embarked on a warning strike. This seems to be a recurrent decimal. Clearing the Augean table and bringing sanity into the Nigerian academic system is to treat the University problem like ISIS. In other words any government intending to end the recurrent strike and bring lasting sanity to the system must view education as a hydra headed endangered project. This practically involves shunning the “politics of entertainment” when it comes to education. This as I see it pervades Africa; where the personal is increasingly aestheticized thereby leading politics to assume a structure of dramatic performance other than instrumental struggles. This need calls for a familiarization of key concepts and theories associated with policy making. In other words, if one is to think seriously about educational policy making and effective executions, some sort of map, theories, concepts, models or paradigms are necessary. Without such intellectual constructs, the result as William James says is only “blooming buzzing confusion,” where our educational system is now drifting in limbo. There is need for a global perspective that is not limited to discussions and seminars but can also be achieved by mingling with people from different backgrounds. It is a pity that students cannot graduate on time and compete with their fellows abroad. All hands must be on deck to sanitize and functionalize our system.