The Commissioner of Education in Kaduna State, Andrew Nok, is dead.
Mr. Nok, a foremost professor of Biochemistry died in the early hours of Tuesday.
He was supervising the controversial educational reform in Kaduna that is expected to lead to the sack of 21,000 ‘incompetent’ teachers and the recruitment of 25,000 qualified ones.
Details of his death was still sketchy as at the time of this report but a source at the Kaduna Government House said the commissioner died after a brief illness.
An official of the state said he fell ill a few weeks ago, hospitalised and discharged last week after he recovered.
He was to resume work on Tuesday, before suddenly relapsing.
Mr. Nok has won many national and international awards in his field.
In 2010, he won Nigeria’s highest academic honour, the Nigerian National Order of Merit, in the science category.
His work on the discovery of the gene responsible for sleeping sickness won the NLNG Science Prize in 2009.
He was the 2013 winner of the Alexander von Humboldt prize for science.
The 1983 Biochemistry graduate of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, was born at Nok Village in Jaba Local Government Area of Kaduna State on January 11, 1962.
He taught at his alma mater until his appointment as commissioner in July, 2015.
ROLE IN TEACHERS TEST
As commissioner of education, Mr. Nok supervised the conduct of the competency test conducted across the state last month.
He later expressed disgust at the performance of the teachers in the competency test.
“You will be surprised to know that someone teaching science, for example, could not define science,” he was reported saying early this month.
“Such a person has no business teaching in our schools. What we want to do is to know who is teaching what in our schools and whether the person is competent enough to teach,” he said.
While defending the exercise, Mr. Nok said it “was not designed to witch-hunt anyone.
“Those that do not fit in the profession will be transferred to areas they could make impact and those that are beyond redemption, I am sorry, they will have to go.”
The teachers’ sack has generated heated debate among Nigerians.
The Nigerian Labour Congress last week announced its decision to lock down Kaduna in protest of the teachers’ sack.
That was after President Muhammadu Buhari publicly declared his support for the Kaduna government’s decision.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This post has been updated with additional details and background information.