More universities where?, By Reuben Abati

I came upon a narrative within the Nigerian media which says that the Nationwide Meeting is planning to think about no fewer than 63 payments for the creation of recent universities, polytechnics, faculties of schooling and monotechnics, and I puzzled whether or not insanity has lastly descended on Nigeria’s schooling sector. Nigeria in the mean time has about 49 Federal Universities, 59 state universities, polytechnics – about 40, state-owned universities – 49, and personal universities – 76, federal and state-owned faculties of well being – 70, personal faculties of well being – 17, Schools of Training – 219. So, who desires so as to add 63 extra establishments to this array of moribund, inefficient, poorly ruled and perpetually-on-strike-colleges? Each tertiary establishment is a creation of the legislation, there is no such thing as a doubt about that, however it will quantity to gross stupidity for any group of lawmakers to sit down and deliberate over the potential creation by legislation of extra tertiary faculties in Nigeria at the moment. The sponsors of such payments shouldn’t solely withdraw them, they need to conceal their heads in disgrace, and should not be heard forthwith making any such foolish options.

Many lawmakers need a tertiary establishment in their very own neck of the woods. They need it stated that as a part of democracy dividends, it was throughout their time period in workplace {that a} college was delivered to their village, or group. They’re eternally determined to be seen to be doing one thing that might fetch them one other time period in workplace. It isn’t tough to see why group initiatives so referred to as represent such a giant competitors amongst lawmakers. Some lawmakers collude with the normal rulers of their communities to present chieftaincy titles to their colleagues to help their plans to determine Universities of Medication of their villages. If established. such universities could be no higher than Main Well being Care Centres. Worse, really. Larger establishments of studying shouldn’t be created on the premise of political expediency. No college needs to be established to therapeutic massage the ego of politicians. Tertiary schooling shouldn’t be about amount, however high quality and capability, not political comfort, however political curiosity. We don’t must have a college or a polytechnic in each hamlet of Nigeria – that might be a prescription for chaos and confusion.

At the moment, it will be precisely two weeks because the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari gave or didn’t give, the Minister of Training, Mallam Adamu Adamu, a two-week ultimatum, to discover a resolution, to the strike since February 14, of the Educational Workers Union of Universities (ASUU). Another experiences indicated that the Minister himself was the one who volunteered to finish the strike as a result of he had discovered a particular formulation to the matter. The 2 weeks is up at the moment, so what has occurred? What has occurred is that by yesterday, ASUU informed everybody that the union is extending the strike by college academics for one more interval of 4 weeks. If ASUU was conscious of any progress being made with the negotiations, its communique would have stated so, however there was completely nothing like that. An instructional session is about 9 months. Nigeria’s universities have been shut down for greater than six months. An entire tutorial session has been sacrificed on the altar of nothing. Many college students by now would have forgotten no matter they learnt of their different life as undergraduates. Most of the boys and women would by now have ended up as fathers and moms, victims of undesirable being pregnant or adolescent sexuality, as a consequence of distraction and idleness, fairly a quantity from privileged properties would have moved on to international faculties or personal universities, a bigger majority would merely have dropped out to turn out to be a giant burden unto society. When college academics launched into their strike in February, it was simply them, however they’ve since been joined by different unions throughout the schooling sector. For months, Nigeria’s public schooling sector has been on its knees. On the plain floor of it, this isn’t ok. It’s condemnable, as a result of the disaster is avoidable, and speaks to the failure of management and governance.

The concerned unions – ASUU, SSANU, NASU, ASUP – are asking for higher situations of service and a high quality schooling system in Nigeria. ASUU insists on numerous points: fulfilment of the 2009 ASUU-FG settlement, and the re-negotiated agreements of 2014, 2020, and 2022 according to the sacred precept – pacta sunt servanda – that’s the sanctity of agreements. It might seem that the Federal Authorities of Nigeria doesn’t need to respect any agreements together with the most recent Nimi Briggs committee proposal. The Briggs committee is recommending an over 100 per cent improve in salaries and allowances for college academics. The Minister of Labour and Productiveness, Dr Chris Ngige has been heard saying the federal government can’t pay such cash as a result of there is no such thing as a cash anyplace as Nigeria grapples with a neighborhood and world season of financial misery. Effectively, effectively, effectively, it’s true that Nigeria’s debt service profile exceeds nation income by about 119 per cent. Extra crude Account has been depleted. What do we have now there now? Some little change above $300 million. Our international alternate scenario is so unhealthy, the naira is starting to appear like bathroom paper compared to the greenback! College academics of Nigeria insist that they don’t want the federal government’s cost system that locations them underneath what’s popularly referred to as IPPIS, they need their very own cost system referred to as UTAS. They’re asking for revitalisation funds for universities. They need the variety of universities to be rationalised as a result of they assume there are too many universities within the nation, ensuing within the reducing of requirements. They reject the concept Nigerian college students ought to pay applicable charges. They assume the availability of high quality schooling for the Nigerian baby is a sacred obligation and something on the contrary drawn from Western, neo-liberal economics is wrong-headed, human improvement technique. There are greater than sufficient arduous liners on each side, nonetheless: Between those that assume authorities should have its method, and those that assume authorities is manned by silly individuals who’ve misplaced the capability to assume intelligently. In that center are mother and father whose youngsters have been wrong-footed, a rustic whose schooling system is being destroyed and younger Nigerians whose future has been mortgaged.

It’s maybe essential to outline the context of this reflection. As soon as upon a time on this identical nation, the schooling system flourished. In 1955, the Western Area led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo and strategic thinkers like Chief Adekunle Ajasin and Professor S. O. Awokoya launched Common Free Main Training System within the Western Area. The coverage promoted schooling within the Western area. By 1957, the Japanese Area led by had additionally launched a framework for the same promotion of schooling. In 1959, the leaders of Northern Nigeria had their first main summit on schooling with a transparent intention to advertise schooling within the North. The regional system inspired competitors and every area working by itself comparative benefit. The West succeeded with its plan, producing generations of educated individuals. The East additionally succeeded, however the civil battle truncated the expansion of the East. The East has since recovered pushing forcefully forward on the aggressive airplane, after the civil battle, a mirrored image of the folks’s resilience, with Igbos now having the very best variety of Ph.D holders in Nigeria at the moment. The one area that fell behind is the North the place a lot of Nigeria’s out of faculty youngsters is concentrated and the consequence has been banditry, terrorism, and illiteracy. My level is that there was a time when each area of Nigeria tried to advertise schooling, studying, and tradition, with relative variations. As a main and secondary college pupil on this nation, authorities gave us books. A few of our faculties may simply examine with a number of the greatest faculties in England and Europe. College students got here to review on this nation from different elements of the world. Lots of our academics from main to college stage had been expatriates, they usually had been very completely satisfied residing and dealing in Nigeria, with their households.

I keep in mind this: my secondary college received featured on the then previous WNTV as a result of we had among the finest farms within the Western area cultivated by the varsity underneath the management of Chief Sesan Soluade who later turned Deputy Governor underneath Chief Olabisi Onabanjo as Governor of Ogun State. On the college stage, we had entry to high quality. There was water. There was electrical energy. Hostel workers laid our beds, washed our bedsheets, and each morning cleaned our rooms. The college cafeteria was a spot of pleasure. The meals was good. The menu was heavenly. They fed us to make us research effectively. We drank tea each morning. Each meal got here with tea and dessert. Each Sunday afternoon, we seemed ahead to the particular rooster delicacy that we received served as a particular deal with. Meals was so essential to us, and a supply of celebration that even our cafeteria had a Chairman who was so appointed and acknowledged by college students! Solely the Chairman had the fitting to reach at any time when he wished and he could be allowed to go straight to the pinnacle of the queue. The Chairman was a real Chairman in any case, as a result of he was at all times the primary individual to indicate up on the cafeteria, morning, midday, and within the night. The irony was that he was a science scholar with all their laboratory classes, however he appeared to have taken his status because the cafeteria king as his main mission within the college. Chairman graduated. Mr. Jeun Koku didn’t repeat a category! He graduated on schedule.

Within the extra uptown universities just like the College of Ibadan, we had been informed that the scenario was even higher. These ones wore robes and a number of the boys behaved like they had been future lords. Earlier than we graduated, all the things collapsed. The cafeteria system disappeared. Nigeria underneath Ibrahim Babangida, had taken the IMF capsule. The nation went downhill and has not recovered since then. By the time I received to Ibadan for graduate research, I met a tradition of “bush assault”. There was no water. No regular atmosphere. Girls and boys took to the bush in early morning hours to empty their bowels. All over the place stank. Then, they introduced undergraduate ladies to graduate hostels and hell broke free. Boys began behaving like ladies. I ran for election as Secretary of Awolowo Corridor together with others who thought we would have liked to save lots of our Corridor of Residence, and received, however all of us ended up being very pleasant with the feminine wing! It’s now so unhealthy that the schooling system has utterly failed. Over 13 million Nigerian youngsters, most of them within the North are out of faculty. Northern leaders have been holding conferences since 1959 to advertise schooling and enlightenment within the North. They meet each season, yearly, each electoral cycle. The variety of illiterate youngsters within the North retains increasing. The scenario has been compounded by the menace of Boko Haram, terrorism and the insecurity of lives and property within the North. Spiritual and ethnic dimensions to the disaster make it extra horrible. Not even faculties are protected. They’ve turn out to be targets within the arms of those that consider that western schooling is a sin and that anybody who goes to high school should be kidnapped and eradicated.

Given these circumstances, the proposed recklessness of respiration extra tertiary establishments into existence by laws is annoying. Nigeria doesn’t want extra tertiary establishments. This is among the main arguments of ASUU and different unions. I feel they’re proper. Even with the Nimi-Briggs proposition, nothing will change. Has anybody even seen the Briggs paper? What the college academics need is a high quality schooling system. They don’t want the proliferation of mushroom universities that spring up at each nook with out the wherewithal to maintain them going. The schooling system is so unhealthy that employers of labour in Nigeria don’t even need to make use of graduates of Nigerian tertiary establishments. In the event you should make use of them, you would wish to arrange a coaching college and because of this maybe there was an explosion in coaching budgets in Nigerian corporations. The graduates who come out of Nigerian faculties can’t communicate English. They have no idea the distinction between a proper and an off-the-cuff letter. You shouldn’t be shocked in the event that they present up within the workplace carrying these rags that they name garments. They behave so badly senior managers are those who now need to act in loco parentis. Among the senior managers are themselves merchandise of a nasty period, making a group of Nigerian managers and their workers who’re completely missing in abilities and competence. They pollute the atmosphere. Even when corporations recruit international graduates, those who studied overseas, it’s typically tough to separate the wheat from the chaff. Lots of these fairly wanting women and sensible boys that you simply meet in banking halls who communicate by their noses have really by no means gone anyplace past Lekki or Surulere. They’ve worldwide passports and have had the privilege of getting a visa and doubtless spent two weeks in downtown Europe, and they’d have returned with such unusual accents you’ll assume that their grandmother got here from Europe.

Nigeria should resolve the disaster within the schooling sector, beginning this time from high to backside. Having a key share of Nigerians within the high instructional vary sitting at house, doing nothing, and embracing melancholy, certainly some college lecturers have turn out to be petty merchants, a number of the girls I hear, now put together and promote nkwobi and pepper-soup, is disgraceful to the nation. Ministers of the Federal Republic abusing and threatening college academics, won’t remedy the issue. The Minister of Training has missed the two-week deadline. ASUU and different unions are nonetheless on strike. As issues stand, our universities could stay shut till after the 2023 basic elections.

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