The National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof Emmanuel Osodeke has urged Nigerians to vote for leaders that would priorities education in Nigeria and not those that treat it with disdain.
Prof Osodeke declared that Nigerians must insist that that future leaders in the country must bring back their children to Nigerian tertiary institutions.
He said the 2023 election offers an opportunity for Nigerians to elect leaders that believe in the country and not those that have plundered “our commonwealth.”
Prof Osodoke who stated this at the weekend at the 14th Ralph Opara Memorial Lecture organised by the National Association of Seadogs( Pyrates Confraternity) with the theme: ‘State of Tertiary Education in Nigeria: Identifying Historical Issues and Misconceptions; Contemplating Solutions’ at the Akin Deko Auditorium, University of Benin , listed six challenges facing education.
According to him, these includes poor funding, poor recruitment policies, interference from various groups, proliferation of universities, poor remuneration of lecturers and inferiority complex, and urge to send children to foreign universities.
Osodeke who delved into history pointing out the Structural Adjustment Programme foisted on the country by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund said introduction of political consideration into appointment in the Universities is a major drawback.
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“Members of Councils including the Pro-Chancellors are supposed to be people who can contribute in terms of knowledge and ability to source funds for the University. Appointment into Governing Council is now based on politics and the creation of jobs for jobless politicians. Today, members of the Governing Councils are more interested in honoraria, jobs for relatives and friends, and the award of contracts.
“It is sad and shameful that the appointment of Vice-Chancellors has become political appointments. The process is now influenced by sentiments, politics, religion, ethnicity, and “son-of-the-soil” syndrome, godfatherism, and regionalism. In the 1970s and 1980s, Vice-Chancellors were appointed without political and tribal considerations; hence Professor Kenneth Dike could be the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan. Today, the appointment of Vice-Chancellors is ethnic-based and in most cases with political Godfather who dictates how the university fund should be managed to the detriment of the Nigerian people.”
He however advocated for fresh thinking in terms of funding, governance and non-interference from political groups and vested interest to allow the University function optimally.
In his welcome address, the NAS Capoon, Mr Abiola Owoaje said the Ralph Opara Memorial Lecture had become a rallying point for deep introspection on national and international issues.
He disclosed that the choice of the theme reflects “our deep concern for the decadence that tertiary education has become in Nigeria”.
Many of us were schooled in Nigeria when our tertiary institutions were indeed citadels of learning, intellectual fervour flamed, and ideological orientations were anchored on learning and making Nigeria progressively great. Now the situation is pathetic. Our citadels of learning have become breeding grounds for gangsterism, extremist elements and festering criminality. Worse, successive Nigerian Governments have paid lip service to the development of education.