Paul Obi in Abuja
Former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has urged the federal government to step in and resolve the crisis between the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) and Nigerian law school, following the refusal of the Law School to admit law graduates from NOUN into the school.
According to the former president, who is also an alumnnus of NOUN, the crisis is a serious matter that needs to be tackled with all seriousness.
Obasanjo was speaking when the Vice-Chancellor of NOUN, Prof. Abdalla Uba Adamu, paid him a courtesy call at his home in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
NOUN recently suspended admission into its law degree programme due to a decision by the Council of Legal Education (CLE) to stop law graduates from the university from law school, a prerequisite to becoming a lawyer.
The CLE had argued that given that NOUN was not a conventional university, it would be difficult to admit law graduates taking into cognizance the fact that rigorous academic work required for a law degree.
Though the National Universities Commission (NUC) had previously intervened, the CLE remained adamant as its officials expressed great concern over NOUN law graduates.
NOUN law graduates in Rivers State had also dragged CLE, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation before a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt over the refusal of the CLE to grant them admission, demanding that the defendant, CLE, reverse its decision.
But speaking, the former president who last year graduated with a degree in Theology from NOUN, said: “When they told me about law people, I said who are the early lawyers? They sat at home and read and they ate their dinner… And then they qualified. We know, we were there with most of them in the 1950s.”
He said: “Whereas we have made the university popular, we still have a sort of what I call either ignorance or resistance. I try to explain, and I think we need to do this, people don’t know how the Open University works. And we need to make them know it.
“I think we have to persuade government to give you more. The point is that at this point in time, money is scarce, but Open University is doing much more than any of the world universities is doing. I am not running down the other universities, what I’m saying is that the opportunity that Open University offers is much more than the opportunity that any of the world universities could offer.”
The NOUN Vice Chancellor commended Obasanjo for accepting the honour and informed him of the success story of the university.
Adamu enumerated some of the steps NOUN has taken to include, the renaming of schools into faculties and introducing the election of deans and Heads of Department, as innovative measure.
The Director of the Olusegun Obasanjo Good Governance and Development Research Centre, Prof. Abdullahi Shehu, reminded the former president that the decision to establish the centre and name it after him was communicated to him by the former vice-chancellor when he visited NOUN in Lagos in October 2014.
“The decision was based on the recognition of the role Obasanjo played in creating institutions that deepened democracy and good governance within Nigeria, Africa and the world,” Shehu said.