The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadiq Baba Abubakar, has stressed the importance of education as the foundation of human capital development and a key factor in any form of societal advancement and innovation.
He made this remark as the special guest of honour at the launch of a youth empowering thriller novel, ‘The Great Citadel’, written by Wing Commander Anslem Osasuyi, which held at the Nigerian Air Force Officers’ Mess, Ikeja recently.
Abubakar, who was represented by Air Officer Commanding Logistics Command, Air Vice Marshall A.A. Olabisi, congratulated the author for his contribution to learning by writing the book.
Abubakar, quoting Jesse Lee Bennett, who said: “Books are the compass, telescope, sexants and charts which other men have prepared to help us navigate the dangerous seas of human life,” said, the book aptly highlights the reality of everyday challenges that fresh undergraduates would face in higher institutions, most especially the universities. “The book emphasises the need for moral values and mentorship as essential requirements for preparing youths for productive lives in our institutions of higher learning.
“The book also highlights the importance of hard work and perseverance in the attainment of academic excellence. Furthermore, the book enumerates the possible pitfalls students could experience during their studies and suggests solutions to such challenges. It also talks about the various social activities on campus, as well as campus politics.”
Abubakar, while recommending the book to young undergraduates and secondary school students preparing for university life, expressed hope that “the book would contribute to revamp the fast eroding core values of hard work, perseverance and quest for excellence among the youths. It would also encourage more literary intellectual pursuits among Nigerians from different walks of life, particularly our wards, officers, and airmen of the Nigerian Air Force.
“It is my hope that this initiative will encourage many other budding authors to pick up the challenge and weather the storm,” he said.
Sharing his experience, the author said it was quite challenging, adding, “I realised that for authors in this country, you will be the one to do the brain work, look for publisher and the finance to publish the book, you don’t have a sponsor. I think the support system is very poor for authors in this country. It is a huge discouragement for potential writers.”
On the declining quality of education today, he said, “honestly we met the system that was on the decline but was still okay. From my interaction with some graduates, the situation of academic standard has not improved. There is no improvement in the quality of graduates. Graduates are not as enlightened as we were during my time. Intellectual work is going down. There is a lot of distractions these days.
“I wouldn’t say university life is tougher now. It is even easier now to source for reading materials from the internet, as opposed to those days where you only go to the library to search for books, but this is not reflecting on the quality of graduates today.” Osasuyi added: “There is this narrow tunnel vision we give our graduates. Many graduates today are unemployable because they were not given entrepreneurial skills in school. We need to refocus in Nigeria today, to train graduates to stand on their feet primarily, and be innovative and add value to society. Working for government establishment should be a secondary focus.”
One of the two reviewers of the book, Olalekan Ajayi said the book sets at University of Benin with historical insinuations, whose main character was ‘Osato’. He said the book narrates the challenges in the Nigerian universities today, adding, “the novel talks about other social issues in the country like corruption, nepotism, religion, among others.
“It is a reflection of the state of the country. In spite of whatever difficulties we face as a nation, with determination and hard work, we can succeed; this is what the book depicts. The message to Nigerians/readers is to always strive for the best.”