It’s Time to Reboot All Tertiary Institutions

Eddie Mbadiwe

The recent ‘expose’ by Mr. Umar Audu an investigative Journalist that he was able to procure a degree from a university in Benin Republic sends one’s head into a tail spin. With that, he was also able to get clearance for National Youth Service.

This is extremely disturbing and unacceptable to any serious person connected with the future of education and by extension the country.

Mr. Audu did not attend any lectures even for a day and all he had to do was pay about N600,000. As is usual with public institutions in Nigeria, the National University Commission (NUC) offered it’s traditional ‘Knee-jerk-response’ that it had set up an enquiry into all private universities. This is begging the reality. What we need is a public enquiry into education decay so that all the issues can be laid on the table for everyone to see. They claim to investigate private universities. What of government owned universities?

A degree from Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, Stanford, opens doors for their graduates in any part of the world.

The University of South Africa, Cairo and Ibadan were inching gradually to that golden bar. In the case of University of Ibadan unfortunately, the Civil War intervened truncating the progress already acknowledged. As Afro-beat Legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti put it in music; “War came and everybody scatter”.

The advantages of wearing that Ivy League badge are legion but let me just give one example. In the United Kingdom, doctors who graduated from lesser-known universities are required to pass a PLAB exam before being admitted into the Post graduate Residency programme.

If the Bola Tinubu government wants to make an indelible impact, then education demands more than tokenism as is the case now. You cannot negotiate academic integrity. Some of us resigned as university lecturers rather than have our names sullied on worthless certificates

Mr. President sir, history beckons on you to choose what your legacy would be.

There is this so called ‘Nigerian Syndrome’ of one step forward and three steps backward. The inevitable outcome is predictable and will only lead to stagnation and eventual death.

Let us not forget that in their history; the Republic of China was once classified as undeveloped. By sheer courage and grit, China closed their borders and forced their population to look inwards and manufacture. The mantra was “produce, produce and produce.” People who embezzled the kind of humongous amounts as some Nigerians have salted away in foreign countries should not be given prison sentences but should be executed so that their entire generation including those not yet born will not benefit from this loot. With a visionary leader, citizens fall in line willingly. There must be zero tolerance for any type of malfeasance.

When Dr. Kwame ‘Osagyefo’ Nkrumah was overthrown, it was found out he did not own any house in Ghana. His family had to move to Egypt where his wife hailed from. It was when President Achempong came to power that he provided a house for Dr. Nkrumah’s family to return to Ghana. When Nkrumah was president, every item in his official resident was engraved with the Black Star; the symbol of Ghana.  Osagyefo is undoubtedly one of the last century’s Heroes. Your achievements leave a trail after one has passed.

The press also has an important role to play in this renaissance. There was a time when people looked forward to reading the Nigerian dailies. There was Peter Enahoro (Peter Pan) Sam Amuka (Sad Sam) Bisi Onabanjo (Ayekooto). Now unfortunately Journalism has nose-dived as well. That was a period when men were men and stood up to be counted.

Successful business men like Richard Branson while pulling his Virgin Atlantic Airline from the Nigerian route rated Nigeria as one of the most difficult places to do business in the world. Daily, the President hammers on attracting foreign investment when long established ones like Procter, and Gamble, Smith Kline Beecham and Lever Brothers are relocating to other African countries. Why can’t we have a sincere introspection.

Can’t we recline a bit and ask ‘why, why’ and for how long shall we continue to play the Ostrich? How we long for a return to those days of yore and Xanadu

•Rt. Honourable Eddie Mbadiwe writes from Abuja

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