FEATURE ARTICLE

Wednesday, November 21, 2018
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PERSECUTION OF SCHOLARS IN NIGERIA IVORY TOWERS

n her 2017 book; What it Takes, Lola Akande succinctly narrated the rigors, humiliating, suicide -inducing and near fatal excruciating experiences borne by post graduate candidates in Nigerian universities. In eager pursuit of the coveted Doctor of Philosophy By Okwudili Ben Okanume (Ph.D), majority of lecturers persecute, harangue, harass, heckle, holler, intimidate, frustrate and manipulate post graduate students. These candidates encounter financial, sexual extortion and forced into citadel servitude at the beck, caprices and whims of academic shenanigans. Some supervisors treat their post graduate students as morons, nincompoops, dimwits, rap-scallions and nonentities. This arena of corruptive rigmarole, obnoxious hate and unprovoked public denigration are anathema to constructive learning.

Routine seminar or research defence in Nigeria's ivory towers have become a criminal bull pen where vulgarism compels candidates into pawns in the chess of deceptive duplicity. These students become sitting ducks as preys of impaled impalas to be devoured by packs of hyenas, while their captors vituperate against the progress of their hapless victims. The conduction of credible research and presentation of analysis in the form of thesis or dissertations, ordinarily takes no more than 24 months in civilized nations as the United States of America, Britain, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Canada etc.

In her novel of academic diatribe, Lola Akande declared: "The professors who supervise the doctoral candidates in the universities almost always turn the poor wannabes into quiver servants genuflecting slaves." Uzor Maxim Uzoratu in reviewing the novel, Saturday Vanguard (January 14, 2017, page 42) asserted, "Lola Akande has in What It Takes written a very insightful novel for the modern age as per university studies in Nigeria. It extends the frontiers of the inanities of the ivory tower as exposed earlier in The Naked Gods by Chukwuemeka Ike." Sunday Sun (October 7, 2018) Prof. Joy Nwabueze, first female professor of statistics in Nigeria lamented how she almost failed her degree examination in the University of Nigeria (UNN) because of a randy lecturer, whose sexual harassment she rebuffed. As prelude, Burn Again, a 1993 novel by Osa Amadi, set in Obafemi Awolowo University, as reviewed by Vanguard (Monday, April 30, 2018, page 40) foretold the saga of sex-for-marks rampant in tertiary institutions. Vanguard (Thursday, November 15, 2018, page 11) conveyed the arraignment of professor Richard Akindele of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife, by Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) for demanding sex from a student, Monica Osagie in order to upgrade her academic result from failure to pass. Recently, Lagos State University (LASU), and University of Lagos (UNILAG) have been rocked by sex-for-marks scandals.

The Nation (Thursday, September 2018, page 26) article by Adesola Ikulajolu titled: When Silence is not Golden, disclosed that "a lot of students have been emotionally beaten to keep quiet when faced with molestations, harassment or victimisation because of fear of being denied their certificates… final year law student, Kunle Adebajo was suspended by University of Ibadan (UI) over his investigative report published by The Guardian in 2016... Daniel Osula, engineering student writer at Delta State University (DELSU) was expelled for exposing the evil act of his HOD on social media… Ijeoma Caleb was suspended for exposing the student union president's diversion of funds."President Buhari reiterated his determination on the crusade against corruption and called on universities to be at the vanguard of this bout which constitute a major component of our moral decadence. Erosion of academic credibility include the unfathomable, incredulous Nigerian factor where a supposedly three-year doctoral programme, as recommended by the Nigerian University Commission (NUC) is stretched to an eternity with the colossal consequences of shortage of tertiary instructors and manpower. Until National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) came to the rescue, Nigeria was besought by blistering aberration of admissions racketeering. Guardian (Saturday, March 2, 2013, p.12) as written by Joseph Okoghonun revealed how tutorial centres fraudulently abetted malpractice in The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examinations while the government and education ministry feign blindness, deaf and dumb.

The status-quo snowballed into proliferation of criminal activities, the multiplication of desperadoes, economic depravity, serial corruption, perennial national underdevelopment and terrorising insecurity. Nigeria's callous, illiterate leadership ineptitude neglected human development with dramatic rise in poverty, detrimentally remanding wealth in the coffers of politically connected elites and their acolytes. Acemoglu and Robinson (2013, p.76) in their treatise Why Nations Fail: Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty, asserted, "Inclusive economic institutions create inclusive markets, which not only give people freedom to pursue the vocations in life that best suit their talents but also provide a level playing field that gives them the opportunity to do so." This lustre cluster of corruption and scurrilously occultist manipulation in the award of doctorate and other academic diploma deprive the Nigeria nation competent researchers to proffer solutions to Nigeria's litany of chaos. Woes of wobbling edifice inundated by tribalism, corruption, impunity, Niger Delta Avengers, Boko Haram jihadists, Fulani herdsmen, Biafran agitators, arm robbery, kidnapping, cultism, economic retardation, decayed infrastructure and fallow education system.

In G-8 nations with 24-months duration doctorate programmes; human capacity development, productivity, standard of living, Gross National Productivity (GNP), remedies for human malignancies, technological prowess are far more superior to Nigeria's. Similarly, in these industrialized nations of North America and Europe such as United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany; whose buoyant economies and super hi-tech sophistication rely on innovations from academic research and graduates; doctoral programmes take no more than two and half years to complete. Any rational mind ought to ponder on why similar academic pursuit requires upwards of ten years or more to accomplish in a nation like Nigeria. It is utter black-on-black repulsive wickedness, diabolic and demoralizing hindrance.

A plea is hereby made for this demented, unbridled dejection, absolute malice to cease. Objective compunction should compel project supervisors, post graduate thesis/seminar supervisors to conduct research on why Nigerian candidates fail woefully by their assessment, yet same students excel outside Nigeria? It is the prerogative of the media to question the gulf of difference in human/knowledge capacity between stagnant economies and western nations where education is propelled by fiscal requirements as opposed to mono-oil economy and myopic pursuit for purchased certificates. Ironically our socio-educational impediments, with the connivance of professors, most of who were trained in overseas universities therefore spared frustration and humiliation, they impose on fellow Nigerians. These contriving university Dons often disseminate acerbated banters of national development phrases, religious, tribal and oracular clique, purely for the sake of boardwalk and scrapple gimmick. The nomenclature of national development by government policy makers and academicians, without human-capital growth is nothing but a fluke and illusion.

Millions of graduates are shunned out annually with depleted employment opportunities, Nigeria, the 13th. World largest producer of crude oil, earning an estimated $2.2 million daily from oil revenue, is a country of absurd realities. In 2016, The UNDP ranked Nigeria 80th (37.3%) human poverty index from a poverty survey of 108 developing nations which focused on severe deprivation. The Nigerian education dilemma has recently taken another plunge into titanic ocean of the doomed, where partisan politicians instigate strikes through Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). Notwithstanding, the multiplication of private universities with outlandish tuitions, beyond the means of the pauper yet remunerate lecturers with stipends often several months in arrears.

It is obvious that no matter how erudite or the level of academic prowess of many Nigerian post graduates are caught in the web of pursuing doctoral programs in Nigerian universities; no matter how splendidly arrayed their thesis, how gorgeously attired, they are bound to be subsumed in covert academic political gimmickry. No matter their indefatigable self-confidence and vivaciously exquisite oratorical versatility in verbal defence, going by the shrewd antics of examiners and conceited rectitude, no Nigerian candidate could ever earn a nickel, talk-less of a dime. No rational mortal will applaud doctorate awards to quacks and Neanderthals, but the boomeranging rigging of academic achievement must cease. For the government, Ministry of education, politicians, the National University Commission (NUC), professors, lecturers and discerning Nigerians who in spite of glaring corruption and cultism in the nation's education system yet remain mute, Dan Brown, author of The Inferno (2013) has this warning; "The darkest place in hell is reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."

Accordingly, Acemoglu and Robinson (2013, p.78) assert, "The United States could produce… the likes of Bill Gate, Steve Jobs, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and Jeff Bezos, and hundreds of scientists who made fundamental discoveries in information technology, nuclear power, biotech, and other fields upon which these entrepreneurs built their businesses. The supply of talent was there to be harnessed because most teenagers in the United States have access as much schooling as they wish or are capable of attaining."

Nations imbibed with development and progressive mentality would deploy energy in enabling socially remediable-research minded academics capable of reversing Nigeria's educational institutions' quagmire. Cultists and cabals with paraphernalia of talisman pose as board of examiners, impose an uncaring selfish system crushing hopes of several Nigerians. All the while, granting unfettered access to doctorate certificates to highest bidders and sexual auctioneers, thereby perpetuating ignorance in Nigeria. These antics mimic blithe infantile circus of diaper-clad toddlers squabbling over candies. Seminar, dissertations, theses defences have been relegated to public accusations of bribery, fetish incantations, and curses, outburst of rage, expletives, condemnations and violent gesticulations of fists.

Acemoglu and Robinson (2013, p. 78) remarked, "The low education level of poor countries is caused by economic institutions that fail to create incentives for parents to educate their children and political institutions that fail to induce the government to build, finance, and support schools and the wishes of parents and children. The price these nations pay for low education of their population and lack of inclusive markets is high." To this caveat, in the case of Nigeria, add obstinate, obstructive, and lecherous Dons. Those who cross a bridge only to burn the bridge to spite upcoming generations are doomed to the obliteration of their memories.


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