FEATURE ARTICLE

Temple Chima UbochiFriday, May 15, 2009
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Bonn, Germany

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THE STATE OF THE NATION: ROT IN THE EDUCATION SECTOR (3)

Continued from Part 2

Education is the mother of leadership. (Wendell Willkie)
Education should be gentle and stern, not cold and lax. (Joseph Joubert)
Education with inert ideas is not only useless; it is above all things harmful. (Alfred North Whitehead)
It is impossible to withhold education from the receptive mind, as it is impossible to force it upon the unreasoning. (Agnes Repplier)
Be careful to leave your sons well instructed rather than rich, for the hopes of the instructed are better than the wealth of the ignorant. (Epictetus)


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igerians, are you still with me? The condition of our schools should be drawing a lot of flak from discerning Nigerians. Do we still remember in the 1980s when the value of a Nigerian degree was so high and widely accepted that the Federal Government had to equate all classes of degrees from Indian Universities as being below the Nigerian standard? Then, the Federal Ministry of Education equated an Indian Bachelor’s Degree as a Nigerian HND equivalent; an Indian Master’s Degree as an equivalent of Nigerian Bachelor’s Degree; an Indian PhD as an equivalent of Nigerian Master’s degree. Then were the good old days which we may never see again. Then was when Nigeria missed it all. Had Nigeria sustained the class and level it was in then, it would ´ve been one of the best countries in the world today and a source of pride for all blacks all over the world, it would ´ve been “a mirror in the sun”. Then and only then was Nigeria really the “giant of Africa”, then Nigeria and Nigerians were “worshipped” because our currency was strong and many of the top S&P 100 companies found a home in Nigeria. That was then.

Today, Nigeria will never see India’s “break light” again. India is industrializing at rocket speed; it is such an information Technology (IT) giant, making many developed countries such as United States, Germany etc to be shipping some IT jobs over to India, while competent Indian computer experts are highly sought after all over the world. India has now one of the best health care systems in the world, making rich people from all over the world to be heading to the country to solve their medical problems. India’s education is now highly valued all over the world, making it a destination for people seeking quality education and the country has a highly educated work force. It has also modernised its agricultural sector and is now able to feed itself. India has achieved all these and is on the verge of achieving more as the sky is its limit, because, it has leaders who are committed to making the country a first amongst equals. India has been having the kind of leaders Nigeria has been lacking; that’s why we are where we are today: BACKWARD! India has invested and continues to invest heavily in education while Nigeria has been under-funding it. Nigeria has been lacking intrepid leaders and only God knows when the country will see their emergence.

I´ve a strong nostalgic feelings for those better days I mentioned above and I wish I could turn back time. Those good old days benefitted almost all Nigerians in one way or the other and that was how it is supposed to be. Now the table has turn: A holder of a Nigerian degree acquired of late, is being seen by the international universities as an intellectual midget and is being subjected to humiliating assessment to determine the suitability of the degree before being admitted for postgraduate studies. Why not? Today in Nigeria, a secondary school student cannot match the wit of a standard six pupil of yesteryears or graduates of today might not be able to compare to some secondary school students of old. Professor Tundonu Adekunle Amosu recently lamented that there is gradual shift in language among students in the universities and other tertiary institutions, from the Queen’s English to pidgin. Recalling that in the years preceding our independence, our university undergraduates, a cherished and pampered minority, considered it below their dignity to be addressed in pidgin. Because they knew that, as students they had every hope for a serious career in the then senior service, with the assured access to a car and other advantages as soon as they graduate. At any rate, they believed that they were destined to replace the colonial administrators and therefore began to imitate them in every manner. With that princely demeanour, no one ever dared to address them in any other language apart from the English of their studies. But, today, the situation has changed dramatically and has placed the potential graduate in the solid robes of an eternal applicant unless divine providence is able to shred that terrible garment and give him cause to rejoice.” (Vanguard)

Prof. Peter Okebukola wrote the following: “University education in Nigeria dates back to 1948 with the establishment of the University College, Ibadan. Two years after independence, the country had five universities owned by each of the three regions with the then Western region having three. The increase in oil revenue in the mid-70s coupled with the need to forge national unity following the end of the civil war, influenced the creation of a national system of higher education. This was achieved through the reconstitution of the National Universities Commission into an autonomous body charged with additional responsibilities and powers in 1974. The development laid the framework of the takeover of all the regional universities in 1975. The widespread agitation for an expansion of access to University education and increased high-level national manpower requirement and technological development contributed greatly to the establishment of the second generation and other specialised universities (of Agriculture, Technology) and a military university.

The placement of higher education under the concurrent legislative list in the 1979 Constitution allowed state governments to establish universities. There are currently 23 such state universities in the country and many more are in the planning stage.

Private sector participation in university education commenced during the second republic. However, in the absence of proper guidelines for their establishment, they all turned out to be universities only in name. All the 24 private universities established between 1980 and 1983 were abolished by the Federal Government in 1984. It was nine years later in 1993, that another law which allowed the establishment of private universities and spelt out procedures for such was promulgated. To further widen access to University education, a National Open University was established in 1983, closed shortly after and re-opened in 2001 to offer education through Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode. There are today, sixty-five universities in Nigeria consisting of 26 Federal, 23 state and 16 private universities.

The past three decades have witnessed significant changes within the University system in Nigeria. Notable among such changes are the increase in the number of universities and programmes offered in these institutions. By the end of 2004, there were over two thousand programmes across the entire universities with staff strength of about 25,000. By far, however, the greatest change has been in the explosion in student population and the number of aspirants seeking university admission. The total student enrolment in all Nigerian Universities grew from just over 2000 in 1962 to over 1, 131,312 in the 2007 academic session. Data from JAMB and the universities confirmed that over 1 million students sat for the University Matriculation Examination in 2008. Of this number, the entire 94 universities in the country at that time could only admit about 200,000 students.

The stress put on the universities in terms of demand and the limited expansion in physical facilities and academic staff to cater for this demand has taken a great toll on the quality of programmes in the institutions. Employers of labour and the general public have expressed concern over the quality of graduates of Nigerian universities. The situation is glaringly evident when they are requested to take qualifying examinations. Hitherto, Nigerian certificates were offered automatic recognition abroad. Similarly, an increasing number of employers are forced to practically retrain newly recruited graduates to give them the skills that should have been acquired in the University.

This problem is further worsened by the exodus of academic staff from the universities, popularly referred to as "brain drain". This has largely been as a result of the economic crisis of the mid-eighties to early nineties in the country made worse by the devaluation of the Naira as a result of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP). Another dimension to the problem in the 1990s and which is now threatening the very existence of the system is the perennial staff strikes with resultant frequent closures of the universities.

The state of university education in Nigeria can therefore be described as one of massive explosion in student enrolment; increasing number of prospective new entrants in the face of inadequate and obsolete infrastructure and equipment; poor library facilities, inadequate academic staff in number and quality; lack of relevance of academic programmes, low level of funding, cultism, examination malpractice and generally therefore low quality graduates as shown by many studies supported by the World Bank and the Needs Assessment Survey of the NUC in 2004. The world economy is however changing as knowledge supplants physical capital as the source of wealth. This is driven by technology especially information technology and biotechnology. As knowledge becomes more important, so does higher education. The quality of this and its availability to the wider economy is becoming increasingly critical to national competitiveness. These challenges and problems call for a re-think of the sub-sector in terms of what it should be and how it is expected to play its mandatory role in the society. The rate of improvement of the system which had suffered decades of neglect is perceived by many to be slow. There is an obvious need to catalyse the recovery process”.

Yes indeed, the education sector needs rejuvenation or may I say, a miracle to get it out of the woods. The decay is deep-rooted and we watched it get to that stagnation over a long period of time, now the result is an abysmal decline in standards at all levels. Now anybody can establish a nursery/primary school, secondary school and a university even with a small structure that is not good enough even for the rodents. And still at that, gullible parents and guardians do send their children and wards for learning in those places. Today the race for private universities is on and that is deceptive. Today in Nigeria, the most lucrative businesses are the setting up of churches and schools at all levels and by so doing, we have allowed the society’s morals and the standard of education to be watered down. Today there are more than forty five illegal private universities in Nigeria, matriculating and graduating students. Parents and guardians are hoodwinked into sending their children and wards to these illegal institutions and paying through their noses for degrees or certificates which are not even recognised in Nigeria. It beats the imagination of this writer why those parents and students should be wasting their money and time patronising those institutions. Are they really oblivious of the fact that these universities are not recognised by the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC)? What is the National Universities Commission (NUC) still doing after acknowledging the existence of about 45 illegal universities? There is no doubt that there are people in NUC gaining for these illegal schools and that may have informed the lack of will to prosecute the owners of those schools. But one thing is clear; the lack of action on the part of the NUC is leading to the springing up of more illegal universities and if care is not taken, at a point, we will loose count of them. The question becomes why is it that university education in Nigeria has been so cheapened that a flat can now be turned into a university. Some of those universities operate in a space and buildings like the commercial schools of those yore years; some operate from rented flats, some rented the upper floor of a high-rise office/residential building in the heart of the commercial district, while the lower floors are used for residential and business purposes. Think about the kind of environment these mushroom universities operate from: Some are in the middle of the town with the hustling and bustling going on around; the noise is deafening, the cars, okadas etc are blasting their horns, the mosques and churches are blaring their loud speakers. Tell me how anybody can learn in such environment. More to that, many of the lecturers have fake degrees acquired from fictitious universities all over the world.

One of the reasons why people are wasting their money and time attending those schools is because many Nigerians are desperate for certificates. In Nigeria, one sees a person with a primary six certificate dreaming to be a graduate or a PhD holder without first of all passing through a secondary school. Nigerians love being addressed as “Dr. this” or “Dr. that” without even seeing the four walls of a university. Re-branding of Nigeria should also include working on the people’s psyche so as to remove too much emphasise placed on paper qualifications. Possession of a certificate that the holder cannot defend, should not be a ticket to anywhere. This has caused a lot of havoc to the country; employers are all complaining about many who have certain certificates, but, are performing disappointedly. What of the ministers who claim to have this or that degree, but, are found wanting in their jobs? It is time to de-emphasise the qualification on paper and emphasis more on ability and performance. Let’s look at Nigeria right from the so-called independence till today: How many ministers and government officials have performed creditably well? I know that Nigeria never had it good, but, is this government not the worse so far despite the fact that the president claims to have a Masters degree, the vice president claims to have a PhD and each minister claims to have at least, a degree?

I ´ve noticed that many of the pastors or overseers (whatever you call them) of the new generation churches which are springing up here and there in Nigeria are “Rev. Dr. this” or “Rev. Dr. that”, even when one knows that the person who has added “Dr.” to his or her name struggled, beyond imagination, to make it through the secondary school. These lowlifes calling themselves Rev. Dr. always claim that one fictitious university or institution abroad awarded them the honorary degree. Also, the Nigerian universities are now debasing the worth of their degrees by awarding honorary degrees to freakish individuals with wealth acquired through questionable means. The Nigerian universities have lowered their hitherto high standards by giving out or, may I say, selling out their honorary degrees for pittances and to the highest bidders. Anybody with money and clout, can now get as many honorary degrees awarded to him/her, not minding the character of such a person and how he/she made his/her money. Now, armed robbers, looters and embezzlers of people’s resources entrusted into their care, ritualists, 419ners, debauched civil servants etc are getting honorary degrees. Infact some of our universities are now “dishing” out honorary awards as if they (the awards) are frat certificates! The same can be said about our traditional rulers with their award of chieftaincy titles and our churches with their conferment of knighthood. The moral bereft and people of wilful character in our society are getting honorary degrees, chieftaincy titles and knighthood conferred on them. The traditional rulers of today are conferring chieftaincy titles on cockroaches, rats and lizards. The churches on their own part are conferring knighthood on vultures, swine and snakes.

Honorary degrees are also being used now for political exigencies and vendetta. We read how the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba, Ondo State sent a letter to Chief Gani Fawehinmi intimating him that the university has awarded him a honorary doctorate degree, but, later turned around to inform him that owing to unavoidable circumstances, the offer of the award had been re-considered. It happened that when the then governor was notified that Gani will be one of the honorary degree recipients, he prevailed on the University Senate to strike out Gani´s name for personal vendetta. Fawehinmi was right when he accused the then Governor of the State, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, of prevailing on the university to postpone the convocation and to withdraw the offer conferred on him, because Agagu was not pleased with him because he criticised his election as governor of the state as a fraud. Gani said: "I consider the intervention of the Governor of Ondo State in this matter as a clear-cut abuse of his office and an affront on the independence of the university. It must be clearly understood that the Adekunle Ajasin University belongs to the people of Ondo State and not the Governor of Ondo State." Man proposes, but, God disposes: When the election of Agugu was annulled by the Gubernatorial Election Appeal Tribunal and Olusegun Mimiko was declared the winner, the university reversed itself and then agreed to hold a special convocation to confer the honour on the legal luminary. Gani is one of the most qualified Nigerians for any honorary award. This case will tell you how our universities have been turned spineless by politicians of low virtues. I read the letter dated March 4, 2008, and signed by the Registrar of the university, Mrs. Bolatito Oloketuyi, where she wrote:

“….we, write to reiterate the earlier decision of the Senate of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko to confer on you an honorary doctorate degree in law. In this connection, a 2-day special convocation ceremony is being arranged for the conferment of the honorary doctorate degree on you, as a mark of honour. It is expected that there will be a pre-convocation lecture on Wednesday, March 18, 2009, while the convocation proper would hold on Thursday, March 19, 2009. You have remained a thoroughbred, distinguished international legal luminary, a social critic of note whose singular voice has continued to bring positive changes and development to this country, and an effective judicial administrator. As a highly respected son of Ondo State, you are a worthy community leader who continues to serve as a role model to generations of Nigerians, and a shining example in hard work and integrity.” Tell me how on earth anybody can think about denying a man with such a citation the honorary award? This writer would add that Gani is one of the few Nigerians who award scholarships to students every year. Gani gives about 40 scholarships to indigent students yearly. This kind-heartedness alone is enough for every Nigerian university to confer on him an honorary degree.

Please permit me here and now to congratulate Chido Nwangwu, for the honorary Doctor of Humanities degree he will be awarded on May 23, 2009. Chido will be receiving the honorary award from WATS, which is the leading international christian education college/seminary in Africa, during its 20th Anniversary events May 20-23, 2009, in Lagos. WATS will award one of the two of its first honorary Doctor of Humanities degrees to Chido Nwangwu who is the Founder of the USAfrica multimedia networks and data mining corporation. Since 1992, the WATS diploma and degree programs have been affiliated with the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (Nigeria's first indigenous university).

The founder and acting provost of WATS, Dr. Gary Maxey, an American missionary, said "it's such a high honor for an institution with moral and ethical foundations to honor one of those who count among Africa's most dedicated professionals. That USAfrica's Founder Chido Nwangwu is recognized and respected as the most influential and authoritative African-born multimedia executive in the United States! I agreed with Dr. Maxey intoto when he added that "Chido Nwangwu earns this 2009 Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree in respect and recognition of his almost 25 years of authoring, broadcasting and articulating hundreds of original, authoritative public policy advocacies and for his strong and consistent position of fighting authoritarianisms and bigotry in order to foster a better environment for people of all races and backgrounds towards the pursuit of life, liberty, happiness and dedication to God's grace. He actively supports christian education. He served as an advisory board member on international business to the former Mayor of Houston (America's 4th largest city) and he is the first continental African admitted as member of the 100 Black Men of America." Dr. Maxey went on to say: "we are honoring, in part, Chido's 25 years of effectively utilizing the multimedia of print, tv, radio, internet (especially the USAfrica multimedia networks, the CNN, BBC, VOA, South African Broadcasting corporation, Nigeria media outlets and numerous international platforms) to empower and foster a focused transnational exchange between Africans and Americans We recall that America's flagship newspaper The New York Times recently cited Chido Nwangwu and his USAfrica networks as the largest and arguably the most influential African-owned U.S-based media corporation."

For those who do not know: Chido who is based in Houston-Texas, is the Founder & Publisher of the first African-owned, U.S based newspaper to be published on the Internet USAfricaonline.com, CLASSmagazine, The Black Business Journal, USAfricaTV, AchebeBooks.com, the e-groups of AfricanChristians, IgboEvents, Nigeria360, NigeriaBanks.com, and other platforms.

Chido merited this award and he deserves the very best of awards for his hardwork and service. I know that we will be hearing more of such goodnews for Chido in the future. He has carved a niche for himself. I can only add: Chido nwannaa, jide nke iiji (keep it up). As a fellow lion (UNN alumnus), fellow UNN Students´ Union official during our days at the university (although we served in different sessions) and a fellow Aba brought up, I owe Chido this congratulation. He should accept it. Chido’s success is a source of pride to many of us. It is good to rejoice with our people who are doing marvellously well in their field of endeavour.

Let’s return to the issue of under-funding: In addition to paucity of funds in the universities, the previous and present governments have never made it a duty to give the sector all it needs to live up to expectations, there have been inconsistencies in policy formulations and implementations from one government to another and nobody gives a damn about revamping this very important sector. The universities are left in pauper stage with crumbling infrastructure and morals, the lecturers are not well paid and all these might have informed the so called “brain drain” where lecturers and intelligent Nigerians abandoned the “ship” of Nigeria for greener pastures else where. The damage brain drain has done to Nigeria will never be reversed even in our life time.

The illegal universities abound also, because, desperate students who want to get a degree by any means, see those mushroom institutions as a way to actualise their dream and in that process, get less than they bargained for. The problem is that large numbers of young Nigerians are chasing few placements the federal and state governments universities can only offer. About 1,182,300 candidates took the JAMB exams for 2010 academic year, but, when it is all over, only about a quarter of that number will get a place in the universities. Many people chasing few spaces, makes it truculent, as those who couldn’t make it in a year will face off again with new candidates the next year and like that, the number of those who couldn’t make it grows. Those who tried so many times without success will at a point in time be frustrated out. Some with the wherewithal start looking for opportunity outside Nigeria while others will turn to those mushroom universities. Nigeria needs more universities no doubt, to accommodate thousands of persons who are dreaming for university education, but, that shouldn’t be the reason to allow a “goat stall” to be used as a university. Let those who have the means to establish a private university that will meet local and international standards, be the ones that will be allowed to open and operate one and the environment should be distinct enough or else, let’s for now make do with the recognised 94 Federal, state and private universities.

The federal government is unable to properly fund research work in the universities. The higher institutions of learning have been unable to carry out qualitative and quantitative expansion of facilities because the government has failed to commit the needed resources for such. UNESCO prescribed that a minimum of 26% of a national budget be set aside by every country for education, every year, but, in Nigeria only about 5% is what the previous and incumbent governments have been budgeting for the sector. That’s very inadequate and leads to infrastructural decay and the ripple effects lead to poor remuneration and motivation, incessant strike actions, unstable academic calendar, exam malpractices, cultism, inconsistent policies, double-standards, inappropriate curricula, corruption and the emergence of illegal universities etc. One is then forced to ask if the government has concern about the development of education in this country.

Nigerian Universities are not growing; their development is stunted, the student population remains stagnant because of no massive expansion of facilities by government so that people who are qualified to be in the university can be admitted. Unfortunately, due to lack of funds, the universities are concentrating more on teaching to the neglect of research and the private sector is not helping out by funding research programmes thereby leaving the funding alone for the government. In the developed world, researches are not funded by governments alone, the corporate world and philanthropists who are interested in developing something new for humanity are funding researches over there. Agencies, private organizations and companies in Nigeria are also failing here, they should come out and fund research programme in the universities as it’s been done in so many other countries of the world. Why shouldn’t the standard of education be falling when our universities seldom engage in research? It is from research that they can develop new ideas and if research is not prioritized due to lack of funds as it is now, the institutions cannot grow. The president while presenting the 2009 deficit budget with a total expenditure of N2.87 trillion, named seven key projects to be executed in 2009 namely power, petroleum, roads, transport, health, agriculture and Niger Delta leaving out education, so for this government, the education sector is not a priority and that’s too bad for a president who is the first graduate to occupy that office wielding real and not ceremonial powers.

The president is not leading well, that’s why everything has gone haywire in Nigeria. If the leadership is there, the people will follow; it’s how the leadership is that the following will be; one cannot plant maize and expects to harvest cassava; it is what you put in that you get in return. This president’s predecessor doltishly said recently that he was not (s)elected to build infrastructure, but, to hold the country together and prevent it from disintegrating. Obasanjo is today proud of his achievement because Nigeria is still a country (but in disarray). For Obasanjo, his successor, the incumbent president, is the person that is supposed to be taking care of the infrastructure, since he passed a united (but everywhere divided) country to him. Rather than work for the infrastructural development of the country, the president has been “sleeping at the wheels”. That the incumbent president has failed so far in that regard (infrastructural development), is why things are the way they are today. Obasanjo can say anything he likes, he is no longer relevant here and Nigerians are taking his words with a pinch of salt. YarÁdua is now “in the line of fire”, but, he is a big failure. As long as the president fails, Nigeria will continue to fail. If the head is not in order, the tail will not be; My people say that “the river starts from the upstream to get unclean (mmiri n´esi n´isi agbarü) and that “the fish starts to decay from its head (Azu n´esi n´isi eree). Since the presidency is submerged in corruption, then just think about what’s going on in the senate, house of representatives, federal ministries, federal offices, parastatals, states´ houses, states´ houses of assembly, state ministries, state offices, local government headquarters, town councils, judiciary at all tiers, military and para-military installations etc. Every other person is taking “dressing” from the president; since the president who is the leader of the country is crooked, the line from the top down remains crooked. My people say that “when the she-goat is chewing cud, its kids (a young goat is called kid) will be watching with interest (nne ewu n´ata nri, umu ya anaele ya anya n´onu). This quotation below is credited to the Auditor General of Nigeria. It will tell you a lot about this president:

"In the parade of odium between the presidency, the National Assembly, and the Customs department, for instance, the report claimed that the presidency was by far the dirtiest institution, leading in point blank stealing of N4.83 billion, closely followed by the Senate where N3 billion disappeared in a black hole of sleaze and the House of Representatives where N2.2 billion simply vanished from the books"

The president just sent a formal request to the Senate, seeking approval of $10 million soft loan to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe. Yar’Adua, in the letter dated May 5, 2009 and addressed to Senate President David Mark, said the amount would be sourced from his contingency vote. This president must be out of his mind to be thinking the way he is doing. Can somebody please tell YarÁdua that the era of “big brother” is over; that “we have to put our own house in order before helping others out” and that “ana esi n’ulo maranma puwa n´ama (charity begins at home)”.

Recently, a study by two Nigerian academics has shown that a mean annual sum of N5.65 billion, using standard costing parameters, is required for a Nigerian university to be among the top 200 in the world. This comes to a 10-year aggregate of N56.5 billion per university, by 2020. The duo, Former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Peter Okebukola, and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof Oye Ibidapo-Obe, were commissioned by the current Executive Secretary of the NUC, Prof. Julius Okojie, to understudy the process of ranking conducted by global ranking institutions, to determine those characteristics which inhibit Nigerian universities from top-ranking status and advise the commission on how best to remedy the deficiencies in the Nigerian university system.

That $10 million (a huge amount), YarÁdua wants to give to Sao Tome and Principe; when converted into naira, will be enough for the federal universities to meet up their financial needs. That amount can be given to the federal universities as loan to be re-paid within a stretched out time limit. The universities can afford to invest the money in researches and inventions which they will patent later and the proceeds used in repaying the loan. The universities can then charge students modest tuition fee (but not the minimum of N150, 000 per annum suggest by Professor Julius Okojie: I will writer more on this and about the corrupt vice-chancellors in the next part of this article) which will help them to pay back such loan. These are not the best options, but, they are better than doing nothing at all.

Giving financial assistance to our neighbours is good, but, only when we have enough for ourselves, we can’t afford to help others when we can’t help ourselves. There are hunger, suffering, despair, poverty, ignorance and diseases in the land. That amount can go a long way in solving some of these problems if those who will be incharge of solving the problems, allow the money to be used for what it is really meant for, without embezzling or “dyeing it away” into their pockets and bank accounts. YarÁdua can also source that money from his contingency vote to solve Nigeria’s numerous problems and not to give it away to other countries. We ´ve been here before: We will no longer play the “big brother” role as nobody seems to recognise our efforts. Gowon went about paying off other countries´ debts with our money; Muritala Mohammed and the subsequent heads of state/presidents, committed a huge chunk of our resources to the fight against apartheid in South Africa; IBB, Abacha, Abdulsalami and Obasanjo committed our resources (monetary and human) to help keep the peace in war torn African countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone etc. What did we get in return for all these benevolence and magnanimities? Nigeria and Nigerians are now objects of caricature in the international arena, Nigerians are being hated, maltreated, despised and even at worst, killed or mauled to death even in the continent. South Africans killed and maimed Nigerians, sacked them from their houses and burned their properties during the recent wave of xenophobic attacks which happened there, even the popular Reggae Singer, Lucky Dube, was killed when he was mistaken for a Nigerian (the killers thought he was a Nigerian), that will tell you the level of hatred they have for Nigerians. Nigerian leaders and officials are treated with ignominy whenever they set foot in South Africa, Liberia, Sierra Leone, other Africans have no respect for Nigeria and none will be ready to support Nigeria’s bid for a permanent United Nations Security Council seat. Not too long ago, a female South African immigration staff made mincemeat of some of our senators on a visit to that country.

That huge amount YarÁdua wants to give away, although as loan, can do some good for our education sector. A Chinese Proverb says “better do a good deed near home than go far away to burn incense”. Nigerian universities have been doing their utmost best despite the merger resources at their disposals. At the exhibition organised to celebrate University of Ibadan at 60 not too long ago, lots of things invented by the students and lecturers of the institution was displayed; The UNN just said that a student of the Department of Agricultural Engineering invented a way of extracting diesel from bio sources amongst other inventions of the university; the Federal University of Technology, Owerri recently developed the first made in Nigeria sports car known as FUTO formular 1, other innovative research products of the Mechanical Engineering Department of the university include the fabrication of a thermo-controlled grain dryer for all types of grains and electrically controlled garri dryer that could dry five bags per day; the Department of Agricultural Engineering built a kerosene powered dryer for the speedy extraction of moisture from detoxified cassava as an alternative energy source for livestock feed and export; the Department of Animal Science and Technology successfully produced low fat pig from a cross breed of an indigenous male specie with a white female specie.

The Sun Newspapers of April 14 wrote that the recent report of the development of bio-diesel from vegetable oil by a student of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, (UNN), Joel Nwakaire, is cheering. His achievement, which involved the cracking of a problem which was reported to have baffled Rudolf Diesel, who developed the diesel engine, as far back as 1912, aptly testifies to the heights that Nigerian researchers can attain if given the right research environment. Diesel researched into the use of vegetable oil from peanuts to drive motor vehicles and other mechanical engines, but Nwakaire, of the Department of Agricultural and Bio-resource Engineering, used non-consumable vegetables like Jatrophan and algae to produce what may be Nigeria’s first bio-diesel. All too frequently, we read in the newspapers of Nigerians developing or inventing one useful product or the other, but nothing is seen to be done by the relevant government agencies to perfect and commercialize the inventions for public use thereafter.

All these no-mean feats from the universities can be improved upon and later patented, and then the proceeds will go to offset the loan from the president, if he decides to give such to the universities.

We are holding YarÁdua responsible for all the problems in the education and other sectors because the buck stops at his table. His regime has got to its noon (2 years) with virtually nothing to show for it than his pretentious and contentious rule of law claims.

To Be Continued

THE THANXS IS ALL YOURS!!!

Continued from Part 2

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