NIGERIA’S EDUCATION: A THEORISED KNOWLEDGE?

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A speech delivered on November 4, 2015 and which got me the “King of the Podium” appellation (2015/2016) as far as Kenneth Mellanby Hall is concerned.

It is said that when the head is too big, it cannot dodge blows… The head of today’s event, Nigeria’s education, is bigger than its body and thus must endure being constantly discussed.

Good day fellow Mellanbites, kingmakers, fellow speakers and the audience. Before you is Adebajo Adekunle Adefisayo, an aspirant for the crown of the podium. And I am here to take the floor on the question – Nigeria’s education: a theorised knowledge?

Ladies and gentlemen, Terence once said nothing is said which has not been said before. It has, before now, been argued that our education system is not laden with theorised knowledge because we have various practical sessions like industrial training, teaching practice and chamber attachments. It has also been argued that the presence of quality private schools has greatly reduced focus on theory. It may even be argued that our knowledge is not theorised because we not only have theory questions in our examination, we also have German and objective ones. But we all know that these arguments may not hold air let alone water.

Finding an irrefutable assertion is like finding a popular YouTube video with no dislike. There are always two sides to a coin and two ends to a rope. And so it behoves me to examine the other side to this argument which in fact appears to be heavier. To compare it with the former is to compare Mellanby hall to a boys quarters.

The reality today is that our education system is crude and lacks exposure. It not only focuses on theory but off-base, out-of-date triviality. Our lecturers for instance find nothing wrong in using pre-colonial lesson notes 55 years after independence. We have engineers who do not move near engines, doctors who know no better than conductors and Professors of Mechanical Engineering who still take their engines to the mechanics for engineering. Our students can define the internet but cannot use it, they can define a laboratory and in fact list 10 apparatuses it contains but have never entered one, they can describe a wind turbine but have never seen one; they can talk all day about how the tractor works but we have not for once driven one.

In 2012, investigations carried out by Vanguard Nigeria revealed that many schools in Nigeria lack up to date computer technology and the few that have lack access to electricity. For instance, out of a class of about 60, only one claimed to have once worked on a computer – his uncle’s laptop.

Just last month, the cerebral Dr Olisa Godson Muojama of the History department was on air at Splash FM and he declared that Nigeria is operating mercantile, commercial capitalism and not true industrial capitalism. Meaning we import virtually everything but we do not ourselves create or construct anything. Even the things we manage to create, we still import the raw materials from overseas. Does this then mean Nigerians are too dull or lazy? No, of course not! It is only because our education system does not encourage creative thinking. It only reinforces routine robotic reasoning. The problem is not intelligence but lack of experience. And this cannot help us. It will only cast us in a state of motion without movement, activity without productivity.

You see, when Nigerians go abroad to learn, their genius often becomes manifest because of the change in environment. Almost a 100% of Nigerians who ever invented anything worthy of international recognition benefitted substantially from foreign education – from Saheed Adepoju who invented the Inye tablet to Seyi Oyesola who invented the ‘hospital in a box’, from Jelani Aliyu who made General Motors leading auto-brand to Cyprian Emeka who holds more than 160 patents worldwide. Last May, we also heard about Mr Ufot Ekong who made a speedy electric car while studying in Japan. He definitely would not have achieved that had he studied in University of Ibadan.

Fellow Mellanbites, what I am trying to say in essence is that we have the perfect intellectual pool, but our schools lack the perfect intellectual tools. School is not just about pen and paper; it is about ken and actual encounters. School is not only about learning and character; it is about knowing and being a master. School is not about la cram la pour la pass la forget; it is about la grasp la tour la surpass la recollect.

Gentlemen, I shall close by quoting from Benjamin Franklin, a foremost American statesman.  He said tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. And so if our education sector is truly interested in the impartation of knowledge, then it must provide not just updated theory but engaging practicality and actual intellectual activity.

Post scriptum: Paragraphs 3, 4, 8 and the last sentence weren’t part of the final delivery due to temporal inadequacy.

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MULTIPLE PARTY SYSTEM IS BETTER THAN BI-PARTY SYSTEM FOR THE NIGERIAN POLITICAL ARENA

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THIS IS A DEBATE PRESENTED AT UCJ’S 2ND FRANCIS EGBOKHARE INTER-PRESS DEBATE COMPETITION

TOPIC: 

MULTIPLE PARTY SYSTEM IS BETTER THAN BI-PARTY SYSTEM FOR THE NIGERIAN POLITICAL ARENA

 DURATION: 3 MINUTES.

DATE: 31ST OF JANUARY, 2014.

VENUE: GAMALIEL ONOSODE’S SEMINAR  ROOM, MELLANBY HALL, UI.

Joseph Joubert said, ‘it is better to debate a question without settling it, than to settle a question without debating it.’

Greetings, Ladies and Gentlemen. Adebajo Adekunle is my name. And I am here, on this august occasion, as an ambassador of the Mellanby Hall Press Organisation.

I will be speaking in defence of the submission: Multiple Party System Is Better Than Bi-Party System For The Nigerian Political Arena.

So what is my justification for holding this conviction.

First and foremost, the multiple party system does not limit the voters’ choice. Voters are given a wide range of candidates to choose from in line with the ideals of democracy, liberty and justice. As aptly summarised in the words of Thomas Sowell, ‘the most basic function of government is to provide a framework of law and order, within which the people are free to choose.’ Ladies and Gentlemen, do we call it freedom when you are asked to choose between Starcomms and MTN? Do we call it freedom when you are offered admission only at Igbinedon university and University of Maiduguri? Do we call it freedom when you are given scholarship to study either in Syria or Somalia? Do we call it freedom when you can only choose between two political parties? When you are compelled to pick ‘the lesser’ out of two evils? When we can actually choose the best out of many ‘goods’. No we do not call it freedom! Why? Because Pars libertatis est non liberum, partial freedom is no freedom at all.

Secondly and in addendum, the two party system and Autocracy, dictatorship and totalitarianism are sons of the same mother. This assertion has anchorage and is substantially validated in a scenario that played out in the first republic of Ghana, when the late President Kwame Nkrumah used the Preventive Detention Act to arrest and detain members of the Opposition United Party, leading to the gradual dismantling of the opposition, and virtually turning Ghana into a one-party state.

Finally, the multiple party system is natural, legal and recognised by the constitution of this country, which states in Section 40 that: ‘every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular, he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests.

To conclude, all I am saying, my elite addressees, is that to have just two political parties in a political entity such as this will only, as a matter of certainty and inevitability, cast the political arena of the country into a governmental instability, administrative despondency and electoral melancholy. Nigeria is a multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-tribal, multi-dimensional, multi-directional, multi-faceted, multi-racial, multi-purpose, multi-vocal, and multitudinous nation. Tell me, what better party system will suit our political arena, if not the multi-party system?

I rest my case!

THE RECENT INDUSTRIAL ACT EMBARKED UPON BY ASUU: WHO IS TO BLAME, ASUU OR FG?

BEING A DEBATE PRESENTED AT THE 2ND PROFESSOR FRANCIS EGBOKHARE UCJ INTER-PRESS DEBATE.

VENUE: MELLANBY HALL SCR, UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN

DATE: JANUARY 24, 2014.

 

 

PREAMBLE.

Truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it. Ignorance may deride it. But in the end, there it is – Sir Winston Churchill.

Greetings, Ladies and Gentlemen, standing before you is Adebajo Adekunle and I am representing the Mellanby Hall Press Organisation.

I am here on this occasion to address the resolution which says, ‘the recent industrial act embarked upon by ASUU, who is to blame, ASUU or FG?’

I remember it as if it were yesterday. On a Monday afternoon, while in ENG 112 class, the lecturer declared to our chagrin and dismay that the class will not be holding. Why? The Academic Staff Union Of Universities had suddenly decided to embark on a total, complete and indefinite strike action. About 1.5 million Nigerian Youths, university undergraduates, were forcefully exiled to their mothers’ homes between Monday, July 1st and Tuesday, December 17th. For 6 months, equivalent to 170 days [or if you like 244,800 minutes] we were very busy at home, doing absolutely nothing related to academics.

Graduation years were unjustly delayed. We even witnessed the adjournment of wedding dates. Scholarships worth millions of naira became a waste. and most sadly of all, some, who while trying to make ends meet, passed away. So, I ask, who are we to blame?

Seneca once said; it is rash to condemn where you are ignorant. Meaning we cannot constructively evaluate what we do not critically appreciate. The recent ASUU strike had a genesis. In fact, It had a basis which we must all figure out before a move can be made for scrutiny and finger-pointing. Thus, I ask. What is this basis?

On the 14th of December 2006, the then Minister of education, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, on behalf of the federal government, inaugurated the Federal Government/ASUU re-negotiation committee with the aim of looking into the union’s  clamouring for a revitalisation of the academia. It held series of meetings between the years of 2007 and 2008; and in January 2009, came up with a 51-page Memorandum of Understanding, duly signed and considered binding on the parties.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS TO BLAME.

It might be argued that: since the federal government was not present in the meetings in which the what, where, when and how of the industrial strike were discussed, then we should not hold them accountable for a decision they had no hand in making.

However, as a student of logic, I know of the fallacious genre called ‘non causa pro causa’ (false cause), which holds that the immediate cause is not always the culpable cause, but the pristine, prototypical one. And as a student of law, I equally know that ‘metus in lege excusat’ (duress in law excuses). I may use my hands to murder another person, and yet go scot free, if I was under duress to do it or it was in self-defence. The same common-sense is applicable to the recent industrial strike, as I believe the union was under duress to embark on strike due to the lackadaisical attitude of their yearnings.

How exactly the union was directly under duress by FG to go on strike leads to my second point. Nigeria is a country where, according to all ranking systems, none of our universities is among the world’s top 1000. Even our dear University of Ibadan which prides itself as the first and the best is number 24 in Africa and 2109 in the world. Nigeria is a country where ward councillors, who may be secondary school drop-outs, earn more than diligent professors. A country where you will never find the children of your local government chairman in the same school as you. Where 10 classes may hold simultaneously in the same lecture hall. Where kerosene stoves are used by science students in lieu of Bunsen burners. Where our education system is only getting better at getting worse … and someone still has the nerve to say that the Federal Government is not blameworthy of making protest inevitable?  That ASUU ought not to have gone on strike?

Think about it. Ghana, a country not as rich as Nigeria, for this fiscal year, budgeted 31% of its total revenue to the education sector, while the “Giant of Africa” struggles to budget a meagre and disconcerting 8%.

Lastly but most importantly, Common sense and natural justice demand that FG executes the 2009 pact, and not wait for a strike. The Federal Government wilfully made a pact with ASUU in 2009, refreshed it 2012, and yet inconsiderately failed to execute it several years later. This is simply ludicrous, and blatantly contravenes common standards of professional ethics. Just as it is summed up in the Latin maxim, ‘pacta sunt servanda, quamvis absurdum.’ Meaning, agreements must be kept, contracts must be honoured, though they may be absurd.

To conclude, I’d say, it is visible to the blind and audible to the deaf that the Federal Government is to blame for the regrettable and demoralising strike saga we witnessed last year. For in Marcus Tullius Cicero’s words, ‘salus populi suprema lex esto’, the welfare of the people is to be the supreme law. Hence, the federal government has the duty, primary responsibility, and in fact the capability to provide for the socio-academic necessities of the community. If they fail in this regard, someone has to speak up, as well-captured in the words of Edmund Burke: ‘All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.All ASUU has done is speak up. Are we going to crucify them for this?

Ladies and Gentlemen, if we are truly seeking for someone to blame, then I say it is only rational that we blame the man who had no shoes, and his cohorts.

Thank you!

 

 

ASUU IS TO BLAME!

First and foremost, ASUU’s demands are out rightly outrageous. Reading this memorandum, I came across some of the most ridiculous demands ever in the history of unionism. For instance, the unionists are clamouring for a plethora of unrealistic and undeserved allowances. Postgraduatesupervision allowance, teachingpractice/fieldtrip allowance, examiners’ honoraria, postgraduatestudy grant, Externalassessors’ allowance. Apart from these, they are also demanding for what they call fringe benefits. Vehiclerefurbishing loan, housing loan… research leave, sabbatical leave, annual leave, sick leave and maternity leave. I wonder if we will still have people to teach us if all these leaves are granted. How can a reasonable man down his tools, his main source of income, because of allowances. Allowance is allowance, not the main wage.

The music maestro, Stephen Osita Osadebe, in one of his hits said, ‘if one’s salary is not enough to meet his needs, is it allowance that will do?’ It is unthinkable that the payment of paltry sums is allowed to disrupt academic activities for several months. Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill.

Again, the ASUU/FG fracas should have been buried in previous strikes. One thing ASUU has failed to recognise is that incessant striking is not the solution to Nigeria’s educational drawback. In fact, it is one of the problems. Industrial acts are so frequent that non-Nigerians are forced to think it is an annual festival. And then, freshers are always sermonised that the years they are to spend in the university is ‘n + x’. ‘n’ being the years written in JAMB brochure while ‘x’ is the unknown, the added years as a result of strikes… Imagine, 5 months in 1999, 3 months in 2001, 6 months in 2003, 3 months in 2007, 4 months in 2009, 5 months, 1 week in 2010, 3 months in 2011, and the most recent 6 month strike, to mention a few. They all culminate into almost 3 years, yet what is there to show for it? Except, of course, more decay in the system.

Moreover, I believe ASUU has no moral standing whatsoever to embark on a strike with so much audacity. Before they start point fingers at the FG and accusing them of dereliction of duty, have they looked within. Or have we not seen lecturers who come for classes only twice in a semester? Once to give out scheme of work, and the second time to invigilate the examination. Have we not seen lecturers who use lecture notes compiled in the 1970s for students in 2014?

Last but not least, the union has no right whatsoever to disrupt the free flow of academic activities to the students’ detriment. Sir Oliver Wendell Holmes Jnr once said, ‘Your right to swing your arms ends where another man’s nose begins.’ And in Latin, ‘Tuus ius finibus ubi alterum incipit.’ You cannot take another man’s life because YOU are tired of living. Neither can you say because the constitution guarantees freedom of expression, you now slander another man with impunity. Thus, the Academic Staff Union Of Universities has no right to deprive students of their entitlement to be edified, no matter the circumstance.

No matter what is done, the 200 billion naira Federal Government handed over for the restructuring of the academia and 45 billion given as lecturers’ earned allowance, can never restore or equate with the thousands of long hours wasted in inactivity. It cannot restore the delayed graduation years, and weddings. And most particularly, it can never bring back the invaluable, lost souls.

I end with the sagacious words of Demosthenes, ‘res ipsa loquitur’; the facts speak for themselves… IF ONLY WE WILL LISTEN.

Thank you!

 

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