Three Nigerian Federal universities are currently in the news for the bad reasons. The University of Port Harcourt is currently shut following students’ protest against the school’s no-tuition-no-examination policy. Students wanted exams to hold even though they haven’t paid their tuition fees. Where is that done if not here? They protested, disrupted exams, destroyed property and in the process, a student died. The school is shut for a month.
My alma mater, the University of Lagos, was shut too weeks ago following students’ protest against poor living conditions. In a campus where I enjoyed power supply as if we owned Kainji dam, power has become erratic. Students protested and the school was shut too when exams were days away. In both UNIPORT and UNILAG’s cases above, their school authorities suspended their student unions indefinitely. This decision has further angered in particular, the students of UNILAG. Addressing student unionism is a piece for another time.
Lately, the University of Ibadan has joined the list. One student nicknamed Mote, a 500-level student of Petroleum Engineering Department was rusticated following his role in a said peaceful protest in his hall of residence. As at today, the school is shut and students have turned the school’s maingate to a cooking arena in protest.
These, and many more sad stories that emanate from public universities that ought to be a citadel of learning make one irked at the level we are where on the other hand, our counterparts in other countries are making significant advance in teaching, research and community service which are the tripartite purposes of the university.
Away from those sad tales, I found it gladdening to read today of the good report on one Nigerian Professor, Professor Abiodun Alao, (a Professor of African Studies) who dispenses education as a means of livelihood at the King’s College, University of London. Professor Abiodun was to deliver his inaugural lecture today in the university. He is the first black African to deliver such lecture in the University’s 187 years of existence. He has distinguished himself with over 100 publications in globally-accepted journals with focus on peace in Africa. Professor Abiodun obviously knows his onions.
With the hope of delivering an inaugural lecture in a matter of years, I have always loved listening to one. Throughout my university and youth service years at the University of Lagos and OlabisiOnabanjo University respectively, I ensured I attended inaugural lectures as delivered by professors. Such lectures come not only with deep knowledge sharing but also inspiration. If I were somewhere around London today, I could have decided to attend Professor Abiodun’s lecture in order to, at least, ‘distract’ me from the sad stories coming frequently from Nigerian public universities.
As a way of conclusion, Nigerian academics and students alike should learn something from their foreign counterparts. No teaching or research can be done in a chaotic learning environment like ours. In addition, the government should swiftly address and nip in the bud, the ravaging onslaughts of Fulani herdsmen who perhaps equate one cow to twenty human lives. This is necessary before they turn to our campuses as their possible grazing areas. The madness displayed by the cattlemen needs be promptly contained.
Vessel Anani Sunday K. (VASK) is saved by grace