By Goke Awoyemi
THAT Nigeria University educational system rating has plummeted is stating the obvious. This has negatively impacted on the quality of graduates churned out every year.
Corroborating this assertion, a former Minister of Education, Professor Tunde Adeniran, noted that the university curriculum being implemented in Nigeria is producing “parasites and unemployable graduates”. He lamented in his book entitled. Some thoughts on education in Nigeria, that part of emerging challenges bedeviling university education in Nigeria is disregard for the purpose and essence of university education.
Adeniran is not the only one lamenting the anomalous situation in Nigerian Ivory towers. A former Managing Director of the old Daily Times conglomerate, university teacher and immediate past pro-chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi, was quoted by the Guardian newspaper of 9th October, 2023 to have said “I am the immediate past pro-Chancellor, and Chairman of council, Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, and I remember writing a paper that things were not very good with our education system” He further opined, that any country that lacks educational push is doomed, adding that with the condition of the public universities, some of them might not survive the next 25 years.
But Osun State University, a multi-campus institution, which has its main campus in Osogbo, the state capital, and which was founded in the year 2006, has been described by the pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Professor Wale Oladipo as one University whose exceptional uniqueness in excellence stands unrivalled in Nigeria today, and that it is now synonymous with peace, academic excellence, high morality, and commitment to institutional vision. He posited that Osun Varsity has been in the news for positive projection in the last two years on issues of grant-winning, laurels and academic distinctions. He described the effort of the current Vice-Chancellor, Professor Odunayo Clement Adebooye, as commendable for being on top of academic and administrative issues within 22 months of assumption of office,
In term of research capabilities, a team of researchers led by Professor Monsuru Adeleke from zoology department, won $1.45million research grant from Bill and Melinda Gate foundation, just as two scholars, namely, Professor Olukoya Ogen and John Agbonifo, won one million Euros for African Research project entitled “The European Union and Africa in a multi-crises world.
It is equally noteworthy to say that Professor Odunayo, the University Vice-Chancellor led a team of researchers and won $65,000 U.S dollars from Government of Germany on biodiversity research. The University also emerged as one of the very few universities in Africa to host Carnegie fellows this year, hosted 2 fellows from two American universities for 3 months between June and August on collaborative engagements relating to curriculum development, mentoring and research. Interestingly, four of the university researchers between 2022 and 2023 won a total of 80million naira, as research grant from TETfund for the execution of various research projects, while Professor Olukoya Ogen of History department emerged as the first university in Nigeria to win the prestigious UNESCO International Fund for cultural Diversity (IFCD) worth $100,000 U.S dollars among others.
Aside, the university provides extant welfare support schemes for staff and students in all cadres, with the staff volunteer scholarship award under the indigent but diligent scholarship scheme, with corporate organizations and individuals voluntarily playing their part to project the university to higher level. From engineer Tunde Ponle scholarship award scheme, Osun state Development Forum, Texas, USA scholarship Scheme, to L.A Salami Foundation for brilliant and indigent students of Osun indigenes. This combined effort is yielding dividend as an almus, Adegboyega Musthafa Adebayo was selected as a recipient of the prestigious Nelson Mandela Leadership award of excellence and integrity, and named an ECOWAS youth Ambassador, just as a farmer law student of the University made a first class at the final examination in the Law school.
The unprecedented level of physical and infrastructural development embarked upon by the Governor Ademola Nurudeen Jackson Adeleke government within a year into the saddle, which informed the completion of long-time abandoned two- storey building in the college of health sciences, with 57 staff offices, and the ongoing construction of a dual-carriage access road from Ibokun road to Modupe and Folorunso Alakija teaching hospital among others, must have propelled the Vice-Chancellor, to reason that Osun varsity will be branded 10th in Africa.
While some new generation universities are excelling in all spheres some older generation are not only declining, but they are waning in performance and influence. Espousing this fact is the ‘Orator’ Osun State University, Professor Anthony Kola Olusanya, who was reacting to the pro-chancellor and chairman of council, Professor Wale Oladipo’s eulogy, who had earlier referred to Obafemi Awolowo University as “Oba awon unifasiti” translated to mean, King of all universities, when he (Wale Oladipo) was introducing the pioneer Vice Chancellor, Osun Varsity, Professor Sola Akinrinade, who was the 2023 convocation lecturer at the University auditorium Osogbo. Olusanya responded by saying this attribute to Obafemi Awolowo University was in the past, when it was known as University of Ife. Wale Oladipo, a highly cerebral, and retired Professor from Obafemi Awolowo must have had the mindset of how Obafemi Awolowo University was, when the likes of world acclaimed scholar and 1986 Nobel-Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka was there, spanning through the studentship of Akinrinade’s era, when Obafemi Awolowo University was not only a foremost citadel of learning in Nigeria, but also in west Africa sub-region.
Today, Obafemi Awolowo is living on past glory. Obafemi Awolowo University problem did not start today. During my studentship at the Graduate School, Obafemi Awolowo University in the early 90s, Professor Olusola Ojo, then head of department, International Relations rush into the examination hall, tore my script due for submission in an examination ordered by the Graduate school into pieces. This borders on impunity. In 1999, on Saturday July 10 at 4:30a.m, the university community woke up to witness a violent and gruesome attack at Obafemi Awolowo, allegedly perpetrated by 40 masked members of the Black Axe fraternity who wore black, black T-shirts, and face masks. The incidence which shook the whole of Ife township left five students including George Iwilade, the then Secretary General of the Students’ Union dead, while 2 others were injured. Professor Rogers Makanjuola, who later became the Vice-Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University, in his book entitled. “Water must flow Uphill (Adventures in the university Administration) shortly after the attack wrote, “Allegations that this assassination of prominent student Union members was sponsored by the university’s Vice-Chancellor”, “It was said that a particular Vice-Chancellor (name withheld) had a hand in their July 10 dastardly operation”.
In May, 2022, pioneer Vice-Chancellor, first Technical University, Ibadan, Professor Ayobami Salami recalled how some members of a confraternity were contracted to kill him when he was appointed as the Vice-Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University in 2017. Except for providence, the inauguration of the current Vice-Chancellor, Professor Simeon Bamire almost developed into violence, coupled with allegations of fetish objects, almost marred the process. In all these, the university was shut down. Explaining the rationale behind private university in Nigeria, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, Esama of Benin, who is the pioneer and founder of the first private university in Nigeria said “ the desire to provide enabling environment for uninterrupted quality education to future generations propelled him to establish the first private university in 1999” it is also on record that the first Professor sentence to six years imprisonment over sex-for-mark harassment, Professor Akindele was a lecturer at Obafemi Awolowo University. Since the Punch newspaper published June 21, 2022 rating the university for being the highest number of lecturer indicted for sexual misconduct, other national newspapers has followed suits.
That Obafemi Awolowo university is always in the news negatively, is further explained with the arrest of 69 students from fine touch and superb hostels in Oduduwa estate, Ile-Ife at about 2a.m on November 1,2023 by operatives of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). 58 of them were later released after investigation, while 11 of them are being prosecuted, an indication that the university is gradually becoming a training ground for criminals. Similarly, a 200 level student, Gift, was reportedly turned to a punching bag by a lecturer, for suddenly, but mistakenly entering into a lecturer room, to mention but a few of impunities pervading the hitherto prestigious university that was being groomed at inception to become the pride of black Africa. However, stakeholders and the university community are trusting in the efficacy of Professor Simeon Banire, the current Vice-Chancellor to redeem the image of Obafemi Awolowo University for better.
The story of Ajayi Crowder University graduate, who burnt all his certificates from Primary school to university, as a result of 13years of joblessness, Olutimain Alvin Lanre, prompting my childhood friend, a journalist of international repute, and former Director, Atiku/Okowa campaign organization to shed tears on Facebook, could best be described as satire, laced with wounded irony on our systemic failure of nationhood.
- The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author. They do not represent the opinions or views of OSUN DEFENDER.