Sunday, July 31, 2011

USA Africa Dialogue Series - Re: ||NaijaObserver|| RE: | are there persons in the academia ready to open up opportunities to the lecturer

Dr. Valentine Ojo,

 I do not think the call being made by some of us is misdirected and I respond to your questions as follows:

Is this then the solution to Nigeria's dilapidated educational structure, failing Nigerian students, and Nigeria's utterly debased educational system...?

The answer to that is 'no'. We are not solving the education problems of Nigeria here and now. What we are doing is responding to a very specific problem of a struggling and budding mathematician who if properly guided and assisted may blossom to do Nigeria proud. I am an educational planner by profession with a very very modest background in mathematics, and I know the difference between planning education for a nation and offering assistance to an individual in the system with a view to getting him to add value to his status and perhaps create a ripple effect that will make that subject more attractive to students at all levels once again.

Why could Nigeria not have built a Center of Excellence similar to the "reputable Institute -
South Africa's Nat Research Foundation [which] has an Africa-wide programme for persons like him 

No reason why not. You are an academic and should answer that question and/or motivate the rest of us to do something about it. Let me warn you though, that when you establish such an institution those things you rightly complain about will kill it and render it useless. Appointing the first director will raise so much dust that for years there will be no focus on what the institute is set up to do. Later will come the looting, godfatherism, and appointments of forgers who pose as well they know, to render it unproductive and make it infamous worldwide.

Do the peoples in these nations have two heads, four arms and four legs...?When are we Nigerians going to get real, and start looking INWARDS at what really ails Nigeria - our VISIONLESS CROOKS and VAGABONDS in POWER...?
You know as well as I do that you don't need so many extra human parts as you listed for any human to function effectively. The contrary is the case. Prof Steve Hawkin is not as endowed as many of us and he stands up there as a towering giant in the world of science. So let that pass.
Or are they just ORDINARY HUMAN BEINGS - like Nigerians - bu who, unlike Nigerians, or committed to developing their nations rather than a nation of profligates who have made a national culture of LOOTING their TREASURIES dry...? 
Your question is directed to the wrong problem. The education system should address that, such that the products of our educational institutions will know right from wrong; develop an unselfish attitude to life; develop a true sense of patriotism and make looting abhorrent to our communities. That to me is another issue for another discussion.
. When are we Nigerians going to get real, and start looking INWARDS at what really ails Nigeria - our VISIONLESS CROOKS and VAGABONDS in POWER...?
Your guess is as good as mine. Again, that is something for another debate
 So after "Michael Atovigba" returns from his "international conference of Mathematicians in USA or Europe where he can expose his ideas", or from "
Sir, you do injustice to me.  I wrote:     He did not seem to have consulted sufficiently with his peers or waited long enough for them to begin to invite him to international fora to expatiate on his writing before breaking the news to the world. A monumental thing like this takes years of scrutiny and discussions and is best brought to the attention of the world at a forum where his presentation will expose him to questions from other international mathematical giants. All he needs is to be funded to speak to his work overseas. 
International conferences are held everywhere in the world and have been held even in Nigeria. Centers like Cambridge, Oxford,  MIT and many hundreds in continental Europe and India are more likely to host a mathematics conference (in English) sooner than Ibadan, Lagos, or UNN because funds are not usually available for such essential events in Nigeria. He still needs to go to a conference in Kano, Lokoja, Osodi, or Enugu provided it is an international one where some of the world's mathematicians will be in attendance to contribute to the enrichment of his work. There is nothing wrong going to the USA or Europe if there is where you need to go to get the tools you need to shape your future. You are there aren't you?
Additionally, I said we should support him with funds and ideas. I did not recommend that we send him to Harvard, Yale, or Stanford because I do not think he has exhausted all the opportunities in Nigeria at this point in time.
. Nigeria would thereafter be transformed into a "developed" nation...or what exactly are you saying?
No, but a ripple starts from a center and spreads.
. And why don't you call on the Nigerian government or his University in Benue State to finance this his exposure - why ask struggling Nigerians who can barely afford to feed their family and cater for their own children  to cough out "usd 100+ each for 10 to 20 persons", when sponsoring their budding "geniuses" is what decent nations  and universities all over the rest of the world spend PUBLIC FUNDS on...?  And how many "Michael Atovigbas" can private people sponsor... while Nigerian public office holders continue to abuse and loot the nation with impunity...?
We all know that it is the duty of the government and the institutions you mentioned above to do what you ask. Will you let a street urchin with visible and proved traits of genius to waste in the streets of Lagos simply because your so-called looters have carted all the money away? Sir, I don't know you but I am 100% sure you will give your last penny to get that urchin out to the open, even though you have the interest of your own children to consider! Again, the work before all of us is to change things, but where special events like this come up we need to deal with them specifically in unconventional ways and continue the struggle for correctness.
May I just add that the work before all of us is monumental and more daunting than cleaning the Aegean stable. I do not disagree with you on most issues, my position is that the story of a young lecturer who is crying wolf may be genuine and that we should not sacrifice him simply because our leaders are blind and greedy and are stealing. If we defer action till we correct the wrongs of our society Michael might as well have been devoured by the wolf. Won't you be sorry as I will be if that happens?
Amiel Fagbulu


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