Thursday, November 30, 2017


Sent from my iPhone

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Jeyifo, Biodun" <>
Date: November 30, 2017 at 3:38:30 PM CST
To: Toyin Falola <>
Cc: dialogue <>

This will be brief. To say the least, I am surprised by my Comrade Biko Agozino's  extreme literalness in confusing war as a metaphor with war as an actual historical event. For heaven's sake, it is not even an original metaphor! War on illiteracy; war on poverty; war against racism; war on all enemies of human progress - haven't we heard of all these and more? And by the way, as much as all wars entail great human tragedy, some wars were necessary and in the end, brought some light, some restitution to the world. Though I don't count the war against Biafra as an example of such "just wars", who amongst us today is not glad that the ANC fought a war of liberation against the apartheid regime or that a great alliance waged the war against Hitler's Germany? More substantively, Comrade Biko completely misapplies the extraordinary example of the Biafran Research and Development Unit - most of whom were brilliant scientists that had been trained as undergraduates in Ibadan and in top universities in the UK and the US for their postgraduate intellectual and professional qualifications. Without that foundation, their exploits would have been impossible. The sad fact is that such foundations are being relentlessly eroded in our universities today.

The same misapplication is evident in Biko's suggestion to Toyin that he should not be unduly worried about the (non)acceptance of Nigerian university graduates abroad because " the normal curve dictates that the best from Nigeria can still hold their own against the best from anywhere else". This is of course true but what percentage of ALL are we talking about, whether in Nigeria or "from anywhere else"? 2%? 5%? What of the remaining 98 or 95%, Comrade Agozino? I mean the great majority of applicants from Nigerian universities to graduate programs abroad that increasingly face uphill tasks in getting admitted into the good research institutions abroad? Please not us not quibble with fates that are being imposed on them through no fault of their own. 

Finally, Biko, I hate to tell you this: every single one of your suggestions have been made again and again and again. True, while there is nothing new in the suggestions, many of them have not been put to the test? But seriously, even if they were to be put to the test, do you think any of them, any at all can and will address the basic problems? Really? You think the "culture of mediocrity" is only outside the universities among employers who do not recognize and reward excellence? You think this culture is not there, not regnant in our universities themselves? Ah, my brother, wish I could allay my worst fears with this sort of complacency!

As for Toyin's moving expression of a feeling of being deprived of air, it so happens that this is almost my own feeling too! Except that I actually think that the situation is not entirely as irreparable as it seems - as I tried to show in the final paragraphs of my column last week. And so, I find myself in complete agreement with Biko's final note in invoking Onyeka Onwuenu - Africa go survive! But dat survival, na war e go take, nothing less!


From: Toyin Falola <>
Sent: Tuesday, November 28, 2017 11:11 AM
To: Jeyifo, Biodun

Sent from my iPhone

Begin forwarded message:

From: "'Biko Agozino' via USA Africa Dialogue Series" <>
Date: November 28, 2017 at 7:59:48 AM CST
To: <>

Oga BJ erred by adopting the analogy of warfare to describe the need for intervention in education. He did not need to refer to the failed war against indiscipline amd curruption to make the point that the education war must not fail too. BJ could have referred to Biafra as propf that war is absolutely good for nothing.

In the speech at the education retreat by Buhari that BJ alluded to, the president may have misled him into a war mindset by stating that he was in boarding school for nine years up to high school (he no sabi book now) and that the teachers 'spared not the cane' to force orphans like himself to learn. Corporal punishment was the first law that Azikiwe abolished as the Premiere of the Eastern region and Lumumba campaigned against it as evident in the popular series by Tshibumba called 'Colonie Belge' with which the cover of my book, Counter-Colonial Criminology is illustrated. Corporal punishment is still allowed by many state school systems in the US but they no know book either. Buhari should be weaned from his gragra military mentality because it is one of the troubles with Nigeria that Achebe warned against but it continues to be imposed in the animal kingdom where pythons dance in the jungle.

In response to the question about the expectations of research output from failing undergraduate programs, BJ should have responded that even without piped water and constant electricity, the Biafra Research and Production Unit made some awesome fabrications out of necessity and only 4 years after the war Nigerian scientists at UNTH accomplished the first open heart surgery in Africa.

Some may suggest the dichotomization of universities into research and teaching univetsities as is done in the US but that will not do in a culture where everyone should be funded to try and contribute origonal solutions to our multiple crises. The universities should keep in touch with alumni and beg them to give donations. Businesses and individuals should endow research grants. Communities should offer more scholarships. The govt cannot do it alone though the government is yet to raise the allocation to education in the budget anywhere near the 26% recomended by UNESCO as ASUU demands.

Iwin Toyin should not worry about the acceptance of Nigerian graduates abroad. The normal curve dictates that the best from Nigeria can still hold their own against the best from anywhere else while the outluers on the left will continue to struggle. The difference is that our culture of mediocrity frustrates excellence when employers reward dullards with jobs because of their political connections as Bishop Kukah theorized.

The STEM mythology that you cannot do research without water and lights is a cop out given that theoretical research has always been done even in the dark ages. For instance, where are our original contributions to sociology, economics, philosophy, history, mathematics, theoretical physics, jurisprudence, cultural studies? With rare exceptions in women and gender studies, literary criticism,  history, political science, mathematics and economics, the culture of mediocrity has infilterated academia in an environment where the national univetsities commission just budgeted 8 million for research and 81 million for cars with the research budget probably going to the computer tycoons.

Africa go survive, sang Onyeka Onwuenu.


On Mon, 27/11/17, Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju <> wrote:

To: "usaafricadialogue" <>
Date: Monday, 27 November, 2017, 20:02

Speechless. response to analyses on
nigerian educational system.

As for Jeyifo's analysis, im
struck he seems unresponsive to the fact that  the very
govt claiming to be fighting corruption is itself a corrupt
govt, as evidenced by inflated budgets which the chief
executive claimed to be unaware of how the inflation came
about, Burutaigate, Bababachir grass cutter gate, Mainagate,
plus Buhari sponsorship of Fulani terrorism with militarised
Fulani herdsmen as front runners and the use of the EFCC as
primarily an instrument for hounding political opponents
while cases agst such cabinet members as Fashola and Amaechi
are ignored?
on nigerian unis, do these analyses
mean that graduates of these universities would have their
degrees disregarded outside nigeria? most
i wish i could comment further, but
i feel like a person deprived of air.


On 27 November 2017 at
03:59, Dr. Bitrus Gwamna <>
  Dr. Bitrus Paul
Gwamna From: 'femi
ojo' via Naijanet [mailto:naijanet@googlegroups.
Sent: Saturday, November
25, 2017 7:05 PM
To: Naijanet Google
Subject: [Naijanet] HOW DO UNIVERSITIES
How do universities
that can hardly run undergraduate practicals engage in
research?Posted By: Biodun Jeyifo On: November
26, 2017 November 25, 2017 In: Biodun Jeyifo
   Quite often, I get responses
to the contents of this column through emails sent to me by
readers. For the most part, these emails are positive, they
are complementary. But sometimes, I do get emails that take
me to task either for the views that I express and the
positions that I take or for the arguments and the premises
undergirding the views and positions. Interestingly, some of
such emails are also complementary, mixing praise with
critique. When the criticism is of the positions taken or
views expressed by me, I am content to note and acknowledge
difference and diversity of opinion as a fundamental aspect
of public discourse. But when the critique pertains to basic
premises, I sit up and pay attention. This is exactly what
is involved in this week's piece: many people wrote me
questioning, even faulting the basic premise of last
week's column. What was this
premise? Well, it is the contention that as
deep and wide as educational decay has become in the
tertiary level of education in our country, it is the
universities themselves, it is the professoriate that can
and must effect the desperately needed reform and
restitution. Invoking the popular adage of physician, heal
thyself, I argued that without the universities themselves
leading the effort, external agents like government,
employers of labour and organizations of parents and
guardians cannot even begin to make the slightest dent on
the almost impregnable edifice of decay in our institutions
of higher learning. To some who wrote me on this wrote me,
this premise is mistaken, wrongheaded: the decay, the
corruption in our universities is so vast, so systemic that
reform cannot and will not come from our universities
themselves. To give the reader a sense of just how radical
and unrestrained this critique was expressed, permit me to
quote at some length from one of the emails that I
received: "The process of decay in our
universities has been long, sustained and nurtured to the
point where it has morphed into being systemic. The "employers" in the
universities, the Governing Councils, are populated by
political jobbers and 'professors' who in the main are
made by fraudulent Vice-Chancellors of vices. The choice of
Council members lacking in integrity, has been hallmarked by
political jobbers whose see universities as cash cows to be
milked for personal gain. What are we to make of a situation
where, rather than the users of equipment that are trained
in its usage overseeing their purchase through competitive
bidding and directly from the manufacturers, a monumentally
ignorant state interposes itself strictly for the purpose of
stealing, without regard for the purpose for which the
equipment is meant? The result – inappropriate equipment;
equipment with missing components; equipment without the
space in which to place
them. In
the main, the professoriate is populated by people who have
cheated their way to the top. In the empirical sciences in
particular, where electricity, water and the laboratory –
a basic space for infrastructural support for
experimentation – do not exist, the question arises as to
where the "experimentation" on which publications are
premised was done. How do universities that can hardly run
undergraduate practicals engage in research? So,
we have a vast number of lecturers who are products of
non-empiricism who are reproducing themselves through no
fault of theirs but what the system has made of them. It is
common practice now for lecturers to provide their writing
materials. And graduate students – the future of the
profession – are saddled with astronomical fees in
decrepit conditions. Moreover, they are compelled to provide
the wherewithal for their research and are compelled to
implement them out-of-house rather than in-house, lacking in
direct supervision and regular research group discussions
that research entails. The list goes on and on and on. In
Nigeria, the university has become a
is important to underscore the fact that the person who
forwarded these sobering observations on the state of decay
in our universities to me is himself a senior university
don. I say this is important because both his general
observations and the conclusion that he draws from them are
commonly known in our universities. In other words, there is
widespread knowledge in the universities themselves of the
fact that things are very bad, that indeed things are so bad
in virtually all our universities as a system that something
desperate, something unprecedented ought to be done. Indeed,
to drive home this point, permit me to quite from another
"witness" on just how vast is the state of corruption in
the academic vocation in our country, a "witness" who is
a highly respected emeritus professor in one of our
universities: "I personally know of the case
of a former student of mine who moved from lecturer to
professor the same year by tactically shopping around and
moving from one university to the other until arriving at
his destination of professorship. This has been made
possible by the ballooning number of universities without
corresponding planning for staffing them. I know of a case
of a young lecturer in a hard area of computer science
applying for a job of senior lecturer in another university.
As soon as he got it and without even assuming the position,
made a bid as in an auction or in a market for a higher post
in another university and got appointed a professor. There
are professors and there are professors of course! This academic title has become like chieftainship
title in the usual bad tradition in Nigeria."
[Jide Osuntokun, "Quality Assurance in Varsities: Umudike
Example", The Nation, October 26,
2017] To
get to the heart of the issues that I am exploring in this
piece, I ask the reader to please note that the title of
Emeritus Professor Osuntokun's article in The Nation of October 26 hinges on
the words, "Quality Assurance". This implies that as
much as Osuntokun recognizes the scope and the depth of
decay in the system, he still feels that reforms can and
should be implemented. Indeed, towards the end of his
article – which I encourage all who are truly interested
in these profoundly troubling issues to go and read –
Osuntokun gives some suggestions as to how the process of
restitution, of cleaning up can be started. I can confirm
that, in my opinion, they are thoughtful, sound suggestions.
But unfortunately, that is not the end of the story. Why?
Simply this: the cesspool cannot clean itself. Of course,
one could in response say that "cesspools are not people,
they are not human subjects with agency; human beings who
live in or around cesspools can and do often drain the swamp
and clear up the gargantuan mess". But then, there is the
riposte to this revisionism and it is this: if those living,
breathing and thriving in the cesspool are in the
majority, are in control, the chances of cleaning up the
cesspool are bleak. This is the thesis, the dilemma posed to
me by the email from the senior colleague from whose text I
quoted first before quoting from the article by
Osuntokun. It
is perhaps necessary at this point in the discussion to
render the dilemma that I am discussing in this essay in
very concrete terms. Thus, I ask the reader to think of the
implications of the question indicated in the title of this
piece: How do universities that can hardly run undergraduate
practicals engage in research? The answer of course is
simple and devastating: universities in which the conditions
for basic undergraduate instruction are non-existent cannot
engage in research, period. But we all know that our
universities are claiming to be doing research, they are
awarding Ph D's in all the disciplines. Things are so
seemingly hopelessly skewed that even new, private
universities that lack the basic human and infrastructural
necessities for high school instruction are awarding Ph
D's, the ultimate research degree in the modern
university. To get a sense of just how deep and wide this
particular stretch of the drain is, think, dear reader, of
the fact that a large segment of the professoriate in our
universities were produced and are still being produced by
and through this tragic malformation of the universal
traditions of higher learning in our
country. To
make the implications of the central issue in this
discussion more concrete, more inescapable, I ask the
following question that is posited in response to Emeritus
Professor Osuntokun's sound suggestions for safeguarding
and sustaining quality assurance in our universities: What
do we do, concretely, about all the worthless Ph
D's that have been produced and are still being produced
in our universities? And the "professors" who produced
and are still producing them, what do we do about them? That is the question and anyone
who claims that she or he has a simple and realistic
solution to the question is self-deceived. This was the
thought in my mind when, in last week's piece in this
column, I asserted that like what Governor Nassir El Rufai
did in Kaduna State to primary school teachers, no one can
simply go to the universities, conduct a simple test or
examination to expose fake lecturers and professors and give
them the boot. If this is the case, does that mean that we
can do nothing at all about the vastly diseased and
festering situation? The answer to this question, I declared
last week, is "No". We cannot and must not reconcile
ourselves to the prevailing very dire, very tragic
situation. Listen, once again, to what Osuntokun says of the
professoriate in our universities today: "There are
professors and there are professors of course! This academic title has become like chieftainship
title in the usual bad tradition in
Nigeria." The one thing that brings all
these unhappy matters to a head is the subjective, human dimension of academic decay in
our society: the men and women who produce worthless Ph
D's are not worthless human beings; the generational
cohorts of thousands of young graduates from our
universities that employers of labour have routinely and
consistently found "unemployable" are not worthless
human beings; the dozens of hundreds of professors whose
professorships are little better than the
"professorship" of the magician, Professor Peller, are
not worthless human beings. No human individual or group
comes into the world worthless, even the most physically
disabled; people are made worthless by the order or scheme
of things organizing their individual and collective
existence. And any solutions that we come up with must start
from the basic presumption that, baring congenital mental
defects, every human being is not only educable but is
entitled to good and relevant education. I learnt all these
things mostly from decades as a teacher in the academy, at
home and abroad, but primarily from the invaluable
experience of having once served as the National President
of ASUU. I had this fact in mind when I wrote last week that
solutions to the vast, surfeited decay in our university
system can be found in our universities themselves. Permit
me to bring the discussion to an end by giving a short
elaboration on this
For over two decades now, ASUU's
leadership has been proposing solutions to the small and the
great, the local and the general problems besetting our
universities. Indeed, in December 2014, I was privileged to
serve as the Chairman of a National Educational Summit (NES)
organized by ASUU and the other unions in our universities.
It is immensely gratifying to state that this NES focused on
problems internal to the good running, the
rescue of relevant and qualitative education in our
universities and polytechnics. And beside ASUU itself as an
organization, there are many individual academics in Nigeria
who have reflected deep and wide on the problems, the
challenges. Taken together, these factors were responsible
for the premise of my article in last week's column. What
was this premise? Even with the depth of the decay that we
see in them, the universities themselves can and must play a
crucial role in the rescue of our universities from the
morass of mediocrity, decay and redundancy into which,
heaven help us, they are
sinking. Biodun
Jeyifobjeyifo@fas.harvard.ed Buhari's new
warfront of battle against educational decay: some lessons
from his stalled war on
corruptionPosted By: Biodun Jeyifo On: November
19, 2017 November 18, 2017 In: Biodun Jeyifo
1     The thing caught in Nte's trap is bigger than
Nte  –  Chinua Achebe, Arrow of
God By
far the biggest news out of Abuja this past week is easily
the special retreat on education by President Buhari and his
cabinet. Controversially, Mallam Nassir El Rufai, the
Governor of Kaduna State, had sacked hundreds of primary
schoolteachers for gross incompetency and in the aftermath
of the crisis caused by this action, Buhari not only lent
his support to El Rufai, he also indicated that the problem
applied far beyond Kaduna State to the whole nation and its
primary and secondary educational sectors and required an
appropriate response from his administration, the first
expression of which was the retreat. And to start off the
retreat, Buhari gave a speech to his ministers that will
surely strike many as being on the same level of seriousness
and perspicacity as the speeches he gave early in the life
of his administration on the need for a total war against
corruption. Obviously, this was why the speech was released
to the public and published in full at the same time that
the occurrence of the retreat was made known to the
nation. Obviously then, the president
intends this to be another battle, another warfront.
Definitely, this view has been expressed by the first set of
commentators on the president's educational retreat
speech. Considering this fact, I suggest that if indeed this
is another warfront of the president and his administration,
it is both logical and necessary for us to apply some
lessons from Buhari and the APC's stalled war on
corruption to this new theatre of war that is a battle
against educational decay in our country. This is the
subject of this piece and to argue my case, I will identify
three lessons from mistakes committed in the ongoing war
against corruption that, in my opinion, should be applied to
this new battle front if the mistakes and their effects are
not to be repeated. What are these effects? Bitter
disappointments, crippling reversals of expectations and the
dashing of hopes of millions of our
go directly into the discussion in this piece, permit me to
briefly identify the three lessons from the mistakes on the
war on corruption that I have hinted before getting into a
full or suggestive elaboration of each of the lessons. First
then, there is the question of the complete misdiagnosis of
the spread of the cancer of corruption in our country by
Buhari and his administration. Cancer may be cancer, but
some cancers are more virulent, more widely spread than
others. For instance, it is known that in comparison with
the deadly virulence of cancers of the pancreas and the
colon, cancer of the prostate is relatively benign,
especially when caught early. The Buhari administration, we
now know, went after the cancer of corruption as if it was
one of the milder and etiologically more benign cancers,
only to find out, hopefully not too late, that it was
dealing with the mother of all
The second lesson is no less
serious and portentous, it being the grievous lack of
training and experience of the surgeons and physicians that
Buhari deployed against the cancer of corruption. To push
our medical analogies further, this is very much like
placing a cancer patient under the supervisory expertise of
a physician whose specialty is either cosmetic surgery or
dentistry. The worst expression of this error is – Buhari
himself, followed closely by his Minister of Justice and
Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami. For
readers who might think that this is too harsh, too
intemperate and unfair to the President and the AGF, please
consider the fact that in the last two years, we have been
treated to the spectacle of a president and his chief law
officer who are so ill-prepared, so arrogantly unfit for the
tasks they set themselves in the war against corruption that
they have been completely incapable of learning from their
mistakes, the ultimate proof of which is – Mainagate. Yes,
the President did appoint a Presidential Advisory Committee
Against Corruption (PACAC) and placed it under the direction
of Professor Itse Sagay whose ability, competence and
dedication are unquestionable, but when the superintending
physicians themselves are of the order of cosmetic surgeons,
there odds are already stacked against the survival of the
patient. Thirdly and finally, there is the
error, the blindness of excluding the participation of the
actual and potential victims of the deadly cancer of
corruption – the Nigerian peoples in their millions in
every part of the land – in the healing, curative process.
Here, we must admit the relative complicity of the patients,
the Nigerian peoples themselves, in their exclusion from
participation in the battle against the cancer of
corruption. True, collective anti-corruption coalitions like
SERAP have been commendable in their active support of the
administration's war against corruption, but their efforts
have not been sufficient enough to make too much of a
difference. And to be completely candid on this point, I do
not think their strategy and tactics have been well-tuned
enough to mobilize the Nigerian masses to claim and own the
war against corruption. And indeed, on this point, I cannot
but extend this critique to myself: far away in Cambridge,
Massachusetts for the larger part of the year and confined
mostly to the page of this column as an index of my
"participation", how much have I myself contributed to
the efforts to bring the masses into the war against
corruption? With regard to the applicability
of lesson number one to the new front of a war against
educational decay in our country, think of the fact that it
is a fundamental misdiagnosis of the problem not to see that
the alarming mediocrity that has been identified in teachers
in primary and secondary schools exists also in the
universities and polytechnics at the tertiary level of our
educational system. In other words, who can deny that the
cancer of educational decay has spread very wide and has
infected all the levels and gradations of our educational
order?  As
a matter of fact, I would argue that the cancer started at
the top of the system in the universities, polytechnics and
colleges of education and from there moved to the
midsections in the secondary schools, going from there to
the primary schools. Of course, each level has its own
peculiarities, its own manifestations of the malady. Let me
be very precise on this crucial point: certified but barely
literate teachers are more easily detected in primary
schools than in universities, but can we not see that
lecturers and professors that produce certified university
graduates, many of them with first class degrees, that are
deemed "unemployable", are in the same rut as the
teachers sacked by the Kaduna State Governor? But can
mediocre and unqualified lecturers and professors be as
easily exposed as mediocre teachers of primary and secondary
schools? The answer is a definite and resounding no. But
does this mean that they cannot and should never be exposed?
Again, the answer is no on both counts. A state governor,
the Federal Minister of Education or for that matter, the
President himself – none of them can simply descend on a
state or federal university, administer simple tests to
lecturers and professors to expose the mediocrities among
them and proceed to give them the boot. This cannot, and
will not, and should not happen. But something must happen, compatriots! In
these extremely difficult questions we see the need to avoid
the misdiagnosis that has haunted and undermined Buhari and
the APC's war on
corruption. The preceding point leads us
directly to the second lesson from the mistakes of the war
on corruption – the error of placing a cancer patient
under the "skill" of a dentist or cosmetic surgeon. Let
me be direct and unambiguous, almost to the point of
bluntness here: ministers and bureaucrats, and even the
president himself, cannot, on their own, identify and deal
with the grave intellectual and qualitative shortcomings in
our tertiary institutions. Primarily, the task, the burden
must fall on the lecturers and professors themselves. But
can they and will they do what is right, what is
necessary? My answer to this question is a qualified yes. I
base this partly on my experience of having taught in two
major Nigerian universities and partly on my having once
served as the National President of ASUU (1980-82).
Physician, heal thyself! This famous adage has for a long
time, silently and subliminally, been operative in the
Nigerian university system. The number of workshops, the
number of conferences and seminars that have been held on
the topic is quite literally staggering. Of course, not all
the findings, not all the deliberations and reports will be
found useful, but there is no doubt at all that this
treasure trove can be a starting basis for deciding how best
to take on the challenge of eradicating decay and mediocrity
from our tertiary educational
system. Let me remind the reader of the
third lesson from the mistakes of the war on corruption: not
excluding the Nigerian peoples, the Nigerian masses, from
active participation, indeed active "ownership" of the
healing, corrective, transformative process. Luckily, in any
meaningful and concerted war against educational decay in
our country, a whole range of stakeholders and interested
parties can be counted upon to wade in mightily if they are
asked, if they are mobilized to do so: parents and
guardians; teachers and counsellors; would-be employers and
non-governmental organizations. Parents who save all their
earnings to send their children to universities abroad would
be profoundly gratified if the quality of instruction and
learning available in our universities rise to match and
perhaps even outpace what is available in Ghana or South
Africa. And who knows but it might come to pass that, as it
once was in this country, some or many Nigerian universities
might become magnets for attracting and retaining foreign
students and lecturers? Above all else, it is the lesson
of misdiagnosis that I deem pivotal. Until
I am proved wrong, I doubt that the Buhari administration
and the APC as a ruling party are aware of the existence of
this particular problem. This is why for the epigraph to
this piece, I have the quotation from Chinua Achebe's Arrow of God: "The thing caught by
Nte's trap is bigger than Nte". Here is an explanation
for this quote in the context of the discussion in this
essay: Nte's trap was designed and built for small game
that he can handle, that he can easily take possession of
from his trap. His trap was not designed and built for
animals and game that are bigger than himself, that he
cannot not handle. If Nte is wise, he will run to his
community and seek help in how to master the unprecedented
size and scope of the kill in his trap. If, on the other
hand, Nte is unwise and selfishly wary of sharing what his
trap has caught with his neighbors, he will act alone; and
he will act according to how he has always acted. Governor
Nasir El Rufai is the Nte No 1 of the parable. Buhari has
picked up the gauntlet from the Kaduna State Governor; he is
Nte No 2. Well, at least so far. Let us hope that they will
learn from the mistakes of the war on corruption as they
embark on the battles ahead in this new front of the battle
against rotten, decaying
education. Quality assurance in varsities: Umudike
examplePosted By: Jide Osuntokun On: October
26, 2017October 25, 2017 In: Jide Osuntokun
0The news that 28
professors at the Michael Okpara Federal University of
Agriculture in Umudike were demoted came as shock and a
surprise to me as a retired university professor. Things
have definitely changed in the university system in Nigeria.
This watering down of standards was recently underscored
when JAMB lowered admission scores into universities to 120
out of a total of 400 marks. Thank God this ridiculous
admission policy was roundly condemned by the universities
themselves and by parents who felt standards should be
higher in the interest of academic integrity of the
universities. What apparently happened in Michael Okpara
Federal University of Agriculture was that 28 people who
were either promoted or appointed professors were deemed
unqualified by a committee of joint Senate and Council and
were therefore demoted to either Readers (Associate
Professors) Senior lecturers or lecturers grade one! How
could this have happened in a university that has been in
existence for at least two decades or so? Was there no
Appointments and Promotions Committee (APC) which meets to
do a final approval of an assessment and interview process
when presumably papers of potential professors would have
been sent out to senior professors who are experts in the
fields of candidates being considered for appointments or
promotions? In the old days when the university system in
Nigeria was small, papers were always sent to the IUC (
inter university council) which was an outfit of the
Association of Commonwealth universities (ACU) for
assistance in sending papers to experts located in several
commonwealth universities. All universities in the
commonwealth were members of the ACU. It was therefore
axiomatic that a professor in one university, say Ibadan
would be accepted as professor in any Commonwealth
university either on sabbatical leave or for regular
appointment. The hallmark of a good university was the
international make up of its staff. All this has of course
changed. We do not have the money to recruit international
staff anymore because a British university professor for
example earns £100,000 per year which is about N50 million.
Recently, the British government issued a warning to British
universities vice chancellors to defend their salaries of
£150,000 per year and this is about N75 million. Vice
chancellors in Nigerian universities earn N12 million per
year while their professor colleagues earn lower than half
of that. The point I am trying to make is that it appears
that people are being made professors because of the
salaries attached to the category or class of appointees and
not as a mark of academic distinction and
excellence.Having said this, it is still
puzzling to me why somebody who is a lecturer grade one
would be appointed a professor. An extremely brilliant
person could be promoted from senior lecturer to professor,
but even then, his papers would have to have been assessed
by external assessors suggested by his head of department or
Dean of his or her faculty or college to guide the vice
chancellor who will make the final decision about the
external assessor. In all this process, anonymity of the
external assessor is the rule rather than the exception. In
extremely rare and exceptional cases, the number of years as
teacher may not be relevant in appointing a person a
professor.In the case of Michael Okpara
Federal University of Agriculture, the vice chancellor and
the council stand condemned and indicted and should be
removed immediately if they are still in office. I am sure
this travesty of the system is not limited to the university
alone; the practice pervades the entire university system
especially the new federal universities and some of their
state counterparts. It is also a reflection of the low
academic calibre of some of these vice chancellors. In the
rush to establish federal universities, assistant professors
(lecturers) from some American universities and senior
lecturers from existing Nigerian universities were appointed
vice chancellors. These unqualified people's first action
as vice chancellors was to promote themselves as professors
and after doing this, they had no moral right to deny
promotion to their academic colleagues and friends. I
personally know of a case of a former student of mine who
moved from lecturer to professor the same year by tactically
shopping around and moving from one university to the other
until arriving at his destination of professorship. This has
been made possible by the ballooning number of universities
without corresponding planning for staffing them. I know of
a case of a young lecturer in a hard area of computer
science applying for a job of senior lecturer in another
university. As soon as he got it and without even assuming
the position, made a bid as in an auction or in a market for
a higher post in another university and got appointed a
professor. There are professors and there are professors of
course! This academic title has become like chieftainship
title in the usual bad tradition in Nigeria. Academic trade
unionists also sometimes blackmail their vice chancellors to
make them professors and many weak vice chancellors have
surrendered to these people by manipulating the appointments
process to bastardize the system. If we are to be honest
with ourselves, there is a systemic problem in Nigerian
universities. First of all the crowding of the university
system by the new mushrooms of federal universities and
their private counterparts has led to too many unqualified
people masquerading as academics in our universities. Any
professor who is neither known by colleagues here at home
and abroad is not fit to parade himself as a professor
unless of course he is a band leader of one our musical
groups! The calibre of people being made vice chancellors
should be looked into because academic leadership in a
university can only be provided by a true academic who knows
his onions. Respect for academic excellence can only emanate
from a boss who has gone through the academic grill and not
from an academic parvenu or upstart who came to his or her
position through political jobbery. The council of any
university is crucial to maintaining academic integrity. A
situation where failed politicians or any politician at all
are routinely appointed pro chancellors and chairmen of
councils does not augur well for the future. These
buccaneers do not belong to universities because to them
public office is for material exploitation and
self-aggrandizement. Governments at state and federal levels
must find other ways of compensating their colleagues after
elections. There are several knowledgeable retired academics
who can bring their experience to bear on supervising the
universities and maintaining oversight responsibility for
the good of the universities. There should be a stop to
further licensing of new universities by the NUC. The more
universities are established, the downward spiral the
universities will experience in its academic
integrity.Most universities in the country
have units of Quality Assurance charged with ensuring
academic offering in terms of good teaching and laboratory
supervision of students as well as ensuring that lecturers
go to their classes to teach. The unit also ensures the
integrity of examinations and fairness in assessments. All
this is good but any academic who has to be monitored to do
what is necessary by my own book does not belong in the
university system. What this Quality Assurance should also
do is check the academic claims and certificates of those
who are teaching. It will surprise us what we would find. In
1979 when I was director of the NUC office in Washington
D.C, we found two members of staff in the Department of
Business Administration in University of Lagos who falsely
claimed they had PhD. from an American university. On
investigation we found out that the so-called university was
only a certificate-issuing one room office in California.
When confronted with this fact, one of the people involved
disappeared into the thin air and we never heard from him
again and the other begged to go back to a regular
university. I do not know why this latter person got away
with this lenient treatment on the grounds that his
Masters' degree was genuine why the doctorate degree was
fake. He later returned to the university and several years
later became professor and head of
department! The situation in Michael Okpara
University has exposed the soft underbelly of the Nigerian
universities. The federal government can set up independent
audit committees of retired professors to look into the
appointment and promotion processes of these universities
and try to streamline them. The state universities should do
the same. The NUC which has spread the joy of university
ownership to all and sundry should be empowered to do the
same for all private universities. Their reports should be
submitted to the various councils of these universities for
their implementation. Quality assurance should spread to
every aspect of the university system from staff to students
in order to remove the stain of low quality staff as well as
people holding unmerited positions of academic leadership in
our universities. This is the only way to avoid everybody in
the universities being tarred with the brush of academic
fraud which sadly pervades the entire university system in
Nigeria and casting doubt on the quality of academic degrees
and certificates awarded by Nigerian
universities. --
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USA Africa Dialogue Series - The Crisis of Our Nationhood

Kenya is facing a serious existential crisis,in blog article below I discuss some of the issues behind the country's problems and the possible remedy. I welcome your views on the on the issues the country faces and the proposed solutions.

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USA Africa Dialogue Series - Fw: prof

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.
Sent: Thursday, 30 November 2017 17:50
To: Ayo Olukotun
Cc: Joel
Subject: Fw: prof

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.
From: orogun olanike <>
Sent: Thursday, 30 November 2017 16:49
To: Ayo Olukotun
Reply To: orogun olanike
Subject: prof

On Monday, both the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, and the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, took turns to throw barbs at the Nigerian Media, over their role and posture in the anti-corruption struggle. The occasion was the 68th General Assembly of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON), which had at its theme 'The Media and the Fight Against Corruption'. Mohammed criticised the media for mocking the President Muhammadu Buhari administration's anti-corruption fight, while Magu regretted that, "media practitioners that are supposed to help fight corruption have unfortunately been sucked into the cesspool of malfeasance" (The Punch Tuesday, November 28, 2017).
A semiotic reading, of the messages will decode that the administration is showing irritation, if not resentment of recent frank and biting appraisals by the media of Buhari's waning anti-corruption fight. For example, Mohammed said that while the media are free to criticise the anti-corruption struggle, what he found disconcerting, is the mockery of that crusade. Are mockery, lampooning and poking fun, not also critical expressions? In other words, is it not splitting hairs to say that the media can criticise a policy, but are not free to mock that policy? Mohammed's sermon on the media's allegedly wayward posture becomes stranger when he went on to give examples of mockery by the media as casting headlines such as "Buhari's government is losing the anti-corruption war", "Buhari's anti-corruption war is failing", or "Arewa Youths knock president Buhari over failing anti-corruption war". According to the minister, "This is sheer mockery, not reporting". Really Sir? What will reporting have looked like, other than conveying the opinions and the expressions of different strata of the citizenry? If Arewa youths and an increasing segment of the populace believe that the anti-corruption war is failing, and say so, should the media have blacked out such opinions? Could it be that what the administration prefers is a Man Friday, an echo chamber that will merely double as a department of Buhari's information machinery?
The Man of the People in one of Chinua Achebe's Novels will rather have journalists behind bars than have them criticise government. Too often, our politicians pay lip service to free expression but show irritation when the expressions are not in their favour. The media have their own failings and prejudices, but they cannot be blamed for capturing disenchantment among the populace with a policy that is noble in intention but is weakly executed and features so many gaping contradictions.
Making the rounds currently, to give an illustration, is rising alarm over revelations made by a former Chairman of the Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina who volunteered in a recent video aired on channels Television, that Buhari approved the meeting between him and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN). Maina, don't forget, was declared wanted by the EFCC in connection with huge amounts of looted pension funds personally traced to him. The recent discovery that the fugitive, who was dismissed from the civil service had been smuggled back into the same service, paid arrears of salaries and promoted, raised serious doubt about the direction of the anti-corruption programme.
Maina Gate, with its torrent of damaging revelations is just one example of high level scandals involving state officials in the current administration. Should the media not have reported these scandals or failed to take account of the vacillating attitude of the administration towards cleansing the Augean Stable? It is interesting that even senior appointees of the administration are openly confessing their embarrassment at the indifferent and slack approach of government to sensational revelations of corruption in the ranks of government. The point being made is that the media did not manufacture the chagrin of the people at the current state of the anti-corruption struggle; they only report it. At this point, however, I digress by way of a short take.
This writer spent the better part of Monday at an International Conference on Leadership and Development in Africa, organised by the Faculty of Administration, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. Of particular interest, were the key note addresses, focusing mainly on governance and its travails in Africa. For example, Prof. Michael Adeyeye, quoting a former United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton maintains that no matter how much resources Nigeria has, it will continue to amount to little until it gets its governance right. He went on to look at governance from a multi-dimensional perspective; as structure or architecture, as process, as mechanism and as strategy. Obviously, for Nigeria to get ahead, it must take into account how to improve, perhaps overhaul the different aspects of governance, without excessively focusing on any particular narrow conception of the concept.
Engrossing too, is a key note address by Prof. Femi Mimiko, a former Vice-Chancellor of Adekunle Ajaisn University, Akungba. Mimiko alluded to African underdevelopment as arising largely from "non-inclusive, political and economic governance forms". Two anecdotes with which he ended his presentation are revealing. The first concerns a friend of his who after making intense effort to win an elective post failed to answer the simple question posed to him by Mimiko to the effect that, "what exactly is your policy agenda in the event that you win the election?" According to the academic, his friend was surprised if not grieved by what he thought was an unnecessary question.  Mimiko argued that this represents the mind set of most Nigerian politicians seeking power without governance purpose.
The second anecdote concerns the acclaimed President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame. The academic was pleasantly surprised that the Rwandan leader not only sat through a recent conference on development, at which Mimiko gave a lead paper, but took time to interrogate the paper by comparing his policies with the recommendations made by the academic. According to him, Kagame will say something like: these are the policies we have attempted and these are the results we got. Where did we go wrong in the light of your postulations?" Obviously, such a keen dialogue between policy and policy analysis is waiting to take place in Nigeria.
To go back to the initial discourse, bashing the media, cannot be the answer to reengineering Nigeria's currently comatose anti-corruption policy. Any policy must be judged by its successes and deliverables. Consequently, the anti-corruption policy cannot be written off, but it cannot attract high praise because it has failed to live up to its own stated objectives of sanitising the polity.
It will be a lot better therefore, if government will do an audit of its own performance, with a view to reconstructing a policy that is obviously in the doldrums. For example, an effective policy would have required top officials including the Attorney General, implicated it the Maina Gate scandal, still unfolding, to step aside. Additionally, is it not revealing that it is the legislature, rather than the executive that has seized the initiative in getting to the bottom of Maina Gate?
So, rather than blame the media for doing their work, government should go back to the drawing board for the purpose of rejuvenating the anti-corruption struggle, in order to recapture the high ideals with which it started.

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