The Chairman, Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC), Prof Tunji Olaopa, has identified incoherent education policies as one of the factors undermining Nigeria’s development.
Olaopa stated this while delivering the 16th convocation lecture of Lead City University, Ibadan, on Wednesday.
While delivering the lecture, entitled, ‘The Renewed Hope Agenda and the Imperative of Repositioning Nigerian Universities,’ Olaopa said government enters into the policy-making processes without the solid hand that could have been made possible by intellectual and empirical inputs to solidify action research and policy intelligence.
He noted that the research outputs of universities and other tertiary institutions are now becoming increasingly sterile as they have become decorative and mere formalities.
“Gone were the days when government policy decisions were fortified by an active town and gown engagements; when the likes of the late Dr. Pius Okigbo and Prof. Ojetunji Aboyade would deploy sound econometric analysis that the likes of Chief Simeon Adebo, Allison Ayida, et al, could count upon in formulating Nigeria’s development planning.
“A further consequence is that the tertiary institutions and their connection with human capital development have become critically undermined as a result of incoherent education policies.
“Higher education has been dislodged from its preeminent status as the core space for molding and preparing the best and the brightest that would constitute the manpower force Nigeria needs to keep marching into economic and industrial prominence,” he said.
He noted that the proliferation of universities, public or private, is unchecked because it has been politicised as is the usual practice with everything significant in Nigerian life.
“And this ensures that some of these institutions are not sufficiently standard and functional to meet the need for which they were established.
“Most private universities are established to service the modus operandi of anything private—commercial agenda and profit.
“To this extent, the Nigerian education landscape is not far from the global education development. However, licensing so many universities, under the political and politicising imperative, when the existing one do not have any firm regulatory oversight or significant funding arrangement is just criminal,” he said.
Olaopa also identified intractable issue of education financing in Nigeria, lack of full autnomy for public universities and upgrade of universities’ Governing Council as employer, as well as adversarial model of industrial action that locks ASUU into a degrading and unproductive conflict with university managements and with the government as some of the issues affecting education and hindering development of the country.
He added that most private universities today have reached a complacent point based on the current dysfunction of the public universities, describing it as a dangerous posture.
Olaopa said it does not bode well for the health of the education sector if private universities are operating freely in the limbo defined by the dysfunction of the public universities.
“It also does not serve the function of a competitive environment that enable any university to grow based on the virile competitiveness that is spurred by the attention of the Nigerian state and the intellectual and research demands to stimulate her development planning.
“I am however more concerned this moment about LCU’s status, at the vanguard of qualitatively impacting students and the Nigerian society. And I will pose my concern as queries.
“One, will the internal initiative for governance inventiveness and innovation be taken away from LCU if the public universities in Nigeria were to wake up to their responsibility of providing a unique education for Nigerians and hence be able to actively compete for the attention and patronage of Nigerians? Within the context of the unfolding renewed hope agenda, no private university should neglect this possibility.
“Two, how can private universities moderate their profit imperative and play into the larger space of emerging possibilities that enable them to stretch their objectives into the space of the recalibration of the possibilities of humanistic education for Nigerians, and full participation in Nigeria’s development planning?” he added.
In his address, the Vice Chancellor of Lead City University, Prof Kabiru Adeyemo, said the institution has expanded its world-class infrastructure, facilities and academic programmes through blended teaching and research.
He noted that the university sought approval from the National Universities Commission to run postgraduate courses in PGD, M.Sc to PhD level in five programmes.
“All the programmes, slated for verification and accreditation by the National Universities Commission, have all received approval and accreditation. However, we remain proactive, recognising that there is still ample room for further achievements, and we are committed to ongoing efforts,” he said.
The vice chancellor added that due to an increase in the enrollment for the university’s programmes and the standard of the university, the admission quota was increased from 1,685 to 3,235.
“A total of 2,824 candidates were admitted through the Central Admissions Processing System (CAPS),” Adeyemo said.
According to Adeyemo, a total of 1,881 students graduated from the university, comprising of 1328 graduands, who received their first-degree awards, while 553 graduands were conferred with higher degrees.
The highlight of the ceremony was the conferment of honourary degrees on Olubadan of Ibadan land, Oba Lekan Balogun, Alli-Okunmade II; former deputy governor of Osun State, Erelu Olusola Obada and a consultant with the World Bank, Sir Obafemi Oye, who were awarded Doctor of Science in Public Administration (Honoris Causa), Doctor of Science in Public Administration (Honoris Causa) and Doctor of Science, Business Administration (Honoris Causa) respectively.
Speaking, Oba Balogun thanked the Governing Council and Management of Lead City University for the great honour.
Olubadan, who spoke through his younger brother, Sen Kola Balogun, said that it is a thing of note that the university has made giant strides in its few years of existence, adding that there is no doubting the fact that Ibadan has immensely benefitted from the giant strides in terms of growth and development.
“In like manner, I must acknowledge the entrepreneurial wizardry of the visioner of the university and his steadfastness, persistence, eyes on goal and the spirit of I can do with which he’s been forging ahead.
“I’m not unaware of some of the challenges faced a couple of years ago, yet, he remained focused and undaunted and today, we can say to God be the glory. He is a model worthy of emulation and I throw a challenge to Nigerians, wherever they may be to tap from the I can do spirit with which the success story of the university is being told. Where there is will, there is a way. I foresee a greater future for the university, please keep up the good work,” he said.
Olubadan added that as a token of his appreciation and identification with the progressive, noble and forward-looking institution, he has decided, in consultation with his family members, that as from the next Convocation, an annual award to be known as Alli Okunmade Prize Award of N100,000 be instituted for the best graduating student in the Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Basic Medicals and Health Sciences in the university.
Erelu Obada, who spoke on behalf of the awardees thanked the Council, Senate, Vice Chancellor and students of Lead Ciry University for the honourary award.
She said Lead City University has become one of the pride of Africa, adding that the recognition was a testament to the contributions of the awardees to the society.
Obada charged the graduands to build a new smart, dynamic and globally recognised Nigeria.