The Consul-General of Nigeria in the United States of America,Ambassador Habib Baba Habu has stated that about 60 million Nigerian youth are uneducated.Even as he equally noted that Nigerians in Diaspora are among the most sought after by American universities because of their intelligence. He disclosed that if the enabling environment and infrastructure are in place in Nigeria, most Nigerian students will surpass their counterparts anywhere in the world.
Welcoming Nigerian vice- chancellors, provosts, rectors and other top executives of tertiary institutions to Nigeria Embassy, New York, Habib said: “Your use of Executive Trainers Limited as the avenue through which you can improve the quality of your teaching and the quality of your students ultimately, means a lot. (ETL had taken top executives of some Nigerian tertiary institutions to New York for academic strategy workshop to revolutionize its higher education.)
“The universities in America are looking for Nigerian students because they have realised that Nigerians are among the most intelligent people on earth. President Clinton confirmed that the Nigerian diasporas in the US are the most educated diaspora of any group.”
He said that Nigeria has over 27,000 medical doctors in the US and over 81,000 nurses.
Lamenting the state of Ni-geria’s education sector, Habib noted that every sector of the Nigerian economy is deficit but education tops the list. According to him, 70 per cent of Nigeria’s population is below 30 years which is the most productive years of men and women.
He, however, explained that out of the 70 per cent, only 30 per cent are educated and can fit into organisations based on their educational background. The remaining 40 per cent which probably constitutes 60 million, are uneducated.
Considering the caliber of Nigerian academia in the United States, the Consul-General tasked Nigerians to seek for ways of bringing them home. He said: “We need to think of how we can lure back some of the hundreds of PhD holders here that are wasting away. Many of them want to go home but they don’t know how to go about it.
“We need to start talking with some of our nationals. Some are in their early 60s and about to retire, even if they go back to Nigeria and teach for three or four years, our children will have benefited from their knowledge. “Most of them do not want to go home to nothing. They have had comfortable lives and wouldn’t want to go back and start struggling. Even if it is four-five years contract, I am sure you would find a lot of PhD holders and professors who are willing to go back home to teach, so please do consider this.”
The Consul-General who lauded the ETL for organising a top level training for tertiary executives said the initiative will churn out high quality students that will impact on the country. When they impact on the country, he added, it means we are beginning again, the process of developing Nigeria.
Recalling what the nation’s university system used to be in the 70s, Habib heaped the blame on the years of military dictatorship. He said: “The military did a lot of harm to Nigeria.
“When we went to school in the 70s and early 80s, we knew what we had in the universities. We were eating three square meals with 50 kobo until Ahmadu Ali came and scattered it for us. That was the beginning of the deterioration in the sector.”
He urged the educators to rebuild the sector.
Meanwhile, Professor Bandele Samuel Oye, former, Vice-Chancellor, University of Education, Ikere-Ekiti and University of Science and Technology, Ifaki-Ekiti had earlier in his lecture charged the educators to employ academic strategy in tackling crisis on campus. Speaking on the theme: Academic Strategy; The Management of Revolution in Nigerian Higher Education, Bandele said that academic revolution which must involve academic strategy must be tailored towards a positive change in tertiary institutions.
He quickly stated that revolution is not about killing the system or the executive but killing that particular thing that the vice-chancellor, rector, provost will be interested in which will not help the institution’s progress.
The Professor of Sociol-ogy explained that such revolution could be in restoration of examination integrity in the institution, early marking of scripts, release of students’ results after Senate’s approval and saying no to embezzlement and corruption. He, however, warned that such attempts should be carried out with the appropriate strategy.
Bandele who enjoined top executives in tertiary institutions to welcome ideas that will lead to positive change in their institutions, charged them not to suppress a revolution that can lead to progressive change in their schools, adding that such action can lead to the removal and replacement of the institution’s head.
“Members of staff who are cultists should be dealt with using the appropriate strategy. If the head is balanced, it can reduce cultism in school,” he said.
On issues raised by un-ions that needed urgent attention, Prof Bandele maintained that the issues should be strategically examined and treated based on merit, especially if it will lead to the advancement of the institutions. He, however, warned unionists to desist from agitations that are self-centred which will not promote the sector. He urged the government to address vital demands made by unions especially if it will lead to positive change in the sector.
In the opening remarks
made by the professors and doctors of philosophy in attendance, the academics unanimously agreed that they have never attended a unique workshop like this which has revolutionized their lives. Therefore, with one voice, they agreed that Professor Bandele Samuel Oye, the resource person for the workshop should be addressed as Professor Emeritus of Sociology. (Vanguard)