By Emmanuel Edukugho
Nigerian Universities have been slammed as breeding grounds for the same societal ills they are charged to correct.
Professor Oyewale Tomori, Vice-Chancellor, Redeemerâ€™s University, Redemption Camp, along Lagos-Ibadan Express
Road, has made scathing comments and submission about the country, describing from the day of our independence, going through those optimistic years of hope, those expectant years of galloping ambition, and how we let the opportunities slip through our fingers. How we let ourselves down, how self superseded sense and grief overcame goodness, how graft made us daft, blind, short-sighted and we succumbed to the basest of our instincts.
He recalled that in years gone by, the corridors of our schools were paved with tiles of probity, our classrooms were filled with upright teachers and sincere and hardworking students. In the offices, people wrote with dedicatedâ€™ hands on papers of probity, with pens flowing with the ink of honour. People walked our streets with boldness to right the wrong and courage to shame the miscreant. The malefactor was confronted, wrongdoer challenged, the reprobate was reprimanded and the villain vilified.
â€œToday, we live in another country, another country filled with people in the throes of decadence, a nation in the turmoil of corruption. A nation where vice is victory, where nasty is right, where sadism is sweetness where stealing is saintly, where brutality is basic, where malice is magnificent, where arson is acceptable and where looting is our first love. No segment of our society is free from corruption. Corruption roams freely in the corridors of our ministries. It has a place of honour in the bedroom of our leaders, in private and public settings. Indiscipline and falsehood are to be found in the sacred and white washed sepulchers of our churches and citadels of worship.â€
Tomori submitted that, â€œour edifices of learning and our universities are breeding grounds for the same societal ills they are charged to correct. Gone are the days when parents taught their children the dignity of labour, the virtue of honesty, the fruit of hardwork, or the importance of a good name. Our children only hear of integrity, they rarely see it practised.â€
He noted that our scandal – ridden nation keeps the tabloids in print and the gossip media bubbling.
â€œCheck our newspapers, view our television stations, from the headlines to the main news, if officials are not telling lies about the whereabouts of our leaders, courts in the US and Europe are exposing our leaders who have taken bribes. Cancellation of examination results, academic fraud and sexual misuse in our universities and armed robbers robbing banks, serve as desserts to our main news. Are you still wondering that we only expelled 25 students?â€
He pointed out that, in administering sanctions against these students, we are punishing the wrong persons.
That we should be punishing the parents.
â€œThe irony of the situation is that, we the current generation of parents who received discipline from our parents are the same ones who have refused to discipline our children. We are the onesÂ who, in our perverted demonstration of love for our children, have allowed them to rule our homes. We are reaping in abundance, the seeds of our neglect, planted in the dunghill of wasteful spending, watered with the sea of indiscipline, fertilized with the manure of decadence and nurtured with the poison of misplaced priorities and irreverent consumption.â€
According to the VC, nowadays 16 – years old coming to the university began smoking at the age of 10. His 17-year old counterpart can down a bottle of gin in between a one hour lecture, having been baptized and initiated into drinking alcohol at the age of ten.
He asked:â€œIsnâ€™t it time we establish centre for rehabilitating alcoholics, drug addicts and societal deviants, close by our secondary schools. We then demand, in addition to JAMB and WAEC/NECO results, clearance certificates from the rehabilitation centre.â€
Tomori, who delivered the University of Lagos, 2009 convocation lecture recently titled: Whither Nigeria?, or Wither!. Affirmed that Education must begin at home, explaining that if Nigerian education system must be the instrument for the full development of the human personality and for the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, it must not begin in the nursery or primary school.
â€œEducation must start from the home. If we do not address the home training of our children it will matter little what the Minister of Education does. If we do not nurture our children at home on the need for integrity and hardwork, the labour of the Executive Secretary of NUC or JAMB, will be no more than an exercise in futility. If we do not train our children at home, through a daily dose of personal and moral example, the efforts of the secondary school principal will be like putting icing on a bad cake.â€
He cautioned parents not to show distinction between their private and public life.
â€œIn 2010, we must begin at home, the education of those who will lead Nigeria of the future. Our tertiary institutions receive these young men and women who are the product of our national parental neglect, a combination of maternal desertion and paternal disregard. We expect our universities to robe these our pikins with the toga of decorum, civility and honour. We want our universities to put a mansion of honour on the foundation of parental abandonment and negligence.â€
The VC added: â€œWhen university students are paraded as drug traffickers or when they shoot each other over such trifle matters, as rigging students union elections, we forget their fathers, mothers, and uncles set a perfect example during the original and re-run gubernatorial elections in some of our states.â€
On Science and Technology, he drew attention to an engraving on the entrance hall to the Institute of Scientific Investigations in Havana, Cuba which reads: â€œThe only way out of underdevelopment is through science and technology.â€
He asserts that no nation has made significant improvement in her standard of living without tapping
available resources of science and making use of technological know how. Cuba, in spite of the 50 years of
strangulating embargo, has used science and technology to improve the health of her people.
â€œOn the other hand, Nigeria has attempted to sidetrack developing science and technology and has taken a shortcut by importing finished technology and calling it transfer of technology. Nigeria imports complete knocked down parts of vehicles and appoints a Nigerian Chief Executive Managing Director to oversee the screwing together of these parts.â€
Tomori urged Nigeria to stop paying lip service to using science and technology for national development and
put our money where our rhetoric is.
â€œAs we enter 2010, we must show seriousness and genuineness to become a developed nation through the application of science and technology.â€