By Emmanuel Edukugho
Former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, has cautioned that if Nigeria is to stand a chance of meeting its development aspirations as articulated in Vision 20-2020, it must transform the nation’s education policy and performance.
‘’It must not only raise the quality of education at our primary, secondary and tertiary levels, but also expand the technological base to impart skill that would enable our citizens, especially our youths, to face the challenges of the ICT-driven age of globalization.”
This was Anyaoku’s charge to the nation while delivering Bells University of Technology, Ota, 2011 Third Eminent Persons’ Lecture titled “Nigeria in Globalizing World.’’ Saying that he considered this university an apt platform to address the issue of globalization given that globalization is largely technology-driven, he started by paying tribute to Bells Education Foundation, the Proprietor of Bells University, for its foresight in seeking to contribute to meeting Nigeria’s needs in this age of globalization, which are basically technological needs.
According to the erstwhile Commonwealth scribe, globalization in its most simple or uncomplicated form, is the inter-connectivity and glowing inter-dependency among peoples and nations.
‘’It is the process by which all human societies, cultures and economies are increasingly becoming inter-connected through a worldwide network of political ideas, information, communication, transportation and trade.’’
As the cradle of civilization, he said that Africa must not be alienated in today’s globalizing world; rather, it deserves a vantage place as equal partner in the advance of human civilization.
Anyaoku submitted that the engine of the inter-connectivity and inter-dependency, is the revolution that has occurred in transport, communication and information.
‘’Among the most revolutionary and information networks are the satellite television broadcasting in which there is the CNN and other notable TV stations, the Internet, the Facebook and of course, Twitter.’’
It was affirmed that globalization is, nonetheless, a term which has manifested itself in all sphere of human endeavours, be it the military, education, politics, culture or even the capacity of the modern day state to fully take charge of what transpires across its borders.
Turning to Nigeria’s place in the globalizing world, he posed this question: is Nigeria gaining from the globalization trend? ‘’If the answer is no, as I believe it is, what does the country need to do in order to maximise for itself the gains of globalization?’’
He noted that unlike the countries now commonly described as the ‘’Asian Tigers’’ (Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, etc), Nigeria has failed to take advantage of the easier flow of capital and the opening up of markets which have accompanied globalization to increase the pace of its national development. And the main reason for this has been ‘’Nigerian made.’’
In the presentation, it was emphasised that since independence in 1960, Nigeria has had a myriad of socio-economic and political challenges to contend with; some are related to nation-building, and others to capacity for efficient governance. ‘’It was not long before a combination of these and other associated problems plunged the nation into a deep political crisis that led to the first military coup détat and a civil war.’’
He warned that unless Nigeria transforms her present domestic and eternal conditions, will continue as a low team player in the global village where the developed countries of the northern hemisphere are firmly in control of every knowledge-creating institution of the world.
Apart from the fact that its economy has become bereft of competitive edge, Nigeria is presently deficit in the provision of the social needs of its population. There is urgent need to improve on Nigeria’s infrastructural situation; especially power, because it is on power that most other development efforts rest.
Anyaoku said in addition to a people-driven development strategy, the Nigerian education sector must be reviewed with a view to expanding the citizens; especially the young peoples’ accesss to knowledge and skills that will drive a growing economy.
‘’The experience of both developed and fast developing countries has shown that educated and trained human resources are a sine qua non for every well-performing national economy.
‘’Research and Development (R and D) must be taken more seriously because they are an essential component of knowledge acquisition and the discovery of appropriate technology for adding value to our local natural resources.’’
The nation was tasked to pursue the foregoing alongside the recognition of gender equality in all the sectors of our national life in order to enable the general mobilisation of the entire population for purposes of national development.
He decried spending about 80% of our revenue on current expenditure and suggested the capping of the cost of governance at 50% of the budget so as to achieve our desired rate of national development.
The lecture was chaired by Judge Bola Ajibola, former World Court judge, and one-time Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of Nigeria who is founder/proprietor of Crescent University, Abeokuta; former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Prof Akin Mabogunje, Chancellor Bells Tech University, Prof Emmanuel Edozien, Pro-Chancellor, Prof Peter Okebukola, former NUC executive secretary, and other academics, students, including the Vice Chancellor of Crawford University, Faith City, Igbesa, Ogun State, Prof Samson Ayanlaja.
Bells University of Technology Vice Chancellor, Professor Isaac Adebayo Adeyemi, gave a stimulating welcome address which set the tone of the lecture.