By Happy Ekeyede
WORRIED by the increasing deterioration of the living condition of Nigerians, now compounded by heightened ethno-religious tension, a group of concerned eminent scholars and international researchers, converged at the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State, and blamed the country’s woes on the widening gap between scholars/researchers and policy-makers/practitioners, which they said must be re-ordered immediately, to turn its fortunes around.
The scholars led by Emeritus Professor John Adebunmi Ayoade of the University of Ibadan and Professor Cyril Obi, Programme Director, African Peacebuilding Network (APN) of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), New York, recalled that developed countries fully understood the strategic importance and relevance of scholars and researchers and always engaged them during moment of national emergencies and challenges as it were in Nigeria today.
Other eminent scholars at the occasion, some drawn from the West African Region and the U.S, included Professor Ishmael Rasheed; a Sierra-Leonean and Chairman, APN Board, Dr Matthew Balakoli from the Governors Commission, Liberia, Professor Charles Ukeje of the Department of International Relations, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, and Professor Sola Omotola formerly of The Guardian Editorial Board, now of FUOYE
Urging Nigerian political leaders, policy-makers, policy practitioners, industrialists and entrepreneurs to take a cue from these countris, the scholars further recalled that in the U.S, France, Russia, Australia, Canada, Japan, China, the United Kingdom and others, it is researchers and scholars that drive the economy, the industry, development and good governance, wondering why Nigeria’s case is different.
Professor Ukeje lamented that what had been operating in the country was a dialogue of two deafs where scholars operated from the silos while policy makers/practioners operated in world fenced with bureaucracy and red-tapism, this in his view had created an environment of mutual mistrust, but that now there is a ray of hope signalled by the Workshop.
In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor FUOYE, Professor Kayode Soremekun said it was the recognition of the urgent need to re-activate the link betwern scholars and policy makers that made the institution to seek collaboration with SSRC and to also link FUIYE wuth the global university community
Speaking at both the Workshop and Public Lecture sponsored by the New-York based SSRC, the Nigerian-born Chief Executive of the Council, Obi believed that all hope was not yet lost and that it was not too late for the country and policy makers/practioners, to retrace their steps and begin the process of critical lnkage with the scholarship community in Nigeria and in the Diasporal, disclosing that a special session of the 3-day workshop was created and devoted for this purpose.