By Joseph Erunke
HE is not happy with the pace of Nigeria’s development 57 years after being bequeathed quality education by its colonial masters. The derailment from the sound foundation left for the country by its handlers, according to Mr. Samuel Adedoyin Odunsi, has caused the country its fortune that could have made it measure up with the advanced world in terms of development.
However, Odunsi, who recently released a book entitled: The Failure of University Education for Development and What to Teach Instead, said it was not yet late for the country to do the needful. The social entrepreneur, who also founded Human Rethink, a think-tank engaged in implementing the remedy for underdevelopment, stressed the need for Nigeria to rise to meet the West and other developed countries as an economic equal.
To him, the single cause of underdevelopment in Nigeria has been the failure of higher education (universities and technical institutions) to train graduates to operate in western economies. Besides, he also views the failure of higher education to equalise the managerial performance of Nigerian graduates with those of expatriates as major cause of the country’s underdevelopment.
“Expatriates consist of people from the West and the developed countries of Asia who make things work in Nigeria. We know that the companies and organisations operated by expatriates perform the best in the country. E.g., oil and gas, construction, telecom industries, etc. If a large corporation is running well in Nigeria, the chances are that expatriates are managing it, even if it’s owned by Nigerians.
Without the managerial leadership of expatriates, the facility will deteriorate or collapse over time, as we have seen with the systems inherited from colonialism such as utility services (e.g., electricity, water, mail), transportation system (railways), social services, agriculture and many others, not to mention the deterioration of the currency from 1 naira to 1 dollar in the early 1980s to hundreds of naira to 1 dollar today. The failure of higher education to equalise the managerial performance of Nigerian graduates with those of expatriates has been the unspoken cause of underdevelopment since Independence.”
Asked whether the country should hire expatriates to develop it, Odunsi responded: ”It’s possible in theory for Nigeria to hire enough expatriates to develop it but it’s not possible in reality because Nigeria can’t afford the financial cost. Hundreds of billions of dollars a year, if not trillions, will be required to pay the salaries of expatriates that can develop the country as defined.”
He believes that the practical purpose of higher education is to train people to perform as well as expatriates in the role of managers or entrepreneurs so that Nigerian graduates can lead and supervise the rapid and continuous development of their country.
If higher education in Nigeria could supply a steady stream of graduates that are as effective as expatriates, the country will quickly develop for real, “he noted, adding that” in numerical terms, Nigeria already has more than enough graduates to make development happen.”
But he knocked higher education in this regards, saying:”But higher education has not been effective in that way. All that higher education has done is provide technical training, which benefits only the individual that might get a job in Nigeria or overseas.”