The ASUU Strike and the Crapious Revolution 6
The Final Target
“Nigeria needs its public research universities and teaching hospitals despite the plans of the government. It’s a non-negotiable necessity.”
How true is it that the private sector can run universities better than the public sector? A classic globalisation policy, only the World Bank and the IMF could successfully impose such a policy on Nigeria. The Government of Nigeria (GON) seeks to abolish public university education in Nigeria completely. That is the tacit intention of the GON, not make-believe reform. Free-markets for education are profit driven and with consequences. Must education be expensive in a country that cannot adequately employ its educated people? Or pay them living wages? It is neither value for money nor does it make economic sense.
We note that the public primary and secondary schools’ system in Nigeria, once excellent, is now destroyed and by, you guessed it, structural reform. Everyone is now forced to send their children to private run primary and secondary schools. Thousands of such schools are illegal and inadequate. Standardised school education no longer exists in the country. This is quite an achievement of reform. Nigerian schools were better when service was the point of it, not profit.
As public education is on death row in Nigeria, we remember its beginnings. The remarkable investment the Yakubu Gowon government implemented in making Nigerians pursue education as a prime ambition is facing a most devastating reversal and destruction. O Yes, in the name of reform. Is reform not supposed to make things so much better? One irony is President Buhari was a long-serving member of the Gowon government that made the investments in Nigerian public education. He rejected globalisation reform as military head of state but is now totally subservient to it as democrat president. Dividends of democracy?
The ruling elites own many private universities openly or by proxy. Presidential aspirant Atiku Abubakar owns the American University of Nigeria. Former president Olusegun Obasanjo own Bells University of Technology. There are various others. We see nothing wrong with owning universities. The problem arises when in free-markets, the owners of private universities use state power and resources to gain a competitive advantage over state-owned universities. Regardless, this Nigerians who can afford it would not send their children to privately owned Nigerian universities they cannot trust. The beneficiaries of GON largess send their kids overseas even to African universities. Other Africans used to come to study in Nigeria in large numbers, some at the GON’s expense, but that is now in reverse.
Fake universities have arisen in Nigeria that are unaccredited by the National Universities Commission, operating and collecting fees in the country, at least 58 of them. Paraparagbi Atlantic Technological University and Practical Masters University are unusual names. And please don’t laugh.
Besides funding of university management, there are problems with research funding. Several academic staff complain about funds they successfully sought overseas from research councils, academies and similar. These funds remitted to Nigeria for the staff to collect to undertake research have remained hanging for up to four years at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Why did the CBN not release these funds to the academic researchers that won them by transparent and competitive bids? Is the GON blocking funds it would not provide by itself for research?
The funds the GON provides for research attract private unofficial costs; the demand of bribes from every successful candidate and sometimes demands of sex from females. Most academics resist these “corner corner” demands without shaking, but some cannot resist the force to comply. We are not talking here about funds for personal use or salaries, but research, of which its impacts are measurable in practical and theoretical terms and with transparency. We cannot imagine why innovative research is not a top priority for the GON.
Nigeria’s economic and social priority should be a rapid spate of successes in research and development undertakings. Yet, the GON cannot provide adequate R & D funding? It is what the nation needs if it is to cease being a poor country. Skill transfer is another important aspect of economic and social development. These are not just facts but the truth. Now, if every economic and social policy of the GON comes from the World Bank, how can the country chart its own future and meet its own peculiar needs appropriately? The countries that introduced and propagated globalisation across the globe have now been craped by globalisation.
When globalisation fails, nationalism becomes inevitable. The current of Nigerian nationalism as one nation or in fragments has been a long time coming. It is right here. But be sure, the public universities and teaching hospitals will survive and prosper.