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‘Most students want success without hard work’


osagiedeYou attained professorship not long after you graduated from the University of Benin (UNIBEN). How did you make it to the top quite early?

I gained admission into UNIBEN in 1990 to study mathematics education and I graduated in the 1994/1995 academic session. I went straight on to do my masters’ degree programme because at that time people were of the opinion that mathematics was very difficult so I decided to read mathematics to the end in order to experience how difficult it was for people to be running away from it. In 1999/2000, I started my PhD and I got it in 2002. I then decided to go up to the level of professorship. So, I started publishing, interacting and teaching. Subsequently, I was made senior lecturer and even had accelerated promotion. Last year, I was promoted professor and my professorship was backdated to October 1st, 2013.

Do you agree with the assertion that the standard of education in Nigeria is falling or has fallen?

When they say that the standard of education is falling, I quite agree with them. And I blame the decay on four factors, especially the students because some of them these days feel that it’s not only persons who attend higher institutions that make progress in life. When they see you driving a big car, and you own a computer set that you work with, they will want to emulate you. And that is why I am always telling anybody that says he wants to be like me to also be ready to suffer like me. Most students don’t want to learn, and the ones that are ready to learn are always distracted by some environmental factors because we have distractions here and there on campus.

On the part of parents, some parents want their children quartered in choice accommodation with little or no monitoring. As an undergraduate, I stayed in the hostel with friends/mates, and we read together. If as a parent, you rent a room for your child because you want the child to excel, I bet you, that child cannot excel. You cannot have all the desired electronic gadgets in your room as a student and expect to excel.

To also curb the falling education standard, government should provide scholarship and grants to many students because many students if given scholarship will do well. As a student, I did menial jobs in school, including serving as a motor boy in commercial buses to sustain myself. All these were to ensure that I become a better person in the future. Many students today will not do that because they do not want to labour. Nowadays, all that students’ want is shortcut to success. However, the university is putting things like the work-study and self-study programmes in place for students. In the programme, students are meant to arrange books in the library every hour and get paid at the end of the month.

Another factor that is affecting the quality of education at the tertiary level is putting a square peg in a round hole because when you recruit lecturers and deploy them to teach outside their ‘jurisdiction/profession,’ it becomes a big challenge to the students and the society.

Such lecturer, because they are not grounded in the courses that they teach have to read before going to classes to teach. In addition to this, most lecturers these days’ still use lecture notes prepared in 1999 to teach. And if such lecture notes are stolen, it becomes a problem to the lecturer. Only vibrant lecturers are moving with the times when it comes to lecture notes because knowledge is dynamic.
There are insinuations that appointments in UNIBEN are based largely on favouristim with the immediate past vice chancellor, Prof Osayuki Oshodin and the incumbent, Prof Orummwense, being fingered for promoting that.

The immediate past vice chancellor is a man of peace and one that listens to everyone. He laid a foundation for this new administration to build upon. We see that both men are capable of providing solutions to our generation’s problems. However, I cannot really begin to compare the past administration with the current one because the new vice chancellor just assumed duty.

But we expect Orumwense to build on what the past vice chancellor did because they both have sound leadership qualities.
The immediate past vice chancellor, Prof Oshodin was also alleged to be tribalistic, and even the incumbent too. Do you share this opinion?
By the grace of God, if you cry to Prof. Oshodin, no matter your tribe, once he is convinced that you are competent, he gives you the job irrespective of your tribe. So the process was merit- based and the right people were given the right job irrespective of tribal affiliations.
As dean of students’ affairs, you have a lot to do with student unionism. But now, student unionism in UNIBEN is neither here or there.
When students get what they want, there is no need for protest. I believe in dialogue, the student union leadership we have had for about two or three sessions now believe in dialogue. If you give students what they want at that point in time, they will maintain peace. I was a student in this great institution, having done my finished my first, masters and doctorate degrees here before becoming a professor. I share their pains and views and I will always say, “I am a solution to my generation.”

Be that as it may, we want to see how we can activate the students’ intellectual capabilities and social life in terms of entrepreneurship. That is the reason I was made the dean of students so that we can interact, get all their demands and place them where they deserve to be.

This current crop of SUG team we told them that they must attain a minimum of 2.75 GPA because most students are not studying as expected and you would see a student with 1.51 GPA, with lots of carryovers going for the SUG presidency. Somebody like that cannot lead. By the grace of God, we want to ensure that by the time I am leaving the deanship, students will be grateful that someone like me existed and charted a new path of course to improve and better their lives in school.

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