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Hypocrisy of the academia

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Ever before Nigeria’s independence, the country has produced so many brilliant scholars globally acknowledged for their erudition. Some of these highly intelligent minds were also known to have fiercely slugged it out with the colonialists until Britain granted the country the so much desired independence.

But quite unfortunately, those set of Nigerians who knew their onions about the issue of governance and who would have taken the nation to greater heights never received the blessings of Britain as the baton went to those who had earlier confessed that they weren’t ready for independence, hence the reason behind Nigeria’s sorry state and its being overwhelmed by somewhat insurmountable problems.  So many developmental and economic theories have been propounded over the years aimed at making Nigeria not only a nation every citizen would be proud of but also which other nations across the globe would want to emulate. All round the years, seminars papers are presented on socio-economic discourse which most times hold the audience spell-bound and everyone enveloped by feelings that it was only a matter of time for things to turn around for the better.

However over the years, the people’s hopes and expectations have continually been dashed, and the nation has simply remained the way it is, like the proverbial sheep without shepherd. Yet, if the root cause of such stagnancy as noticeable in Nigeria is critically cross-examined, the hypocrisy of Nigeria’s scholars should take a lion share of the blame. Having lost out in their bid to wrestle power and take over from the colonialists, and the reins of governance eventually went to those Britain preferred, obviously for its own ulterior motives, Nigeria’s scholars soon commenced a politics of survival. Before and after independence, Nigeria had invested so much in its citizens. Indeed, the sky was the limit in terms of opportunities opened to people to improve themselves at the expense of the state. Apart from indiscriminate award of various scholarships that attended the period, most issues relating to education were heavily subsidized and higher institutions were visible paradise on earth.

But for a nation which had put in so much investments into the development of its own citizens, what did Nigeria get in return? Many of those who enjoyed so much of the nation’s facilities relocated to serve foreign lands because to them, their personal comfort was more important than giving back to their own society.  Check out the history of Nigerians said to be making waves abroad and you will be amazed that it was Nigeria that nurtured and gave them the leeway to success. Of course it can be argued that anyone is free to live wherever he or she chooses. Exactly. But the fact that those who Nigeria gave its best in its years of glory abandoned her when it mattered most has kept the nation in a complete parlous state of underdevelopment. Right now Nigeria is faced with inadequate manpower. The hospitals are in dire need of medical personnel and almost every other sector is adversely affected. With the continuous migration of Nigeria’s professionals in search of greener pastures abroad, one can only imagine what would become of the nation in the next couple of years.

Because of the same issue of survival, Nigeria’s scholars are never known to be consistent but rather easily betray and jettison their own principles as soon as they join the political class. Outside the government, ceaseless criticisms by scholars trail every move by those at the helms of affairs. No government policy is ever good enough and there would always be loopholes to point at in order to lampoon those in power. Sometimes, policies already passed into law easily become highly controversial and most times the citizens are left pondering about what to believe. But as soon as any of the most vociferous government’s critics is offered an appointment into the inner circle, the ink of criticism suddenly evaporates and all that is left is strong defence of the stomach! Nigeria’s history is replete with the antics of famous government critics who suddenly went into oblivion having secured political appointments.  Well it may be that having come face to face with the realities of governance, they realized that things were not really the way they earlier thought and then decided to eat an humble pie.

However, since political leaders have seen it all, they know well how to handle every aspect of antagonism  springing up from ‘overzealous’ individuals. Politicians take the citizens for granted and perpetrate all manners of nonsense because they have been made to believe that any agitation by any critic is just mere noise making aimed at drawing attention.

For the billions of naira sunk into education annually even if arguably still a far cry from the desirable, Nigeria has virtually nothing to show for it. Failure of those at the ivory towers to rise up to the challenge of the modern world and lead the nation’s technological breakthrough that can bail Nigeria out of predicaments of many decades has led to a  situation where the country remains a  dumping ground for all manner of fake products which continually drain the citizen’s meagre resources.

Each time members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) call out its members on industrial action, it has never been confronted by any serious government to ask for its account of stewardship. Why must a nation with so many brilliant professors and First Class universities with electrical engineering faculties continue to battle with epileptic power supply since independence? When will all the paper theories of several decades translate to industrial realities that will halt Nigeria’s over dependence on foreign importation? Why is it that  ASUU’s main concern every time is only for any government in power to honour some highly preposterous agreements which terms even ASUU itself obviously shies away from making public?

Most of the criticism often levelled against any government in power centres on corruption but is the same cankerworm not manifested and reflected in every process taking place on the campuses? Why are members of ASUU never concerned about fulfilling their own mandate of taking their nation out of the woods as done in other climes and why must grandstanding and cheap blackmail be a constant veritable weapon of intimidating successive governments into submission? How would any family be willing to stake all its fortune on a foetus that has never shown any signs of life?

Oyewusi wrote from Lagos.


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