• Thursday, April 25, 2024
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BusinessDay

‘We need to see our tertiary institutions from a global perspective’

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What is behind the idea of a model University for Oyo State; what do you intend to achieve for Oyo State and for mankind?

Good that you extended it. When you look at history of tertiary education in Nigeria, you will find out that our fore fathers and fore bearers were a lot cleverer than we are. What they did in essence was to scope themselves within the limit of resources available but they shop for the best and apparently, they got the best. It was during their time that we had the likes of University of Ife, University of Ibadan, UNILAG, ABU, and (University of Nigeria) Nsukka. Whatever you say of these universities, they were properly conceived and they were properly implemented such that a place like Ife was really a model campus both in terms of context and ambience. When I was a student at Ife, one time I was in the US and actually some of the buildings and architectural designs won competitions in the US. Can we say the same thing of our universities today? When you also look at the content in terms of the lecturer quality, you will find out that many of the lecturers; if not up to 70% or 80% we actually trained at first class universities in the world, Harvard, Stanford, Cambridge, Oxford; name it.

These are the kinds of lecturers we had and our students when they finish, they were accepted as if they were trained in those universities. I was one of such students. I enjoyed everything that education could provide anywhere in the world but that is not the story today. The story today is that if you find a graduate of a Nigerian university going abroad, he goes there with complex. He goes there with a mentality that says something like, ‘Yes, I finished in Nigeria and not that I am a product of such a university…’ You cannot blame him because we did not provide the kind of environment required for such a student to be globally competitive.

Seriously, for Nigeria to come out of some of its issues, political, economic and even ethics, codes and things like that, you need a good tertiary institution that would produce globally competitive products. So this is what we want to reconstruct; we have studied our obstacles and we want to see if we can overcome these obstacles by using this university as a pilot. Hopefully, if it is successful, other places will spring up like that and then we can really have a standard model university in Nigeria. When you look round, people are trying but I can tell you there is no university in Nigeria today that the US will come and accredit because they won’t meet the standard but we are starting from the beginning. Our university will be accredited by the US right from day one. So you can see the kind of standard we are trying to achieve. So this is why we say it is a model university.

How are you going to source for the personnel when we realise we don’t have enough, particularly in the teaching areas?

It is just a pity that we localise tertiary education. Any university is a global institution. So wherever anybody comes from, he is just following the dynamics of intellectual demand and location. It is not outsourcing, it is getting competent, qualified people anywhere in the world, that is where they come from and it is going to be competitive. By the way, we hope we also pay salaries and wages competitively. Whatever they pay abroad, we pay. So also for the students, the students will pay whatever they pay abroad because we really want to make it a model.

What is the state of the university now?

I don’t know if it is right but let me say that before you go in to start a private university, you always give assurance to government that you have enough money but the reason for having TETFUND is actually to assist the tertiary education programme. So on one hand you could say you told me you have all the money so I should not give you any additional fund from public fund but at the same time, whoever you produce goes to everywhere. So why do you want to deprive them of also enjoying public fund? So it is just that maybe at a point in time, we have to work out under what arrangement or condition the private universities will enjoy TETFUND.

For example, a lecturer in a private university has to be intellectually competitive. In a private university, one of the drivers could be profit. So they may not be able to give that kind of intellectual sponsorship to a lecturer but TETFUND will be able to support this intellectual development which eventually will help the students that they are training. I don’t have a direct yes or no answer but I think we need to rework and review how we deploy these funds.

Maybe not a mid-point, It was designed for something. What is the objective? To develop tertiary institutions and if you are not capturing all, how do we do it so that it becomes more effective and functional. It may be the other end of the scale.

 

RAZAQ AYINLA