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Author Topic: Nigerian Tertiary Institutions Should Start Footing Own Bills  (Read 185 times)

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Offline JEFFREY96

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original
author. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of early
its editors or other contributors.
Story highlights:
— There is nothing wrong with the federal government asking tertiary education
institutions to foot their bills
— “We all want change, but no one wants to change one’s attitude”
— “We need more actions from our tertiary institutions”
Cause and effect
At times when I think about some events in our country, I am forced to ask: “Are
we cursed or are we the cause?” Why should the federal government pay workers
in our staff schools? Where is the internally generated revenue of Nigerian
tertiary institutions? I am solidly behind the federal government’s decision not to
pay salaries of the workers in our staff schools.
It has to be noted that the federal government pays the salaries of all staff in
our federal government-owned tertiary institutions, along with other capital
projects, even when students in majority of these higher institutions pay more
than N100,000 as their tuition fees.
That is unfair! What do these school managements do with all the revenue? Or is
the money being shared among the principal officers and their cronies? If you
ask them, they will tell you that the revenue is used to pay cleaners and to buy
chalk, whiteboard markers for teaching.
Everybody depends on oil revenues. That means when the oil in the Niger Delta
dries up, Nigeria will cease to exist. That’s incredible. Many of the world-class
universities in the USA and the UK pay all their workers and foot all their bills.
To be appointed vice chancellor abroad is a responsibility to work, not the time
to build five-star hotels and save money for one’s generations unborn.
What is wrong with the federal government asking Nigerian tertiary education
institutions to foot their bills? It is time to check the activities of these Labour
Unions everywhere in Nigeria because any positive move by the government or
its agencies is greeted with a threat of industrial action.
People send their wards outside the country not because the standard of
education in those countries are higher than ours, but because students in
Nigerian public schools hardly graduate when they are supposed to because if it
is not an internal strike, it is a nationwide strike.
My late father told us that one does not know an intelligent child when all
resources are available to him, but that an intelligent child is one who can make
something out of nothing because complaints are tools with which purposeless
people build their houses with.
Until the internally generated revenues are properly managed, our tertiary
schools will keep on being dependent on the federal government.
This overdependence on our oil revenue is not only happening in our staff
schools. I once published my experience when I wanted to travel by train from
the Port Harcourt end of the Eastern railway district. There was no online
contact through which I could contact them to know their schedules, fares and
the substations. If those establishments were owned privately, the owners would
have ensured that Nigerian masses were sensitised through regular
advertisements and other media publications.
A wall of resistance
In Nigeria today, one pops a champagne bottle on getting a federal government
work, since one knows that, work or no work, there will be an ‘alert’ at the end of
the month. We all want change, but no one wants to change one’s attitude, what
an irony of life! Are you now telling me that if the Eastern railway district I
mentioned earlier was privately owned, the owner would not sit up to find a way
of paying his workers and still make profits at the end of the month?
Go to our tertiary hospitals. We all blame the government, but what happens to
the internally generated revenue there? The last time I checked, many
topmost tertiary hospitals in the UK and the USA settle their monthly bills from
their internally generated revenues. All the ancillary services, such as Laboratory,
Radiological, Dietary, Physiotherapy and Pharmacy units should be sources of
revenue for the hospitals.
Consider, for instance, the federal medical center in Owerri that has been in the
news recently because the Medical Director, Dr Angela Uwakwem, wants to bring
accountability and transparency in its ancillary units. The cabals benefitting from
the areas involved have branded her as “high-handed,” and many protests have
been sponsored against her administration. In Nigeria, the predictable
accusations against girls and boys are **** and armed robbery; in the
same way every leader is easily accused of corruption and high-handedness.
Meanwhile, when the current governor of Edo state wanted to bring sanity
among its teachers, he insisted that they must pass through assessment
examinations. Expectedly, the NUT, knowing the stuff of their members, kicked
against it. What is wrong with a teacher who wants to teach students that will
be assessed by external examination bodies being, in their turn, assessed by
superior authorities? Can one give what one does not have? Believe me, many of
the “teachers” preparing our students for WAEC, NECO and JAMB examinations
would not pass the examinations themselves. Where can a blind man lead
another blind man to? Many politicians came in and politicised what the Edo
state governor wanted to do. His party, seeing that such exercise, if allowed,
could affect their chances in future elections, had to advise the governor to
jettison the idea. If we continue like this, where will we find ourselves
Putting knowledge to practice
Coming back to our topic: since many of Nigerian tertiary institutions have
introduced entrepreneurial courses in their curriculum, they should start putting
the courses into practice. Some polytechnics are already manufacturing table
water, bread, etc. Where does the revenue from such enterprises go? Civil
Engineering and other departments that specialise in building and road
construction should put their knowledge to practice within and outside their
institutions. I want to see our Theatre, Art and Music departments produce stars
of international repute. Is it not pathetic that a first-class Nigerian Computer
Science graduate may not be able to compete with an SSCE holder who attended
a three-month computer training in an unlicensed computer center? The much-
desired change cannot come unless we change our attitude.
Jaja of Opobo, real name Jubo Jubogha, was adjudged one of the richest kings
in his time. Many people cannot understand how an illiterate slave from
Umuduruoha, Amaigbo, the present-day Imo, became a king in the land of his
late master. Jaja’s master died, leaving a huge debt; hence nobody accepted to
head the kingdom for fear of being arrested by the British. In order to avoid
anarchy, Jaja, who was then a slave, accepted the position. Through his aptitude
for business, he was able to not only offset the debt but also earn himself out of
slavery. It was then that he took the name Jaja for his dealings with the British.
Later, he became the head of Anna Pepple House. If an illiterate slave could
record such achievements, why do our tertiary institutions find it difficult? Jaja
did not complain of meeting an empty treasury; rather, he surprised the whole
world. If an illiterate slave never complained of inheriting a huge debt, then why
is our intelligentsia now complaining?
When we talk of half-baked graduates, I still insist that it is the half-baked
lecturers that produce them. A snake always begets snakes. China and other
Asian Tigers have realised the importance of practicals over theories. Don’t
blame the government for everything when many discoveries in the world today
are made by university dons and students.
In his book, “Long Walk To Freedom,” Nelson Mandela commented on the South
African educational system as thus: “In Johannesburg, I moved in circles where
common sense and practical experience were more important than high academic
qualifications. … Even as I was receiving my degree, I realised that hardly anything I
had learned at university seemed relevant in my new environment.”
We need more actions from our Nigerian tertiary institutions, not these stale
Dr John wrote from Port Harcourt, Rivers state.
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