Monday 21, made it 43 days (1 month, 1 week, 1 day) that students of the University of Abuja were sacked from school. No – not what you are thinking now – they were not defaulting on their tuition, there was no security threat, they are not on vacation either – you will join me to wonder why then.
Established 26 years ago as the first and only conventional institution of higher learning in Nigeria’s Capital City, the University of Abuja was envisaged to provide the intellectual and sentiment-proofed solutions to the myriads of challenges that confronts occupants of Aso Rock. These it would do without apology to party or creed, serve as a pool of ideas for a developing economy and a blueprint for other universities across the federation. Most cogently as an epitome of how well to contain diversity in faith, tongue, class or region-the malaise of Nigeria as we still question our identity for the past one hundred years, as its motto reads – “Unity in Scholarship” – the only institution that has Nigeria as its catchment area.
These lofty dreams of the Founders have been threatened. Sad to note the institution for 26 years is an adult learning to crawl – suffering from intellectual and administrative imbalance congenitally. Its mini campus is “an insult to university education” (according to the presidential panel of investigation whose report is yet to be implemented three years after submission); the main campus is a litter of abandoned projects, even its senate building. Students make hard choices between an unhealthy inadequate hostels and a ram shackled uninspiring lecture halls where lecturers jostles for space and students sit on each themselves if not fight each other.
The many negatives with which to adorn this ivory tower are competitive; suffice to note that its Science students sent horridly on IT (industrial training) without writing their last exams, which they will on return, I doubt if they would remember their registration number. Two sets of applicants yet to be admitted, students float on a level for two years ignorant of their academic status- not as a result of failure but failure and inefficiency of the system not to mention that convocation hasn’t been conducted for over ten years. I wonder if a management really exists, while these morass hold sway.
I dare say that the University of Abuja suffers from the politics of Aso Rock instead of the reverse because intellect and excellence tipped in politics is a compromise of integrity, forthrightness and scholarship. The Three Arms Zone has raped the institution for long. These precipitated the brain drain as lecturers seek opportunities to jump ship to where their ideas will best flower; Dr. Sule Egya priced out the year he won the Commonwealth (Africa) Prize for Literature.
The newly constituted Governing Council chaired by Chief Samuel Ogbemudia was a great leap given his person, but its role in the recent appointment of Vice Chancellor though not outside the law leaves little to be admired. For in an academic environment, merit and absolute best is supposed to be championed without apology to primordial sentiment – a comic on the intelligentsia and campus community. It is incumbent on the Vice Chancellor to hit the ground running and proof us wrong.
The continued refusal of the presidency to implement the panel’s report suggests a half- hearted commitment to rescue the precarious and endemic ambiance of its backyard – a nonchalance we cannot afford.
The sanity of our society is at risk if we continue to snub our Ivory Towers, it is more threatened from an educated delinquent than an illiterate criminal especially in a capital city where politics, who you know and not what you know is the yardstick for relevance.
The issues raised by ASUU (Uniabuja) are germane and lay bare before us, they’ve been magnanimous to call off the strike action, classes should resume in earnest while the issues are tackled holistically – else the society pay dearly.