Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Nigerian University – An Ivory Tower with neither ivory nor tower; Steve Okeche; Edu-Edy Publications; Owerri; 2008

By Bayode Ogunmupe

THIS book of 144 pages is an indictment of the Nigerian university system. It describes vividly the decline and decay in the nation’s university system. It prescribes copious ways to halt this deterioration of the sorry state of affairs.
Chapter one of this nine chapter book dwells on the meanings of the words of the book’s title: University, Ivory, tower, and ivory tower. It also gave us a brief history and genesis of the university.
Chapter two peeps into the Nigerian university system. After a survey of the evolution from the Academy of Plato through Aristotle’s Lyceum to the school of universal learning, Okecha taught us how universities were formed in Europe in the 17th century AD. Then, the system by which Socrates taught Plato, Plato taught Aristotle became obsolete. The second chapter therefore delved into the evolution of the university in Nigeria. The poor rating of our universities is the subject of chapter three.
It has been alleged that the system of branding of Nigerian universities by the National Universities Commission (NUC) contributed to the deterioration in academic standards of the institutions. This is because most of the staff of these colleges lacked the experience and research competence to run the various universities of technology and agriculture which NUC brought on stream in the 1980s.
In chapter five, the decay of the Ivory Tower is discussed in detail. Here, the author enumerated various factors responsible for the decline of academic standards in the universities.
Chapter six entitled Doctorates for Sale, see the vendors in Nigerian universities, educate the tall order of the NUC, that every academic schooled obtain a doctorate not later than December 2009. The problems arising from the enforcement of that directive are highlighted. The author also has suggestions to prevent unrest on our campuses. It is unfortunate that the NUC order will further deepen the deterioration of academic standards in our universities.
For the seventh chapter, the conditions of service in the universities are its main preoccupation. It avers that the remuneration and conditions of service of academics are nowhere comparable to those of political office holders, the private sector and the judiciary. Thus, that academics are poorly paid in comparison to others has been laid bare by the author.
The focus of chapter eight is the academic industry; that is to say creativity and research in tertiary institutions in the country.
The importance of brainpower in the enhancement of growth and development of our economy is herewith highlighted. Thus, we must here avow that the gross underdevelopment of Nigeria has been caused by the neglect of our universities. University dons could not undertake research because of poor pay, absence of research facilities in the colleges and the restiveness prevalent in institutions today.
Chapter nine offers up to forty suggestions on how we can overcome the decline and decay of our university system. This book contains vital information on the Nigerian university system. Moreover, reading it is a rewarding experience particularly for some whose children have to attend a university in the future.
However, The Nigerian University is a must read for private university proprietors, governors as founders of state universities, the presidency to enable them learn how to handle federal universities, and state and federal legislators to enable them enact good education laws.
Steve Okecha, the author was educated at Government College, Ughelli, Delta State, Ahmadu Bello University, and University of Uppsala, Sweden. He was leader, Organic Research Group, ABU before moving to Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State, where he is currently Professor of Chemistry. Also, he had served as Deputy Vice Chancellor and Provost, Delta State University, Abraka, Dean of Graduate School; director of AAU’s Consultancy Services; he is married with five children.

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