By Pius Adesanmi.
A fallout of Dinogate: some ABU students and alumni have been roaming the internet with the good news of ABU’s greatness.
I have often advocated that misbehaving Nigerian public officials should be dragged to the Eagle Square and flogged publicly. Anybody talking about any University in Nigeria today and the words “great”, “excellent”, and “exceptional” appear in his sentences should be taken to the Eagle Square and shot.
Many Nigerians, home and abroad, are in denial about the gravity of the situation in our Universities. When I mention the 17th century, they think I am deploying hyperbole for effect. In many instances, I am being sadly and tragically literal.
A problem whose gravity cannot be acknowledged cannot be solved. And those who still think that so-and-so University in Nigeria is great or exceptional or excellent will never allow us to take the full measure of the situation.
There is a reason Wole Soyinka once advocated a one-year closure of our Universities and the declaration of a state of emergency in that sector. He wasn’t being mean.
Take something as simple as a website – the first proof of a University’s location in the 21st-century. No Nigerian University today has a 100% functional website. NO, NOT ONE! The best you can hope to get is a website that is 80% functional – and this is in the most extraordinary of cases.
There is even a state University in 21st-century Nigeria that has no website at all. I mean it: no website. The only reason I am not naming the said University – for now – is that I have sent a memo to the VC through back channels and I am still waiting for what he has to say.
But that is a state University. What about our “elite” Universities? Go to their websites and it is a tragic tale of broken links, nonexistent Urls and other assorted evidence of 17th-century identity. You want proof? Okay, come with me:
Try to visit the website of the Faculty of the Social Sciences, University of Ibadan here and report back to me:
This is the social sciences in Nigeria’s Premier University. An entire social sciences faculty in Nigeria’s first University has no website!! There are more horror stories from UI’s website but let us move on. How about you go to UNILAG and try to locate some Departments in the Faculty of Arts here:
Look for the “Departments” link. There is a drop down for the following departments: creative arts, English, European Languages, etc. How about you click on each of the Departments? Of the six Departments listed, only three have content in their websites. And the only content they have is a welcome message!
You are frustrated that the “Deparments” have no content? You want to check out the staff of the Faculty of Arts at Unilag? Okay, to the right of “Department”, click on the “Staff” link here:
You have to laugh in order not to cry! This is the faculty of Arts in Unilag! There are more horror stories from the website of Unilag.
The horror stories from the websites of UI and Unilag are matched by similar stories from the websites of OAU, UNN, and ABU. And these are the “elite” Universities. Where you can find faculty listings, you cannot find their research or courses or seminars.
Are you a major international funder who wants to make an endowment to ABU for scholarship on Northern Nigerian writing? Perhaps you have $5 million dollars and you are thinking seriously about ABU, especially the Department of English, Faculty of Arts. Before you even make contact at all with ABU, you have to do due diligence. You have to do your home work. In 21st century culture, it means getting your research assistant to look at the current research interests in the Department of English at ABU. It is a cold winter day and your research assistant wants to do the assignment quickly. He goes to the website of the Department of English and clicks on “Research” here:
Tough luck. That nonexistent research link has been “under construction” for some years now. I’ve been monitoring it.
Even Nigeria’s most expensive private Universities do not fare better. Somebody will be a product of this sort of thing and be chest beating that one University is better than the rest. I keep telling people: whether you are UI or Unilag or OAU or UNN or ABU, stop disturbing me with tales of your superiority to folks from LAUTECH, Niger Delta University, Bayero University, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, etc. All na wash. All na the same unacceptable and intolerable 17th-century backwardness.
I don’t make any distinction between Universities in Nigeria. Every University in Nigeria needs to be in the intensive care unit. No exception.
If we don’t have the courage to acknowledge this terrible situation, how are we going to fix it? Nigeria can be at the forefront of the advancement of knowledge and civilization if only we would have the courage to accept this situation and fix it.
As terrible as the picture is, just imagine the strides that many of our courageous colleagues who are teaching in Nigerian Universities are making globally. It is from this same rottenly underdeveloped University context, with no facilities and zero resources, that they gallivant the world in conferences, seminars, symposia and conquer. It is from this same context that they win the most prestigious fellowships in the world. Just imagine what they would do if we were to bring our Universities to the 21st-century.
So when you hear yeye ABU students and alumni saying that despite Dino, ABU is this and that, tell them to shut up or else we shall frog march them to the Eagle Square and…
Dino is nothing but a 21st-century crook produced by a 17th-Century University.
I said it. Arrest me!