Nigerian university system lacks clear vision — Student leaders

• Students are suffering 

• If the education sector fails, all other institutions will collapse

By Opeyemi Babalola and Moyosore Salami

Following a barrage of problems threatening the survival of the public tertiary institutions across the country, the student leaders at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) and Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), have declared that the federal government lacks a clear vision to project a better future for the university system in the country.

For Adeboye Anuoluwa of LAUTECH, he describes the state of the university as ‘pathetic’, insisting that “instead of us to be moving from good to better, we are now moving from good to worse.”

On his part, Afeez Akorede of OOU tasks other student leaders on refocusing their agenda for the students’ sake. 

He adds that if the education system is paralyzed, it would automatically affect the development of other sectors in the country.

Below is the text of UTI’s interview with the two student leaders:

Adeboye Anuoluwa:

Can UTI get to meet the person behind the face—Name, Subject of study (Major), Class standing, position held as a student leader and for how long?

My name is Adeboye Anuoluwa, I am studying Animal Production and Health, in the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences. I am a 400 level student and also the current student union leader of the best state university in Nigeria, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho.

 How would you evaluate the state of student leadership in Nigerian universities today?

Permit me to evaluate it on the scale of leadership self-efficacy, self-concept and leadership self-regulation skills. Arguably, one of the most beneficial co-curricular activities which students engage in, especially during studentship in university is student leadership. Student leadership plays consequential roles in assisting and oftentimes, influencing, directing and guiding university management in making certain decisions on students’ affairs and management. However, the university management now often makes decisions even without the students leaders on campus. Most of the student leaders have also added self-interest in their dealings. The efficacy and regulations have now turned to something of self-interest. However, the basis of student leadership is in the interest of the students they governed. The welfarism and protecting the interest of students at large. The major aim and objectives have been substituted with self-interest. The efficacy now turns into something that will probably benefit the leaders, the concept now focuses on personal interest and the regulations. It is not in the interest of the masses. While leading other colleagues on campuses in the universities, the state of students leadership is now getting out of the scope while we have students on campus.

Are student leaders of today as active, dedicated, and effective as those of yester years?

Of course, student leaders of today are still active and dedicated. However, the fact remains that we can’t compare the unionism and style of leadership of now to that of the yester years. To an extent, the activeness, dedication and effectiveness have deviated from the true course of why we are having student leaders across universities. I just hope that the student leaders will retrace their steps to the routes of why and purpose of having the association.

What is your motto/philosophy/style of student leadership?

My motto as regard student leadership, is nothing but pace setting. My philosophy is to inspire and lead through actions not just by the words I say. My style of leadership is democratic. 

How would you characterise the state of university education in Nigeria today and, what does the future hold for both students and the leaders?

The state of university education today is brain drain and pathetic. In fact, it is an eyesore. The situation is just nothing to write home about. In fact, if we look back, we would notice that these people that are involved in the education system of Nigeria, during their own time, enjoyed a better education system than what they are giving to us now. For someone that had enjoyed a better education system during their time ought to give the present Nigerian students much better but reversal is the case. Instead of us to be moving from good to better, we are moving from good to worse.

  On what the future holds for both students and leaders, the situation of the country poses a threat to the future of the Nigerian students and the leaders. I am afraid of what to come and what the future holds for us because it is even blurred. Look at the issue of graduates to employment opportunities out there. It is far from each other. So if you ask any Nigerian students why they are even on campus, most of us cannot guarantee of making use of our certificates. We can’t guarantee that the certificate will put a meal on our table. So what do we then say about the future?

Any advice for the government on how to run the universities in Nigeria more effectively and efficiently?

First of all, I want to beseech the government to meet up with the recommendation of UNESCO benchmark on the education budget which is 26 per cent of total annual budget. The allocation for education here in Nigeria is still less than 10 per cent of the annual budget, signalling failure in meeting the UNESCO recommendation. Should they be spending much more on what doesn’t really matter or contribute greatly to the future of Nigerians? It’s high time the government called itself back to order, back to their old days of studying in the universities. If they can’t move us forward, then they should return us to their days of free and better university education system. More importantly, there is a need to consistently do a check and balance of university policies, infrastructures, ratio of lecturers to students, restrictions of each university to their peculiarities and specifications. We don’t expect the government to take us there overnight, but they should do something fast that will save the higher institutions against further deterioration.

Afeez Akorede:

Can UTI get to meet the person behind the face?

My name is Afeez Akorede, popularly called Sen. Modesty.  Department of Urban Planning and the Students’ Union President, Olabisi Onabanjo University.

How would you evaluate the state of student leadership in Nigerian universities today?

Circumstances are changing and trust issues are arising. It seems comrades are getting swayed from their primary interest; we have had allegations against some student leaders reaching compromise based on monetary and personal gains as opposed to the values of the union/association and of those they represent. Wrong political intention: How much love do some of these student leaders have for their followers that motivate them to delve into the present saddening practices?

  The activities of these bodies and the leadership further show that individual interests most times motivate these hungry leaders. While the laziness of some makes it difficult for them to consider the entrepreneurship initiatives, politics seems to be their alternative source of income. Have we asked why national and international firms are no longer willing to use our platforms for the fulfillment of their Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR)? Even when they have academic/student-focused initiatives, how many times have we approached these firms with solid proposals on sustainable development and relationship involving beyond financial requests? Perhaps, it is high time we woke up from our slumbers. When the purpose of a thing is not known, the abuse is definitely inevitable. Have we not realised that the better time to re-evaluate the values of our leadership is now? we should explore an ideal active leadership framework which makes research about the needs of the students, develop sustainable strategies to solve the need, implement these strategies along with other stakeholders and team members and eventually return to evaluate the impact of the solution that they have proffered.

Are student leaders of today as active, dedicated and effective as those of yester years?

Of course, many of them are. One thing is always amazed me about the student leaders now, and that’s in the level of individual participation and engagement.

How would you characterise the state of university education in Nigeria today?

We’re in a state of comatose. It’s no more a news to us as young Nigerian individuals that our University education or let me say generally, the Higher Institutes of learning are seriously in a bad state. Considering how it’s being neglected in the hand of the government. Knowing fully well that University Education is a bedrock of Sustainable and effective development of any nation that wants to develop. We see what goes around us. A slight fall or decline in the education sector is a beginning of a total collapse of a nation’s development.

What is your motto/philosophy/style of student leadership?

For every goal to be achieved in life, there would always be a set of objectives to achieve the goal. Before I became the Students’ Union President, I so much believe in the Power of People and collective efforts of individuals to effect better society and that actually has always been my motivation to engage with people and move so well with ideological ones and this led to the emancipation of my ideas/mantra of leadership…My motto is tagged ‘THE INCLUSIVENESS’ means bringing people of like minds together to achieve a societal goal towards achieving a collective development.

What does the future hold for both students and the leaders?

In my own opinion with my experience so far, I will say until we’re very serious and continually conscious of our actions we can get it better cause for the future, we need to seriously reflect on the past and work assiduously on our present to better our future.

Any advice for the government on how to run the universities in Nigeria more effectively and efficiently?

My advice will still be solemnly on proper funding of our public universities by the government. Our government should see education as an integral part of sustainable development and must prioritize it.

Related posts

Leave a Reply