YARADUA’S STILLNESS AND SPEECH AT UI 6OTH ANNIVERSARY
Nigeria’s President, Umaru Yar’Adua got some thrashing from the lecturers and students of University of Ibadan recently during the celebration of the institution’s 60 th anniversary. The President actually started the tongue lashing battle when he, in a speech read on his behalf at the Institution’s Graduation Ceremony, lambasted the University for not living up to its age.
The Institution thereafter invited the President to attend the Exhibitions marking its 60 th birthday where notable achievements by products and dons in the University were displayed. Unfortunately, the President did not honor their invitation, and most attendees had to utilize the media to send their rejoinders to the President.
The President is generally and indubitably acknowledged now both in Nigeria and around the world as very still in governance. His pronouncements and action plans continue to inspire no real enthusiasm from most Nigerians who have become tired of hoping upon him.
There were many adopted excuses in the last several months, varying from his physical inability to the discredited election which brought him to power; and also the fact that the former civilian dictator just pushed him into power and therefore his reluctance to preside over Nigeria’s problems.
Here is the first University graduate to get into the office as a President, hugely hoped upon by millions who gave him a lot of credits for the way he administered Kaduna, and backed by the ‘largest party in Africa’. He also did what no else as President has done, declaring his assets.
The Press gave him a pass, a free one with the declared assets. This was understandable because no one else as said earlier has ever had the confidence to declare what his assets were on assumption of office as President in Nigeria. Even the man who set up the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission never declared his assets before or after. The pressures from the people that the man also derisively labeled “Mr. Know-All”, should let the country know how much he was worth by May 2007 have been silently ignored or snubbed.
The current President has blazed a popular trail by declaring his assets, even though the declared assets were not audited for how? and where? of the amount of almost 940,000,000 naira of Yaradua’s household assets. This again is understandable because the President in Nigeria is the State and unlike in some other political cultures, the occupant of the exalted seat is beyond reproach. Is it possible for people in government to overestimate their assets in the belief that they could make that much during their time in office? How do you verify assets which include those supposedly given by dead brothers or sisters? Is it not possible for an Abiola to get into the presidential office tomorrow and declare a sum of 10 billion naira as part of his 11billion naira assets because the latter was given to him by the departed MKO Abiola? How does the Assets Declaration Bureau verify the facts? If Nigeria is still as she was one hour ago, no one would verify the declaration of Mr. President!
The Vice President of Nigeria too, obviously was not so happy at the action of his boss, and would have stubbornly ignored the calls for him to follow suit. He had to reluctantly follow suit because the whole eyes of Nigerians were set upon him, and also did not want to look different from his boss. Something tells this author that Mr. Goodluck in the office of the Vice President must have employed some accountants to ‘generate’ his figures to match the past and the future.
Excuse my police mind, it should be remembered that Jonathan Goodluck who took over as Governor in Bayelsa after Alams was removed had some graft issues to grapple with as Governor. In fact, he ran into troubles just about two months in office, and the EFCC was also reported to be on the trail of his wife, while the news had some ear blowing reports about what the EFCC found, or looking for in Goodluck’s Bayelsa. The EFCC did not exonerate Goodluck from corrupt Governors and the man Ribadu (wherever he is hiding now) could not have been in the good books of Goodluck who is lucky to be Vice President, and saved from being hauled before EFCC interrogation.
Sorry for all the digression although apposite for introducing the current government under the former Katsina governor. The main argument here is the fact that the continuing absence of or little governance in Nigeria is getting to the edge for all well wishers of the country to wonder what the matter is with whoever is in control of the affairs over there. In the years before, the anguish was over mumbo-jumbo style of the leader in power, but it should be now admitted that at least the world knew there was a leader.
The situation in Nigeria is such that people now suspect if paradoxical laziness or physical illness should be held responsible for the national drift. The President needs to learn from some men of history who thought that the present should be more important in decision taking, and waiting for some tomorrow may rubbish the legacy of the actor.
The President does not deserve to be blamed for all national problems which have been recurring for years especially since the military intruded into power. However, the President deserves all the criticisms from the University of Ibadan who saw him as ignorant.
This writer would think the President is weak both psychologically and physically to face the problems confronting Nigeria. The country needs a person who is willing, and strong to lead, definitely should not be for someone who wants to learn on the job.
Mr. President needs to know as a former lecturer in a Higher Learning Institution that the government is to blame, mostly for all the problems confronting Institutions of learning in Nigeria. University of Ibadan is therefore right to educate the President about lack of funds, dilapidated infrastructures in Colleges, absence of electricity and politicization of educational matters by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The rating of Universities in the world is not based on age but the developments, facilities and discoveries. It is also right to say that the rating has more to do with government leadership, as American or European Universities always get high ratings because of the quality leadership given by their home governments.
How could Universities where its best lecturers always had to seek help from Universities in Europe and America get good ratings? Professor Bankole Oke of the Veterinary Medicine in UI said the President was unfair in criticizing the Nigerian Universities because the failure of the University system in Nigeria should be attributed to the Federal Government. This includes the going abroad to conduct researches by Nigerian lecturers because of the dead facilities in Nigeria!
Ibadan University at the exhibition displayed many inventions by its faculties such as fabricated technology for the processing and utilization of agro-industrial waste and crop residues for wildlife husbandry, autoclave, juice extractor, fabricated waste paper processing machinery, fabricated maize shelter, waste paper recycling machine and electric powered water fountain cum-aquarium.
A graduate of mechanical Engineering from one of the Nigerian Universities from the South once told this writer that he did not see most of the machines used in his Course except in the books until he stepped into United States. He explained how most colleagues at his graduate school in the United States were startled to hear that he never saw most of the machines during his first degree, but still managed to top his graduate Class.
The fundamentals of the Nigerian University system needs to strengthened by the Federal Government of Nigeria if the President wants the Universities to be rated highly in the world. A system in which a Course that normally should take four years will run eight years because of frequent school closures can not get any good rating. Or where there is no enabling environment for the College products to assimilate and soar.
Mr. President should know better, having been part of the School system as a lecturer sometime in the past. It is the considered view of this writer that all Nigerian Universities should be granted autonomy and encouraged to find ways to make ends meet. In this direction, the Management of Nigerian Universities must be given targets and benchmarks for achievement.
Importantly, talking about rating, what would be the rating of President Yaradua or his administration in West Africa, or nay in Nigeria? There are a lot of people from Europe who continue to rate Nigeria very low, and have chosen Ghana and other smaller countries in Africa to do their business. There are some law firms from United States who do business in Nigeria but through Ghana because they consider not safe physically and financially.
Does this bother the leaders and people in government in Nigeria? The market in Nigeria should be attractive to foreign investors but no, the stories about how Nigerian leaders steal, and injure the economy discourage most investors. The periphery countries are therefore benefiting because they offer sanctuaries to these investors who reside there, and only briskly visit Nigeria, and quickly return to the safe sanctuaries.
When will the Nigerian president get it that the country needs to continue with fighting grafts so as to tell the world that it is no longer business as usual? The unending speculation of his soft spot for his former gubernatorial colleagues is not helping his image, and the earlier he gives clear message by actions, the better.
The continued presence of Michael Aondonka in his government and as the Attorney General of Justice portends negative image too. This is a man whose utterances and body languages do not agree with graft fighting. It seems to this writer that Yaradua finds it difficult to take actions unless if pushed. For an example, he did not see Aondonka’s directive that EFCC should always get his approval before prosecuting any graft war in the negative until the world roars against it. Again, in the rough handling of Nuhu Ribadu at Kuru graduation ceremony, all was good until the public opinion turned against this.
Mr. Umaru Yaradua does not need to wait for the Supreme Court decision on his election before writing his name in gold, does not need to remain still while Nigerians need him to give clear leadership, and does not need to act like he is in the pockets of people speculated to have sponsored his political campaigns in 2007.
Nigeria can only move forward when he keeps to his oft stated vows to allow the rule of law and make the country great. He needs to take care of the interests of all Nigerians and not that of powerful surrounding him. The rule of law should be allowed to move about freely, to help those deserving and punish those running foul of the law.
Nigeria is drifting seriously again and the leadership if largely to be blamed for this. It is hoped that the President will wake up today and help do all needed to make Nigeria work.