The recent face-off between
the Lagos State University (LASU) and the National Universities
Commission (NUC) over the running of external campuses (satellite
campuses) has once again opened a new vista in our quest for worthwhile
The NUC singled out LASU in this regard just to show example to others
that it is no longer business as usual in the provision of higher
education in Nigeria. Between LASU and NUC can someone tell us the
difference between the operation of external campuses and satellite
campuses? Perhaps, the difference is in name, semantics or legal status
and interpretation of both synonymous terms. I am neither holding brief
for LASU nor NUC in this regard. I am only offering ventilating views on
the need to democratize and liberalize our education system especially
in the area of provision of higher education. There is no doubt that a
lot of liberalization programmes have taken place in many sectors of the
Nigerian economy and polity.
Really, the educational sector is never an exception in this
arrangement. Hence they have established many private universities that
have enabled the older ones to sit up. This wind of change has blown
through the entire gamut of the nation’s education system- from
kindergarten to primary and from primary to secondary. The monotechnics,
polytechnics and the colleges of education are not left out. But while
there is a rush to establish private primary schools, private secondary
schools and private universities, there is no commensurate rush to
establish private colleges of education, monotechnics and polytechnics.
What LASU has done in establishing external campuses within
200-kilometre radius (according to NUC prescription) is not entirely
wrong as currently been peddled in some quarters. Maybe LASU overdid it
by establishing more than it can adequately cater for in terms of
manpower and infrastructure. More in infrastructure than manpower I may
say. Be that as it may, LASU should not be singled out for a killing by
the powers that be at the NUC.
Before Prof Julius Okojie, former Vice Chancellor of Bells University
Ota, became the executive secretary of NUC, there was Professor Peter
Okebukola from LASU. Does it mean that what Okojie has now seen that
Okebukola just glossed over? Does it mean that because Okebukola is from
LASU, he therefore compromised standards as per the establishment and
running of external campuses? As I am writing this piece, many
universities outside Lagos State are still maintaining one form of
satellite campus in Lagos and other such high commercial areas.
I do not know if NUC is aware of this. Some of the hitherto closed
satellite campuses are still been operated in one guise or the other.
Even foreign universities are running satellite campuses in Nigeria and
award dubious degrees from first degree to masters and even doctorates.
Is NUC listening? Can NUC do something about these allegations? As I am
writing, some theological makeshift colleges and unregistered
universities are operating and awarding dubious B.A, MA and Ph.D degrees
in Lagos and other designated centres in Nigeria.
NUC should not pretend that there are more Nigerians thirsty of
university education. NUC should not be blind also to the fact that it
is time the provision of higher education is very much liberalized and
democratized so that it will no longer be a preserve of the few.
Possession of a university degree (no matter the level) should not be a
cultic thing. It is not a mark of the new arrivals, neither is it an
entry point to the exclusive club of “been tos.” Education is a right.
The problem even among the educators is that they confuse education with
schooling. Because of this seeming confusion, many Nigerians regard
education as schooling.
That is why they must spend six years in primary school, six years in
secondary school and four or more years in the university. The higher
the number of years spent, the better the quality. That is why doctoral
students in many Nigerian universities spent more years than required
getting it. Our present schooling system cannot produce the scientists
that will take us to the moon. It will not even produce the engineers
that will fix our roads.
It won’t even produce the award-winning medics that will take care of
our health neither will it produce the world-rated economists that will
turn the economy around. Instead of schooling, which encourages less
learning, I vote for education that is worthwhile and problem-solving.
And for this miracle to happen, that education needs to be liberalized.
It must be demystified and taken to the market places as LASU is
presently doing. A meeting of the gown and the town. For us to evolve a
system that will compete with the best in the world, we must be
ingenious and seek for education that is relevant in solving our
What is the need of studying about other people’s history when we know a
little about Nigeria, West Africa and the African continent? Our
education must be rooted in our soil. We may study Hegel, Shakespeare,
Homer and Socrates and even Plato and Aristotle so far their offerings
are relevant in improving our lot. Instead of castigating LASU, NUC
should encourage that young university in its revolutionary approach to
the democratization and liberalization of education. The argument that
LASU has no manpower to run some of its NUC approved external campuses
is a lie meant to give a dog a bad name. There is ample evidence that
the least lecturer in these campuses holds a master’s degree from
reputable Nigerian universities.
Doctorate degree holders and senior academic staff from adjacent
universities also teach in many of these campuses. If NUC is in doubt,
let it conduct accreditation of these campuses. All the lecturers for
these campuses were recruited after going through an interview
recruitment panel conducted by LASU’s parent campus at Ojo. What NUC
should ask LASU to do now is to streamline its external campuses,
remunerate adequately the lecturers, improve on the infrastructure and
recruit more lecturers in the areas they are lacking.
Ordering the closure of these campuses and throwing the students away
like that does not in anyway augur well for the nation’s education
system. All the advanced countries of Europe and America and lately the
Asian Tigers got to their present heights because of liberalization of
In this era of e-learning, people should stop thinking of a university
to mean structures and buildings. The era of big structures as citadels
of higher learning is already going out of the way. The future of
education and worthwhile learning belongs to e-learning.
Since the liberalization of the Internet, knowledge has been made
available to all. Just open your PC and before you know it, all the
researches available in any particular field you want is open to you at
the press of a button. Tell me of any university professor that does not
use the Internet today. If there is any, such a professor should do a
re-think and embrace the e-learning. Otherwise, he will be professing
Imagine what Christianity would have been today if it was not
liberalized. Whether we like it or not, the emergence of Protestantism
and later Pentecostalism has aided more than anything before it, the
spreading of the gospel in more unconventional ways.
What kills education and learning is being “bookish.” Let us liberate
our minds from bookish learning to one that we can use our brains and
hands effectively to solve the everyday problem that plagues our people
and our environment. The White men have conquered their environment with
their learning; let us do so here for our country by theorizing and
researching on how to improve our condition on earth.
Imagine what would have happened to African literature if people like
Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka did not stick to their guns. Imagine what
would have happened to African history, if people like Kenneth Dike,
Adiele Afigbo, E.A Ayandele, JFK Ade-Ajayi and Obaro Ikime etc did not
stick to the philosophy that Africa has a history worthy of study.
In every field, Africans and, indeed, Nigerians should strive to make
their contributions to the body of existing knowledge. You need not
quote Hegel or Shakespeare to achieve that. We cannot get anywhere by
aping those in Europe or be waiting for research direction from them. We
must evolve our own cannons for research in whatever field, for human
and existential problems are dissimilar among nations and regions.