Is Nigeria ripe for that?
|Aquatic studies. Picture source|
Currently, there is a bill in the Nigerian Senate that aims to establish a university for aquatic studies.
I do not buy the idea. It is not because marine education is not desired in Nigeria. We have a long coastal line, inhabited by millions of Nigerians after all. It is just that it seems reckless to jump to the idea of setting up a university once the idea flashes in our minds one way or another. There are other considerations.
So, why is it reckless? A university is not a playground. One has to look at the financial import of establishing and running a university. One also has to look at the performance of existing federal universities: whether or not they are getting the right attention to warrant the creation of more.
The problem in Nigeria has always been to establish schools and leave them without the necessary resources in terms of adequate manpower and funding. Most times, the universities are established merely for political gains, after which they are left in the cold. In the end, rather than become sources of pride, they become sources of scandal, since they are established based on our own standards, rather than an international standards. In the end, the graduates fail to measure up to international ratings.
An intellectual institution ought to be backed by an intellectual force, rather than a political force. Sadly, since the universities of the 1970s, university establishments have been driven largely by political motives. Personally, I feel the bill, sponsored by Stella Odua, is a desperation that is common among senators who want to have something to tell voters when the election cycle comes round. At the moment, we do not have any pressures for professionals in the area of aquatic education and many Nigerian universities already have faculties offering such courses.
The administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, while it lasted, felt that every state in Nigerian must have a federal university. It went on to establish universities to states that never had federal universities. You do not say, “Let every state have a federal university.” You ask, “Do we have the discipline to run many universities efficiently, especially if we have granted licenses to private bodies to help in this regard?” In addition to granting private bodies the liberty to establish universities, the states have their own universities that should cater for the educational needs of their citizens. Hence, more federal universities are wasteful for a developing country like Nigeria.
For the past couple of decades, Nigerian universities made names for their volatility rather than for their academic distinction. The instability has stampeded hundreds of thousands of Nigerians to foreign universities, something that is gradually becoming a status symbol. The instability has also become a reason why foreign students are rare in Nigerian universities, something that takes away the international element that is a characteristic of a standard university.
To conclude this, I will want to say that there is no need jumping to the idea of establishing a university for aquatic studies when we can empower relevant faculties in existing universities to accommodate such needs whenever they arise. It reflects vile decisions and profligacy that insult our reputation.