Indeed, the Nigerian university system is no stranger to crises. If it is not fight for university autonomy, underfunding , political interference, lack of respect for agreements, it is some mundane “ego” issues. These crises have been linked to the declining of standards and output of public universities in Nigeria. The latest in the cycle of crises is the announcement by the Registrar of University of Lagos who doubles as Secretary to Council that the Vice Chancellor, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe has been removed from office by the University Governing Council in an emergency meeting held on 12th August 2020. This has created tension in the University and may have wider implications if not checked.
Some may be indifferent or apathetic to what is going on at the University of Lagos, but there are strong reasons why we should show concern. The interconnectedness and interdependencies between universities and society is well known. University of Lagos ( Unilag) in particular is a premier university in Nigeria and very often sets the pace in what happens in our overall university system.
We should all be concerned for the following reasons : First, is that the precedence established in Unilag may become the standard in Universities all over the country. Our university system is already fragile, and anything that adds to further instability will have a spiral effect on the quality of education.
Second is that universities are a mirror of the larger society and whatever example we glean from our academic citadels becomes the reference point for the nation. The question is, do we need a society where due process, law and order can be set aside because of ego or convenience or do we need a society where law and order will be the foundation of governance? The university system which ought to be a role model insulated from everyday pedestrian politics can set the pace or strengthen our values and standards of conduct.
Third, universities ought to be agents of social change ,whatever happens in the University of Lagos will have a multiplier effect on other universities which will ultimately shape values on the broader society. The type of society we want will be determined by our everyday actions or inactions with intended and unintended consequences. Having established that Nigeria and Nigerians should be concerned about developments in Unilag, what are the fundamental issues that led to this confusion, conflict and seeming stalemate that we are witnessing at Unilag?
Read more: The Cable