Janduku University is a hypothetical university somewhere in the heart of Nigeria. Professor Candido had always thought he has what it takes to set a good example and leave his mark.
He has lectured in Nigeria, Kenya and the United States. He was very idealistic. He got his wish when he was appointed as the Vice Chancellor of a Federal University. He had great ideas on how to develop infrastructure, get funding and run the university as done in places where he had worked. His first shock came when the council members asked that he add their own kickback to the contract for the construction of the school of Engineering. Who are the council members? The council members were appointed by politicians and are politicians themselves.
He was told in plain terms that they were posted as council members to EAT. It is their turn to eat, they said. Prof. Candido was exasperated! Council members in Ghanaian universities are often accomplished educators whose life mission is to advance education. They are essentially volunteers. Ha! That is Ghana o! Here, every opportunity must be used to take and obtain. It is about another house, another car, another chieftaincy title, another wife, the fat bank accounts and much more. Candido won’t have any of that, and he has to protect his job too. He told them to meet the contractors themselves and they did to his chagrin. At the end, the construction was below par but no one could say a thing.
In another vein, Candido spends N12mlion on diesel every month. It is estimated that 30%of this diesel are siphoned and resold by those in the University’s department of works. Sometimes they remove the parts and forward bills for replacement. They collude with the generator service company, share the money and fit the stolen part back. He knows the game but if he tries to micromanage the process, the students will go on rampage for lack of electricity on campus. No Vice Chancellor wants that.
When everyone is on the take, how can the country progress? I am here at the African Union with stake holders pondering on Diaspora Intervention in Africa Higher Education sponsored by Carnegie. This was my friend; Pius Adesanmi’s idea. He co-opted me last year when I spoke about advancing Indigenous Knowledges at Governor Oyetota’s inauguration. The grant was approved three days before his death. Once again, his beloved Nigeria is holding the short end of the stick.
On my part, I campaigned vigorously and voted General Mohammadu Buhari in 2014/2015 because I thought he would stamp out corruption. It is clear, very few people believe in Nigeria as a viable entity. Very few are interested in investing in Nigeria’s greatness. Most are on the take or waiting in line. Is there a way out? Yes! But, we have to face the hard truth. We all have to stop the stealing and subversion. There must be leadership. Our politics is subjugated to greed. It has to stop.
I am in this room in Addis with people from other countries. They are making rapid progress. Ethiopia, Ghana and Rwanda are rising. Botswana said it has world class infrastructure but the lecturers is what they lack. I am ashamed but not shamed into silence.
A framework will emerge from here. Will it help Nigeria with its Janduku Universities? I don’t know. What I know is that we are in trouble unless we act fast!