Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun (SAN), former Vice-Chancellor of Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo says stable good leadership, credible policy decisions and appropriate funding strategy are the pathways to making Nigerian universities globally competitive.
Fagbohun also a Professor of Environmental Law made this assertion at the 12th convocation lecture of Fountain University, Oke Osun, Oshogbo on Saturday in Osun.
Voiceofmasses reports that the convocation Lecture was: “The Nigerian University System: Between Public Hopes and Individual Expectations for the 21st Century”.
He said that for these initiatives to thrive as an indivisible whole, the university system, particularly as it relates to public institutions, must be stable.
“The historic role of stable universities in pioneering research and development that benefit countries remains more desirable in today’s technologically driven societies.
“Through the provision of contextualised knowledge, solving existential problems and producing new knowledge that can be applied for social, economic improvement and universities have contributed immensely to national development.
“Such is the scenario in the United States of America, where it was reported in 2006 that more than 70 per cent of economic growth since 1945 has been driven by technological innovation,” he said.
The Professor added that for most universities, the essence of their existence was usually captured in their vision and mission statements and the core values that represent the institution’s priorities and core fundamental driving forces.
“As we all know, however, vision, mission and core values are only expression of the desired condition by the university and not necessarily the real state of affairs even after several years of existence.
“Since 1962 when Nigeria started the regulation of universities, the country today has about 220 universities that cut across federal, state, and privately-owned institutions.
“The fundamental question to ask is how many of our universities are delivering on their vision and mission statements?
“On a regular basis, the public is inundated with growing concerns over the quality of graduates from Nigerian universities and the need for universities to re-examine the method of learning, teaching and assessment,” Fagbohun said.
He noted that everyday, there were job advertisements, yet, the unemployment rate had been on the rise.
“According to a World Bank report, unemployment rate in Nigeria rose five-fold in the last 10 years, from 6.4 per cent in 2010 to 33.3 per cent at the end of 2022.
“While employers of labour attribute the rise to the fact that Nigerian graduates are unemployable, affected graduates allude to the fact that employers are not ready to pay sustainable remuneration that is commensurate with their skills.
“Evidence that all is not well in Nigeria’s employment sector is reflected in the recent wave of young Nigerians and other professionals such as doctors, nurses, engineers, IT experts and university lecturers relocating out of the country.
“Another indicator is the high number of candidates seeking opportunities to undertake their undergraduate degree programmes outside Nigeria,” he said.
Fagbohun advised the graduands to become the critical part of that group that would address the nation’s development challenges.
“The challenges of today should inspire your greater determination to make your mark, Nigeria may be tough and the narrative of the issues at times deeply troubling; but the opportunities are still very many here,” he said.