Remarks At Nigerian University Of Technology & Management Event
HIGHER EDUCATION IS A KEY DRIVER OF ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL GROWTH SAYS VP OSINBAJO
REMARKS BY PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT NIGERIAN UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT EVENT, AT THE TRANSCORP HILTON HOTEL, ABUJA ON THE 28TH OF JANUARY, 2019.
A very good evening to you all. I must say I am truly excited and incredibly happy to be at this historic event. Thank you for joining us for this important meeting and accepting to be part of our deliberations today.
Okey and I are united in our belief that the future of the country, and indeed all of Africa, depends on the ability to produce a diverse and diversified core of graduates who will be the architects, engineers and leaders of a new economy.
I think globally, higher education is recognized as a key driver of economic and social growth. But higher education is more than just producing young capable people, who are job-ready and I am sure that you all would appreciate that. It is more than creating a mass of competent technicians and blind imbibers of knowledge which may or may not be relevant to our context.
In its true sense, university education is supposed to expose young students to new ideas, new beliefs and encourage them to explore new horizons. I am a university teacher myself, and I started teaching very early and I have also been involved in all manner of experiments in establishing universities. Most of them not great successes, otherwise, you would have heard about either of them.
But I must say that my experience has always largely been the same. Mainly that all of it would depend on who the champion is, and who the champions are. One of my more prominent experiences, where we were starting a faith-based University.
But when we were looking for administrators and who we could work with, we went in search of administrators in existing Universities, many who were retired, because we all had a concept of how the University should be. So, we went out looking for such people many of whom were elderly, experienced but very elderly. And as it turned out, many of them carried loads of baggage; university conflicts, wars that they had fought perilously with various colleagues etc.
So, every time we came up with a new idea somebody recruited from somewhere, we had some serious objections. So, a lot of that baggage and a lot of those old experiences, really hampered growth. Then there was a private university, that I had occasion to interact with them. and this private university is one of the best we have in the country at the moment. And what I found first, was talking about administrators, that they had recruited a 2006 graduate to their school, this was 2014. Who was a registrar and a 2006 graduate of the school, who was in charge of physical infrastructure.
These were very young people, and my interaction with them, just showed the right decision to make; that there should be young, vibrant and energetic persons in the system. When I asked to be taken round the school, they just showed me very quickly on their iPads what the school looked like, what the layout was, what the benchmarks institutions were, and what it was expected to look like in the next couple of years in a few minutes.
They took me round the school, we drove in the CA’s car, the school registrar had things all structured. And it just struck me, that if I had to do the same thing with my own University of Lagos, or Lagos State University, or any of the older Universities; the registrar would probably say to me “look, there’s a process, there’s a procedure, you can’t just go looking around the University, we have to find a good time…”
So, I think that what we really need is when building an administration, I think young people are probably going to be the best. And I like the idea, I think it was described as fly by night. And I think that is just an excellent idea.
With all of the engagement and experience that I have, we are really trying to recruit desperately and it is so difficult because nobody really wants to lead, except if you’re not that good or you’re not being well treated, you won’t find so many of such people.
So, I think this is an excellent idea, I certainly would like to work with you and I know that we have a good champion in Okey, who is now an entrepreneur and somebody with business experience to run the work. He also, has a track record of raising money. I am happy that Okey will not bother us too much, he himself can raise quite a lot of this cash.
We are all looking forward to working with you. Okey, I want to say that certainly, this is a project that you can be sure that the government is definitely behind you. I am glad to see that the FCT minister is also showing his support, and this is something that all our support is required.
I really wish this project all the best, I’m certainly looking forward to working with you. Fortunately, this is all about science and technology and I am sure you’ll need a lawyer, I am sure you’ll need a law professor.
Thank you all very much and have a great evening.