IVORY TOWERS AND THE CHALLENGE OF NIGERIA’S INNOVATIVE AND CREATIVE RENAISSANCE
BY PROF. SULEIMAN ELIAS BOGORO (FNIAS; FNSAP; FCOASN; D.Sc. Hon.; FAS)
Professor of Animal Science, Department of Animal Production, Faculty of Agriculture and Agricultural Technology, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Bauchi State , Nigeria
Being the Convocation Lecture of the University of Benin, Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria; delivered on Monday November 19th, 2018
Does Nigeria need renaissance to reinvent itself?
Granted the stunted growth and development of our country despite huge human and natural resources, there is justification to accept the fact that we must restart the engine of nationhood, take our destiny into our hands and rebrand the country, and hopefully make us collectively more competitive on the global stage.
- Renaissance I : “A new growth of activity or interest , especially art, literature and music”
- Renaissance II : “The period of new growth of interest and activity in the areas of art, literature and ideas in Europe during the 15th and 16th Centuries”.
- Renaissance Man :“A man who does many different things very well”.
For the purpose of driving my case for our country, I take liberty in adopting Nigeria as the allegory of “The Renaissance Man”. As a GPS, we have navigated our way as a country through both turbulent and promising waters, seeking answers to a long list of the opportunities and potentials that we have tried to convert to tangible and intangible benefits and values. At our individual, community, state, geopolitical and national levels, we have variously tried to add up the figures to move us faster than we have been.
I believe that if we define our path properly and patriotically use the instruments of society at our disposal, Nigeria has all it takes to reinvent itself and recapture lost grounds. For us in the ivory towers, the call for a renaissance aptly falls more on our shoulders as the natural and moral pace setters and leaders.
So, in the context of what renaissance demands of us as a nation, we must stop the wasted opportunities and join other patriots in deciding that Nigeria must take off along the fastest lane, and fire from ALL cylinders, like the Renaissance Man. As it happened in Europe in the 15th and 16th Centuries, we must proceed by doing things in new ways, with new ideas, and with new momentum and resolve.
If so, in what areas must our renaissance start to leap-frog Nigeria to a veritable rebirth?
- We must as a people accept to elevate Human Capital Development to the level of international best practice which has been responsible for the higher competitiveness of the strongest economies, technologies and military powers of the new millennium. Incidentally, this is the area of our strength as universities, since we determine the quality of human capital in both the educational and health sectors, being the globally-acknowledged epicentre of human capital development. Mercifully, there is a natural phenomenon of equity, granted the fact that God has, without bias, endowed children, men and women from among both the proletariat (masses) and aristocratic (the privileged and rich) classes with naturally-imbued abilities beyond man-made inhibitions and idiosyncrasies. The quality rather than just numbers of human capital which has become evidential in the competiveness and strength of some countries today reflects in those of USA, Japan, Norway, Finland, Hongkong, Singapore, Netherlands, Israel, Uk, Germany, France, Canada andmore recently China. Incidentally, the Federal government has recently raised alarm about the disturbing population explosion which has consistently outstripped GDP growth rate, implying that even without adopting the universal definition of economic recession, our country is effectively in a development deficit since annual population growth of about of 3.2% presently outstrips annual GDP growth index of about 1.9%.
All is, however, not lost, as the trend can be reversed, and we in the ivory towers have a leading role to help in ensuring that we mould and sustain qualitative human capital through compliance with the statutory mandate of our universities and other tertiary institutions by maintaining the high standards prescribed in our laws, curricular contents, quality of research and teaching personnel, as well as improvement of working environment that will guarantee the quality of our graduates and research outcomes.
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