A CLEAR CASE OF INTELLECTUAL DISHONESTY
On Saturday, January 8, 2011, I listened to two lecturers from Anambra State University, Dr Emeka Nwabunia of Microbiology Department and Dr Arinze Chinwuba of Chemistry Department on a live Rhythm FM 95.5 (Silverbird) station programme. They talked about the strike at Anambra State University and nothing more. When the promo was on, I resolved to listen to them.
I did so because as a young man growing up, I listened to many live programmes with intellectual bent. When I did this, I always carried a pencil and paper to catch ideas coming from these intellectuals, for ideas are in perpetual flight. Such programmes offered these intellectuals opportunities to wrestle with ideas. Though one could not agree with the viewpoints of some of them, the fertility of their minds were always evident.
As the lecturers in Microbiology and Chemistry were to appear, I told myself however the programme would go, by the time they signed off, I would have gained new knowledge about virology, mycology, parasitology; and the composition, behaviour, structure and properties of matter. In those days, I still remember with nostalgia listening to the likes of Dr. Chuba Okadigbo and Rev Dr. Theophilus Okere, as they set the studios afire with argumentative, but unassailable logic.
But rather than wrestle with ideas, Nwabunia and Chinwuba assaulted our ears with falsehoods. At the end of the programme, I regretted wasting my time, listening to inanities that came forth from them. Their conduct validated the question of what has gone wrong with scholarship in our society. In the past, the best among graduating students were retained in the universities, but today it has changed. In the past, engaging people to become lecturers was as a result of thorough distillation processes, but now everything has changed. It is not principally their fault, but part of degeneration of things in the country. You could see it in the conduct of the duo.
How can I recall the nonsense they vomited that day? In summary, they claimed that Governor Obi has not done anything at the Anambra State University to warrant any commendation. They submitted that the State Government was not sincere in its efforts to resolve the crisis. As a way of casting Anambra State on the wrong side, the duo highly eulogised the Governors of the other South-East States for doing wonders. At the end, it was simply a forum consciously committed to a vilification of the Governor by profusion of lies.
After the programme, I could not get over the poverty of its contents. At once, I began to worry on the quality of those lecturers. In this age of information technology, once you do Google search on any person's name, it will give you an insight into his or her intellectual contributions to the society. Even passing comments by people in newspapers could be viewed through Google search. I did the search for these two lecturers and found nothing against their names. This may sound simplistic, but little things like this give us insight into who people are. If they wrestle with ideas with the same rapidity with which they appeared on Rhythm FM to vilify Governor Obi, Google may not contain their contributions to knowledge!
Education is a priceless possession that people seek crossing mountains and hills. Trying to differentiate between the educated and the uneducated, Aristotle said: 'the educated differ from the uneducated as the living from the dead.' Making the same differentiation, Aristophanes remarked the differences were like those between broken and unbroken horses.
Since Anambra State was created, there was no significant progress in any sector. As we are talking about the education sector, let us use it as a case study. Under Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, secondary schools in the state were closed for one year because teachers were owed. There was no significant progress or even attempt to improve on the infrastructure for teaching and learning. Some of our classrooms looked poorer than cow sheds and retired teachers were owed arrears of pension.
Today, any person in Anambra State can reel the contributions of this government to the education sector off the tip of his tongue. Today, from the state of utter absence of infrastructure, our secondary schools now have laboratories and specimen. Today, our secondary schools have boreholes, Internet connections, computers and school buses. Some of these were last done during the Government of Ukpabi Asika. We have lost count of how many secondary schools Governor Peter Obi has rebuilt.
The Governor has a very ambitious programme of building 4000 (1000 per year) classrooms blocks over the period of four years in primary schools. The first 1000 slated for 2010 are almost completed in all the towns in the state. The flag off of the next 1000 for 2011 will soon commence.
Talking about tertiary institutions, the Governor has left his mark in all of them, even those that are not strictly under the Ministry of Education. Thus the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Nkpor and the School of Health Technology have regained accreditation after massive infrastructural facelift such as increase in their work force, building of giant hostels, auditoria and classrooms.
The School of Agriculture at Mgbakwu, which had only two dilapidated buildings, now has eight state-of-the- art buildings that are currently being furnished. These are not empty claims; the structures are there for anyone to see.
Now in the sector where the microbiologist and chemist are, the tertiary sector. Until Obi became the Governor, the Nwafor Orizu College of Education knew no peace. In terms of structure, it had infrastructural challenges. Today the challenges have been addressed. Water has been provided, classrooms built, computer lab and other labs equipped. The perennial crisis in the institution is under control with the engagement of Prof. Fidelis Okafor as the Provost. Determined to bring the same decorum to Anambra State University, Okafor was recently appointed the Ag. Vice Chancellor of the Anambra State University.
In Anambtra State University, where the reckless duo failed to acknowledge that the Governor has done anything, a lot has been done. The Governor built the ultra-modern Law Department as well as the Biological, Mass Communication and Social Sciences departments. He has also built the library, hostels, and donated generators for the two campuses, among many other achievements.
It is Peter Obi who really commenced the development of the permanent site of the university, after producing a master plan for the institution. The first phase spanning an area of about seven kilometres has been fenced and three buildings: Faculties of Agriculture and Business Management, as well as the Administrative Block are under construction. The Governor tarred the campus of the institution at Igbariam, yet the two gentlemen want us to believe that he has done nothing. At the state teaching hospital for medical students, the Governor has done 15 new buildings.
When he became Governor, the subvention to the university was nothing to write home about. Today the school receives over 700 per cent of what the Governor inherited. Yet Nwabunia and Chinwuba claimed he is doing nothing.
Most universities today are looking inwards, but with some of the characters we have as lecturers, what can they do? While other universities are declaring millions per month as internally generated revenue, the likes of Nwabunia and Chinwuba are sleeping and waiting for the government to do everything for them. Though they couched their demands on the need to increase funding to the university, everybody knows they are selfishly after salary increment, seeking parity with the federal universities. Even when some of them receive over N400, 000 per month following concessions made by the governor, they are not happy. The truth of the matter is that the state has no money to finance their greed. If it ever agrees to that request, tomorrow civil servants will be justified seeking parity with their federal counterparts. This will breed anarchy, pure and simple.
It is gladdening that Prof. Elochukwu Amuchieazi, an experienced professor of the old breed has been re-appointed as the Chairman of the university's Governing Council. We hope he will use his wealth of experience to carry out a surgical operation in the school.
Obienyem writes from Awka, Anambra State