Academic Nonchalance: The New Trend Among Nigerian Students

By Quadri Afolabi

As if the socio-religious and politico-economic challenges facing this country are not enough, the impending "breakfast" that the youth of this generation are cooking, through their negligence toward schooling, will “choke” the productivity of the nation’s human resources sector. On Tuesday, October 17 2023, I had the opportune moment to attend the academic symposium organised by the Vice President of the Lagos State University Students’ Union at the University’s main auditorium and the turnout of students in attendance was not only quite discouraging but also made me question myself if fellow students I have seen roaming the campus streets were unaware of the program. Although, it was not an absolute shock to me because I know of a fact that students find it problematic to attend intellectually stimulating events so long as it is not entertainment-based. Many kinds of these programs held and organised at both the management and student union levels bemoan the absence of students so much so that for such a hall to be filled, students have to be compelled and names of attendees must be recorded for lecturers’ use later. The auditorium —with a seating capacity of 5,000– on that day did not witness anything more than 400 students across the entire university. A university that has five different faculties and two schools with over 3,000 students each. That's quite disheartening. Dr. Ganiu Abisoye Bamgbose (GAB) mounted the podium to give his lecture as the second speaker of the day and directed his speech first to the Organizer — Vice President— and said “The reason why this hall is not filled up by students is the same reason why it is not easy to be successful.” I’m quite sure that the statement was made to relieve her displeasure as regards the low turnout of the students.

The academic nonchalance and intellectual negligence frequently portrayed by students own to the erroneous mindset they exhibit. Fellow students of this era see their course lectures on which they will write their exams as the only ones worthy of their attendance. Yet, many of them do not even attend those classes. I learnt, during the last semester’s exam, that a lecturer denied some students of writing his exam because they had not meet up with the requisite number of attendance for that particular course they have registered for. The question now is, what are these people doing in school when they are not ready to participate in major academic activities? One would think they are occupied with some other important things outside the school just to realise that even the most entrepreneurially inclined set of students still find their way to classes in the midst of fending for themselves.

Another scenario that highly depicted the unbearable degree of the unpleasant lackadaisical attitudes of fellow students toward academic programs is what I witnessed at the last Faculty of Arts Annual Lecture Series. Students, upon being known as academically uninterested set of people, were compelled to attend the lecture. In spite of that period being free of other courses’ lectures in the faculty, many of them did not attend. Many of those who were in attendance demonstrated that they were forced as noises erupted from them throughout the program. It has now become apparent that majority of students in this era have misunderstood what education is really about, and those who understand it don’t believe in it. The aftermath of this academic inactivity is the irreversible regrets that will befall unemployable graduates without ingredients. Certificate bearers without skills. Receipt holders without goods. That is why whenever we discuss the issue of the high unemployment rate facing this country, we should not fail to mention that of unemployability. It is high time students got things right and embrace the concept of change as described by C. JoyBell C.: “The only way that we can live is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.” To throw yourself into the open for exposure as a student means attending programmes that will benefit your career in pursuit. A myriad of ideas that you will need in your future life might neither be taught in class nor read in a book. They are the conceptual discussions that flow in intellectually stimulating gatherings. If you do not attend, then you are missing them. The reason why many students have not reached their full academic potential is that they have not gotten the push that they need. The push might be an inspiring story of a scholar that would not come to you personally, but could be seen and heard in the programmes you are missing. Do you want to become a celebrated scholar par excellence? Then you need to know that "We are what we repeatedly do". Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. " -Aristotle.

On this note, I urge fellow students to gear their minds towards optimal academic inclination and be rest assured that the best of future is ours. Expose yourself and remain exceptionally excellent.

Quadri Afolabi writes from the Department of Religions and Peace Studies, Lagos State University.

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