A distinguished researcher and scholar at the Department of English, University of Ibadan, Prof. Aderemi Raji-Oyelade has revealed the lack of support for Nigeria’s lecturers made them leave the country.
This is just as the Ibadan-born academic, who is the recipient of the 2017 Humboldt Alumni Award for Innovative Networking Initiatives, which took place recently in Berlin, Germany explained that a nation without respect for its thinkers cannot call itself a civilized nation.
Raji-Oyelade spoke in an exclusive interview with Sunday Tribune.
According to Raji-Oyelade, “a society where generations of ASUU members have to be struggling continually, agitating for funding and facilities, what kind of system is that? Our best brains started leaving the country since 1986. Now, even our best potential brains who are PhD and Masters students are leaving. They are leaving because they are getting support elsewhere.”
He added that: “Tell me, if a country recognizes my intellect and is ready to support me, why will I not listen to their call? In just a month, a Nigerian senator is getting paid what the university professor will earn in five years, what a secondary school teacher will earn in one decade.”
On the problems militating against Nigerians in accessing international awards, he said: “There are so many problems militating against access to international awards. I can only refer to a couple of them. Attitude towards scholarship itself is a major problem. Of course, no scholar of value writes only or deliberately to win awards. You must as a rule derive joy in what you do. There is an attitudinal dysfunction between what we do, what we hope to achieve and what really we should achieve. We always talk about town and gown. Our scholarship must have value, impact and meaning for the society as consumer.
“But also, we have a system that is not supportive of scholars nor appreciative of the scholarships. I mean, a state system which does not support translational scholarship as a mode of intellectual production. How many of our policy makers have visited the University of Ibadan library? Or do we actually have a working network, a connection of libraries so that our Ministry of Information would have the best of the scholarly productions of the best productive academics in this country, to be able to use these materials and recommendations that students, doctors and professors provide every year and every session,” he noted.
On how the anomalies can be corrected, he suggested: “First of all, we must have a national leadership that has listening ears. The United Nations allows a benchmark of 26 per cent of a nation’s budget for the funding of its education. The question is every time and everywhere, how much percentage are we dedicating to education? In the year 2017, Nigeria’s budgetary vote for education is just a bit above 5 per cent. But every ministry is connected to education. For instance, the Ministry of Health would have teaching hospitals, the Ministry of Agriculture has agricultural institutions and extension programmes. Everything has to do with teaching and research, including technological and other corporate institutions. So, we need to get close to the UN bar or level of reaching 26 per cent for budgeting.”