The musicians, footballers, dancers, sportsmen and women; people who later make Nigeria proud in different climes and sectors all seem to discover themselves at the international arena. Whenever stories of outstanding performances, achievements and successes by Nigerians are told, only a handful may have been locally bred.
Today each time one of our own wins prizes, competitions, and awards outside this country, we celebrate lavishly. We are proud of people like Chiamamnda Ngozi Adichie, Sefi Ata, Nnadozie Chioma, Ben Okri, Kaine Agary and others who have taken Nigeria to the peak of literary achievement through their works. Names like Odia Ofeimun, Akachi Ezeigbo, Niyi Osundare, Femi Osofisan, Emeka Nwabueze and indeed others are literarily globe trotters who export intellectual commodity to other parts of the world, from where they regularly update their knowledge. Prof. Pius Adesanmi (Bless his soul) was always coming from Canada where he was plying his intellectual trade as a professor to teach Nigerians about creative writing, before his demise early this year. It is almost impossible to talk of our home bred intellectuals in the above pedestal.
Many Nigerians are doing so wonderfully well in their different areas of specialization outside this country and we savour and relish the outcome of their efforts. These are no mean feats that would not have been realized had they remained in Nigeria.
Tribute must therefore be paid to the university administrators for the magnanimity of recognizing that the future is worth preparing for, and are working towards sustaining quality in our educational system by sending younger academics abroad in addition to the efforts of TETfund. The Nigerian TETFund has several programmes, awards and scholarship through which Nigerian scholars are sent abroad; an indication that its merits is not disbutable. Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu Alike, Ikwo has more than thirty four (34) lecturers in some universities abroad mostly in Germany, France, United Kingdom and Japan through the contacts and partnerships initiated by the university management and some of the foreign countries.
Just recently another set of sixteen (16) academics in the university will soon be undertaking research studies outside the shores of this country through the sponsorship of TETFund. Some state governments have also recognized the need for our best brains to be appreciated by giving them jobs. This is commendable, but they are encouraged to take the step further by exposing them for further studies. .
Today, an embarrassing statistics exists that Nigerian universities are in deficit of more than fifty thousand (50,000) Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) holders. Our universities are in dire need of the best that can be got anywhere, and ensuring that Nigerians whom we can trust are trained to fill this interventionist gap will be a great and historical move forward. Mostly affected are the state and private universities that are virtually empty of qualified academics. Those universities are yearning for qualified people to fill the yawning gaps created by dearth of qualified academics. The truth is that those positions are not just for anybody. Only the holders of first class honors degrees have greater potentials of filling those gaps after necessary trainings.
The priority of our leaders should therefore not be to send our first class degree holders to the ministries, but for further studies to meet that urgent need. Any investment directed towards saving our education sector is one that cannot be regretted. And delay may be very dangerous. Sending them to the ministries and indeed any type of work before further studies will endanger the enthusiasm that would have propelled them to assiduously aspire for greatness in their chosen fields of study. And asking them to wait for a year or also before embarking on further studies might also be counterproductive.
Some may be persuaded to make wrong decisions and choices before the expiration of one year. Losing them to the whims of the economic realities of today’s Nigeria might constitute one of the most unpatriotic acts against this country. Iy will be a disservice to the future of this country. Their consciousness will not only be dulled, but their psychological constitution will be negatively impacted because they would realize that in more discernible and responsive climes they would have deserved better.
It is therefore a necesarium that if Nigeria sincerely desire a brighter future, its best brains should meet their equals at the point of convergence of intellectuals on the international platform. This should be the way to go. So that when they return, Nigeria will be better for it. If they do not, they will market Nigeria abroad. Nigeria and posterity will give positive consideration to this gesture. The world after all has become a global village, and we should be proud if Nigeria becomes one of the major players on the big leagues of intellectual global affairs. Hopefully, Nigeria will rise again.
Dr. Nweke, Associate Professor, writes from Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu Alike, Ikwo, Ebonyi State.