The significance of culture as an effective tool for enhancing foreign relations took centre stage at the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) Quarterly Public Lecture Series.
The lecture, held recently at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Victoria Island, Lagos, was centred on the theme: “Culture as an effective tool for enhancing foreign relations”.
The Quarterly Public Lecture Series was conceived by NICO as a platform for stakeholders to deliberate on how to use culture as one of the building blocks for economic and national development.
In his paper, the guest lecturer and a senior research fellow and head division of African politics and integration at NIIA, Dr. Sharkdam Wapmuk, said culture could indeed serve as an effective tool for enhancing Nigerian foreign relations.
He noted that the nexus between culture and international relations has emerged as an area of interest to both scholars and practitioners in the field International Relations.
He added: “International Relations concerns itself with relationships among nation states, with each state implementing its foreign policy.
“Each state in the international system has its cultural system, which is made up of ideas, behavior, literature and arts, food, traditions, social, political, intellectual orientations and how it organises itself.
“Culture has become a key product in the international tourism market and an important instrument for enhancing relations of states. Globally, the volume of tourists engaged in cultural activities accounted for 40 per cent of international arrivals in 2016 (UNWTO, 2016).
“Since tourism as a general term refers to leisure travel, cultural tourism refers to tourism that is motivated by one or more aspects of the culture of a particular area. Cultural tourism can be defined as that activity which enables people to experience the different ways of life of other people.
“Cultural tourism helps them in gaining first hand understanding of their customs, traditions, the physical environment, the intellectual ideas and those places of architectural, historic, archaeological or other cultural significance which remain from earlier times (Csapo, 2012). It has been shown that cultural attractions and events are particularly strong magnets for tourism.”
He added that cultural tourism has served and still has huge potential to enhance Nigeria’s foreign relations. He also underscored the significant roles of Nigerian films, food culture, music, dance and literature as instruments for cultural diplomacy.
“From the reciprocal gifts of ancient rulers to modern diplomacy, culture has been used as a way for leaders and countries to show who they are, assert their power and build lasting relationships. Since time immemorial, culture has been a tool for friendly relations between the people in kingdoms, chiefdoms, and many others that later became Nigeria, and other territories.
“This involves hosting, receiving and building friendliness with other people and the use of cultural items as gifts such as beads, kola nuts, cloths, salt, cowries, animals, and even inter-marriages.
“The practice of promoting foreign relations through cultural diplomacy has not been completely neglected, but could be enhanced to derive more benefits. In today’s globalizing world, more than ever before, culture has a vital role to play in international relations. Cultural exchanges give us the chance to appreciate points of commonality and shared values.”
Earlier in his address, the former Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who was represented at the event by the acting DG of the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation (CBAA), Mrs Ndidi Aimienwawu, noted that the theme for the lecture was apt.
He explained that the lecture was as coming at a time when government was concerned in entrenching its foreign relations with other countries of the world, through strengthened cultural diplomacy.
The minister added: “It is also pertinent to note that culture is the totality of the people’s way of life and there is an urgent need for us to preserve, promote and present our unique cultural heritage for the socio-economic growth and development of our country.
“One thing that is achieved by this is that good relationship with other nations is established through cultural diversity and enhanced foreign relation.”
In his address, the Executive Secretary, NICO, Louis Eriomala, said: “Culture can be positively deployed in foreign relations to create understanding; promote our national heritage and market the Nigerian brand.
“Culture is beyond the food we eat, the language we speak, the clothes we wear etc, it is what we are; our existence and cultural heritage which some have argued, is greater than all the mineral resources of a nation put together.”
Dignitaries at the lecture include former Nigerian Ambassador to Ethiopia/Permanent Rep. to AU and UNECA, Otumba (Ambassador) Olusegun Akinsanya, who was the chairman of the occasion; former Foreign Affairs Minister, General Ike Nwachukwu (rtd); Erelu of Lagos, Princess Abiola Dosunmu; and renowned scholar and former Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Management Services) of the University of Lagos, Prof. Duro Oni.
Ajai-Lycett: I’m an accidental actor
Foremost Nigerian actress, Mrs. Taiwo Ajai-Lycett (OON), turned 78 this year. In this interview with TONY OKUYEME, the veteran of so many stage, radio and film productions, a journalist, television presenter, and cosmetologist, shares her thoughts on Nigerian movie industry, Nollywood, stage plays and the music industry. She also talks about the play, Hear Word, and how she became an actor by happenstance
At 78, you still look 50. What is the secret?
Work, work, work. Again, what we were discussing this evening, this business of not thinking that the world revolves around you. It is fantastic. The secret of success is service to other people. If you concentrate on yourself, how much can you find to think about yourself or say about yourself?
Your have spent 53 years of your life as a thespian, looking back now, how has it been so far?
Up, up, up on the way. It gets better every year. One thing I have learnt from my career is that practice makes perfect. Consistency, persistence, eventually, you start hitting the mark. You polish, and polishing and polishing, and there is no where you are going except you get better and better, in spite of yourself.
You recently came back from Edinburgh for the performance of Hear Word. Share your experience. How was it?
It was absolutely amazing. And Nigerians were there and they came, and they were so proud that such an incredibly powerful piece was coming from Nigeria. You know, we all bellyache about what is not going right in our country, but we do have some qualities and wonderful things that are happening. In little pocket areas, people are doing wonderful things for Nigeria. We are dwarfed, of course, by all the things that are not going right, but we must not despair, just keep going on because eventually cream always rises to the turf.
Tell us about Hear Word. For you, what is unique about Hear Words as a play?
It is not about women per se; it is about men and women. And I think it is about how to restructure society. It is about accepting that women should have a say, and that women themselves should examine their role in the society before we start blaming society for undermining us. Because most of the things that are going wrong in society women actually are perpetuating them; they are helping men to dominate and undermine their own gender, and that it is about time that we know that the contributions of women matter, not in an aggressive way but in a didactic way because it is true that if you have the capacity of women, wonderful women, you spend a lot of money, give them the best education in the world, and then you accept that they should marry, and if they fall in love and they marry, that their life finishes; you caught off the contribution that they could make to the development of the country. This is not to say that women are particularly better than men; there are very corrupt women as well. But it just means that all hands should be on deck when it comes to nation building.
Did you really set out to become an actor?
I didn’t, that is the fascinating thing about my life. I am an accidental actor.
I was going out with a man, Yemi Ajibade (he is dead now), an actor in England. He was one of the old actors. And I went to the theatre and they were rehearsing Wole Soyinka’s ‘Lion and the Jewel’. It was the premiere of Lion and the Jewel. I was sitting in the Foyer and the director walked passed, I think he was going to the gent, and he came back and asked whether I was an actor? I was a civil servant in England in those days, I was working for the Post-Master General at that time, which meant that I was always well dressed and so on. And I said no, I was not. He felt, maybe, I looked like an actor. They had already started rehearsals at the time. He asked me if I would like to join them. So, he invited me to join the production.
So I went back to the office the following day to tell my boss to ask for somebody to deputize for while I go for annual vacation, which was about six weeks, and within which I used for the rehearsals and performance of the play. The play opened and after the performance, I was besieged; I was inundated…
What was your role in the play?
I was just a village girl… They had cast the lead; they had done everything, so I was given the role of a village girl. I didn’t know I had the talent, but I think I was the most forward Nigerian girl. There was another girl, Stella, who was a Nigerian, in the play. After that, I got an agent who decided to represent me. The following week, a producer from the BBC invited me to come. That’s how I started working in show business.
So, I trained; and I trained; and I trained; and I am still training.
What’s your opinion about the Nigerian movie industry, Nollywood, then and now?
There was no industry before. People were doing films. When we had FESTAC in 1977, we thought with FESTAC, films were going to really jump, but nothing happened. And then, 1977, 1978, there was a depression in the country, and uncertainties, clubs closed, not very much arts activities going on, nothing happening much. But it has been revived; there is a renaissance, and greater respect for the entertainment industry. People now see it that there is potential; it has been proven that there is potential; it can add magnificently to the GDP. And so we just need story lines that are more pertinent to us, with more substance and everything. And in the acting part, yes, people are talented but you got to work at your art. Pretty face is not everything.
What is your opinion about the Nigerian music industry? People have expressed concern about the contents and lyrics of the songs these days…
Lyrics are rubbish, and that’s sad. And everybody is copying the same beat; you hear one piece of music, you’ve heard them all. It’s like it is generic. The lyrics are the same, fixated on money, and not life’s values. That is what I call pandering to the lowest common denominator.
You were doing well in England why did you have to leave and come back to Nigeria?
What’s the point of having success in another man’s country, without your people knowing what you are doing? Isn’t it wonderful? I am here, amongst my own people; and generation to generation, they are talking about what I have done. I found that more successful. It is very easy for me to stay abroad. We have got to stop thinking that our talents and our lives have to be validated by overseas.
Stage or screen, which is your favourite?
Stage, of course…
Because that’s where it is happening; that’s where all your talents and all your skills have to come to play. That’s where they are tested; that’s where you are in direct communication with your audience. That’s where you come alive; that’s where there is no child’s play. It is not play-acting.
Which of the productions you have featured in is your favourite?
All my productions are challenging and very good.
What are your plans for retirement?
I don’t have control over how my life goes, so how can talk about retirement. As long as people want me for work I will be there. But I think some people are intimidated by me.
Femi Otedola takes over Majek Fashek’s hospital bills
Nigerian billionaire Femi Otedola has offered to foot the medical bills of ailing Reggae music icon, Majek Fashek. The ‘Send Down The Rain’ crooner has been seriously ill.
According to Fashek manager, Uzoma Omenka, the benevolent businessman has decided to foot all the medical bills for the ailing singer who has been admitted in a London based hospital.
“We really appreciate him for coming through and taking care of the hospital bills. It’s a huge relief and we are grateful. We however still need more support from well-meaning Nigerians to take care of other expenses,” Omenka said.
This latest development is coming days after Majek’s manager had debunked the claims he was dead.
According to him, Majek was still in the hospital and only required prayers and funds from well-meaning Nigerians.
He added that the reports on social media about Majek Fashek’s death are mere rumours. He also said the singer is responding to treatment and would require more donations and prayers from well-meaning fans and individuals.
“9:30 PM from London in Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Today is Sunday, this is to inform all the well-wishers, fans and lovers of Majek Fashek back in Nigeria that Majek is not dead, he is very fine. I just stepped out now because of this ongoing music that people are saying that he is dead. Let’s not wish him dead, let’s join hands and pray for him.
“For those of you that are praying, prayers are working, every day there is a gradual improvement. We need funds, we need money for maintenance. The notable Nigerians that deposited for his medication…but we still need money for other things. We also heard that people are raising money which is without our consent…” he said.
Omenka’s statement was coming after news of the reggae icon’s reported death started making headlines. It would be recalled that a few days ago, the manager announced that Majek Fashek was gravely ill and hospitalised.
Living in Bondage’s sequel gets November release date
The sequel to Nollywood blockbuster, ‘Living in Bondage,’ is set for release on November 8, 2019.
Shot by Ramsey Nouah, the sequel’s cinema release will see Kenneth Okonkwo, Kanayo O. Kanayo returning to the center stage alongside Enyinna Nwigwe, Nancy Isime, and Munachi Abii.
Speaking on his efforts, Nouah said: “I could not have asked for a bigger platform on which to make my directorial debut. From the power of this story, the intensity of the script, the cache of the cast and the quality of my technical support, there is no story as fascinating as Living In Bondage: Breaking Free. It is truly the movie maker’s dream project – and I should know working on both sides of the camera. I cannot wait to pack cinema seats with this true movie magical work.”
For the executive producer, Charles Okpaleke, the franchise remains the most compelling and consequential story when asked why he chose to acquire the right to produce a sequel after 25 years.
He said: “Living In Bondage is the single most compelling; most consequential movie franchise in the history of the Nigerian film industry. It is the movie which in 1992 birthed the Nigerian movie industry that is today universally known as Nollywood; an industry that is now the world’s second-largest, most prolific film industry. Need I say more.”
Written by Nicole Asinugo and C.J. Obasi, ‘Living in Bondage: Breaking Free,’ is the story of Nnamdi, Andy Okeke’s mysterious son, and his vaunting quest for the big life, one that he would do whatever it took to realize. Nnamdi’s untamed quest for the quick buck, fast car, easy living, inevitably took him on a perilous journey.
I lost my virginity in 2017, says Actress Yvonne Nelson
Popular Ghanaian actress Yvonne Nelson has taken to social media to reveal shocking detail about her life. The actress made the revelation while answering questions posted by fans on Twitter.
The actress was asked by a fan to reveal the first time she had intercourse, when she replied, her answer came as a shock.
Nelson claimed that the first time she ever had intercourse in her life was in 2017. She expressed that it was on February 14, 2017, during the Valentine’s Day celebrations that year.
The 33-year-old actress, who is also a film producer and model, has starred in several movies, such as ‘House of Gold’. She has a daughter with her ex-boyfriend, Jamie Roberts. Her daughter’s name is Ryn Roberts.
Meanwhile, actress Ify Okeke recently preached self-love on her Instagram page. She noted that she has never been moved by what body shamers say to her. The actress expressed that despite being an emotional person, she does not let what people say get to her.
Toyin Abraham denies claims of giving birth in a traditional home
Toyin Abraham wants everyone to know that she welcomed her son in a hospital in Lagos, dispelling the claims that she had him in a ‘traditional home.’
The Nollywood actress revealed this in a video while trying to debunk the claims by fellow actress, Liz Anjorin who insists that the baby was born in a traditional home. Liz had in one of her numerous attacks on Toyin, said that she gave birth to her child in a traditional home.
However, there had been speculations that Toyin Abraham had welcomed her child in the United States. In the newly shared video, the actress said she returned to Nigeria to give birth to the child because she wanted to be close to family.
“Because I trust you people, I decided to have my baby in Nigeria. I actually travelled but I came back. I said I am coming back, let me have my baby in Nigeria because I want to be around everybody” she said.
Obviously, this is not the last we are going to be hearing about the rift between Toyin Abraham and Liz Anjorin. The two have been at loggerheads over the last few days which has been followed by a legal drama.
The ‘Alakada’ actress made this known via her Instagram page on Monday, September 16, 2019, where she shared a copy of the ‘cease and desist’ notice letter. However, in her usual controversial style, Toyin Abraham called Liz Anjorin a pig, in the caption of the post.
“Silence is not golden. Rather than wrestle with a pig, it might be ideal to let the pig know that it belongs in the pen. No longer speaking on this, my management team and attorneys are taking this up. Cc @bbbmedia @officialsamolatunj1,” she wrote.
In the letter, ‘Toyin Abraham brought to Liz Anjorin’s notice the post she shared on her Instagram page on Sept 14, 2019, where she accused her of sponsoring an article against her.
“You alleged that security officials at the Saudi airport conducted a search on your person for hard drugs ostensibly acting on a tip-off from our client. The evidence you have against our client is simply because one of her fans with Instagram handle @m_adeoye had a tete-a-tete about you with a blog @gistlover.blog1. You unfathomably assumed the blog belongs to our client, that our client sponsored the article,” the statement reads.
It didn’t end there as Toyin Abraham’s lawyers revealed that Liz Anjorin’s attack on their client has led to some serious and irreparable injuries. It also says that it has exposed Toyin Abraham to hatred, contempt, and ridicule which has made some of her friends to avoid her.
ID Cabasa narrates horrible experience with police officer
Music producer Olumide Ogunade, popularly called Id Cabasa, has recounted an unfortunate experience that has made him conclude that Nigerians are the problem and not the country.
In a post on his Instagram page, Id Cabasa revealed how a policeman slapped him on the orders of a young guy driving a Range Rover sports car.
He explained that he was riding home with Uber when a young guy driving roughly in a Range Rover sports car almost hit their car.
Id Cabasa said that his Uber driver tried to talk to the Range Rover guy but he overtook them and instructed one of the policemen guarding a nearby club to slap the driver.
The music producer decided to alight from his Uber to have a discussion with the Range Rover guy but while they were conversing, the policeman instructed to slap his driver slapped him instead.
People soon gathered and when they recognised who he was, the policeman who slapped him started begging him.
Id Cabasa said that the incident showed how rotten the Nigerian society had become.
Meanwhile, rapper Ikechukwu recently shared how he was kidnapped and extorted by SARS operatives.
He explained that he was made to forcefully give out his ATM or lose his life without anyone knowing about what had happened.
Report: Robert Downey Jr. to return to the MCU in ‘Black Widow’
Robert Downey Jr. loves Marvel 3000, and the feeling is apparently mutual.
The fast-talking, kebab-eating and gauntlet-snapping Tony Stark/Iron Man will reportedly live to see another day in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with a few caveats, of course.
The iron-clad superhero, who has appeared in 10 films in the ever-expanding franchise, is apparently set to stage a comeback in the forthcoming “Black Widow” prequel starring Scarlett Johansson.
In a Deadline report about this year’s Saturn Award winners, writer Geoff Boucher dropped a bombshell about the actor reprising his role in the long-awaited solo film following super-spy Natasha Romanoff.
“Robert Downey Jr. will be seen in the role of Stark one more time, however, in the Marvel prequel ‘Black Widow’ in May 2020,” Boucher wrote.
Representatives for Marvel did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
Given how Tony Stark met his end in this summer’s record-breaking “Avengers: Endgame,” fans had already said their goodbyes to the character. But Marvel is currently juggling multiple timelines, as “Black Widow” will take place after the events of past Marvel installment “Captain America: Civil War,” which means that Iron Man is still very much alive when the film begins.
Johansson’s character was also killed off in “Endgame,” which wrapped up more than a decade of storytelling for the movie studio, so her solo film could be the only opportunity for the two actors, who first shared the screen in “Iron Man 2,” to appear together one last time.
Downey Jr. is the linchpin of the MCU and could provide a much-needed bridge to the upcoming Phase 4 of film and TV projects as creators break new ground.
Directed by Cate Shortland, “Black Widow” will also star Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, O-T Fagbenle and “Stranger Things” actor David Harbour.
Why Ebuka is the perfect host for Big Brother Naija
The first time you met Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, he was like Jon Snow. You could say he knew nothing about show business. But did that stop him from being relaxed and having the time of his life on TV in front of the entire African continent? Heck, no.
This was in 2006. And Ebuka’s Westeros was the Big Brother Nigeria house. Ebuka was charismatic, brimming with fun energy, and, of course, charming. Many viewers easily assumed the prize money was for him to lose.
But that was before Biggie threw a spanner in the works. Big Brother unleashed Katung Aduwak on the housemates 21 days into the competition and everything went to hell—well, that’s a story for another day.
Back to Ebuka. He was great, and his personality stood out. And spoiler alert: Ebuka didn’t win that edition of BBNaija.
That was 13 years ago and, as you know, the dude is still here, more famous than the winner of that contest and Ebuka has been hosting BBNaija itself for three seasons now.
If you think about it, you’re likely to conclude that Ebuka and Big Brother Naija are a match made in TV heaven. And I’ll absolutely agree with you. The thing, though, is that I’ve figured out the secret to Ebuka’s success with BBNaija.
Let’s break it down:
1. He embodies the original idea of BBN
Big Brother Nigeria has consistently rewarded authenticity. The trick is always how the players parlay that authenticity into riveting TV. Ebuka, even though he didn’t win the game, was judged to be authentic. Plus, nothing justifies the existence of BBN than ex-housemates, even those who didn’t win, becoming stars on the back of the reality show.
2. He has the looks TV needs
Ebuka once told The Punch newspaper that his first choice of work was as a radio presenter. That would have been a waste of face, wouldn’t it? Thanks to Big Brother, though, he found his mojo on TV and that first appearance has birthed more TV gigs. From Friend or Foe on and the Glo Show on NTA to The Spot and Men’s Corner on Ebony Life as well as Rubbin’ Minds on Channels, he’s been a permanent fixture on the small screen.
3. Ebuka takes chances
Now, we must talk about that time Ebuka broke the internet with one picture of him in that agbada. The funny thing was, before him, others had tried on that style of agbada he wore to Banky W’s wedding but on those people, the concept just didn’t take.
4. He plays the crowd the way a virtuoso would
If you go on Google right now, there’s Ebuka with answers to frequently googled questions about him. In one he says, “I speak English fluently, Igbo fluently, pidgin English, and sarcasm.” Ebuka has been a popular Big Brother Naija presenter, not because of what he says per se, but how he says what he says.
5. He’s a dream Nigerian youth
Ebuka, 37, is quite well educated. He studied that course your parents wanted you to study aside medicine: LAW. A graduate of the University of Abuja and the Nigerian Law School, he also holds a master’s degree from the American University Washington College of Law. He’s successful. He’s scandal-free and, obviously, he gets paid to do what he loves to do. Anyone who gets a chance to live in the House would want the exact same thing, so it makes sense that they also get the chance to have Ebuka to look up to.
Now, let’s pass the question to you: what other assets do you think make this gentleman perfect for Big Brother Naija?
How architecture, environment influence identities
‘If Walls Could Speak’:
solo exhibition by one of Nigeria’s most promising emerging artists, Patrick Akpojotor, explores subconscious connections between identity and the environment.
Titled If Walls Could Speak, the exhibition, which opened to the public on Monday September 16, at The Wheatbaker, Ikoyi, Lagos, is curated by SMO Contemporary Art. Works on display include 38 oil paintings, pencil sketches, seminal works in wood, and an installation of copper sculptures, which represent the artists’ exploration of our subconscious connections between identity and the built environment.
In light of the sustainable development goals SDGs’ recognition of the important role cities and human settlements play in addressing global challenges of ‘inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’ spaces for human development Akpojotor explores how architecture and our environment influence our individual and collective identities. Growing up in the megacity of Lagos, Akpojotor was fascinated by the names of streets and buildings, and started playing with the personification of abandoned buildings which harbor silent memories of forgotten people and historic events.
After graduating from the Auchi Polythenic in Fine Art in 2008, followed by a degree in graphic design from Lagos Polytechnic in 2013, Akpojotor worked for Prof. Bruce Onobrakpeya as a studio assistant. In 2016, Akpojotor was deeply disturbed by the violent ejection of residents of the waterfront slum community of OtodoGbamein Lekki, where thousands of people were displaced. He channeled his anger and frustration into his paintings and wood sculptures, creating buildings with human features and emotions.
“These signature anthropomorphic structures with their cubist geometry, perspective, balance, and form,” were his creative response to the realities of mega-city population pressure. His imagined structures and abstract compositions interrogate our sense of rootedness and belonging. Later that year, Akpojotor won the first Art X Lagos Prize for emerging artists with this important body of work.
“Akpojotor’s works stimulate us to a refreshing experience of the artist’s intuition, childhood, the search of identity, adventure and romance with space,” notes notable art critic and Professor of Fine Arts at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Prof. Jerry Buhari. “Watching Patrick grow as an artist over a span of fifteen years I have a sense of fulfillment as a mentor,” added Master Artist Prof. Bruce Onobrakpeya, a pioneer of Nigeria’s contemporary art scene. “He is very talented, intelligent, diligent and passionate, and is able to draw inspiration from things around him and from faraway places.”
“These amazing works not only give us an emotional feel of the rich and colorful history of Lagos’ built environment; they also pay homage and immortalize important people, like Dr. Stella Adadevoh, whose timely medical intervention saved Lagos from the spread of the dreaded ebola disease in 2014,” said Sandra Mbanefo Obiago, the curator of the exhibition
“Akpojotor’s work captures the heart of traditional, colonial, and contemporary architecture scattered across the Lagos cityscape” concluded Architect Mosun Ogunbanjo, Director of the Wheatbaker. “We are proud to host If Walls Could Speak and use our hotel to promote the best of Nigeria’s creative talent to a growing local and international community of art enthusiasts.”
‘If Walls Could Speak’ is supported by Louis Guntrum Wines, and it will be open till November 8, 2019.
Patrick is a multidisciplinary artist working across painting, drawing, printmaking, installation art and sculpture. His work is influenced by his fascination with the built space and architecture and their ability to shape ones identity. He is interested in the differences in human attitude, relating to the culture of the built environment that they inhabit. His work merges together visual elements of the built environment, geometry, human forms and imagined spaces to create abstract composition that interrogates our sense of perception which challenges us to see differently.
Funding, relevance of private universities
Title: Private University Education in Nigeria: Case Studies in Relevance
Author: Peter A. Okebukola
Publishers: Okebukola Science
Reviewer: Chido B. Nwakanma
rivate universities are the future of higher education in Nigeria. Twenty years after the first three private universities took off, universities in the private sector model now number more than those of the federal or state governments. Their number will grow even more.
At the time of writing in October 2017, this book documents 59 private universities in Nigeria. The federal government accounted for 40, while state governments had 44 universities. These are the assertions of the author of this book, an expert on the subject.
Why are universities run by private sector players doing well? What do they contribute and what justifies their existence and continued growth? How can society assist such a positive development?
‘Private University Education in Nigeria: Case Studies in Relevance’ is an advocacy book that justifies the presence and growth of private universities in Nigeria and the need to extend to them the financial assistance of the Education Trust Fund that public universities alone currently enjoy. The lead advocate has solid credentials for the case.
As a former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Prof Peter Okebukola brings to bear in-depth knowledge and experience of the Nigerian university system. As a regulator of the system, he understands both the requirements and the challenges. He has also served on the Council or Boards of no fewer than four private universities. He thus makes an informed case.
‘Private University Education in Nigeria’ proclaims that those institutions provide access to candidates who would have been shut out, reintroduced quality in higher education and offer efficient student-focused service delivery. They also infused healthy competition into the system and are focused on delivering quality research outputs. Private universities, he adds, operate a delivery system wrapped around small class sizes and well-resourced classrooms that stimulate the production of good quality graduates and run a predictable academic calendar.
It lists seven positive attributes. They are contributors to high-level human resource development, train persons with better values and represent a model of university governance in observance of due process, accountability and discipline. They also mostly have a Board of Trustees as an additional layer for accountability. The institutions model financial autonomy as they sink or swim from the income from ventures and other sources that supplement tuition. Discipline is the language in private universities for both staff and students while they are adventurous in exploring new courses that go beyond the NUC’s Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards (BMAS).
Nigeria had an initial false start with private universities when promoters established 24 private institutions between 1980 and 1983. Criteria were unclear. The Federal Government cancelled the process in 1984. The nation then commenced a new operation with Decree 9 of 1993 that allowed individuals, organisations, corporate bodies and local governments to establish and run private universities once they meet the guidelines. The book outlines the 14-step process that the National Universities Commission applies for the licensing of private universities.
The first set of universities licensed and opened in 1999 are Igbinedion University, Okada, Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo and Madonna University, Okija.
Despite their positives, subscription of candidates to private universities has been very low, the book discloses. Babcock University in 2017 UTME received 2645 applications, Covenant University 2633 and Afe Babalola University 1240. All others had less than 1000 applications each.
This book covers its subject matter in eight chapters, a dedication, foreword, preface and a list of the 16 vice-chancellors who responded for their institutions.
The relevance of private universities is the central thesis of ‘Private University Education in Nigeria’. The book explores this relevance in nine areas. These are national and global economy, agriculture and food security, education, and manufacturing. Others are power, youth employment, peace-building, religious harmony and conflict resolution as well as research, innovation and development of new products.
Sixteen universities reported on their contributions as the basis for the case studies. A revised edition of the book should have actual case studies and not the brief notes that some of the institutions passed on. When you hear case studies, you expect diligent reporting “involving an up-close, in-depth, and detailed examination of a subject of study, as well as its related contextual conditions”.
Private University Education in Nigeria offers perspective with a look at the trajectory of private universities in the USA, Britain and Europe. It features Harvard University, MIT, Stanford and Yale. There is the University of Buckingham, Ukrainian Free University, and the Catholic University of Sacred Heart, Milan. It reports that Japan has 597 private universities that constitute 78% of its universities. Indonesia has 1200 or 60% while the number for China has exploded from 20 in 1997 to 630 in 2017. Before 1995, only Ghana, Zimbabwe and Kenya had privately-owned universities in Anglophone Africa.
The book could do with better editing and attention to detail in this area.
The case for TETFUND support is persuasive. Okebukola argues that since the private sector is the goose that lays the golden egg of TETFUND, private universities should also benefit from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund.
The author then suggests modalities for the inclusion of the private sector. Private University Education in Nigeria: Case Studies in Relevance delivers on its assigned task of making a case for the existence and contributions of higher institutions promoted by the private sector. The reader would find abundant material in the history of higher education in Nigeria, the growth of private funding and the projection that private universities would eventually dominate.
Nwakanma is of the School of Media and Communication, Pan Atlantic University, Lagos State
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