A Professor of Organometallic Chemistry at the University of Ilorin, Uche Basil Eke, has lamented the widening gap between public and private schools in the country.
He said that the Federal Government needs to urgently upgrade and improve the quality of knowledge that Nigerian children receive in schools run by government agencies.
Prof. Eke stated this while delivering the 165th Inaugural Lecture of the University, noting that, “In terms of standard, the gap between primary and secondary schools run by government agencies and those of non-governmental organisations is non-permissibly too wide”
In the lecture, entitled “In Search of the Answer to Questions Unknown”, the don said that the Ministry of Youth and Sport has a lot to offer in the total development of the Nigerian child while the Federal Ministry of Education should create a conducive environment for the emergence of highly skilled and knowledgeable Nigerian youth.
The Inaugural Lecturer urged the government to vote more money for research, adding “As the western world continues in its stride to achieve ‘next generation technologies’, much of which is harmful to the earth, let the third world advocate for mother earth by studying the methodologies that will reduce or eliminate pollution”.
“Let us reclaim our land polluted by oil exploration, our seas polluted by excessive dumping of plastic materials and overfishing to satisfy the voracious appetite of modern man”, he stressed.
Lamenting the country’s lack of political will on the quest, Prof. Eke said, “Adult politicians don’t seem to have learnt that in any contest, there can be only one winner. Every contestant believes he/she has the absolute right to win at all times. Should he/she lose, then the process has been rigged. That is why electoral litigations/disputations continue until the next election.”
According to the don, the new generation should learn to compete vigorously and accept defeat when it comes, something he said is achievable through the grassroots sports activities of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.
The Inaugural Lecturer pointed out that Nigeria needs what he called “the hand of humanity” “to achieve the dream of a prosperous nation, adding, “As a scientist, I continue to share the anxieties of other Nigerians as our country swings on the pendulum of hope, despair and near chaos”.
According to him, Nigeria has “climbed to the precipice a few times. But thank God we did come back to the coast of hope and restraint, ready and willing to pick up and start building again.”
Prof. Eke, who recalled the riots in various parts of the country where lives and property were lost, said “on several occasions, we have visited our country and the world with these unnecessary crises because of fear! Fear of our individual tomorrow. But if we encouraged ourselves to look inward we shall find out that such apprehensions are needless and baseless. We will be surprised to discover that all we need to achieve the dream of a prosperous nation is a “pair of hands” – the hand of humanity.”
According to him, the journey of a grain of rice whether it is “Ofada”, “Abakaliki”, “Taraku”, “Gboko “, etc, the only thing I am able to identify is the “hand” of humanity.
He said, “The hands may well have been Caucasian, Asian, or Negroid, they may even be the hands of those who take their faith in God very seriously or those of others that only get by. That I will not know, I just know that the “hand” of humanity nurtures the entire human race to live the good life that we all crave for.”
Prof. Eke said that “if we act together from the perspective of various human endeavours we can build a beautiful world here on planet earth. However if we go our different ways and pursue our different dreams, the result we get are challenges that shall be global in terms of warming, droughts, famine, deforestation, flooding, hunger, diseases, pollution, disease, hunger, aridity, economic migration etc”.
This, according to him, is “part of the problem in our national polity”. He said, “Our leaders never want to give up their guidance of national discourse and control of the management of our human and natural resources. I think that this amounts to tenure perpetuation by subterfuge. This is not healthy for the modern world. The present challenges that mother earth is facing and will face in the future, require fresh ideas, informed by new knowledge.”
The inaugural lecturer said that these challenges are global in dimension and cannot be solved in the now “ancient history” of the amalgamation of Nigeria, of the struggle for resource control, not even in the distrust that the various ethnic nationalities of Nigeria have for each other but through new knowledge from a new Nigeria.
“By this I mean a new Nigeria made possible by a reorientation and re-education of society based on “Ogu” (equity), “Ofo” (justice), “ikenga” (self-esteem), “Ako” (tact) and Onyeaghala-nwanneya” (the common good). If we achieve this, we shall no longer be bogged down with electoral litigations more than one full year after an electoral contest. I think that we can avoid this shameful attitude when, as a people, we adopt the core values given above. We shall realize that social engineering is a complex contract that requires every “hand of humanity” to be on-board.”