VOTE OF THANKS TO THE UNIVERSITY OF BENIN, ON BEHALF OF THE THREE RECEIPIENTS OF EMERITUS PROFESSORSHIP. [EMERITUS PROFESSOR JOHN OAMEN IGENE, EMERITUS PROFESSOR ESOSA BOB OSAZE AND EMERITUS PROFESSOR EMMANUEL ANDREW CHUKWUEDO NWANZE]
E. A. C. NWANZE BSc, MSc, PhD, DIS Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry. University of Benin. BENIN-CITY NIGERIA. 23rd Nov. 2019
The Visitor. President & C-n-C of the Fed Rep of Nigeria GCFR
The Hon. Min. Fed. Min. of Educ Abuja. Malam Adamu Adamu
The Chancellor HRH The Emir of Kano Alh. Muhamadu Sanusi II CON
The Pro-Chancellor Chairman and all members of Governing Council,
The Vice-Chancellor, Senate, Staff & students of Great Uniben.
By appointing us, John Oamen IGENE, Bob Esosa OSAZE and Emmanuel Andrew Chukwuedo NWANZE to the exalted position of Professor Emeritus of this great University, you have immortalized our names in the annals of this institution. It is indeed a huge honour you’ve done us and it is deserving of our unbridled homage.
- PREMIUM ON EDUCATION:
But permit me to digress a little to talk about the premium I place on Education. Education is enlightenment; Education is knowledge; Education is life. All the great philosophers, from Plato to present day thinkers engraved it in their writings and speeches:
“ Ignorance, the root and stem of all evil” Plato [428-348 BC]
“The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is. Sir Winston Churchill [1874-1965].
“ Ignorance is always afraid of change” Jawaharlal Nehru [1889-1964]
“ I never let my schooling interfere with my education” Mark Twain [1835-1910].
“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one learnt in school.” Albert Einstein [1879-1955].
“ Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela [1918-2013]
Education is therefore less of mathematical acuity and more of enlightenment: the opening up of the mind.
World leaders also capture the essence of Education in their manifestos. Tony Blair captured it appropriately in his 2005 Labour Party campaign manifesto when he said that the core theme of his manifesto was “Education: Education: Education.” [See the book Education, Education, Education: Reforming England’s Schools. By Andrew Adonis, Abe Books 2013].
Angela Merkel, the German Amazon, gave this year’s Harvard Commencement lecture and in three short exhortations, she summarized her emphasis on Education as the only instrument of human development and global integration: i) “Don’t disguise lies as truth and truth as lies.” ii) “Tear down walls of ignorance and narrow mindedness.” iii) “More than ever, our actions have to be multilateral rather than unilateral.”
FIX EDUCATION AND YOU HAVE FIXED LIFE:
Therefore the consequences of mal-education or dysfunctional education are huge and very grave indeed for society. Education is the centrepiece of civilization: the cement of nation building. It is the vital ingredient that defines homo sapiens. If education is absent or worse still, flawed, then we classify as homo utilitarian. Without education, you cannot get democracy. Democracy is premised on rationality, which implies shared prosperity in the context of a common mutuality.
Homo sapiens can understand and embrace the concept of democracy because he is wise and accommodating; homo utilitarian on the other hand is brutish and cannot understand the concept of commonwealth. He takes and takes until the system goes burst. The brute or depraved misfit, who runs unto the highway from his hideout in the bush and begins to mow down travellers with an AK47 cannot be said to be educated. He is impunity consolidated and the anti-theses to democracy.
The first step to fix education therefore is to liberalize education, making quality education freely available to every citizen. Awo was right you know. (Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo 1909-1987) the great Nigerian political sage, was right when as far back as 1952 he proposed free education for every child in the then Western region of Nigeria. He was laughed to scorn by his political rivals. It won’t work they mocked. How do you fund it; they queried? Standards will crash they feared. But being the focussed mind that he was, he sent the bill all the same, to the Western Region House and by 1954 it was passed into law, for implementation in 1955. Yours truly was among the pioneer beneficiaries in 1955 when I started Primary school in Agodi, Ibadan. Well, you yourselves be the judge, by what measure standards have crashed, in that today, I am being conferred with the first Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry of the University of Benin. Besides, I have had the privilege of competing and topping many of my peer groups all through my career and globally too. I reached the apex of my career when in 2004 I was appointed Vice-Chancellor of this great citadel. So I say to all in governance, let our nation fix our Education, and believe me, just within the space of a decade, we will witness all forms of violence promoters such as banditry, abductions, kidnappings, armed robberies, ritual killers, treasury looters, yahoo-yahoo gangs and their ilk, take flight from our shores.
The following 24 countries which have enacted laws on free education at all levels and to all citizens cannot all be wrong. ARG; AUST; BEL; BRAZ; CZECH REP; DEN; EGYP; FIN; FRA; GER; GRE; ICE; KEN; LUX; MAL; MOR; NOR; PAN; SWI; SLO; SPA; SWE; TURK; URU.
It is mandatory for all citizens to have complete and unfettered access to free education. In a few of the countries the policy embraces non nationals as well. The Commonwealth under the aegis of the ACU enunciated the policy via the promulgation of the policy of “Access to All” at the Ministerial meeting of HMEs of Commonwealth Countries in Cape Town South Africa in 2006. But short of the instrument to enforce it, they have allowed each Commonwealth country to revert to business as usual. It has remained just but a slogan.
Therefore in these my twilight years in academia, the legacy I wish to handover to all and sundry is encapsulated in these five statements:
- Free Education at all tiers and levels is both feasible & realisable.
- Free Education at all levels can be funded.
- Stick to the UNESCO recommended appropriation for Education
- Stick to the Education tax laws.
- Reform & Restructure Nigeria Education for 21st century global standards.
Curiously, Emeritus Prof John Oamen Igene, Emeritus Prof. Esosa Bob Osaze and Emeritus Prof. Emmanuel Andrew Chukwuedo Nwanze all attended Loyola College Ibadan. Together with Emeritus Prof. Raymond Osemwegie Elaho, who earned his emeritus status two years ago, it follows that Loyola College Ibadan has singly produced four Emeritus Professors; the largest number by any school am sure. They have asked me, on our joint behalf, to thank the entire University of Benin community, Visitor, Chancellor, Pro-Chancellor & Governing Council, Vice-Chancellor, Senate, Staff and Students for thus immortalizing us.
MAY THE GOOD LORD BLESS US ALL .