A professor of political institutions, governance and public policy, Remi Aiyede has bemoaned that universities have forsaken their hitherto known responsibility of providing solutions to the nation’s problems but have now established themselves as part of the nation’s problem.
He noted that for universities to rescue Nigeria, they must rescue themselves by showing examples in leadership selection, high culture and performance, upholding standards in research, administration and the development and maintenance of infrastructure.
Aiyede stated this while delivering his Inaugural Lecture titled: “If Gold Rusts, What Will Iron Do? Politicians, Academics and Institution Building”, at Trenchard Hall, University of Ibadan, on Thursday.
Speaking, he averred that many university campuses were littered with poorly constructed buildings while existing structures and facilities were in deplorable conditions because administrators embark on self-aggrandizing expenditures.
Aiyede, especially, decried the succession crisis that characterised the appointment of the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan as a pointer to the fact that the culture of desperation for the position had spread through the university system.
Aiyede, an editorial board member of the Nigerian Tribune, chided university men and women who gleefully embrace crude behaviours in the quest for administrative positions in the universities.
Furthermore, he questioned how the university can convince the outside world of having the knowledge to solve societal problems when it cannot use knowledge within the university to solve university problems.
Aiyede said, “The decadence in the universities today and the crisis of governance call for the recovery of universities as demonstration centres of the capacity of society to solve problems.
“We can no longer host engineering departments without engaging them to solve the persisting electricity problems or host departments of administration without tasking them to resolve administrative problems on the university.
“It is indeed embarrassing for a university with a department of Computer Science to remain incapable of producing an effective, timely result management systems, not to talk of making results available and accessible in real time on the internet.
“Also, the university is supposed to be an example for society in the way we govern ourselves, in the way we select ourselves, in the way we use our resources to develop our campuses.
If the university cannot use science to develop themselves, how can they become rescuers of the society?”
On the role of political office holders in engendering a better society, Aiyede identified the dearth of understanding of the essence of power and how the modern state operates by those in positions of leadership as the problem of many politicians in Africa.
Though he noted that constitutional and institutional innovations were important, Aiyede argued that more imperative is the values that underline the behaviour of those in government.He stressed that politics demands a sense of responsibility with respect to the consequences of what one does but decried the absence of ethics of responsibility and dislocation from the goals of the state among politicians.
Aiyede identified the absence of a sense of responsibility and failure of public office holders to take responsibility for their actions as a major limitation to the building of institutions in Africa.
He stressed that the ethics of responsibility among politicians is more important for society to survive and grow, especially in a nation with a large number of people who are illiterate and not empowered.
On the quest for a federal structure, the scholar advocated for federalism that balances both political accommodation and economic prosperity.
He charged Africans to be ready to take responsibility for their society and must take responsibility when they behave in ways that go contrary to the good of society.
Aiyede added, “Politicians should pay attention to the consequences of their actions. This is because their actions have consequences for people now and future generations.
“Doing politicians without taking cognizance of the goals of society will lead to the destruction of a society because the state is an evil force and those who occupy offices of the state must recognise that so the idea is that they know that good can come out of evil.
“So, when you take up the positions of the state, you are interacting with diabolical forces and you have to be conscious of that which then means that Responsibility is very central to anybody who calls himself a politician.
“Those who don’t recognise this are political infants and do things that destroy the society.
“Politicians should not commit what Max Weber described as mortal sins where you go into politic without knowing the goals of the society and not paying attention to the consequences of their action.”