March 2nd, 2011
President Jonathan, the New Style of Academic
Leadership by Aluko, Okogbaa and Farouk needs Bold, Full and
Open Autonomy to control change.
Sir, the soon to come Academic Leadership approach to the
new federal universities will enormously gain from an
Executive order-type autonomy in order for it to fully
evidence excellent practices, sustained outcomes and well
defined changes in university educational system in Nigeria.
Sir, as an academic yourself, you have seen firsthand the
lamentable nature of Nigerian higher institutions in spite
of millions of money that have been poured into the system.
Sir, you will agree that in the last fifteen years the
existing academic leadership in many of these higher
institutions have had very little impact on the overall
health of our universities, and this is partly because of
some members of the leadership being all about self-interest
rather focusing on matters of national interest.
Mr. President, as you rightly know, every great development
started as an idea, as such to adequately tackle the many
human and capital challenges the country currently face, you
have looked beyond the old ways of ‘doing things’ in
Nigeria. A great move indeed!
Sir, you have done this by taking a very bold and unpopular
step which in the words of Mohammed farouk, the new Vice
Chancellor of the federal University in Kashere, Gombe,
include bringing in those who “will apply their knowledge,
skills, expertise, and experiences” to better the nation.
Sir, I can assure you that compared to what exist currently,
Bolaji Aluko of Howard University in Washington Dc; O.
Geoffrey Okogbaa of the University of South Florida, and
Mohammed K. Farouk of the Florida International University
will come in with a collective culture in academic
leadership and embark on your vision in a way that is marked
with aggressive drive and a spirit of mobilization.
But the question Sir, is under what platform and mantle of
leadership will they do their respective work? Because for
them to bring in meaningful, fundamental and important
progressive changes to higher education, they must be
protected against the expectations and attitudes of the
outmoded mindset that are pervasive within the Nigerian
University education system.
There is no attempt here to disparage the work of the
officials of the National Universities Commission as they
try to function within the present institutional environment
that surrounds them in a taxing society like Nigeria.
Mr. President, if you want these new appointees to turn
around higher institutional learning in our society;
beginning with the ones they will be leading, the long
standing academic machinery will need to be ready for fresh,
state of the art and cutting-edge approach to university
management.Sir, you will agree with me that there could be
both overt and covert resistance from the systems currently
in place, and this is expected being the way life is.
Sir, I can assure you these Diaspora appointees will
strategically, stubbornly, drastically and professionally
push against unstable academic environments, unhealthy
facilities, and non-functional library system. But again
they will need your direct help!
Sir, through a special executive order your new appointees
will have more freedom to erect and implement the type of
higher learning in your shared vision with them.
The special autonomy which could come in form of writing and
full understanding by all stakeholders will in no way
diminish the powers, and functions already being exercised
by those in charge of academic systems.
It is important that many of us in academic and
administrative leadership in the Diaspora salute the
Executive Secretary of NUC, Professor Julius Okojie who has
continuously worked to raise the academic standards of
universities in spite of the societal challenges in Nigeria.
Many of us applaud him for his ongoing collaborative and
cooperative spirit with the new VCs as they embark on their
With a greater level of independence, the new VCs will have
the chance and control to assist in erecting new machinery
in academic leadership that is at par with the 21st century
If given a special protection from how things are done
currently, it is very likely that the learning and teaching
environment in their respective pioneering institutions will
by every reasonable way shut out and shut down many Nigerian
university education problems.
These new appointees will set a far reaching criteria that
will steadily enhance faculty/staff quality and development
in various areas not limited to mandated completion of
trainings in the areas of Sexual Harassment prevention,
employment discrimination prevention and student education
The new Diasporan VCs, using their experiences and highly
integrated perspectives will amplify an environment for
collaboration with faculty and staff, thereby reducing any
room for outdated equipment/laboratories and the almost
lifeless infrastructures that currently exist.
They will fully ensure that quality delivery systems and
benchmarks for teaching and working are current throughout
in their respective universities as that is the only way to
enhance a stable learning environment.
They will respectively exert efforts and time on showcasing
the new federal universities by providing leadership and a
well-defined path to corporate funding, applied research,
laboratory development, equitable equipment, modern
libraries, and they will promote learner-centered education.
They will aggressively create learning and teaching
environments and see to the faculty/staff welfare, and they
will create institutional environment that could be
unattractive to the never-ending strikes, and the problems
They will provide leadership in regards to making sure that
each of the new universities has active and workable
websites. They will bring in cutting-edge research that
focus on solving our local and other home-grown problems.
They will attract lectures of international standards and
proactively provide competent instructional technologies,
thereby helping to achieve online, blended, and hybrid
education which will connect well with face-to-face
They will aggressively provide leadership in the area of
quality assurance in regards to institutional effectiveness,
and work aggressively to efficiently and strategically
stabilize electrical Power in their respective universities.
They will ensure quality production and establishment of
journals, publications and lectures in their respective
universities to enhance applied and scientific research.
They will provide strategic ways to protect administrators,
faculty and staff from governmental abuse as it relates to
the long standing manner of grossly dismissing and firing
lecturers, staff, or even Vice-chancellors without any mark
of courtesy and due process.
They will provide university environments and facilities
which are attractive to international students, and see that
an environment exists for functional basic medical and
mental health care services.
They will help provide stress and physical examinations and
recreational facilities within the new universities as well
as provide student activity centers that meet international
They will make sure that university websites are current and
updated in order to allow for quick access to our current
They will be able to easily collaborate with the continental
African universities and other institutions in order to
build new cultures within our public institutions and
They will institute functional and quality leadership
programs for public, government and corporate officials,
thereby shrinking the urge for officials to travel to
‘Oyibo’ lands or European-American lands for ‘course’.
They should be allowed to create security or police type
systems in order to fully respond to safety issues as they
relate to the problems of strikes, kidnapping and cultism.
They will use their Diaspora experiences to secure external
grants which could provide stipends for faculty to develop
indigenous research and these monies could help to
facilitate faculty collaborations with students for
scholarly and applied projects.
They will help attract highly successful but settled
diasporan Nigerians who are likely to appear at home and
contribute to lectures, journals, books, and indigenous
based studies which are akin to the needs of our systems and
They will create openings for Nigerian graduates to
alternative vocations which could push them towards private
corporations, thereby reducing the dependency on
white-collar or government office jobs.
In the same vein they will work on harnessing business and
entrepreneurial opportunities for their respective
They will provide leadership that will help create social
networks through digital communication for our students
thereby providing affordable access to our cyber world.
Mr. President, I would like to believe that your objective
is to shape the educational history and culture in Nigeria,
but the right person in the right place at the right time is
all that is needed to bring in best practices across our
Please be assured that many of us in the Diaspora are fully
confident that each of your new appointees will usher in the
type of academic leadership and management style our society
greatly deserves at this time. Goodluck to you Sir!
John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D., DABPS; FACFE; is a Licensed
Clinical/Forensic Psychologist; Diplomate of American Board
of Psychological Specialties; Fellow of American College of
Forensic Examiners (For Psy); Former Interim Associate Dean
and an Assistant Professor of Psychology, Broward College -
North Campus, Florida.