I could not hold back my tears, when I read a news report about the response that Prof. Augustine (aka Austin) Uzoma Nwagbara gave the Faculty Disciplinary Committee at the University of Education, Winneba (UEW), after the videoclip on which he roundly disparaged the quality of Ghanaian universities to a gathering of Nigerian students and citizens resident in Ghana surfaced and went viral on YouTube – or social media – across the world. We will come back to his conference with the UEW Disciplinary Committee in due course; but for now, let us look at what Prof. Nwagbara had to say about Ghana’s tertiary public education system. In his comparison to present-day Ghanaian public universities to the latter’s Nigerian counterparts, that is, the Federal Government-owned and operated universities in Nigeria, this was what the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, Nigeria, was reported to have said: “I won’t pay 10-percent of that sum [i.e. $ 10, 000 (USD) for my child to get a degree in a Ghanaian university. I am in the system. I know the quality of [the] education [that] we receive here is 80-percent inferior to what is in Nigeria. I can tell you authoritatively,” Prof. Nwagbara is heard telling his audience.
We are never shown a frontal, wide-angle shot of the audience, at least not from the version that was sent me by my mother-in-law from Worcester, Massachusetts, several days ago. So, there is absolutely no way for the viewer to realistically gauge the extent to which the critic’s denigration and disparaging remarks was being bought hook, line and sinker, as it were, by the audience or otherwise, except at the very end of his rather blistering tirade of a lecture during which we hear the audience’s moderately loud applause. I personally have a strong feeling that at best, the audience had mixed feelings towards Prof. Nwagbara’s rather unfortunate attempt to incite animus, or visceral hatred, for his globally acknowledged magnanimous Ghanaian hosts in his audience of Nigerian compatriots; but one can clearly appreciate the fact that some Nigerian migrants and immigrants resident in Ghana could very well be inspired by Nigerian academic administrators and leaders like Prof. Nwagbara to muster the temerity to engage themselves in such heinous crimes as murder, rape and kidnapping, to mention just a few.
But what really captured my sedulous attention, was the fact that this viscerally Ghanaian-hating major Nigerian intellectual scumbag spoke more out of sheer frustration than anything else, although there clearly appears to be a palpable tinge of bitterness borne out of sheer envy in his tone. Indeed, Prof. Nwagbara, on the videoclip, seemed to be more worried about the apparently abject lack of a high sense of confidence and pride by a remarkable number of Nigerian parents and their college-/university-age students in the quality of Nigeria’s Federal Government-funded universities and other tertiary institutions or academies. Which was most likely why the Professor of English made the following mordantly disparaging remarks: ¶ “Our people will come here and pay $10,000.00 [USD], but they will not pay N20,000.00 in the University of Lagos…. What an average student pays in[sic] the University of Lagos in one session [Academic Year?] to get a degree in English is N2,000.00. Ghanaians there are paying N2,000.00. If you ask Nigerians to donate N50,000.00 every year to contribute to that university, they will[sic] riot; but the same Nigerians will come here and pay $10,000.00 for something 80-percent inferior to Nigeria.” Somebody needs to tell “His Excellency, The Honorable Professor Augustine/Austin Uzoma Nwagbara” that what he is talking about is called “The long-established image and reputation of the Ghanaian universities and colleges for excellence,” and that is what appears to be woefully lacking on the part of the flagship Nigerian academies.
If, in spite of what Prof. Nwagbara would have Nigerians and the rest of the world believe about the, supposedly, patent dross or virtual worthlessness that is Ghanaian tertiary or university education, Nigerian college and university students would still prefer Ghanaian education to/over Nigerian education to be vertiginously trooping to Ghana by the second to acquire degrees and certificates in the same, that alone ought to tell Prof. Nwagbara that he may very well require prompt medical attention of psychiatric nature or proportions. For, the question now becomes one of whether, indeed, the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos could be far more intelligent than all the parents of these 12,000-plus Nigerian students estimated to be attending Ghanaian colleges and universities at a cost that is at least 30-times the tuition-fees value of most Nigerian colleges and universities. Indeed, I have done the calculation of the equivalent of N20,000 (Naira) to Ghanaian Cedis and arrived at the admittedly scandalous amount of GHȻ300 (Three Hundred Cedis).
In other words, N20,000 is a measly GHȻ300. That ought to inform those Nigerians who think like Prof. Nwagbara that, in spite of Nigeria’s being the largest petroleum producer in Africa, the management of the biggest economy on the primeval continent still leaves much to be desired. But, of course, it would be tantamount to abject intellectual dishonesty not to agree with the recently dismissed Visiting Professor of the Winneba-based University of Education, that, on the whole, the quality of Ghanaian college and university has fallen precipitously. And for this abysmal state of affairs, we have the Rawlings-led erstwhile Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) and the so-called National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the pre-Kufuor era to thank for the same.
Indeed, in 1982, for the first time in the history of the West African Examinations Council-conducted GCE-O and -A levels, that is, in 22 years and in the apocalyptic wake of Chairman Jerry John Rawlings’ military overthrow of the Hilla “Babini” Limann-led, democratically elected People’s National Party (PNP), did Nigerians perform better at the WAEC-sponsored examinations than Ghanaians. In other words, since at least 1960, until 1982, Nigerians had never outperformed their Ghanaian counterparts at both the “Ordinary” and “Advanced” levels at the General Certification Examinations (GCE). So, it is rather fascinating to hear Prof. Nwagbara stake his grandiose claims in favor of the supposedly nonesuch quality of Nigerian university or tertiary education, vis-à-vis the quality of the latter’s Ghanaian counterpart.
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