By Adewunmi Abodunrin
Former President of Nigerian Academy of Sciences, Prof. Oyewale Tomori, has decried the state of the Nigerian economy, stating that it was fast drifting into a state of collapse.
The renowned Virologist further projected that unless there was urgent step to reinvent itself in a new process of creative thinking , the system would be shut.
Tomori , a former Vice Chancellor, Redeemer University , who bemoaned the state of infrastructure in the country, declared that the sad part of Nigeria’s life was that it pretended not to know that it was sick.
Delivering the 19th Benjamin Oluwakayode Osuntokun Memorial Lecture titled ” Rescuing Nigeria : Restoring Her Health and Her Sanity , at the Benjamin Osuntokun Auditorium , College of Medicine, University College Hospital (UCH) , Ibadan yesterday, Tomori wondered how the country gradually came to this sorry state having been endowed with all the natural resources.
At the event , organised by Benjamin Oluwakayode Osuntokun Trust, eminent Nigerians poured encomiums on the late Professor of Neuroscience, Professor Benjamin Osuntokun, one of Africa’s foremost neuroscientists.
He was described as a great man with uncommon brilliance.
Tomori described Nigeria as a sick country, where there is aversion to excellence, desire to accept and settle for second best , culture of subtle and bare faced corruption, disdain for paying attention to details and talent for misapplication of resources. He pointed out that Nigeria, despite having all that it takes to achieve greatness, chose the path of retrogression.
On how it all started, Tomori said it was not as if the change came on Nigeria as a ” Tsunami ” without warning.
He said: ” The change came as the relentless dripping of the acid of corruption .It was gradual ; it was slow but regular and that fall is a continuing journey ; a step by step march into the new and decadent future.”
Drawing a comparison between old and new Nigeria, the guest lecturer said: ” So, Benjamin Osuntokun died , and even before his death , we had begun to carve out a new country out of the old. Then and gradually , we let down our guard. Politics, ethnic rivalries, and the inordinate love of money all crept into the orderly excellence of our community life.”
Expressing shock on the decadence in education sector, Tomori asked: “How did we get to this point? I think the problem started with the neglect of proper education at home, at our educational institutions and our government offices and houses of assemblies ; where our representatives and senators gather to determine the the future of our nation.
“We need to take a hard and serious review of our university system with a view to restoring the university to it former glory.”
He did not shield the university administrators from corruption, saying that the system has become so serious that vice chancellors were now competing with seasoned politicians to enter Economic and Financial Crimes Commission( EFCC) net.
According to him, the first step was for the academic community to accept that there was a major problem with the university system.
” The system needs to examine itself and focus on being relevant to national development… Second, our government should not approve the establishment of more universities but upgrade existing ones and fully maximise the utilisation of the resources .
“The federal character policy has contributed in no small measure to the problem of Nigeria. We need to pursue an educational policy that will ensure that in 30-40 years from now , no part of Nigeria will be described as educationally disadvantaged. Having achieved that, we will not need to give undue federal character advantage to any section of this country. Time is ripe for all Nigerians to be treated with justice and fair play in issues of appointment and promotion at federal and state civil service ,” he said.
Present at the event were the management of the University College Hospital (UCH) led by the Chief Medical Director (CMD), Prof. Temitope Alonge, former Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Prof. O. Oyediran, the Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Fola Esan, professor of Haematology, Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, Prof. Jide Osuntokun, and other members of the Board of Trustees of Benjamin Oluwakayode Osuntokun Trust among others.