Human capital is the foundation of any great country. This is why Nigeria must place much emphasis on the stability and state of instruction in the academia so that our Universities and other institutions of higher learning can continue to produce quality graduates who would put the nation first and can be counted on to move Nigeria forward.
I was privileged to graduate with a degree in English and Literature from the University of Calabar. This was at a time when the university flourished with some of the best names in African Literature such as Professors Ernest Emenyonu, Ime Ikiddeh, and Ebele Eko in a mix that also included some well renowned British and American teachers, including some African-Americans who stayed behind after the FESTAC ’77 event such as Gloria Hart and Raymond Green.
The benefit of attending UNICAL at the time I did, was not only in the high quality of education. There was also the good camaraderie between students and faculty, a great social network (I swear I only had a couple of girlfriendsJ, and never been involved in a relationship with a man) as well as other capacity-building ventures such as the (ICALEL) Calabar International Conference on African Literature and the English Language. ICALEL, in 1981 and 1982 attracted leading African writers, including Ama Ata Aidoo, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Ayi Kwei Armah, Cyprian Ekwensi, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Chinweizu, Dennis Brutus, Buchi Emecheta, Flora Nwapa, Elechi Amadi, Ken Saro Wiwa, Chukwuemeka Ike, Nurrudin Farah and Syl Cheney Coker, to mention a few.
You can imagine the thrill of having to meet these heroes and heroines of African literature!
A few years later, I was able to get an advanced education at the University of California Berkeley, US, but my degree from UNICAL was good enough to propel me through an outstanding career in journalism that included positions as Reporter at the Daily Republic Newspapers, freelance correspondent for the Voice of America, editor of the Dixon Tribune, and weekend editor and editorial board member of The Vacaville Reporter, a major newspaper in California.
These days I don’t know how far a first degree from Nigeria can take you if you immigrate abroad. Our educational institutions are crucial not only for the sake of our human capital development but also for our image abroad.
We need to invest in an educational system that produces graduates that can not only thrive in Nigeria but also abroad. That should be one of the country’s goals for the 21st century, and a litmus test for Nigeria’s Vision 2020.