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Afes Ivy League

Published by The Nation on Thu, 09 Jul 2020

HardballCHIEF Afe Babalola, legal silk and university investor, is angryangry that university final-year students were not among those to resume school, this COVID-19 season, like primary 6, JS 3 and SS 3.His ire is especially directed at the all-mighty Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), which he guessed must have muscled the Federal Government, from extending school resumption to the university finalists.Even then, in a statement signed by Tunde Olofintila, Head, Corporate Affairs, Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), Chief Babalola propounded a rather weird policy, that pretty much equates education apartheid, in a pandemic.He (well, the ABUAD spokesperson, speaking in his name) wished the Federal Government would grant private universities final-year students a waiver to resume, leaving their public university counterparts in the lurch.And why' The legal silks Nigerian Ivy League theory: Already, in the private universities in Nigeria, an Ivy League similar to that in America is emerging.To me, the top ranking private universities should be the mirror or the template for resumption of students because of the hygienic, safe environment and the undoubted discipline amongst students and teachers. Still, what of private universities outside this Ivy League'Now, that well-serenaded discipline must have emerged from this beautiful ode, in the same statement, to private universities, by the ABUAD founder: Most private universities are reputed for their moral and physical discipline, quality and functional education, hygienic and safe environment, predictable academic calendar, absence of trade unionism, committed teachers, modern teaching equipment and laboratories, and adequate preparation to prevent COVID-19.Fine traits, to be sureexcept that absence of trade unionism smells like the university staff in a military barrack; and moral and physical discipline, a euphemism for the university churning out zombiesyouths who even need to take exeats, before leaving campuses, like some secondary schools or monasteries!Need Hardball state the twostaff regimentation and students as virtual zombiesbuck the very essence of the university, where young adults are allowed to make youthful mistakes and self-correct'Still, it is legitimate choice: splash the cash to train your children and wards as university zombies or mount a vigorous campaign to fix public universities, even as both compete for student intakes.To be fair, Chief Babalola has been consistent in pitching his universityno crime! When COVID-19 broke out, he lashed at the Federal Government for shutting universities when his all-mighty (ah, that word again!) ABUAD students were writing their semester examination!He said that action would make his ABUAD calendar less predictable, as public universities. But had the government cowered and ABUAD was struck by a major COVID-19 crisis, who would have borne the blame'Let the chief market his investment as much as he wishesthat is legitimate. What is not, is using public universities, which most Nigerian homes still patronize, as a battering ram.That is not only insensitive, it is provocative in a region where Chief Obafemi Awolowo left a legacy of education as a right for all, not some special privilege for some moneyed class. And nonothing can justify educational apartheid.
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