Ethno-Entrepreneurs Responsible For Nigeria’s Divisiveness, says Professor Akpan.

Professor Akpan Wilson, Deputy dean of Research and Internationalisation at the University of Fort Hare in South Africa, has said that the fault lines in Nigeria exist because it furthers the interest of ethno-political entrepreneurs who ensure non-cessation of tension and violence in the country.

“Do not get me wrong, these people (ethno-political entrepreneurs) contribute to the growth and development of the society, they are well-respected and notable, but they also ensure the perpetuity of tension and distrust as a way of keeping relevance and ensuring that they are not out of business,” said Akpan, at the Annual Nigeria Dialogue at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa.

“They are those who feast on peoples’ misery in the society and promote ethnic, regional and religious sentiments over national interests.”

According to a press statement by Dr. Nelson Odume, Coordinator of the Annual Nigeria Dialogue and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Water Resources at Rhodes University, the theme for this year’s dialogue was ‘Building bridges of peaceful co-existence across the Niger – the role of education and youth development’.

Akpan emphasised that the theme of the dialogue suggests that there are multiple fault-lines in Nigeria, which include geographical, religious, regional, political and ethnic. Akpan, therefore, wondered if whether education and youth development could contribute to building bridges of co-existence and fostering integration and harmonious relationships among the diverse groups and groupings in Nigeria. While he acknowledged that some efforts have been made in the past through the compulsory one-year National Youth Service to foster peace, integration, unity and peaceful co-existence in Nigeria, he argued that the scheme has failed to achieve its noble objectives. Commenting on the education system, Akpan said the present system does not reflect the contextual realities of the Nigerian society. Akpan called for urgent overhauling of the education system and the introduction of civic, moral and value-driven system that takes into account the needs and developmental realities of Nigeria and her people.

“An education system that foster peace, integration and mutual understanding, is needed right from the primary school level through tertiary,” said Akpan.

Akpan was later joined by Dr. Eric Igbinigie and Mr. Aminu Usman in an interactive panel discussion on the theme of the Dialogue. Dr. Igbinigie, a Senior Environmental Consultant with Coastal and Environmental Services, said that Nigeria can overcome her challenges if its components work in unity. He provided a context of the Nigerian society to non-Nigerians in the audience. For his part, Mr. Aminu Usman argued that the tensions evident in Nigeria are intra- rather than inter-regional. Aminu was of the view that education could be used as a tool for integration, provided it was not politicized.

For her part, Orla Quinlan, director of the International Office at Rhodes University, said that Rhodes University places a high premium on internationalisation, with one-third of its students comprising international students from several countries. “Here at Rhodes University, we value internationalization and although there is still no coherent policy about internationalization in South Africa, Rhodes has a rich culture of internationalization, which has helped the university position herself as one of the leading institutions on the African continent,” said Orla.

Photo: Professor Akpan Wilson in the middle, flanked to the left by Eric Igginigie and to the right by Orla Qunian, Nelson Odume and other participants.

Article by :  Emeka Umejel

Article source  : American Daily Herald