By Dr. Law Mefor
The 4th day of October, 2020, will go down in the history of University of Nigeria Nsukka, as a day the apex citadel of learning witnessed a major intervention in addressing its infrastructure deficits. It was the day the ground breaking for the building of an ultramodern International Research Centre donated by the Marcel Ofomata Foundation to the university took place. The epochal event was overseen by the Institution’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Charles A. Igwe.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Founder of the Marcel Ofomata Foundation, Dr. Amaechi Marcel Ofomata said; “Today, the Marcel Ofomata Foundation is laying a foundation for the building of an Ultramodern International Resource Centre in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka to be used by the Centre for Entrepreneurship Development and Research (CEDR) of this this great Citadel of learning.” He said it was part of his modest contribution to supporting entrepreneurship education and development in the country. As a well-established business leader, it is his firm belief that the entrepreneurship Centre and infrastructure upon completion will inspire students within and outside the university to grow enterprise consciousness and embrace emerging businesses towards becoming self-reliant while creating chains of opportunities for themselves, others and for national development.
Dr. Amaechi Ofomata who is also the Chairman of Amaecom Group pledged to use his position as global entrepreneur to attract partnership programmes, internships for students and training from other top business leaders and organizations around the globe towards advancing the resourcefulness of the Entrepreneurship Centre. Dr. Ofomata, an expert in Entrepreneurship and Business Incubation, is also the Chancellor of Mitchell and Michelle Business School, Nigeria, which is the first innovative, practical and hands-on business school in Nigeria that trains and mentors businesses/businessmen, budding entrepreneurs and leaders.
The kind gesture of Dr. Marcel Ofomata in partnering the University of Nigeria Nsukka to advance the frontiers of academic excellence, especially in the area of entrepreneurship development, is so urgently needed in country for two reasons. One, university education in the country is so underfunded and in dire need of such help. Truth be told, the nation’s universities are no longer in a position to put in place all the infrastructures they need to address their core mandate areas. Individuals and corporate organizations therefore need to fill in the gaps as Dr. Ofomata has done.
Secondly, only one or two Nigerian universities make to the global ranking of 1,000 universities in last decades. Infrastructure is one of the factors responsible for the low ranking of Nigerian universities on the global scale and must be urgently addressed if the nation’s universities would regain their pride of place. Individuals and organizations need to see interventions in the area of provision of infrastructure as a Corporate Social Responsibility.
The dwindling fortune of university education in particular and education generally in Nigeria is quite embarrassing. Nostalgically, in the past, products of Nigerian public schools, including universities, were rated at par with products of Ivy League schools in the United States and Grade ‘A’ institutions in the United Kingdom, which led to exchange programmes between Nigerian institutions and their foreign counterparts. But today, our products are clearly inferior.
Standard of education in public schools in Nigeria, especially in the universities, has continued to fall despite huge government investments in the sector and this unfortunate turn of events in the education sector has placed the products of Nigerian universities at a disadvantage and precariousness, compared to their counterparts who attended schools abroad.
At the moment, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is on strike for over seven (7) months, in their fight to compel the government to address the decadence in university education in Nigeria. While hoping that the government will eventually regain perspective and see reason with ASUU, it must also be acknowledged that the government alone cannot sufficiently address the myriad of problems besetting the subsector. Well positioned individuals and organizations need to step up to the plate as Dr. Marcel Ofomata has done and help is salvaging university education.
Such interventions also fall within the ambit of the roles of alumni associations of universities. Nigerian patriots who passed through the nation’s universities and have been successful in life should pay a visit to their almamaters to see how they could help in upgrading the institutions that produced and placed them in good and competitive stead. As graduates of Nigerian universities when they were worth their names, some have been privileged to man Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government at Local, State and Federal levels. Many more have equally been well-placed in some private and international organizations, reaching the pinnacles of their professions and careers.
Like psychologist Abraham Maslow noted in his Hierarchy of Needs Theory, the ultimate goal of man in life is self-actualization, which is the peak experience where the individual wants to give back to the society that produced him. In answering this nature’s prodding, special attention needs to be paid to the university education by the Nigeria citizens, especially by its products.
The great example of Dr. Amaechi Ofomata needs to be followed by his counterparts. With many more such centres built and many more seats endowed, the infrastructure deficits, which are chiefly responsible for the low ranking of the Nigerian universities globally, can be considerably augmented and addressed.
As a risen business and political leader, Dr. Ofomata is currently the President of Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Abuja Chapter. He is a member of many strategic, professional, certified and philanthropic organizations in some of which he plays leading roles. He is a member of the United States Commercial Department since 2010, Nigerian–German Business Association since 2011, Asian Business Forum, member of African Presidents Forum of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO), Fellow, Chartered Institute of Economics of Nigeria, Chartered Institute of Leadership, Associate Member, Nigerian Institute of Management, Member, Nigerian Association of Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), a major donor of Rotary Club International, Patron, Police Officers’ Mess Association, Nigerian Red Cross Society, and Paul Harris Fellow of the Rotary Club International, among others.
Dr. Mefor is an Abuja based Forensic/Social Psychologist and Journalist.