The Need for Collaboration, Cooperation And Proper Understanding Between Nigeria And Benin Republic on the Issue of Tertiary Education
PROFESSOR ABIODUN AMUDA-KANNIKE SAN, FCArb, FCIAP, FCE, FCIHP, ACTI
DEAN, FACULTY OF LAW, KWARA STATE UNIVERSITY, MALETE, VIA ILORIN, KWARA STATE, NIGERIA.
Telephone No.: 08033256756
BEING THE TEXT OF THE 2023 CONVOCATION LECTURE (IN ENGLISH AND FRENCH) OF THE WEST AFRICAN UNIVERSITY COTONOU, REPUBLIC OF BENIN
SATURDAY, 5TH AUGUST, 2023
WRITTEN IN BOTH
ENGLISH AND FRENCH LANGUAGES
ÉCRIT DANS LES DEUX
LANGUES ANGLAISE ET FRANÇAISE
The two countries, Nigeria and Benin Republic are different countries in West Africa and Africa, one is an English-speaking country while the other is a French speaking country. However, notwithstanding this difference in language as a result of colonization, the two countries cannot do without each other in the followings;
ii. Trade and commerce
We are saying this because, the two countries are neighbours to each other and boundaries were created even artificially by the colonial masters, in such a way that even as at today, there are some villages and towns of Yoruba ethnicity in Benin Republic and Benin Republic ethnicity in Nigeria. They are in Nigeria and are Nigerians.
The list of Yoruba Kings in Benin Republic among others are;
i. Alaketou of Ketu, Ketou
ii. Onipopo of Popo, Heve Alahussan
iii. Onisabe of Sabe. SAVE
iv. Alajowun of Ajowun, Ajowun
v. Alajase Onikoyi of Ajase-Ile, Porto-Novo
vi. Onisale of Isale, Isale
vii. Onilikimu of Ilikimu, Ilikimu
viii. Onidiyin of Idiyin, Idiyin
Having said what we have discussed above, it is important to look at the key concepts linked to the topic under discuss which are;
iii. Proper understanding
v. Benin Republic
vi. Tertiary Education
Collaboration refers to working with someone to produce something. It equally refers to a situation where two or more persons worked together to create or achieve the same thing. The act of working together with other people, government and organizations in order to create or achieve result is also “collaboration”.
The word “Collaboration” seems to look the same as “Co-operation” but they are different. Collaboration means a situation where people work together on a shared goal. Cooperation on the other hand has to do with working with others to help them to achieve their individual goals.
The term cooperation involves two or more persons working together. The only issue involved here which makes the difference is that they do not necessarily work towards a “shared-goal” which they will take ownership. Their workings only have to do with supporting each other’s personal goals for success. This can also be referred to as the actions of someone who is being helpful by doing what is wanted or asked for. The association of persons or government for common benefit is also cooperation.
Proper understanding means being able to appreciate the workings of a thing or knowing about a situation. This is an understanding which is deep and devoid of any confusion or doubt. Its an understanding which avoids hardened postures or non-consideration.
An understanding person means someone who has the ability to appreciate how other people are feeling and can forgive them if they do something which is wrong or may be wrong in his view.
The importance of proper understanding is that when something is meaningfully understood, the meaning is retained much longer and this can lead to expanding the scope of knowledge on what has been understood.
Nigeria is a country which is located on the West Coast of Africa with diverse geography and climatic condition. It is on the Gulf of Guinea and was colonised by the British with the Northern and Southern Protectorates which were united together in 1914 as the British colony. While it became independent in 1960 and became a Republic in 1963. It is usually referred to as the “Giant of Africa”.
Benin Republic or Republic of Benin, which in French language is called; Republique du Benin, is an independent country. In West Africa. It has boundary with Togo on the West, on the East, with Nigeria, on the North-West, by Burkina-Faso, and on the North-East by Niger Republic. It is a small country with an area of 114,763 square kilometers and with a population of just over 13million. It gained independence also in 1963, as a Free Independence country from France its colonial master.
Its official language is French with indigenous languages like, Fon, Bariba, Yoruba, and Dendi.
This has to do with education above primary and secondary school age. This schools includes universities, polytechnics, colleges of education. Furthermore, tertiary education refers to all formal post-secondary education, including public and private universities, colleges, technical training institutes and vocation schools. This is a type of education which is called “third-level” “third-stage” or post-secondary school education.
HISTORY OF TERTIARY EDUCATION IN NIGERIA
The history of university education as far as Nigeria is concerned can be traced down to Elliot Commission of 1943 which led to the coming into being of the university college, Ibadan in 1948, which was an arm of the University of London. It became a full-fledged university in the year 1962 now called University of Ibadan. There were regional Universities which emerged around this time too such as University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1960, Ahmadu Bello University in 1962 and University of Ife now Obafemi Awolowo University in 1962 also. In 1962 same year, University of Lagos was established, by the year 1970, University of Benin was established. Eventually, both the Federal Government, State Governments and Private owners established more universities, other higher institutions such as Polytechnics, Colleges of Education, Colleges of Nursing and Midwifery among the said tertiary education.
HISTORY OF TERTIARY EDUCATION IN BENIN REPUBLIC
Between the years 2009 and 2011, the enrolment of students in the University increased. The National University of Benin Republic has;
i. Abomey Calavi
ii. University of Parakou (UNIPAR)
iii. School of Applied Economics and Management (ENEAM)
iv. National School of Administration and Prosecution Training (ENAM)
v. The Poly Technical School of Abomey Calabvi (EPAC)
vi. The Teachers Training school of Porto-Novo (ENS)
The Institutions are usually accredited by the Ministry of National Education while there are private tertiary institutions also in Benin Republic.
Tertiary education can be seen as administered by the “Higher Education Law” Education Act 75 – 30 and the Presidential Decree was made in 1970 with an amendment in 1973.
THE MISCONCEPTION ABOUT TERTIARY EDUCATION IN BENIN REPUBLIC
Some persons have taken their time to castigate the educational system of Benin Republic especially the tertiary education. Lots of things have been badly said as if Benin Republic tertiary education is the worst in the world and some of this commentary involves those published by Yinka Ogunlami who listed five reasons that someone should not school in Benin Republic thus;
i. the controversial certificate
ii. its not actually cheap
iii. the educational loopholes.
iv. the non-existent social life
v. the Beninese
Critically examining the issues raised, one can say that it is not an over-generalised statement that to mention that the castigated statement above is not;
i. backed-up with empirical facts.
ii. It’s a statement coming out from someone who started schooling in Benin Republic but did not complete his education there.
iii. the issue of certificate racketing is not restricted to Benin Republic, you have such incidence from Nigeria, some African countries too (among politicians) and even in the western world especially, the U.S.A, U.K Canada (Toronto) But Benin Republic execution of their Laws are very strict, once one is caught, such persons must be arrested and tried.
iv. the fees are cheap, payments are made instalmentally and none of the private universities payment in Benin Republic can be compared with the fees of private universities in Nigeria.
iv. there are social life because of good security. The students are involved in social activities and events competitions. The students enjoy recreational activities meanwhile discipline is very strict when misbehaviour occurs.
v. the Beninese are usually friendly with Nigerians especially as some of the towns are Yoruba towns of Nigeria before colonialism. Through the relationship, lots of Nigerian students speaks French language while in the tertiary institutions as “French Language” is a compulsory course for all the students.
THE EXCELLENT ISSUES ABOUT TERTIARY EDUCATION IN BENIN REPUBLIC
The Benin Republic which some persons have castigated in relation to its tertiary education actually put in place monitoring system and accreditation system dealing with its tertiary education system.
It is true that lots of the tertiary education institutions are owned and established by Nigerians and few Africans, majority of the institutions are accredited and went through proper scrutiny before they were approved to commence their programs. Each institution is given accreditation certificate and numbers with the exercise being a continuous one just as it is in Nigeria.
While there may be some tertiary institutions who are not accredited or dis accredited, just like in Nigeria, Africa generally including the western world, it cannot form the basis to completely conclude that tertiary education in Benin republic is of low standard. There are lots of tertiary institutions in Benin republic which have produced lots of graduates who are working in Nigeria and other Africa countries who can speak French and English and are in different areas of endeavours.
There are however lots of reasons why it is important to attend tertiary institutions in Benin Republic as not everyone will attend those institutions in Nigeria, other African countries or even in Europe.
The fact that they studied in Benin Republic does not make their certificate inferior to others because;
i. the students have the advantage of learning French and English as the language of study.
ii. part of the reasons why a certificate or a graduate may be seen as half-baked is when there are incessant strikes and students are unable to complete their syllabus or whenever schools resumes as it usually happen even in Nigeria because of ASUU or other strikes, the tertiary institutions in Benin Republic hardly go on strike as there exist no basis to do so.
iii. the tertiary institutions are usually accredited by the Ministry of Higher Education of Benin Republic and such accreditation gives the basic recognition to them from Federal Ministry of Education in Nigeria, NUC, NYSC and other relevant bodies. The institution herein, are among such tertiary educational institutions recognized.
iv. most of the lecturers are qualified ones whether they are permanent staffs or temporary staffs or combination of both. Without qualified staffs, the tertiary institutions are usually not accredited or certificate of accreditation withdrawn until they comply with the requirements of the law.
v. the environment is good for leaning and research as electricity is usually constant and security is much better, hardly will any of the students be involved in cultism or acts of misbehaviours.
THE NEED FOR COLLABORATION AND COOPERATION BETWEEN NIGERIA AND BENIN REPUBLIC WITH RESPECT TO THE ISSUE OF TERTIARY EDUCATION
The issue of collaboration and cooperation between Benin Republic and Nigeria is not knew including the African countries most especially, West Africa to which the two nations belong to and it will not be out of place for this relationship to continue especially in the area of development of tertiary education. There is stable relationship between the two countries especially on economy.
Due to proximity, the two countries share certain similarities such as culture, religion, and tribes, including family affinity. It is a fact that Benin Republic also have boundaries with Nigeria in Bargudo in Kebbi State, Borgu in Niger State, Baruten in Kwara State, Saki in Oyo State, Badagry in Lagos State and Ipokia in Ogun State including five zones in Benin Republic namely; The Atlantic/Littoral, Queme/Plateau, Zou and Collins.
There are various students exchange programs which Nigeria as the Giant of Africa has been involved in and nothing stop the Federal Government of Nigeria to seriously extend this gesture to Benin Republic including granting Nigerian students’ scholarships to study in Benin Republic vis-à-vis lecturers’ exchange programs.
The issue of exchange Programs is not new as Nigerian-Egyptian universities have exchange programs in medicine even as early as this year. There has been exchange programs with Gambia, Namibia, Ghana, Ethiopia, Ireland, Morocco, Moldova and other countries.
The African Union has its mission statement as, to revitalize quality, relevant and harmonized educational systems responsive to the needs of Africa, by taking into consideration Africa’s aspiration and capacity in terms of human and material resources; systems that will produce Africans with appropriate attitudes, values, knowledge and skills to facilitate attainment of the A.U vision; the systems that will generate applied and new knowledge and which will contribute towards its harnessing vis-à-vis meeting up with Africa’s challenges as well as putting the continent of Africa perfectly and firmly within the main core of the global knowledge economy to be recognized worldwide.
The African Union, with respect to its department on Education, Science, Technology and Innovation mandates and core functions are as follows;
i. the development and harmonization of education policies and programs on the continent towards achievement of the A.U Vision.
ii. the spearheading of the revitalization of education systems.
iiii. the development and management of information systems linked to regional and national levels which will provide information for local and international users.
iv. the organization of meetings of the relevant specialized Technical Committee and other Political and professional bodies in order to ensure the collective articulation of priorities, ownership and accountability.
From the above as already analysed, one can see that the two countries, Nigeria and Benin Republic including other countries of Africa have got lots of work to do educationally in order to fulfil the aspiration and dream of Africa as far as education and most especially African education is concerned.
THE VALUE OF AFRICAN EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM
There is no denial that both the Nigerian nation and Benin Republic were colonized by the British and French, their educational system were entrenched in our society against the interest of the African society. We became so serious in this type of education to such an extent that African educational system and languages were jettisoned.
No wonder, the erudite scholar and professor of law of Great repute, Professor Ademola O. Popoola while alluding to Professor Fafunwa (1973:13) posited as followings;
“… Every society, whether simple or complex, has its own system for training and educating its youth. Education for the good of life has been identified as one of the most persistent concerns of men throughout history. What may differ from place to place, nation to nation and people to people is the goal of education and the method of approach. As Fafunwa (1974:13) identifies, the Greek idea of an educated man was one who was mentally and physically well-balanced; the Romans, for their part, placed emphasis on oratorical and military training. During the middle-Ages in England, the Knight, the Lord and the Priest were considered classical examples of well-educated elite”.
The learned Professor while stressing the above issues further stated that;
“Whereas in France, the scholar was the hallmark of excellence, in Germany, it was a patriot. In the old African society, the warrior, the hunter, the noble man, the man of character or anyone who combine this with a specific skill was considered to be well-integrated citizen of his community”.
The Learned Professor of Law while referring to Fafunwa Ibid 20 again opened our understanding of the value of education especially its objectives thus;
“1. To develop the child’s latent physical skills.
2. To develop character
3. To develop intellectual skills
4. To acquire specific vocational training and to develop healthy attitude towards honest labour.
5. To develop a sense of belonging and to participate actively in family and community affairs.
6. To understand, appreciate and promote the cultural heritage of the community at large.
7. To inculcate respect for elders and those in position of authority.”
He concluded by saying that the educational system be internationalized just as we stated earlier that there is great need for collaboration and co-operation, establishment of satellite campuses through Mou’s foreign partnerships, curriculum revisit, evaluation and other activities while he emphasized “study abroad by the students” just as you have done by schooling in Benin Republic while also not loosing the opportunity of Higher Education – Industry/Civil society partnerships.
In our view also, because of the modern-day trend, electronic, e-video, zoom and other e-system of learning should be utilized especially as Nigerian government has just granted License to a private university to undertake a complete-distant learning university system for the first time and almost all their activities will be done online, this does not make such certificate to be inferior to other universities which are not through online.
Great Graduands, despite some hardship, sadness, and grief that you may inevitably have encountered in the course of your studies, here in Benin Republic, at the end of it all, you completed this part of your journey while gathering great achievements and beautiful memories. Congratulations as success is not easy.
While it may be true that your lecturers, supervisors, the management of your university may have been tough with you at times, but this doesn’t mean that they hate or dislike you – this was all part of a larger effort to prepare you for the greater challenges that lies ahead of you, to nurture you and construct a strong foundation for your futures. At least your certificates are from one of the best universities in Benin Republic and the World at large properly accredited and recognized in Nigeria.
Under your university guidance, you have reached this impressive milestone in your life with great honour and integrity.
Today, I am honoured to say, we are proud of your many achievements over the years and your various accomplishments in almost all curriculum and extra-curricular activities. Your brilliant achievements in academics and other activities are indeed acknowledged. Your sweet memories will forever remain in the hearts of your lecturers, colleagues, the school management and the entire Benin Republic.
My Dear Comrades, My Dear Graduands, as you leave this institution, expect challenges but you will certainly overcome them with the skills and knowledge imparted to you over the years. Please see yourselves as Great Ambassadors of the school, never allow selfish interests to blemish the integrity you have nurtured over the years, be kind, and good to the people you will meet or have met on your way. Allow the words of your elders to guide you as you journey on to greatness. Dream big and be optimistic about whatever you are doing.
Let me remind you of the great words of Late Legendary Martin Luther King Jnr; who said “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward”.
Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world. Once more, Congratulations.
A. INTERNET MATERIALS
1. There are 34 Yoruba Obas in Benin Republic. See https://punching.com; Accessed through the internet on 20/7/2023 at 1am
2. History and Yoruba List of Yoruba Obas in Benin Republic. See https://www.nairaland.com; Accessed through the internet on 20/7/2023 at 2am
3. Collaboration; see https://dictionary.cambridge.com; Accessed on 20/7/2023 at 3am
4. Differences between collaboration and cooperation: see https://www.brosix.com; Accessed through the internet on 20/7/2023 at 3:30am
5. Cooperation: see https://www.merriam.webster.com; Accessed through the internet on 20/7/2023 at 7am
6. Proper understanding; see https://www.englishclub.com; Accessed through the internet on 21/7/2023 at 2am
7. Understanding; see https://dictionary.cambridge; Accessed through the internet on 21/7/2023 at 2:30am
8. Why understanding is important: see https://idtheory.sitehost.iu.edu>met; Accessed through the internet on 21/7/2023 at 3am
9. Nigeria; see https://www.collinsdictionary.com; Accessed through the internet on 21/7/2023 at 5am
10. Benin Definition; see https://www.dictionary.com; Accessed through the internet on 21/7/2023 at 9am
11. Benin Definition; see https://www.dictionary.com; Accessed through the internet on 21/7/2023 at 9am
12. Tertiary Education; see https://www.worldbank.org; Accessed through the internet on 23/1/2023 at 1.15am
13. Academia: see https://www.academia.edu; Accessed through the internet on 24/7/2023 at 1am
14. Review of Higher Education: see https://www.researchgate.net; Accessed through the internet on 24/7/2023 at 1.30am
15. West African Union University: see https://wauu.com; Accessed through the internet on 26/7/2023 at 12:05am
16. Collaboration; see https://www.thecable.ng; Accessed through the internet on 27/7/2023 at 6:47pm
17. Beninese President: see https://thepunchng.com; Accessed through the internet on 27/7/2023 at 7pm
18. Nigeria-Benin: see https://www.blueprint.ng; Accessed through the internet on 27/7/2023 at 9:31pm
19. Exchange programs; see https://von.gov.ng; Accessed through the internet on 27/7/2023 at 9:50pm
20. Education; https://www.britishcouncil.org; Accessed through the internet on 27/7/2023 at 9:54pm
21. African Union; see https://a.u.int>directorates>educate….; Accessed through the internet on 27/7/2023 at 10:24pm
1. Prof. A.O Popoola; Higher Education Nigerian: A Journey Across Time and Space; Convocation Lecture. December 9, 2021.
2. Prof. Fafunwa (1974-13)