Incessant and protracted strikes are major factors militating against the development of the university system in Nigeria, former President Olusegun Obasanjo said on Monday in Lagos.
Obasanjo made the comments at the launch of a book entitled: ``From Excellence to Distinction: The University of Lagos on World’s Intellectual Map,’’ written by Prof. Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe.
Obasanjo noted that strikes by both students and university staff had affected the rapid growth and improved standard of academics in Nigerian universities over the past years.
He stressed the need for university administrators to be proactive in their quest to attain excellence by ensuring a stable academic calendar.
``We as a nation has what it takes, both human and natural resources, to make our universities rank among the best in the world.
``In any institution, those who are at the helm of affairs must strive to do their work and administer without fear or favour.
``There must be discipline in the use of every thing at their disposal in order to achieve their set goals,” Obasanjo, the special guest of honour at the event, said.
The former president said that Nigeria had the men and women who have what it takes to ensure the delivery of world class services in the various tertiary institutions.
He said that every one must be prepared to improve the ratings of Nigerian universities in global ranking.
He added that the University of Lagos, being a foremost Nigerian university, must work towards being amongst the best 100 in the world.
``After all we now have a Nigerian who is amongst the 51 best in the world, in terms of economic standing.
``We must try to develop and encourage what we have for us to be able to achieve our collective goal as a nation.
``I believe in the Chinese saying that the journey of 1,000 miles starts with the first step but such step must be in the right direction,” Obasanjo said
He noted that the country had succeeded in making the University of Lagos to be amongst the best 1,000 in the world, but that it could only get better.
``This position is only a first step and must continue in that direction.
``We are also saying that if we do the right thing, we would have peace and development,’’ the former president said.
Obasanjo commended the vision and contributions of the author, Ibidapo-Obe to the development of the university system.
While describing the messages in his book as `words on marble’ Obasanjo noted that some of the issues mentioned in the book were of relevance to every sector of Nigeria’s economy.
``I want to commend Prof. Ibidapo-Obe for this achievement and for his contributions in making university of Lagos what it is today.
``I remember how he fought hard to minimise strikes amongst students and staff in the university during his era as Vice-Chancellor,” he said.
In his remarks, Prof. Rahamon Bello, acting Vice-Chancellor of the institution, said the university was the first to be ranked as one of the best in the country during the tenure of the author as vice-chancellor.
He assured that the institution would build on what the author left behind.
``Our major challenge today is that of infrastructure. If we must achieve this goal that we have set for ourselves, we must tackle the issue of infrastructure.
``I want to humbly plead with Baba (Obasanjo) to extend all the support he had given Prof. Ibidapo-Obe during his tenure to us, in order to facilitate our set goals.
Earlier in his welcome address, Ibidapo-Obe had said the book took him five and a-half-years to conclude.
He stressed the need to showcase the achievements of the university, which he said, should move from its current excellent stage to that of distinction.
``We want to show that in truth and in deed, the university is a first class university and that it will remain second to none in the country.
The reviewer of the book, Prof. Niyi Akinnaso, described the book as `well written, interesting and educative’.