By Tayo Ogunbiyi
One vital attribute every leader must possess in good measure is courage. Courage is the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition, shame, scandal, or discouragement. What lies at the heart of every courageous leader is not the absence of fear but the conviction that the action he is about to take, or taking, is the appropriate one. Many leaders sometimes lack the courage to take critical decisions because of the fear of public perception. This, according to Confucius, is the worst kind of cowardice.
The recent reversal of the Lagos State University (LASU) fee from N350,000 to the old rate of N25,000 across board by the State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, at the 19th convocation ceremony of the University in Lagos, has been described by many as a courageous decision. In a country where political leaders often rule in imperial fashion, the governor’s decision to revert to the old fee regime is seen as breath of fresh air. With the reduction, it is expected that the university could now run an uninterrupted academic calendar. An elated LASU Student Union President, Mr. Nurudeen Yusuf, commended Fashola for his kind gesture.“Today marks a significant day in the history of Lagos. With this development, we are optimistic that the future of Lagos is great,” he said.
With this development, Governor Fashola has proved that he is a listening leader by wiping out the tears of the LASU students with the total reversal. The beauty of it all is that the gesture is like a surprise package. It was unexpected because what the students proposed to the state government was N46,000 but the governor surprised them by reversing the fee back to N25,000.
The Governor and the students must be commended for resorting to consultations in seeking the final resolution of the crisis. It is, indeed, heartwarming to note that the students have also shown that they can choose this path of conflict resolution by reaching out to the state government. This is what is expected of leaders of tomorrow. It is particularly pleasing that the governor, in his words, was compelled to revert to the old fees as a result of the current economic situation of the country. This is a reflection of the humane side of the governor and his government.
This is a further evidence of the Lagos State government stance to reposition education in the state. Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), recently called on stakeholders to fashion out means to re-invent the nation’s higher education to tackle its development challenges. The governor who made this charge at the 64th Foundation Day anniversary of the University of Ibadan, entitled, ‘Framework for reinventing higher education for Nigeria’s national development’, declared that in order to overcome the current challenges confronting the country there is an urgent need to restructure education at all levels.
According to the governor, “In the 21st century, education will remain the most valuable currency that every nation will desire but which no Central Bank can print. Every nation must decide for herself how much of this currency she requires and set about how to acquire it. In order to agree on a Nigerian approach, I think we must agree on the purpose of education. For me, it is simply to refine and develop the quality of our human capital, which, is our most valuable resource.” According to him, if the nation defines its roles correctly and identifies its problems properly, it will not be difficult to develop an education framework that will take it to a place of pride.
Being a man that practices what he preaches, the Lagos State government under the leadership of Fashola is quietly but steadily working hard to improve the quality of education in the state. with particular reference to on-going development strides at the state owned Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, Lagos, it is quite clear that genuine efforts are on to re-invent tertiary education in the state. Without doubt, infrastructure development at the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, Lagos, is currently on course. Very soon, we would realise the LASU of our collective dream and aspiration as the government has embarked on a process that would attract the finest intellectual brains in the country to the school as lecturers. Similarly, the state government has renewed efforts to ensure that courses on offer at the institution are accredited by the National Universities Commission, NUC . Today, 85% of courses at the school have been accredited by the NUC.
Indeed, the LASU School of Transportation, first of its kind in Nigeria, which is a response to contemporary necessity, has been fully accredited by the NUC. Equally, there is a massive infrastructure renewal project going on at the school. Currently, the Students Arcade, Senate Building, Central Library, School of Transportation, Faculty of Law Auditorium, School of Management Sciences, LASU International School, among others are at various stages of completion.
Now that the LASU fees issue has been finally resolved, the state government must now concentrate on consolidating on infrastructure upgrade in the institution. Equally, the state government must ensure that no child who seeks education is left behind in the state. It is equally hoped that the management, staff and students of the institution will reciprocate the love and gesture of the state government by ensuring that academic activities run smoothly in the institution.
If, indeed, democracy is about the people, this is the time for our leaders to uphold the right concept of power for the good of the society. This is also the time for the followers to ask their leaders question. Government does not exercise power, rather, it is the concept of government, upheld by law, which exercises power. Democracy will be endangered when political power actors assume that they wield power, and not that power wields them.
According to Chairman Mao Tse-tung, the founder of the modern People’s Republic of China, “Our duty (as leaders of the people) is to hold ourselves responsible to the people. Every word, every act and every policy must conform to the people’s interests, and if mistakes occur, they must be corrected – that is what being responsible to the people means.”
•Ogunbiyi is of features unit, Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy.
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