The University, Citizenship, and National Development in Nigeria- By Chukwuma Charles Soludo



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(L-R) Former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria and Guest Speaker, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, former Vice President and founder American University of Nigeria Yola (AUN), Atiku Abubakar, President of AUN, Prof. Margee Ensign and Chairman, BoT of AUN, Alhaji Ahmed Joda at the grand finale of the 7th  Founder’s Day of AUN in Yola on Saturday

Chukwuma Charles Soludo
African Heritage Institution

Being the 2012 Founder’s Day Lecture delivered at the American University of Nigeria, Yola, Adamawa State, Nigeria: Saturday, 24th November, 2012.

I: Introduction

Let me thank the founder, Board of Trustees, President and Management of the American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola, for the invitation and honour to deliver this year’s founder’s day lecture of the University. I was given the latitude to choose any topic of interest, pertaining to ‘development’. I understand that the AUN has now been dubbed a “development university”. From what I have learnt of the University so far, I believe it is on course to live out the true meaning of its new garb. Being myself a graduate of the University of Nigeria (Nsukka Campus) – Nigeria’s first indigenous University which was actually set up in 1960 by a set of American Universities (led by the Michigan State University) and with the motto: ‘to restore the dignity of man’, I can see clearly the similarities between the two universities both in name and in mission statement. My Alma Mater (UNN) sought to liberate the African mind and in the process produce a critical mass of Africans to unleash a renascent Africa. The UNN was founded on the model of the American land grant programme. The AUN on the other hand, is seeking to mainstream ‘development’ through technology. I see a confluence.

As a University professor who has not only taught courses on African economic development but also had a stint in government trying to foster development, I know that most of you are expecting me to “share some experiences and proffer ‘practical’ solutions to Nigeria’s or Africa’s development challenges”. I will disappoint you. Such concerns should be for other fora. Being the founder’s day lecture of a university, I have instead chosen to use this opportunity to challenge us to think deeply about the essence of the university as a change agent in society. In particular, I invite us to examine the nexus between the nature of knowledge which we spew out of the university, the nature and character of citizenship and how these can help or hinder national development.

 

Let me therefore start this lecture with two quotations from philosopher Plato:

 

 

“Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy …cities will never have rest from their evils,”

 

“As a just and healthy person is governed by knowledge and reason, a just society must be under the control of society’s most cultivated and best informed minds, its “lovers of wisdom”, rather than its ‘lovers of money’.

 

The quotes above, dating back to more than 2,500 years ago, underscore the long history of the debate on the nexus between knowledge embodied in the leadership of a society and its development. Since the emergence of the Greek city states, the issue of how and who governs a society to ensure prosperity has preoccupied thinkers and the founding fathers of western philosophy (especially Plato and Aristotle) had strong postulations on the need for philosopher-kings in order for a society to develop.

Education at all levels, whether as a consumption or production good, is a key pivot of development. The university occupies a unique place in society not only as the highest place for teaching and research but also for community service. To earn a degree, prospective graduates must be found worthy in character and in learning. If we were to correctly read the minds of Aristotle and Plato, the kind of philosopher–kings they talked about would be found in, or products of, the university system. Some analysts argue that the quality of higher education of any society is a reflection of its level of development and a good predictor of its future development potentials.

In this lecture, I will focus on some of the soft infrastructure of national development, especially in terms of university education, and citizenship (with the associated issues of social cohesion and networks, value system, nationalism and patriotism, and group consciousness).I will argue that there are two kinds of University/educational systems: the one that leads/shapes development or human civilization, and the other that follows/evolves with the society’s development. While the former is proactive and characterized by intellectual activism and development consciousness (like the kinds of research and advocacy that led to the industrial revolution or fight against slavery and colonialism), the latter is passive and emphasizes more the technocratic and helicopter abilities. Whether a University is supply-leading (produces knowledge ahead of the demand for it) or demand-following (evolves in response to the demands by the society) depends on the content of its curricula, and the collective consciousness of the University. An important message we convey is that for national development, the highest pay-off of University education is not just the technical knowledge imparted on the individuals but more so the socialization of the knowledge for citizenship and community duties. But citizenship is not preached: it is lived. You must feel a sense of ‘ownership’ of a community to desire to develop or die for it. A central thesis of the lecture therefore is that a nation with lingering identity and citizenship questions will always perform sub-optimally in terms of national mobilization for development, and largely remains underdeveloped relative to its potentials irrespective of the system of university education. As a system, the Nigerian university is a failing institution. It is producing largely unemployable graduates and lacking in the development consciousness to drive Nigeria’s competition and development in today’s globalizing world. Our goal is to provoke debate and challenge the American University of Nigeria to think outside of the box in proffering solutions to the questions that emerge.

The rest of the lecture is organized as follows: Section II contextualizes the apparent tensions in the design of University curricula to pursue a universal development paradigm or a historically location-specific agenda. We contend that the university is largely tending towards universalism with little scope for location-specific goals, except when the university goes the extra mile to mobilize its members for ‘development consciousnesses. Section III examines the nature of citizenship/national consciousness vis-a-vis university outputs and implications for national mobilization and development. In Section IV, we summarize the agenda for action and conclude the lecture.

II: The University as Instrument of National Development

 

The university remains a legacy of the medieval ages, and has evolved through centuries to perform four distinctive functions: to preserve, transmit (teach), and advance knowledge (research), as well as engage in community service. The university is a service institution— to develop the human person and advance human civilization. An organic link between the university and society (marriage of town and gown) is critical to the realization of the university’s full potentials. As Millet (1962: 54) puts it, “what gives higher education its unique status is its relation to society at large. The objective of higher education – the preservation, transmission, and advancement of knowledge—implies not just a belief in the importance of knowledge. There is, as well, a more practical goal: to enable individuals to develop their talents for the service of others”. In his view, Powdyel (2009) believes that:

A university is the expression of the needs of a community, a society or a nation, devoted to the fashioning of its intellect… Universities have a commitment to active participation in social transformation, economic modernization and the training and upgrading of the total human resources of the nation…The University and the nation could be great natural allies. Societies and nations are what they are because of their possession or lack of the power of knowledge. With knowledge comes power and power brings prestige to individuals and nations”.

On the contributions of the university to national development, a World Bank Report (1988) notes the university’s role in preparing and supporting people in positions of responsibilities in government, business, and in the professions. It further notes that “high-level manpower must be trained and quality research carried out if development policies are to be correctly formulated, programmes appropriately planned, and projects effectively implemented”. Miller concludes that “one of the decisive elements in the quality of any society is the level it is able to reach and sustain in the quality of its research and scholarship”.

Implicit in the foregoing is that the university plays critical roles in the development of ‘a society’.  Societies all over the world differ widely on many fronts, including the stage of development and challenges of everyday existence. Should universities and the knowledge they create and teach be tailored to the ‘peculiarities’ of every particular society or should they seek to adopt the universal knowledge bank and conform to ‘international best practice’? This is a difficult question but one which every institution must attempt to answer in some way. Different perspectives abound. For example, Cardinal Newman (1959) views the university as a place for teaching universal knowledge. The transmission of universal knowledge was to him critical to the idea of the university. He believed that there was unity of knowledge, and emphasized the universal character of the university.

In most countries of the world, there is a lingering tension between the quest for education to ‘solve the local problems’ and the drive for a universal template to meet the universal notion of development.  All over the world, universities face the challenges of ‘transition’ from the western (universal?) notions of knowledge to adaptations to ‘local conditions’. Evidently, the subjects and methods of science correspond to the society in which they were generated. American and European universities are believed to meet the interests of current or past American and European industrial societies. Consequently, research projects and methods are largely centred on Western problems, needs, and conditions. There is a domino effect: the late comers are engaged in an imitation game or adaptation from the western systems.

How then do we design a modern university to play a leading role in shaping the development of emerging nations like Nigeria? Should Nigeria aspire to copy the universal template or evolve its own? To set up a university to effectively drive ‘development’, we must have clarity in terms of our own notions of ‘development’.

Philosophical/epistemological foundation of ‘national development’

Development is an obtuse term. Like beauty, it is largely in the eye of the beholder, meaning different things to different people. In some contexts, the word development, for a society is used interchangeably with ‘good governance’. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) notes that it has been at the forefront of “growing international consensus that good governance and sustainable human development are indivisible”. UNDP believes that “developing the capacity for good governance can be – and should be – the primary way to eliminate poverty”. Here, we focus on ‘national development’ to refer to continuous improvements in the capacity and quality of life/welfare of the citizens of a sovereign state. We agree with UNDP that good governance is central to positive development outcomes.

 

To the early philosophers—Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, etc, development was about fulfilling the essence of the state which was to promote the ‘common good’. Giving operational meaning to the ‘common good’ is itself not easy. Some see the moral, ethical, philosophical, political aspects of development, while some see just the economic aspects. Definitions abound, reflecting the diverse vintages of the discussants. I am sure that if we were to hand over pieces of paper to everyone in this hall and let each person define development and its elements, we would end up with an interesting mixed grill. There are also people here who could write fat books on philosophical, moral, political, cultural and value underpinnings of development.

 

Since this is a University lecture, it is important to articulate the epistemological foundations of national development. In an important sense, the struggle for ‘national development’ has been essentially a struggle for democratic governance that continually improves the welfare of the majority of the citizens. In this realm, we can distinguish two broad schools of thought: philosophical idealism, and dialectical materialism.

 

The first school of thought (philosophical idealism) which posits a metaphysical conception of an ideal state to which all societies must strive was dominated by the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, Hegel, etc.  Plato and Aristotle were unrepentant critics of the ‘government of the people’ kind of democracy, and instead favoured the rule by enlightened select elite. But they persistently espoused statehood and governance based on the metaphysical attributes of the state. While these thoughts evolved over more than 2,500 years, the modern day attempt to codify governance/development in terms of ‘Bill of Rights’ of the governed and government by ‘consent’ of the governed started with the Declaration of Independence by the United States in 1776, and the promulgation of the Constitution of the United States in 1787. To mobilize the people and conscience of the world to justify the war of independence, the founding fathers of America articulated the theory of legitimate government and showed how far the British rule deviated from that ideal. After winning the war, the founders then promulgated a Constitution to usher in a new form of government that would derive from the principles of good governance enunciated before the war. An important aspect of the legacy of the Americans is the restatement of the ‘natural laws’ or moral truths which guide human society. These higher laws of right and wrong (following from the traditions of philosophical idealism) form the basis for human laws, and against which they are evaluated.  They provide the foundation for conceptualizing the development of a human society in terms of universal principles. The opening paragraph of the Declaration of Independence sums it all in a seminal statement:

 

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it; and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles or organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.

 

Thus, by the natural rights, we were all created equal (equality before the law) and we are all born with the rights and do not get them from any government. Whatever powers are exercised by the government are given to them by the people – to exercise on their behalf. As the Declaration makes clear, the rights of the people to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness imply the right to live our lives as we wish, and to pursue happiness as we think best, provided that we respect the rights of others to do the same. In effect, based on the common law of tradition of liberty, property, and contract—its principles rooted in “right reason”, the founders of the American Constitution outlined the moral foundation of a free society and the foundation for ‘national development’.

 

To create the first formalized government of the people, by the people and for the people, the Constitution of the US starts with a statement that is largely copied in most countries’ Constitutions today as follows: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”. Founded on strong moral foundation, both the Declaration of Independence and American Constitution articulate the first principles of political organization based on equality, justice and mass participation— again, the key principles of ‘national development’.

 

Given that the principles that underlie philosophical idealism are metaphysical and seemingly universal, they are seen to transcend time, space and technology. Being the immutable laws of nature and social life, they can be transported across geographic and cultural boundaries with equal applicability. These ‘ideals’ appealed to people all over the world and constituted the clarion call for all societies and groups fighting for justice and ‘good governance’. It must be a wonderful coincidence that the French Revolution occurred in 1789 (barely two years after the new US Constitution), and this added a new fervour to the demand for liberty and equality. The conviction of the universality of the natural laws has given the moral force to all those who have sought to export these ‘universal’ rights to all peoples and places by whatever means possible. In history, these ‘means possible’ have included colonialism, or forms of imperialism, policy conditionalities by international development agencies, etc. Napoleon even sought to use military force to spread democratic ideals throughout Europe.

 

At the international level, the first effort to codify and universalize the concept of good governance and thus elements of national development was the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (December 10, 1948 at Palais de Chaillot, Paris). UDHR consists of 30 articles which have been elaborated in subsequent international treaties, regional human rights instruments, national constitutions, and laws. More particularly, the International Bill of Human Rights which took on the force of international law since 1976 consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its two Optional Protocols. Since then, the discussion and debate relating to national development found some common anchor, albeit that the communist countries and some Islamic states challenged some aspects of the Bill of Rights. The decade of the 1980s and 1990s seemed to divert attention in the developing world to a much narrower interpretation of governance and development under the auspices of the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAP). In spite of these, the apparent legitimacy and colouration of ‘international best practice’ given to the UDHR and Bill of Rights have changed the global discourse on development. With the apparent fall of Communism, and the realization that the economistic view of progress and technocratic interpretation of development as mainstreamed by the World Bank and IMF for decades were inadequate, development (broadly interpreted) has once again become the new fashion of international development discourse.

 

While the principles of philosophical idealism have remained the foundation of western democracy, other schools of thought have mounted persistent challenges. Hegel, the German philosopher, introduced the dialectics into social analysis and philosophical thought —the understanding of the struggles among contending and often contradictory forces that shape the evolution towards the Ideal. Karl Marx adapts the Hegelian dialectic into his philosophical materialism to create a powerful school of thought which can be summarized as dialectical materialism. Nnoli (2011: 6- 29) carefully articulates the key distinctive elements of this school of thought in comparison with philosophical idealism. The Marxian philosophy largely rejects the metaphysical conception of social life. It adopts Hegel’s dialectic but argues that the dialectic occurs in matter not idea. Marx postulates the material basis of society, in which social life begins and ends with concrete human beings, in specific locational and material conditions. ‘Ideas, under this school of thought, arise from society; are anchored in social realities and service the society, and must therefore be understood within the context of local conditions’. According to Nnoli (2011: 11-12):

 

This epistemological perspective considers the general aspects, tendencies and laws of the development of society in order to elucidate the general laws governing the development of any human society. It believes that these general laws of world history operate variously in different historical epochs and concrete human situations due to the changing and diverse needs of woman/man, and the accompanying changes in her/his pattern of production. Consequently, this method of analysis investigates in detail each concrete human condition in order to delineate the social laws applicable to it, and the kind of social order created by these laws. Such a methodology cannot be the intellectual basis for the foreign cultural and ideological domination of one society by another. It is oriented towards the local conditions… Analytically, there are no superior or inferior societies. And there is no approximation to an ideal pattern since no such pattern exists. The human activity of each society must be the beginning and end of analysis. Under these circumstances, cultural domination is impossible. Imitation of one society’s social processes by another is outlawed.

 

Implicit in this materialistic interpretation of social progress is the atomization of human societies. It implies that each society can only be studied and understood within the boundaries of its own peculiarities. Learning from other societies is not possible, and attempting to produce a template of ‘national development’ which is applicable across geographic boundaries is analytically flawed. One fundamental challenge to this mode of thinking is one of correctly delineating the appropriate boundaries of society that make for homogenous units of analysis. For example, can Nigeria be a unit of analysis and organized action simply because Lord Lugard said it is ‘one society’? Does South East or North East of Nigeria, with differing material conditions and social relations of the various communities constitute an appropriate category for analysis? Under this framework, the conclusion must be that whatever objective conditions that a society finds itself at any point in time (which constitutes the negotiated equilibrium among the contending social forces) must, at that point in time, constitute its ‘optimum’ unless and until overthrown by new forces. Since there is no ‘ideal’ to work towards, and society is continually in a state of motion, the concept of good governance/development will remain a moving target and a continuous work-in-progress at best.

 

Nor should it imply that philosophical idealism with its seeming ‘universality’ and hence disregard to specific historical contexts be celebrated as the way to go. In the specific context of Nigeria, Nnoli (2011: 10) highlights this deficiency by noting that:

 

At best history is marginal to such analysis…. Its practitioners merely abstract the various characteristics of Western democracies, ignore the historical contexts within which these traits had developed and compare them with democracy in Nigeria irrespective of differences in their levels of production, productive forces, relations of production, types and quality of leadership, the form and content of government, values, norms, symbolic attributes and ethical standards, and how these had developed historically. There is very little indication of movement and causality…. But the importance of history in social analysis lies in the fact that no social phenomenon is comprehensible and useful unless it is characterised by a union of its past, present and future… The deficiencies of philosophical idealism in this regard make it unsuitable for understanding democracy in Nigeria.

 

Methodological eclecticism and challenge of curriculum development

 

For both academic and pragmatic purposes, the distinction between the two schools of thought is not trivial. In everyday discussions and without the discussants being conscious of the epistemological divide, one can see the tensions. On the one hand, philosophical idealists present a template of constitutive elements of good governance and national development which they believe are ‘universal’ and point to the departures of their society from such ‘international best practices’. Since such templates encompass political, cultural, social and economic variables, imitation or adaptation of these ‘best practices’ is the policy thrust of this school of thought. On the other hand, it is common to hear analysts and commentators who admonish the idealists as ‘neo-colonialists’ or neo-imperialists who either out of intellectual laziness or ideological/philosophical predisposition are trying to impose ‘inappropriate and inapplicable foreign practices’ on the local conditions instead of designing peculiar ‘Nigerian solutions’ to Nigerian peculiarities.

 

Evidently, Nnoli (2011) is predisposed to argue that dialectical materialism is the more appropriate framework for socio-political and economic analysis in Nigeria, and rejects philosophical idealism. With all due respect to my former teacher and eminent professor, we disagree (In a separate work, we will elaborate our critique of the theoretical and empirical basis of the book). For now, suffice it to summarize that the issue is wrongly couched as the tension between idealism and realism. Both schools of thought represent extremes, albeit two sides of the same coin and none is a complete theory of society. Idealism without reality is a pie in the sky whereas an attempt to frame reality without the compass of idealism is akin to embarking on a journey without a destination because in the end, anywhere becomes a destination. While methodological purity (or extremism) of choosing one school of thought or the other (as Nnoli does) is convenient for intellectual inquiry since it guarantees internal coherence of logic, such a predisposition often ends up not addressing the real world. Our preference is for methodological eclecticism, especially given that ultimately our goal is to influence political and policy action.

 

My thesis is that the history of societies shows the constant interaction between idealism and reality in the ever changing struggles for a better society. We argue that ultimately, there is a two-way causation between ideas and reality, with the causation running a bit more strongly from ideas while social struggles (based on ideas) shape the evolution of reality. Today’s problems and reality shape the emergence of ideas which will create tomorrow’s reality. Both ideas and reality are not immutable: they are in dynamic motion.

 

A critical nexus which alters the dynamic is the role of knowledge and information. Together, knowledge and information alter perceptions of reality. Knowledge and information can ‘exogenously’ impact perceptions of reality by challenging a given equilibrium of reality, igniting struggles that finally move the society from a given state to a higher realm. Indeed, most revolutions in history as well as social and political movements have been ignited by this exogenous incursion of knowledge and information and hence the pressure to ‘compare’ and ‘imitate’. It is not an accident that most struggles for political independence in Africa were led by people who had been educated in the Western world and having been exposed to a new knowledge and information, could no longer accept the existing ‘reality’. The struggles involved the ‘education’ and mobilization of the people around new ‘ideals’ of a better society. In today’s globalized world – with global information, communication technology (ICT) and the social media and internet (with instantaneous real time information exchange) you cannot avoid the pressure to ‘compare’ and ‘imitate’. Recall the most recent experience of the so-called Arab Spring. In other words, local values and cultures and even production relations are altering and scaling up rapidly on account of knowledge and information. In sum, while history matters, local conditions matter (in economic jargon we acknowledge that initial conditions matter and path dependence is real) but we also know that even these ‘local conditions’ are themselves evolving dynamically.

 

Another important element in the attempt to understand the forces that shape development standards and outcomes is the role of organized struggles. It is said that philosophers have interpreted the world; the problem is to change it. Change has often involved the struggles among opposites: the conflict of thesis and anti-thesis producing a synthesis as some are wont to say. Effective struggles in history usually required effective organizations. An old cliché that organization is power sums it up nicely. Our argument is that knowledge and information shape ideas of what is right and wrong which provide basis for challenging the existing social order. But it is through organized struggles that the society evolves to a new (and perhaps better) standard of governance and development. Ideas on their own do not generate outcomes: struggles (actions) do! This explains why different societies, depending on the context and content of the local struggles, produce different outcomes even when they are informed by the same ideas (see the different shades of democracy – left of centre and right of centre in western countries; as well as the wide differences among western countries on given indicators of good governance or development).

 

An important thesis of our analysis is that the quality of development in any society depends on the nature of the demand for it. Like power, good development is not given: it is taken. We are all familiar with the old saying that a society gets the type of leadership it deserves. Perhaps, it is not the leadership it ‘deserves’ but the leadership it is willing to tolerate or make effective demand for. In Nigeria’s recent political history, we can cite dozens of examples of where and when organized people’s power has elicited improved standards of governance. The famous ‘June 12’ struggle is arguably the foundation for the recent democratic regime. Our history books teach us that no tyranny has ever survived or surmounted the collective resolve and will of the people. Thus, if the people demand for good governance through their willingness to organize and insist on it, they will have it.

 

Numerous examples abound in history to adumbrate the above thesis. After the French Revolution, there was still the struggle by philosophers and social movements to give concreteness to the philosophical ideals of equality, justice, etc especially as they pertained to the material conditions of the people. With all the sophisticated eloquence and metaphysical ideals with which the Americans formulated the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, it still took decades and centuries of struggles (including a civil war) for slavery to be abolished; for universal adult suffrage to be achieved; for social welfare system to be introduced; for civil rights, especially of blacks and women to be respected; etc. No two countries are exact symmetries of the other in terms of the specifics of the operations of the varying ideals of a well governed democratic society. Local struggles, among competing interest groups, have largely shaped the traditions and institutions by which the society is governed.

 

Both philosophical idealism and dialectical materialism fuse to produce the centre-piece of modern day western democracy— philosophical idealism propels much of the notions of ‘universalism’ and ‘international best practice’ while philosophical materialism has succeeded in forcing concrete materialistic interpretations of the universal values of equality and justice in specific local conditions, and even forcing translation of political rights and moral values into economic rights. As evident from the philosophical treatise earlier, good governance/development is not a value-free concept. From the prism of the West, good governance cannot be divorced from a market economy (capitalism) and western-style democracy (multi-party democracy with periodic elections, checks and balances, and term limits). Capitalism as a means of organizing production relations is believed to be consistent with the ‘inalienable’ rights of freedom and liberty. Part of the justification for the struggle by the western powers to prevent communism from spreading, and impose capitalism-democracy around the world was the conviction that the later derived from the natural rights of the citizens everywhere and consistent with ‘good governance’ which all free people are entitled to as of right.

 

The struggle for global standards of ‘good governance and development’ has a long history. However, after the Second World War (with the defeat of German fascism and the threat of communism still lurking in the shadows), the western countries under the aegis of the morally edifying epithet of “the free world” sought to create institutions for global governance and codify standards of good governance. The United Nations was created, and so too were the Bretton Woods Institutions (the World Bank, and the IMF). In 1948, some 48 independent countries (including Egypt, Ethiopia, and Liberia in Africa), China, and some other developing countries of Asia, Europe and Latin America, plus the western countries adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — UDHR (see Annex Box 1). The International Bill of Human Rights is made up of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. As is evident from Annex Box 1, much of these ‘Rights’ derive their impetus from the US Declaration of Independence document as well as its Constitution. As indicated above, this was the first attempt to codify what constitutes a global template of good governance/development, and Nigeria is a signatory to the Bill of Rights.

 

It could be argued that most Constitutions of and practices by countries draw a lot of guidance from the UDHR (see Chapter Two of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution as amended on the ‘Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy’).  As noted earlier, there have been attempts to give content to the various political rights by also codifying a set of socio-economic rights. Article 21 of the UDHR provides for equal participation of all citizens in its government, while Articles 22 to 26 particularly lay out the socio-economic rights of the citizens – in relation to the right to work; adequate standard of living; health care; free education; unemployment benefits; etc. Chapter Two of Nigeria’s Constitution can be said to summarize Nigeria’s own adaptation of the UDHR (and its extensions and Conventions).From the UDHR and its Bill of Rights as well as the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, good governance and national development encompass the guarantee of social and political rights of the citizens, and more fundamentally the guarantee of the economic wellbeing of the people.

 

Deriving from the UDHR and its Bill of Rights and Conventions as well as the Constitution of Nigeria, national development can therefore be operationalized in Nigeria as one that guarantees the human, political and cultural rights of the citizens while also maximizing their material and social well-being within the limits of available resources. In other words, national development must entail the strict adherence to norms, values and legal frameworks (Statutes and Conventions) which the people and their governments have freely adopted to guide their aspirations and behaviour.

 

 

Implications for University curricula and character

 

Which ‘society’ does a university serve, and what ‘development’ does it seek to accomplish? This is critical for the design of functional curricula for university education. On the content of national development, it is generally agreed that local contexts matter, but the trend is a convergence towards some notions of universalism, or the much abused phrase ‘international best practices’. Cardinal Newman and his school of thought believe that there is a certain universality of knowledge irrespective of time and place which should be the preoccupation the university. This universality of knowledge derives from the same philosophical idealism that underpins universal declaration of human, social and economic rights as enunciated by the various United Nations protocols and adopted in the Constitutions of most countries. Some scholars argue that what can be described as the UN’s ‘universal agenda on development and governance’ is the triumph and domination of the Anglo-Saxon worldview. Being construed in metaphysical terms and as inalienable rights and standards of wellbeing, they are mainstreamed as ‘the’ undisputable development template to which every nation should aspire, and against which performance is to be evaluated. It is evident from the curricula of most universities around the world that they are dominated by this philosophical idealism and universalism.

 

What is also evident is that the recognition that ‘history matters and initial/local conditions matter in development’ is at best a footnote in much of the university curricula. The study of ‘local conditions’ is, in most cases, to illustrate how far they depart from the ‘universal best practice’ or norm. In most cases, such local knowledge is not presented or preserved as an authentic model in its own right to be mainstreamed.

 

This raises another contradiction relating to the labour market. Should the university produce skills suited for today’s labour market within the specific country/nation or for the global labour market, especially given the increasing globalization of the labour markets? Skilled labour force is mobile across geographic boundaries. Graduates of our educational institutions go abroad for higher degrees and further training. Put differently, which ‘society’ does the university produce manpower for? In many countries of the world, especially the developing countries, analysts bemoan what they refer to as the dysfunctional educational curricula that churn out graduates with skills ill-suited for their particular labour market. The high level of unemployed of the educated youth is cited as proof of the inappropriateness of the educational system.

 

There has been a lingering call to fashion the educational system to address the ‘practical challenges’ facing the society. The first national conference on curriculum development in 1969 by the Nigerian Educational Council resolved, among others: (i) overhauling and reforming the content of general education to make it more responsive to the socio-economic needs of the country; (ii) development and consolidating the nation’s higher education in response to the manpower needs of the country; and (iii) developing technological education in order to meet the growing needs of the nation. Note the emphasis on ‘the needs of the country’.  Every review of the failings of previous National Development Plans bemoaned the ‘inadequate and inappropriate’ manpower for the execution of the plans. Nigeria’s National Policy on Education (2004), among others, provides that higher education is expected to “contribute to national development through high level relevant manpower training”. I have underlined the world ‘relevant’ for emphasis. Our newspapers are awash with various estimates by analysts of the percentage of our university graduates that are ‘unemployable’. From my casual observations during my participation in various job recruitment exercises, I concluded that over 60 per cent of the university graduates are unemployable. This phenomenon could be a result of the inappropriateness of the curricula to the labour market or the quality of education imparted on the graduates.

 

In Nigeria, I have personally observed several private sector employers of labour going for recruitment drive abroad (especially in Europe and America) to recruit Nigerian Diaspora. This highlights the difficulty in curricula design in today’s globalizing world. If university graduates from Europe or America could be adjudged more ‘suitable’ for jobs in Nigeria, and some graduates of Nigerian universities have travelled and secured high paying jobs abroad, there is an important question of how much of the university curricula should emphasize the local labour market, and how much should target the ‘generic’ labour market. If I may bring this question home to this University: is there anything in the name- American University of Nigeria? How much of America or how much of Nigeria is in the content of the education offered by this institution?

 

It is my view that in this globalizing world, except for a few areas of studies in the arts, the curricula of the university will be dominated by the push towards universalism. The pursuit of technocratic education will be dominated by the pool of the international knowledge bank. Teachers and researchers are under pressure to publish in the ‘international journals’ in their respective fields of study. Especially with the information, communication technology (ICT), university teachers and students largely meet in the virtual libraries, read the same books, journals; share the same datasets; compare methodologies, and seek to adhere to certain ‘minimum standards’. Increasingly, what will continue to differentiate universities will not be substantially their differing curricula on different subjects but the quality of teaching and research. In terms of basic skills and knowledge, there is a tendency towards a global rather than a national university system. Universities are not only ranked nationally these days but also globally. When someone tells me how wonderful his or her university is, it is difficult to evaluate the claim except when it is put in the context of a global ranking. Our conclusion is that in terms of teaching and research, the global university system will increasingly tend towards convergence.

 

What about community service, and contributions to ‘national development’? Universities can have impacts on their immediate community (location) and even on the national development agenda. Aside from producing high-level manpower to drive ‘development’ in all strata of society, the university faculty and students can also play direct and indirect roles in shaping the transformation of the society. Through their research, universities have been known to lead lots of inventions that have changed human civilization. Some universities have consciously set out to nurse and nurture the development of gentlemen, statesmen and administrators (such as Cambridge and Oxford). The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) started off as a centre of excellence for technological studies. Some universities have world class ‘institutes for development studies’— where thousands have been prepared to do ‘development work’. Is the American University of Nigeria planning to establish an International Institute for Development Studies?

 

Part of the evolution of the University system to ensure direct impact on the community and development was the establishment of land grand colleges in the United States, especially following the 1862 Act. The colleges focused on the teaching of practical agriculture, science, military science and engineering — to enable working class to receive liberal as well ‘practical’ education. This program has evolved and expanded in the US, with grants to fund agricultural research and extensions services, targeting especially the socially and economically disadvantaged people. Every state in the US now has a land grant university, with Rutgers University; Kansas State university; Iowa state university, Cornell University, and MIT as some of the earliest ones. This is just one example.

 

Countries have sought to get the University system to fill observed gaps in the supply of manpower to specific needs of society by creating specialized universities and institutions. In Nigeria, three major areas have been identified: agriculture, technology, and education. Consequently, both the federal government and states have many colleges of education for the training of teachers; there are federal universities of technology, and federal universities of agriculture.  The extent to which these universities have impacted the ‘development’ of the respective sectors remains to be seen. Furthermore, Nigeria’s one year compulsory national youth service for all graduates of universities is designed for national integration but also to get the new graduates involved in ‘community development’ projects. Thus, one day per week is devoted to community development (CD) during which the corps members are expected to fuse with the community to solve their problems.

 

The foregoing are some of the various ways the universities are struggling to remain socially relevant (not isolated in the ivory tower) and thus contribute to national development of some sort. Have they worked? Are they enough? At least in Nigeria’s case, it is evident that the university is fast losing its ‘development’ credentials.

 

The University of Nigeria pioneered the ‘General Studies’ programme in Nigerian universities. This is designed to ensure that every student gets some aspects of knowledge in other fields of study. It is often embarrassing to see how compartmentalized some university curricula can be, with most graduates having no appreciation for the fact that all knowledge is linked or that the ultimate value for all knowledge is community service. For a university that breeds a community with development consciousness, the content and span of its General Studies could mark it out. Such a course could last for all the years of study (perhaps two credits per year) encompassing lectures on leadership; development; political organizations and government; case studies in successes and failures in national development; etc. Each faculty and student should continually be conscientized to ask: ‘how will I make this society better than I met it’? For the faculty, part of the litmus test for research is the contributions to national development: how will the research change the course of development? It is my view that such a mass ‘development consciousness’ rather than isolated participation in projects (important as they are) that will mark the university out as truly developmental. Such a university will not only produce graduates who possess the technical skills to solve the most complex mathematical equations, but more so, understand the duties of citizenship and conscious to deploy such knowledge for the common good. However, for the development consciousness imparted by the university to advance the society, another form of consciousness must exist — citizenship and national consciousness!

 

 

III: Citizenship Consciousness and effectiveness of the university system

An important conclusion so far is that the socialization of knowledge and its deployment beyond self is the key deliverable of a development conscious university. But the university and the knowledge it spews out as embodied in its graduates must find expression in the wider socio-political arena of political contestations and business relationships. For national development, there must be a ‘nation’, and there must be citizens burning with ‘nationalism’.  Without these, even the most development conscious university system will make very little impact. This is because, not many countries in the world have developed or been transformed without a strong sense of citizenship and nationalism share by at least a majority of its citizens.

How does Nigeria stack up on this score? How many Nigerians are there whose primary and total loyalty, patriotism, and commitment are to Nigeria rather than to some primordial sectional, religious or ethnic groupings? Aside from the armed forces which are duty-bound to do so if necessary, how many Nigerians are prepared to lay down their lives in defence of our collective heritage— Nigeria? How many Nigerians are losing sleep about what they can do for Nigeria rather than what they can scavenge from her? We wonder how far and how fast Nigeria can develop if our Constitution and legal system have created a country as a geographical space where ethnic nationalities will perpetually be in conflict over the struggle for a diminishing national cake rather than a theatre of collective destiny and opportunity.

Transformational leadership is not a one-man affair. It requires a critical mass of people who share a common vision and strategy. In the case of countries, such a critical mass of leaders often shares an undiluted commitment to the ‘nation-state’. The kind of visionary, selfless, patriotic leadership we all dream for Nigeria cannot emerge and survive in an atmosphere where loyalty lies primarily in the primordial cleavages.

Since Lord Frederick Lugard created Nigeria almost 100 years ago in 1914, our leaders have struggled with the questions of ethnic nationalities vis-a-vis the Nigerian ‘nation’. The reported exchanges among our founding fathers are instructive. It was said that Nnamdi Azikiwe, eager to forge one nation with one destiny asked Ahmadu Bello: ‘let us forget our differences’. Ahmadu Bello was reported to have instead responded: ‘No: let us rather understand our differences’. In his 1948 “Path to Nigerian Freedom”, Obafemi Awolowo argued that:

“Nigeria is not a nation. It is a mere geographical expression. There are no ‘Nigerians’ in the same sense as there are ‘English’, ‘Welsh’, or ‘French’. The word Nigerian is merely a distinctive appellation to distinguish those who live within the boundaries of Nigeria, from those who do not”.

To support Awolowo, Jerome Udoji in the Epilogue to his book Under Three Masters, lamented that Nigeria is “a country without national consciousness, loyalty or identity, a country torn by the cleavages of tribe and ethnicity … above all a country where the governed have lost confidence and hope in government”.

These seemingly contradictory visions of the ‘country’ versus ‘nation’ by the founding fathers of Nigeria continue to re-echo today. The unrelenting calls for a ‘national conference’, whether ‘sovereign’ or not, is a reminder that nearly 100 years after, Lord Lugard’s creation of what his wife named Nigeria remains a work in progress.

The various Constitutions and laws of Nigeria have pursued two seemingly contradictory objectives of forging a nation-state with common citizenship on the one hand, and seeking to recognize and accommodate our “differences” through all kinds of ‘federal character’ legislations, on the other. Section 15(2) of the 1999 Constitution states that “national integration shall be actively encouraged, whilst discrimination on the grounds of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic association or ties shall be prohibited”. Furthermore, in Section 15(4), it states that “the state shall foster a feeling of belonging and of involvement among the various peoples of the Federation, to the end that loyalty to the nation shall override sectional loyalties”. These provisions are in Chapter Two of the Constitution which relate to the so-called ‘unjusticeable’ ‘Fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy’.

In all other parts of the Constitution which are enforceable as well as other laws of Nigeria, the provisions create and perpetuate allegiance primarily to ethnic nationalities and states of origin. Ministers are to be appointed on the basis of states and not on the basis of interest groups (such as labour, industry, gender, disabled, etc). Recruitment into public institutions and sometimes even promotions are on the basis of a quota system based on states or ethnic nationalities. There is quota system in the army, police, civil service, admissions in universities, etc. Literally every engagement by citizens comes down to ‘what is your state of origin?’ Since citizens depend on their states of origin and ethnic cleavages to move up in life especially in the public sector, their primary loyalty is to these primordial groupings and not to Nigeria. If all ministers represent geographical areas (their states) rather than interests, who represents Nigeria? The Federal Executive Council looks more like the United Nations General Assembly than a team united as one nation with one destiny. Our belief is that in so far as geographical locations are entrenched in the Constitution as basis for national engagement, the clamour for power rotation and zoning based on geography rather than competence will continue to dominate. Nigeria will continue to move in circles!

The Constitution of Nigeria and other enactments have the effect of producing tribal or sectional citizens and not Nigerian citizenship. Our laws emphasize what separates us than what unites us. Citizenship in Nigeria is a mechanical, legal appellation and does not evoke much patriotic feelings. Patriotism presupposes the existence of a patria or fatherland. If the current laws persist, Nigeria will remain an assemblage of ‘nations’ with each nation struggling to grab as much as possible for its own ‘citizens’. Is anyone therefore surprised that under this framework, public policy is tainted by ethnic rather than national colourations? Is anyone also surprised that under this framework, continuity of public policy will remain elusive? A public official assumes office and sees the policies of previous occupants of the position as not favourable to ‘his own people’ and therefore either abandons or reverses them. That is the Nigerian story. We are still in search of a critical mass of Nigerians for Nigeria. I am not surprised that there is no national ideology, because we are not yet sure whether we are just a ‘country’ or a ‘nation’.

In Nigeria, residence means very little. Once you leave your ‘state of origin’, you remain a ‘foreigner’ or a ‘non-indigene’ even in your own country. Even if five generations of your family have lived in a place other than the original state of your forefathers, you are still a non-indigene and will be discriminated against. Let me tell a real life story. Sebastine Nwankwo was born in Kaduna, and was six months old when his parents moved to Abuja in 1985. His primary and secondary education was in Abuja, and he attended the University of Jos. He speaks fluent Hausa does not speak Igbo, and his parents paid their taxes in Abuja for over 25 years. When he applied for a federal employment last year, he indicated Abuja as his ‘state of origin’. He went for interview but was queried about his ‘state of origin’. The interview officer insisted that Nwankwo is an Igbo name and could not possibly have come from Abuja. He called his father to remind him what that ‘our state of origin is’, since he couldn’t remember when last he visited Imo State—which is supposed to be his ‘state of origin’ since his parents come from there. He did not get the job. Imagine what kind of Nigerian he will become and the nature of his allegiance to Nigeria and her development! He has emigrated from Nigeria. I know many Nigerians who have now ‘modernized’ their surnames so that no one can determine or guess their ethnic origin or state of origin. You now have such names as Angela Johnson, Jimmy Peters, Edna Jerome, etc. It is the new survival strategy.

State creation has worsened matters.  In many states, the concept of ‘indigenes’ vs. non-indigenes has surfaced. Civil servants hitherto recruited in the civil service before states were created were required to go back to their states of origin. Those still remaining in the employment of the ‘old’ state knew that their fate hung on the balance, and were often dismissed without notice. Non-indigenes are often employed on contract basis while permanent, pensionable positions are reserved for indigenes.

This is a country where you are constantly reminded that you don’t belong. Nigerians take up citizenship of other countries and have equal rights in any part of the new country they adopt. Not in Nigeria! In the United States, wherever you reside is your ‘state’. Bill Clinton was Governor of Arkansas for about a decade before he became President. After his presidency, he relocated to New York, and Hilary Clinton contested and became a senator representing the state of New York.

Some of us believe that the first step in creating truly Nigerian citizens is to abolish the concept of ‘state of origin’ and replace it with ‘state of residence’. We must create a new Nigeria as a melting pot where every citizen can reside anywhere and proof of residence becomes the basis for all entitlements. Funny enough, state of origin is the basis for most public sector privileges, but when it comes to population census, no one is asked to indicate his ‘state of origin’.  For revenue allocation, states collect money from Abuja based on the population ‘resident’ in their states. When it comes to extending privileges, we suddenly dust up ‘state of origin’ and discriminate between indigenes and non-indigenes.  Nigeria is a country in denial!

I have regularly reviewed the wordings of our National Anthem and the National Pledge. I have also tried to review the curricula for Citizenship (Civics) instructions in some schools. I am saddened to observe that all these remain mere propaganda. I am not sure how many Nigerians really pay any attention to the full import of those words.

Loyalty by citizens requires some investment by the country on her citizens. What does Nigeria offer its citizens to elicit loyalty? Loyalty and patriotism entail some quid pro quo. In Nigeria’s Independence National Anthem, we prayed as follows:

Oh God of all creation,

Grant this our one request,

Help us to build a nation,

Where no man is oppressed,

And so with peace and plenty,

Nigeria may be blest.

 

Nigerians expect a nation where no one is oppressed, and Nigeria blessed with peace and plenty.  What do we have in reality? I recall that in my secondary school days, oil money in the 1970s was used to subsidize education at all levels. In my secondary school, we received double bunk beds. In the university, we had free tuition and subsidized meals and accommodation. I feel a sense of indebtedness to the country. What about the generations after us? They only hear that some $600 billion have been earned from oil and wasted, and the country cannot guarantee any of the basic necessities to her citizens. For the citizens, if they survive, it is not because the State provided them any of the basic institutions and facilities that citizens of other countries take for granted but largely in spite of the State. In this survival of the fittest, what is the basis for loyalty to the ‘nation’?

So far, Nigeria has remained a country but not a nation. We cannot develop on a sustainable basis by operating as a mini ‘United Nations’. We need to forge one nation with one destiny. A starting point is the deliberate creation of a new Nigerian citizenship with absolute loyalty to Nigeria. Only then can a critical mass of national elite, with a national ideology and strategy emerge to drive sustainable transformation of Nigeria. Page 27 of Nigeria’s Vision 2020 document provides an important first step. It argues that “the emergence of a merit-driven culture is, therefore, a key outcome of Vision 20:2020 and an area of immediate policy focus. To this end, a comprehensive review of ethnic balancing measures and diversity management related laws (e.g. federal character) will be undertaken with a view to ensuring greater promotion of merit…” Urgent amendment of the Nigerian Constitution is required to achieve this goal. Paradoxically, one of the objectives of higher education in Nigeria is to “forge and cement national unity”. But higher institutions will be helpless in attaining this goal if the laws of the land draw actual behaviour in opposite direction. We need actions. It is under this framework of new Nigerian citizenship with nationalism that the university with development consciousness can make maximum impact on national development.

 

IV:  Moving Forward and Conclusions:

We live in a knowledge driven world.  Human capital – in terms of a critical mass of a healthy and skilled workforce—is the most important resource of any nation. No nation has prospered in the long term by depending on exhaustible natural resources. To compete and win in this 21st century and beyond, a nation must continually be innovating and adapting to the changing world. The university is central in this knowledge-based global competition. It is said that if you want to assess the current and future prospects of a society’s development trajectory, you take a look at its higher education system, especially the university.

Unfortunately, the Nigerian university system is being by-passed by the global competition in the knowledge world. Despite the astronomical growth in the number of universities (public and private) and the rise in admissions, the critical mass of high level manpower to develop Nigeria is lacking. Indeed, most of university graduates are said to be unemployable. Effective labour wage rate in Nigeria is rather very high (that is, wages scaled by productivity). Perhaps, the most portent phenomenon which has and continues to ruin the university system is that it is now immersed in the unproductive Nigerian federal character and the consequent villagization of universities.  Public universities are fast losing their universal appeal as each state tries to establish its own university, and each federal university in a state is part of the state’s share of the national cake. Because the public university is run largely as an extension of the public civil service, the University is seen as a vehicle to provide employment to ‘sons and daughters’ of the state in which it is located. It is increasingly difficult to find a Vice-Chancellor of a state or federal university who is not from the state or a neighbouring state. The national character is largely lost, not to talk of a focus on the unfolding global competition. There is a rapid proliferation of universities without serious consideration to the quality of teachers and teaching.  Consequently, the capacity of the university system in Nigeria to play pivotal developmental roles isdiminishing. When was the last time you heard any articulate views from the universities on important national debates except during the time of ASUU negotiations of salaries with the Federal Government?

In a world of globalization where productive resources are globally mobile but individual nation states have responsibility to create jobs and prosperity for the citizens confined within defined geographic boundaries, the university system in a developing country occupies a unique place in the development nexus and cannot afford the luxury of restricting itself to the traditional functions of the university. In a poor country, the marginal contribution to development of one highly educated person is many times that of his counterpart in the advanced countries. Multi-tasking on the part of each and every member of the educated elite is a duty.  A doctor or engineer does not just attend to his specific duties but is also a community organizer/leader, consults for private and public institutions, involved in national discourse of governance options and public policy, mentors the children and youth since he could be the only example they need to be motivated to succeed; etc. Consequently, the University becomes the breeding ground for ‘development activists’, and where being knowledgeable about development issues and challenges is not an option but an integral component of the curricula to ensure that a person is truly learned. In a developing country, the motto of university education should be: ‘Education with development consciousness’.

 

The dominant curricula of the University in terms of teaching and research tend towards universalism. When it comes to community service, individual universities have to establish their niche – their identity and measure their impacts! Within the ‘immediate environment/community’ however defined, a university could seek to exact its development credentials through ‘mentoring’ and ‘demonstration effects’. At the national and international level, a university impacts development through the knowledge and consciousness embodied in its individual members; through policy and other relevant research output; and through voice and participation as an informed organization. To have maximum effect on national and international development, a university must discover the power of networks and collaboration with other institutions and organizations across cultures and geographic locations.

 

The two most powerful forces that have propelled change and transformation of human societies are: ideas, and organizations. The university is the breeding ground for these two forces. In the 1960s, the students at the University of Ibadan stopped the proposed Nigeria-Anglo defence pact. It is also these two forces that drive the world of politics and governance. Part of the tragedies of the university system today is the deafening aloofness of the academia to politics and governance. Politics is seen as too dirty, too rugged, and too dishonest and corrupt to attract ‘decent gentlemen and women’ of the gown. Before I joined government in 2003, many of my friends discouraged me on the grounds that ‘these politicians will rubbish and ruin you’. I must confess that I was seriously concerned, and my experience is that it is indeed a tough terrain.

 

Yes, the terrain is tough and the entry fee is too high but what is the alternative? The alternative is to shy away and leave the all important job of controlling your live and future and those of your children to a group you consider incapable of doing so. Chinua Achebe was quoted as saying that on matters of leadership, Nigeria is a country that goes for a football match with its 10th Eleven. If those in the ivory tower— described by Plato as the ‘men of wisdom’— are too scared of the murky waters of politics but are comfortable writing volumes on what is wrong with the society, who then will fix things?  Our view is that it is critically important that the little class of knowledgeable people — the elite— should get involved.

 

The only way for sustainable productive politics is to continuously have ‘good’ people in the arena. Only the continuous supply of talented men and women with character will ensure the protection of good institutions and continuously refine existing or invent new ones to propel the ship of state. Nobody is too small or too poor to participate, and no one is too big or too educated to join the political process. If you fail to join, you must also stop complaining. Organizations and participation can take various forms— at the lecture halls; student organizations; churches and mosques; markets and parks; etc. In a democracy, especially in a nascent one such as Nigeria’s, the division between those in politics and those not in it is a false categorization. We are all in it— but most people are not conscious that they are in it. As noted earlier, the marginal contribution of each skilled fellow to statecraft is highest in poorer environments. Thus, the abdication of each talent and or indifference of the educated elite to politics and governance is a crime against the society and people. It is this way that a University will not only be writing or talking about development, but practically participates in large scale development actions which only the public policy space provides.

 

If you get confused along the way, please look again at the example set by your founder: “How will you leave this world better than you met it?”

BOX 1: THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

PREAMBLE

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

 Article 1.  All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2. Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4.  No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6. Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7. All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8. Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10. Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11. (1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.  (2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13. (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14. (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. (2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15. (1) Everyone has the right to a nationality. (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16. (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses. (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17. (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others. (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20. (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. (2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21. (1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. (2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country. (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22. Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23. (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment. (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work. (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection. (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24. Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25. (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26. (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit. (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace. (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27. (1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits. (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28. Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29. (1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible. (2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society. (3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

 


 


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