Government of Ekiti State, Nigeria.

FEATURES: IGSS: When Ekiti Found Its “Ori Inu”

July 4, 2013

Ekitis were known as the signature of western education in Nigeria. In fact, between the plethora of Ekiti towns, villages and hamlets, they have produced the highest number of doctoral degree holders in Nigeria. The Ekitis are in fact the highest single ethinic group in the academia in Nigeria’s educational institutions. But that seemed to be history. And my History teacher at the Baptist Girls High School, Osogbo was an Ekiti man. Brilliant as all the copies seem to come, but with all the stamp of an intonation pattern that refuses to be erased by years of learning, he epitomises the Ekiti conudrum.

Recent statistics, if anyone bothers to find out, will probably show that other ethnic groupings in other parts of the nation have since caught up with the Ekitis even though they still bear the tag of “Fountain of Knowledge”. This realisation probably fired the Ikogosi Graduate Summer School.

The lamentations of erudite scholar of Public Administration, Prof. Ladipo Adamolekun, who should know, probably sums it all up, capturing the essence of the whole exercise: “Since I came back from serving at the World Bank in 2004, I have yet to hear of or meet with any outstanding scholar in Public Administration who I had not known before I travelled out over 20 years earlier.”

The idea of the Ikogosi Graduate Summer School(IGSS), is to awaken the accademic potentials abounding in Ekiti State and by extension Nigeria, and also to repopulate the Nigerian academic community with competent and consumate researchers who are globally rated scholars as in the days of yore.

The environment is certainly apt, very serene. And that is perhaps the least competent adjective to describe it. Very “Far from the Maddening Crowd,” the Ikogosi Warm/Cold Water Springs Resort is just the right place for the artist in search of her muse, or the researcher in search of sanity from the “noisome pestilence’ which is pervasive in the society.

Like the group of D. O Fagunwa’s explorers on their way to Langbodo, the dramatis personae on the IGSS stage stopped only when they perceived that the weather had turned chilly, cold enough to wake a sleeping brain and keep a sleepy eye awake, the noise had been reduced to only the chirping of birds in their natural habitat. With only the ‘smear’ of concrete and lightings and tar, provided by the intrusion of the Dr Kayode Fayemi-led Ekiti State government which insists on making the ambience further luxurious by the provision of modern facilities such that the 590 Laureates at the summer school could not have desired a better learning environment.

The idea of the IGSS is the brainchild of three itinerant minds, Kayode Fayemi, Wale Adebanwi and Ebenezer Obadare.The three, then lecturing abroad had met over lunch and as common during such interactions, ideas for development overtook their lamentations over the rot that pervades their home country, Nigeria. One of them was later to attain a policy making position as governor of Ekiti State, the state which had over the years produced the brains that has helped to nurture the university community in Nigeria.

The search and screening for students were done online according to Dr Obadare  of the University of Kansas. Of the 200 Ekiti graduate students from various tertiary institutions that applied, 50 were finally selected after careful screening. They were then exposed to rigorous two weeks training on such topics as the rudiments of research, theory and theorising, Literature, culture and society, state and civil society, methodology, gender issues and politics and the economy.

The faculties were drawn mostly from the diaspora and they include egg-heads such as  Prof Femi Taiwo, a scholar in African Political Theory from Cornell University, New York, Drs Charles Alao and Funmi Olanisakin from Kings College, London. The home-based but globally acclaimed scholars included Prof Adeola Adenikinju and Prof  Bola Udegbe both of the University of Ibadan and Prof Adamolekun.

For most of the 15 Ph. D students who made this year’s edition of what government has promised will be an annual event, it was a worthwhile effort. According to Dupe Ala, a doctoral student at the Institute of African Studies of the University of Ibadan: “They laid bare in simple terms what our lecturers have been trying to teach us for such a long time.They made scholarship simple and attractive.”

Dauda Lawal is a Consultant with the World Bank and one of the 35 masters students at the IGSS. He is a student of the Ekiti State University. For him, it has been a privilege to be part of the summer school as he has gained a lot of insight into scholarship with the exposure.

The IGSS was on Saturday wrapped up with the Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi reiterating his commitment to the development of the mental capacities of young Ekiti people and preparing them for future challenges; adding that “we must let our youth and  trainers of future leaders realise that there is no short-cut to acquiring knowledge. It can only be acquired  through hardwork.”

Dr Fayemi who stated that physical infrastructure could collapse and sometimes  require repairs, stressed  that  knowledge impacted in the people is the surest way to sustain the infrastructural developments. According to him “We are building structures and effecting changes to our physical structures in Ekiti, but they can  only be sustained  by attitudinal, mental and value re-orientation among our people and this remains one of the best ways to actualise this.”

The Governor who opined that knowledge building helps to prepare one for a lifetime benefit cautioned academia against seeing  their positions  as means  for personal aggrandisement,  but a way to effect changes  in the society .

At the well attended closing ceremony, the Vice Chancellor,  Ekiti State University, Prof Oladipo Aina , said that he had instructed the Postgraduate School of the University to devise modalities through which EKSU could partner with Ekiti State government to further strengthen the Ikogosi Summer School.

The Vice Chancellor said the IGSS programme is like bringing a tip of the global intellectual community to “our environment” as there is no way there would be development in a community without having this kind of gathering.

Aina opined that the programme should not be limited to graduate students alone, but be extended to the academia so that knowledge could further be enhanced; saying that IGSS is the beginning of the actualisation of the state’s potential as the fountain of knowledge.

Certainly, 2013 IGSS is a worthwhile experiment, apologies, experience.

 By Tayo Lewis
This article was first published in The Nigerian Tribune

Last modified: July 4, 2013

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *