African Universities Can Get Help from Compatriots in the Diaspora
Black people from countries in Africa have been described as assets to many countries of the world including the Western world and can help to reposition the quality of higher education on the continent. Bolaji Aluko who served for several years as Professor of Chemical Engineering at Howard University, United States of America, stated this at the 1st Diaspora lecture of the International Strategy Office, Federal University of Technology Akure, and FUTA on Thursday , September 12,2019. The Guest lecturer, who also served as the pioneer Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University Otuoke, Bayelsa State between 2011 and 2016 spoke on the topic: “Role of Africans in Diaspora in the Transformation of a University of Technology”. He described Africans in Diaspora as all of those not just transitory, but for whatever reason permanently resides outside the continent of Africa, in Europe, Asia, North South America, Australia and even Antarctica. He also said they must have a biological relationship, or feel an organic, almost spiritual relationship to Africa, and constantly seek to give back in whatever way shape or form, including contributing to the growth of higher education on the continent.
Aluko identified the contributions of Africans in the Diaspora to their mother land to include four elements- political, socio-cultural embedding education, financial remittances and investments and technology transfer. Dwelling on the roles of a technological University, he said to achieve transformation; there should be a matrix of interaction between the key elements such as Students, Academic staff, Non-Academic staff, Research, Funding, Governance, Accreditation, Postgraduate opportunity and Alumni relations. Aluko, who currently serves as Senior Special Adviser to Governor Kayode Fayemi and Director-General, Office of Transformation, Strategy and Delivery, Ekiti State said for the size of Nigeria the problem is not just that there are not enough Universities , “but the ones that we have are uneven in population and funding , and certainly not adequately staffed nor is there a coherent national academic staff development policy.” He said the Africans in the Diaspora can effectively contribute to the development of Universities on the continent through deployment of their expertise , financial inputs through endowments and scholarships saying these will can impact on several indices “ that could lead to the transformation of universities on the continent”.
Buttressing the point of the guest lecturer, the Vice Chancellor ,Professor Joseph Fuwape, said “Africans in Diaspora in the transformation of a University of Technology” is a relevant topic to contemporary time. He said it was necessary for the drivers of education on the continent to tap into the potentials of its people in the Diaspora lamenting that a continent with enormous capacity has delivered little so far. Fuwape commended the International Strategy Office of FUTA for organizing the lecture saying the Conference could not have come at a better time. He said it was an opportunity to re-appraise the direction where the continent is headed in term of technological development. He implored all guests to learn from the guest speaker who through years of service has gained invaluable experience in the Diaspora and at home.
Speaking earlier, the Director, International Strategy Officer (ISO), Professor Thomas Ofuya said the ISO is saddled with the responsibility of sealing critical international partnerships for FUTA. He said the aim of the office is to make FUTA the most internationalized University of Technology in Africa. The occasion witnessed Goodwill Ambassadorial Award Ceremony and the awardees include Chairman/CEO Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Hon. Abike Dabiri ,Dr. Babatope Agbeyo, Chairman Confield Group Limited, Lagos and Dr. Mohammed Mustapha Lecky, National Commissioner, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Abuja.