Saturday, 9 January 2010

‘Mutallab or not, Nigerians are the best at Howard’

Kitan Okelola is a 300 level student of Economics at Howard University in the United States. Looking ahead to his final year, which begins January 11, he is not losing sleep about returning to America after the attempt by the young Nigerian, Farouk Abdul-Mutallab to bomb an international airline on Christmas day. He told TOPE TEMPLER OLAIYA that Nigerians feel at home at Howard, where they are among the leading scholars in the institution.

How is your stay at Howard?
It has been fun. I started first as Chemistry major, but due to some complications, I changed to Economics. So far so good, it has been rewarding. At first, it was tough, changing from the whole Nigerian study system I was used to. But now, it’s better for me and learning is fun.

What was your first experience like?
When I first arrived there, I was younger and much smaller, and people kept asking me how old I was? Most people saw me then as a genius, since I was fresh out of high school, but at the end of the day, it was not as easy as everybody thought. The first thing I missed about home was food. It took me a long time to adjust to the diet. Everything was cheese and hamburger to me.
The learning environment was better; there was constant electricity so you could even do your practical on your own and at your own time, all by yourself. Lectures are always fun. There is no hiding place. Your professor knows everyone by name, though he may find it difficult to pronounce my name as an African, he still knows I am in his class and you are always free to talk to him about what you don’t understand in class. Some professors, of course, could be difficult, but most of them are helpful and willing to share their knowledge.

How does it feel returning to the United States as a Nigerian?
To be sincere, it’s sad. No matter your status, you can’t hold your head high anymore, especially as a young Nigerian. On Facebook, everybody is saying this is another thing we have to deal with. Apart from being labeled fraudsters and womanizers, being branded a potential terrorist is the height of banditry.
We have a lot of Nigerians in Howard. Even my phonebook is full of Nigerians. I only have about 10 American friends. Howard is basically an international school, with mostly Nigerians, Africans, Caribbean, Haitians, and South American students, but as I said, most of our friends are Nigerians and it doesn’t make sense for a Nigerian to call another Nigerian a terrorist.
But still, we have to deal with other Americans who have come to know some of us as hardworking and honest people. Overall, most of the best students in the university are Nigerians and from Africa. They can’t afford to stereotype us too much. Of course, they will since the school is based in Washington, but not to a large extent. Coming to America, it will affect us as returning students, but once we get back to Howard, which is our home, everything would be okay.

Any word for prospective Nigerian students?
Howard is a place for anybody who has gone through JSS 1 to SS 3. When I first came, I failed my first semester. I was carried away having fun, it was a new experience for me watching television all day when not having classes, there was no parent to tell you to turn off the light or switch off the television, but with time, I caught up with my academics and found my balance. Coming to Howard, one should have thesense of coming to an international environment. It is not hostile, but friendly. Anybody can pass in Howard.

Exam fever grips distance learners in UI

By Abraham Oladipupo
TSUNAMI, for students of the University of Ibadan, means failure and mass rustication, hence, it is a word every student hates to hear. While their counterparts in the regular programme continue to enjoy the long vacation heralding another session, the Distance Learning students are battling with their round of examination, which started on Monday January 4. Distance learners comprise mostly adult students and are usually not seen around campus when the regular students are in session. Their eight weeks of teaching and revision hold once the session is closed for undergraduate calendar. Before this time, they would have got their course materials, which they study at home. They only discuss likely questions and other unclear subject matters during the revision. However, due to the trade dispute between government and university staff last year, which lasted for more than four months, the distance learners were left with one month to revise with their course lecturers before the examination started. Some of the students, who spoke to Life Campus, lauded the university for giving them the opportunity to learn, adding that the course material provided for them are always hot cake, especially for students, who thirst for knowledge. They also lauded the Prof. Francis Egbokhare-led administration for continuing with the programme, while enjoining it to put in more effort at improving the adult education programme.

Aggrieved NFLV staff insist on due process to resolve crisis
FOLLOWING the failure of authorities to resolve the lingering crisis at the Nigerian French Village (NFLV), Badagry, members of the teaching and non-teaching staff have insisted that the Director, Prof Sam Aje, embark on compulsory leave pending investigation into the crisis; they also stated that Education Minister Dr. Sam Egwu has invited the chairman of council of the village, the management team and representatives of the teaching and non-teaching staff to a meeting in Abuja. According to the statement signed by Mr. Simeon Olayiwola, Representative of Academic staff and Mr. Hammed Oladapo Representative of the non-academic staff of the village, the team left Badagry on January 5, the same day the Akran of Badagry Ahonu Menu Toyi II, Oba Babatunde Akran, attempted but failed to resolve the crisis. “The Akran had persuaded the staff to allow Prof Aje to return to office pending the release of the report of an investigation panel set up by the council. But the representatives of the staff told the Akran that they are standing by the decision of the council, which said on December 16, 2009 that Prof Aje should proceed on compulsory leave to allow the governing council’s investigation panel complete its work. In an attempt to overturn the decision of the council Professor Aje sneaked into the village on December 23 2009 to resume work. He was chased out by the angry staff,” it stated Continuing, the aggrieved lecturers stated, “undaunted, Prof Aje went to the Ministry of Education where he brought a letter from the permanent secretary with a view to resuming work on January 4, 2010. When the staff knew about the development we quickly gathered at the college auditorium. We invited pressmen to witness our meeting, which featured series of fiery speeches denouncing the administration of Professor Aje. The meeting, which witnessed a massive turn out of teaching and non-teaching staff resolved that Prof Aje should remain on compulsory leave till the investigation panel set up by the governing council submits its report.” Speaking to journalists, the leader of the non-academic staff union Mr. Hammed Oladapo said that Chief Mobee, a highly respected Badagry traditional chief had on January 2, attempted to persuade the staff to allow the director return to the village, but that the plea had been rebuffed. He said staffers are determined to follow due process “we will maintain peace. We are peace-loving people. We are only saying that Professor Aje should remain on compulsory leave as decided by the council. It is only when the report is out that we can allow him to come back here.” Dr. Alawode Matthew, leader of the academic staff, said, “Professor Aje lost all available opportunities to maintain his control and leadership he refused to listen to wise counsel. He is now trying to subvert the decision of the governing council. “We will not allow that to happen” After the series of prayer sessions on January 4, Professor Adebo Adejumo, who became acting director on December 16, 2009, when Aje was asked to go on compulsory leave, addressed the staffers. He appealed for calm pleading with the staff to allow peace prevail in the institution. Carrying placards, the aggrieved members of staff demanded that the council should not contradict itself by allowing professor Aje to return to the village before the council’s investigation panel submits its report. The crisis at the Nigerian French Language Village started last year when 32 lecturers signed a petition and alleged that the director was running a corrupt administration. The petition was also forwarded to the council and to the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC). Meanwhile, Prof Aje has denied all the allegations in a paid advertisement in some national dailies. However the council has set up an investigation panel into the crisis, which is yet to submit its report.

Know Your Constitution on Unilag 103.1 fm now Wednesdays
The radio programme on Unilag 103.1 FM, Know Your Constitution, aimed at educating Nigerians on their rights, will now be aired between 12.10 and 1 pm on Wednesdays as against Thursdays, and for 50 minutes, instead of the former 30 minutes.
A statement by Mr. Adeola Oyinlade, who anchors the programme, revealed that the changes to the seven months old programme became necessary because of the need to meet up with yearnings of the listener. To also increase its access to its numerous audiences, Oyinlade said that anyone whose fundamental rights have been infringed upon by any person, and who wants to share such experience, can email to Such person’s identity would be protected.

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