‘What I avoided to be­come pro­fes­sor at 40’

Weekly Trust - - Interview - Idris: Idris: Idris: Idris: Idris: Idris: Idris:

cheap is ef­fi­cient and re­li­able, can be pur­sued. I sug­gest that the Fed­eral Min­istry of Trans­porta­tion and all the con­nect­ing states to the Fed­eral Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory col­lab­o­rate with the Chi­nese Govern­ment and have a rail trans­port that will link with Abuja. If we have that kind of trans­porta­tion, it will solve the prob­lem of ac­com­mo­da­tion, over­crowd­ing, slum and crime be­cause you can stay in Kaduna, Lokoja, Lafia and come to work in Abuja. We can do that. We have the ca­pac­ity. That is the prac­tice all over the world. In Nige­ria, peo­ple tend to com­mute for so many hours to work. Most Nige­ri­ans can­not af­ford the ex­or­bi­tant hous­ing cost in pri­vate es­tates in Abuja.

DT: Don’t you think in­ad­e­quate elec­tric­ity can be a hand­i­cap to the rail sys­tem?

Well, when that is done, the Chi­nese can come up with al­ter­na­tive source of power to make it ef­fi­cient. Of course, the is­sue of power can be keyed into the project.

DT: What do you sug­gest can be done to ad­dress the myr­i­ads of prob­lems af­fect­ing the coun­try?

From in­de­pen­dence, Nige­ria has been hav­ing dif­fer­ent govern­ments in­clud­ing civil­ian and mil­i­tary ad­min­is­tra­tions. How­ever, any­time there’s a na­tional broad­cast or a change in gov­er­nance, there have been high ex­pec­ta­tions and hopes but it turns out to be in vain be­cause of in­sta­bil­ity in gov­er­nance and lack of proper Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan, which by ex­pec­ta­tion will take the coun­try to the promised land.

It will re­quire con­sul­ta­tive meet­ings with var­i­ous stake­hold­ers in both public and pri­vate sec­tors for stock tak­ing and for un­der­stand­ing what the real is­sues are.

Be­sides, there should be a ThinkTank of re­source per­sons made up of aca­demi­cians and non-par­ti­san mem­bers of the public to pro­vide a feed­back to Mr. Pres­i­dent from timeto-time on what is hap­pen­ing in the coun­try.

DT: How do you see the state of the na­tion?

In fact, the govern­ment of to­day should know that Nige­ri­ans are ex­pect­ing real pos­i­tive change in all sec­tors of the econ­omy. A com­pre­hen­sive stock­tak­ing and un­der­stand­ing of the is­sues and chal­lenges in the var­i­ous sec­tors of the econ­omy is im­por­tant for the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari to re-en­gi­neer and re­po­si­tion the coun­try.

DT: What spe­cific ar­eas are you think­ing of?

There is need for a na­tional car­rier to help with na­tional and in­ter­na­tional flights. For in­stance, Nige­ri­ans trav­el­ling to South Amer­ica have to go to Mid­dle East coun­tries, a gru­el­ing 15 hours off the course, be­fore con­nect­ing. A na­tional car­rier will con­nect straight from Nige­ria to many coun­tries.

Also, the govern­ment needs to be meet­ing with rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers in the ed­u­ca­tional sec­tor from timeto-time for con­crete sug­ges­tions on how to im­prove fa­cil­i­ties and qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion. There is also the need to es­tab­lish cot­tage or small and medi­um­scale in­dus­tries for value ad­di­tion to our co­coa, rub­ber, ground­nut and nu­mer­ous cash crops that are wasted af­ter har­vests.

There is need for a com­pre­hen­sive and af­ford­able ru­ral and ur­ban hous­ing scheme es­pe­cially for Nige­rian work­ers. This could be through a public-pri­vate part­ner­ship as is the prac­tice in Asian coun­tries like Malaysia and Sin­ga­pore.

DT: Who do you look up to in the aca­demic en­vi­ron­ment?

I look up to peo­ple that are Noble Prize lau­re­ates all over the world. Maybe one day I will be one.

DT: It is be­lieved that ASUU is on strike more for per­sonal ben­e­fits. Do you agree?

I don’t think so. The Fed­eral Govern­ment agreed on some terms and did not ful­fill them, so it is not ASUU’s fault. Be­sides, ed­u­ca­tion in­fra­struc­ture is di­lap­i­dated. Not up to the 25 per cent of bud­get is spent on ed­u­ca­tion. The teacher-stu­dent ra­tion is high and that ought not to be. So the lec­tur­ers are not to be blamed.

DT: As an en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist, what are your sug­ges­tions for a bet­ter com­mu­nity?

The govern­ment should fo­cus on the 3Rs. That is, re­duce, re­use and re­cy­cle of waste man­age­ment through the es­tab­lish­ment of re­cy­cling plants and san­i­tary land­fills in ma­jor towns and cities as well as pro­vi­sion of in­cin­er­a­tors in most in­sti­tu­tions.

There is also a need to lay more

There is need for a na­tional car­rier to help with na­tional and in­ter­na­tional flights. For in­stance, Nige­ri­ans trav­el­ling to South Amer­ica have to go to Mid­dle East coun­tries, a gru­el­ing 15 hours off the course, be­fore con­nect­ing. A na­tional car­rier will con­nect straight from Nige­ria to many coun­tries

em­pha­sis on green and ‘live­able’ cities as against the slums and shanty towns. Cli­mate change, which con­sti­tutes a ma­jor global en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sue, needs to be ad­dressed in the area of re­duc­ing gas flar­ing from oil pro­duc­tion and pol­lu­tion, and land degra­da­tion in the coun­try.

Pro­fes­sor Nasiru Idris

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