‘What I avoided to become professor at 40’
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