Obasanjo,who was reacting to the recent Paris attacks, where scores of citizens lost their lives, said peace was fast eluding Africa and the global community,because stakeholders who ought to serve as mentors are getting increasingly compromised through violent extremism to which universities within the continent should rise up to defend.
The ex-president spoke through former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission,Prof Peter Okebukola, on Monday,in Abuja at the 3rd Annual Conference of the Association of West African Universities(AWAU).
He condemned graduate unemployment rate in West Africa which fell below 40percent in 2014, linking it to the quality of curriculum,quality of teachers,curriculum delivery methods, and other contributory variables.
“The recent attack by extremists in Paris is one of the latest episodes in this sad tale of extremism. Peace in Africa and in the world is getting increasingly compromised through violent extremism to which our universities should rise stoutly to defend and find solutions.
“The West Africa sub region is not spared the scourge of Boko Haram,we need our universities to come up with creative solutions and urge AWAU to take leadership in this quest of delivering a curriculum and research methodologies that will foster a culture of peace and human security in Africa and the world,”he said.
In his key note presentation at the conference, entitled: “Turbulence in University Education in West Africa: Perspectives on Quality,Access and Mentorship”,he noted that turbulence goes beyond incessant industrial unrest in the tertiary system,rather instances where less than 10percent of eligible candidates secure placement in the 351 universities in West Africa could pass for a classical example of institutional turbulence.
According to Obasanjo,”turbulence is seen in the generally poor quality of infrastructure. The oldest universities in the sub-region are particularly worse hit as funds for maintenance of plant and mechinery are increasingly less available.
“Curriculum irrelevance,inefficiencies in management,poor research culture,prolonged strikes by staff and students’ unions, ageing professoriate and weak capacity of university managers to generate funds to bridge funding gaps are some of the turbulence inducing issues that are preponderant in university systems in West Africa”.