Professor Akindele Adetoye is a Professor in the Department of Political Science in Ekiti State University. A former ASUU executive and radical scholar, Prof Adetoye is notable for his critical perspectives on the state of governance, elitism and civil society in Nigeria. This explains his critical views on the February 6 protest initiated by Innocent Idibia, otherwise known as Tuface or 2baba, which went viral on the social media. The Nigerian Academia had a chat with the Professor for his views on the factors responsible for diminished academic activism in democratic Nigeria.
TNA: In the military days, we had more scholars who engaged in political activism to challenge the status-quo and demanded a better socio-economic life for the public good. Suddenly, this action has disappeared after the emergence of democracy in 1999. What do you think account for this?
Prof. Adetoye: There is a decline in agitation by scholars because of the enthronement of democracy as the military administration in their view was an aberration. Some of the scholars have also joined politics, while others are given political appointments and several others are enjoying one patronage or the other. More so, the crop of scholars recruited into the academia nowadays appears too materialistic and avaricious, hence their complacency.
TNA: In Nigeria’s present democratic journey, what do you think should be the role of the academics in ensuring accountability and social justice?
Prof. Adetoye: Scholars as individuals or groups should be involved in community development. There should be a symbiotic synergy between the town and the gown. Scholars should embark on researches that are capable of solving obvious socioeconomic and political problems, particularly those that border on corruption, injustice and tyranny of the minority in government. As a group (ASUU) and in other civil society organisations, scholars should be a vanguard to ensure social justice and good governance.
TNA: I read a few comments from your students criticising your post against Tuface. As a lecturer, how do feel about some of the harsh words used against you by your students?
Prof Adetoye: As for the students and their reaction, Tuface is their idol and they are emotionally attached to him. The students that used denigrating words and remarks on their teachers lack character and moral training. It simply shows the kind of leaders the society is building. The attack was also sponsored by colleagues who do not like my face because of the roles I played in ASUU in the past. It is also unfortunate that Tuface and his ilk, rather than great scientists, Nobel Laureates, etc. are the models of our youth. Their outburst is also a function of my no-nonsense attitudes towards their bad manners in school. Here are students who lack discipline, lazy and uncouth and don’t want to be corrected or disciplined.
TNA: Some lecturers detest open communication with their students on the social media because of possible disrespect, while others believe it would enhance easy access and communication with the students. What are your thoughts on this?
Prof. Adetoye: With what I have seen so far on the use to which students put the social media, students have the tendency to abuse the facility because of their aberrant behaviour. They exhibit and display their uncivil behaviour and their warped understanding of the use of the social media. Their lack of decorum and immaturity that they constantly display on SM, is an eloquent testimony to the fact that they are not worth to be engaged in such sophisticated platform. That is, talking about the majority of Nigerian students. They can’t even communicate in simple and correct English. They can’t express themselves properly and they lack communication skills. So, what do you expect?
TNA: The present administration got into power on the promise of ‘change’ and benefitted greatly from the people’s goodwill in its early days. Two years after its emergence, there has been a rising disenchantment with the government following increased economic hardships in the country. What is your assessment of the present administration?
Prof. Adetoye: Having faced harsh experience and disappointment under the previous administration, the Nigerian populace was full of high expectation and a quick-fix from this administration. They expected an instant and expeditious change. But they did not know the extent of damage the previous administration had wrecked on the economy. They do not realise the difficulties involved in rebuilding an economy that took 16 years to destroy. This development shows the level of education and enlightenment of the masses and even the educated population about governance. Moreover, there is mass poverty in the land, emotions are jacked up and so the disenchantment is natural. On the part of this administration, I think they were not adequately prepared for governance. They prepared to take over power without knowing what to do with it. They don’t appear to have any guiding philosophy, principle, ideology or blueprint/plan to guide them. See the crop of people that constitute the federal cabinet! See the in-fighting within the ruling party! See the crisis generated by the emergence of NASS leadership. All these are capable of frustrating the hope the masses once had in the ruling party. And this is dangerous for the country. There is apathy everywhere.
TNA: What advice do you have for the Buhari-led government in consideration of the people’s increasing frustration about the state of the economy?
Prof. Adetoye: The administration should put its acts together. Young, vibrant professionals should be engaged to drive the economy instead of these old lacklustre people who were appointed on political consideration and not on merit. The administration should engage in Quick-wins and political buyback! There should be palliatives, more proactive and constructive engagement with the people, just like Osinbajo, the VP is doing in the South-south states and the Niger-Delta.