According to the Greeks, the purpose of education is to be a better man. But the reverse is the case. Some see education as enriching themselves, building houses everywhere, having power in the village, building sky- scrapers in their father’s land, and having power over the less privileged and the peripheries of the society, and acquiring all kinds of chieftaincy titles, thereby dethroning intellectualism, their books are covered with cobwebs, they no longer consult them. The academia are in pursuit of money, hence, they are polluted by politics of the day. They should maintain a critical distance from the politicians who are involved in populace ideologies, Marxist and Machiavellian principles. Their education should be used to sanitize the society and empower the populace.
Nigeria today is what it is because of the conspiracy of silence. If they make proper use of the power, the power of education, they will not create a space for political neophytes to assault their sensibility and assault the society they should have protected with their voice in the society. Their voice should resonate in the society echoing the voice of justice and peace in the land, thereby making the politicians sit-up for justice in the land. I will never forget what John Paul II, now a saint said in his homeland Poland at the stadium addressing the people with the politicians, academia, the church and the military personal’s gathered. This was at a time when Poland was in a political limbo. He said, “Poland enjoys arrogant use of power” When he said this, the military junta Jorowaski adjusted his seat with browse knitting thought. It did not take long, Wollenzer came in, and Poland came out of military regime. This was a wonderful intervention coming from the Vicar of Christ (the Pope). Pope Francis was in Cuba, another Communist state with all his intellectual, spiritual prowess, he spoke and the Marxist president listened. Then Obama, the first black American president went and spoke and the speeches began to resonate all over Cuba. Now America has their embassy there. After 50 years of frosty relationship with Cuba, imagine the American plane landing in Cuba a wonderful political symbol of “Let us be one again”in spite of our ideological leanings. Then Pope Francis visited America, when Trump was talking of building a wall between Mexico and America, and the pope said “We should build bridges instead of walls” and these has entered into the brain waves of many global people. As for immigrants, the pope said, “He is a son of an immigrant and that everyone is an immigrant.” The pope has visited many countries mending all political fences that exclude others; his voice resonates again all over the world. The pope is a man of reference point.
Aisha Buhari, the wife of the president of Nigeria, with her robust education without mixing words or fear, spoke about what she has been experiencing in her political backyard. Knowing that she is a servant of the society she had to speak out so that others will follow suit and correct the political ills. It seems that what she said has been dismissed with a wave of hand and sceptical smile because she is coming from a background where men are the only ones who can speak loudly. It is the power of education that rubbished that kind of male and religious chauvinism. We cannot follow pre-historic ideas, even the so-called civilized societies like Australia where they rubbish women who aspire to become presidents. This is misogynism. Let them tell Hilary Clinton the aspiring president of USA to stop and stay in the kitchen and bedroom of her family. We are in a global world with global way of thinking not inclusivism but exclusivism.
These qualities found in those I have mentioned are what the academia should do in the social world to avoid wars and bigotries.
In the case of Nigeria, the Academia don’t speak out anymore, they maintain a conspiracy of silence. What we see now is a world of people living in their own cocoons with no sufficient synergy to speak. Men of ideas and knowledge have continued to live at a low key because of political intimidation. No wonder Socrates said, “in the midst of moral crisis, those who maintain Neutrality are heading to hell.” What is the use of our knowledge when we cannot use it for the growth of mankind? Should we leave the society alone for the money bags and political neophytes? That is the state of the nation right now. Who would bail the Cat? If the academia can learn something from John Paul II and Pope Francis, there will be hope for the society.
The words of the academia should be words of empowerment. These are the social expectations from the society. If nobody motivates them, they sink into misery, poverty, alienation, loss of meaning in life for lack of somebody padding them at the shoulder saying “Don’t worry better days are coming.” We are born into this world to exercise our particularity. Otherwise we will become an intellectual dust-bin with no sense of empowerment.
VERY REV. MONSIGNOR LIVINUS UKAH