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Vice Chancellors’ Wives: The Absurdity Of a Turkey Trip  




Yakubu Ochefu,
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Wives of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian public universities, hitherto unknown to any law of the federation, suddenly shot into limelight for the wrong reasons a few days ago. 
As a group with parents and keep stakeholders in the education sector, the reported news of the planned trip of a group of women and female academics to Istanbul, Turkey for a training programme, is nothing more than a jamboree and a show of excessive crass frivolity.
According to media reports, Secretary-General of the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, Yakubu Ochefu, was quoted as stating in a memo that the alleged five-day trip is for the spouses of VCs and ‘women in academics and higher education leadership’ to attend a purported ‘leadership and management masterclass and fellowship induction’ in the Asian country.
Billed for 18 to 23 July 2022, the leaked memo from Ochefu further stated that each participant is expected to pay N1.5m for the supposed capacity building programme.
This is vanitious and the height of insensitivity least expected of persons in the class of wives of university administrators and academics who are key stakeholders in the Nigerian education sector.
As concerned parents, we are highly disappointed , and without mincing words declare this funfare to Turkey as ridiculous, condemnable and highly insensitive. It is most indiscretion at a time our public universities have been shut and our children being at home for months due to strike embarked upon by the university lecturers.
The Committee of Vice Chancellors that approved this programme and the participants are standing on a very low moral canvass- as much as the beneficiaries of the purported programme.
As parents struggling hard to invest in children’s education in a bid to give them a sound footing for the future, we cannot fathom the appropriateness of a foreign trip for lecturers’ wives when their husbands have paralysed the public university system since February 14, 2022.
We are pained that some of our sons and daughters in federal university, who commenced their degree course in 2018, have yet to advance past the 300 level as a result of incessant disruption of academic calendars occasioned by strikes by both the academic and non-academic staff.
It is very annoying, to say the least, that the foreign country-loving spouses of university teachers and their prospective co-travellers to Turkey have not deemed it fit to use their privileged position to appeal to their striking husbands and colleagues to return to the classroom in the interest of the future of hundreds of our home-tired youths.
Rather than show empathy, they have chosen self-gratification in form of a foreign training above the plight of the demoralised youths.
While the ongoing dialogue between the government and the striking university lecturers is continuing, We are convinced that the influential voice of the VC wives would have by now, possibly, caused the teachers to shift ground regarding their position on their dispute with the government.
If it were elsewhere, such a powerful voice of women is also capable of making the government do the necessary thing, to wit, put an end to the incessant strikes in the university system in view of the larger implications. But here we are with the supposed champions of goodness for our children embarking on a fruitless jamboree in the name of overseas leadership training.
However, as good husbands, wives, fathers and mothers, our view is that this group of women hold enormous powers to persuade their spouses and colleagues to get back to work if they choose to. We can clearly see where they stand except they change tomorrow.
On another note, the choice of a Turkey trip stands in contradiction to the position of the lecturers on the development of the capacity of our universities through adequate funding and stemming of brain drain. A trip to Istanbul at this point in time is absurd and wasteful.
For the fact that the memo by Ochefu is silent on who is funding the trip also calls to question the morality of the proposed trip. Is the money coming from the coffers of respective universities where the husbands are the Vice Chancellors? Is each participant expected to self-fund the journey? Accountability is very important here!
While we are not totally against building the capacity of university lecturers and the support of non-teaching staff, the point being made is that this trip is ill-timed and indiscrectional

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