Nigeria: It’s against federalism & academic freedom to have govt. bureaucrats decide who gets admitted to universities – Olubunmi Cardinal Okogie

August 29, 2016


Whenever most of Nigeria’s top Catholic Church leaders speak on public issues, it always shows a Church aligned on the side of the masses, with the country’s interests central to their utterances, a statement that cannot be made for most others, including those who would dance to whatever tune whoever is in power dictates. Olubunmi Cardinal Okogie, a Priest who has been in the vanguard of standing up to successive governments for decades when the need arose, reminds me of Late Jaime Cardinal Sin, Bishop of Manila who was as much hated as feared by looters, President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines and his wife, Imelda.

Whatever steps the Philippine masses took, however, and wherever they stood, whatever their pains, Cardinal Sin identified with. When, therefore, he called Philippinos to take to the streets against Marcos in 1986, “people power” heard the Man of God loud and clear, and the power of people to put away a leader whose interests in the country and people he ruled had long gone, the Marcoses fled what had become a gilded cage.

Cardinal Okogie has trodden along the narrow path that Catholic priests in Nigeria manage to travel. He was not cut from the same type of cloth that produced most of present-day Nigerian heads of most Nigerian churches, including even the mainstream ones most of whom have flocked behind Pentecostal pastors’ seeming dogma of you-pay-we-pray. The following pronouncements were rendered by such church leaders after the internationally-noted rigged Obasanjo-elections of April 2007:

“… We must thank God for answering the prayers of His people all over the nation, particularly members of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, who sought God’s face regarding the recent elections … We must put on record that the Nigerian Baptist Convention is proud of one of our distinguished members, outgoing President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo …”

“The Methodists also praised Obasanjo ‘for fighting corruption and empowering women and youth. Perhaps not forgetting its real goal, the Church asked Nigerians to “trust the judgement of the tribunals as the nation’s judiciary has proved that it is above board.” I wonder what Dr. Makinde, who intoned these words back then would now say about rigged-in governors who spent over seven years in power, or about those who got away with the crime, no thanks to a judiciary that saw to the dismantling of justice purportedly for fat fees at the same tribunals that the retired Prelate glowingly recommended …

“The apparent position of Anglicans was stated by the Bishop of Egba Diocese, Rt. Rev. Matthew Owadayo who reportedly agreed that ‘there were some fraud and irregularities’ but chided Buhari and Atiku not to be ‘desperate’ but ‘to accept the victory of Alhaji Umar Musa Yar’Adua as the will of God’ and the losses ‘as an act of God.”  [One of the essays from 2011 in one of my Sunday essays for The Nation on Sunday is listed at the bottom.


In an open letter to President Buhari through the Vanguard, Cardinal Okogie speaks the minds of MOST Nigerians. Here are excerpts”

” … None of these lofty goals can be achieved without good education.  On this particular issue … it is important that our universities be allowed to use their own criteria to admit students.  It is a gross violation of the principles of federalism and academic freedom for the federal government to insist that only a federal parastatal can decide on who gains admission into our universities. It is the role of the university senate, not of government bureaucrats, to decide on who gets admitted and who is awarded a certificate …


“You will need to take a critical look at the manner of appointments you have been making.  It is true that commonsense dictates that you appoint men and women you can trust.  But if most of the people you trust are from one section of the country and practice the same religion, then you and all of us are living in insecurity …

” … Remember that you cannot put a crown on your head. It is the people who put it on you …


” … corruption is not found in only one party.  No political party in Nigeria has a monopoly of looters … we need an EFCC that is thoroughly independent of the presidency, and an Attorney General without party affiliation working in partnership with various independent accounting institutes.” 

Follow this url to the whole letter, a sort of Epistle though not in length.

Open letter to President Buhari


MONDAY, AUGUST 29, 2016.  9:45 p.m. [GMT]


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8 Comments on “Nigeria: It’s against federalism & academic freedom to have govt. bureaucrats decide who gets admitted to universities – Olubunmi Cardinal Okogie”

  1. F Bakare Says:

    JAMB, or whatever it is called should be scrapped and we go back to the days of concessional entrance exams to Universities. The body had been riddled with corruption.



    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Fatai,

      Thanks for this.

      I totally agree with you. The incompetence and lowering of standards have destroyed an educational standard that used to find Nigerians who moved to Western world for tertiary education at par or above their college mates in the USA, UK …

      In the absence of the 2-year post secondary school Advanced Level at the GCE which has been scrapped, all universities should just conduct their own admission exams – the Concessional Exams prerequisites to which would be each university’s WAEC qualifications for various subjects.

      Nigerian university graduates, for the most part, no longer able to compete with their peers in the world and our universities are way at the bottom in standards. The rot has gone on for too long and there’s no hope for improvement in the so called new “Options …” but a further lowering of standards to accommodate mediocrity.

      Sincere regards,




    Eku gbaladun UK, O!. Cardinal Okoye taught at St. Charles between 1970-2. Very close family friend to my late mother-in-law. A highly-respected clergy.




    • emotan77 Says:

      Thanks, Dear Doctor.

      The Cardinal did a lot of good for many people, and he does represent a lot of good for Nigeria. I hope his suggestions would be taken in good faith as they represent what many citizens are thinking and discussing in private groups all over Nigeria.

      Sincere regards,



  3. Adegoke G. Falade Says:

    Thanks for this.
    It’s forwarded to friends.
    But, be careful, he may send somebody …!



    • emotan77 Says:

      Thanks for this, Dear Prof., and thanks for the further sharing promised.

      I really have no idea of the “he”, and no sign of any libel in the Cardinal’s essay, or did I miss it?

      Sincere regards,



  4. bisisowunmig Says:

    Thank you very much for sending this deep breath of fresh air; Cardinal Okogie has redeemed the image of Church leadership in Nigeria to a great extent by the very forthright and objective critique of Buhari. There should be more outcry until, hopefully, Buhari makes significant amends.

    Are you aware of the court case challenging his non-observance of federal character in key appointments? Case adjourned till sometime in September. Let’s pray the Judge has a conscience and courage of his conviction.

    Buhari is taking us all for fools by his recklessly-skewed appointments. I hope the Universities will still, as must be inevitable, have the last say in who gets admitted. As you probably know, the post-Jamb tests have exposed a lot of the rottenness in JAMB. Some candidates offered provisional admission on the basis of JAMB scores simply failed to show up for the post JAMB tests for obvious reasons!!!

    Oloyede, head of JAMB said a few days ago that he will not interfere with admissions is confirming the fact that he will. (ẹlẹfọ́ tẹ̀tẹ̀ syndrome!)

    Buhari and his team are plunging the country further and further into disaster. Current exchange rate is now N420 to the dollar!!
    Stay blessed, S. Bisi

    Date: Mon, 29 Aug 2016 21:47:49 +0000



    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Sis.,

      Thanks very much for this.

      First, for the benefit of non-Yoruba speakers: “ẹlẹfọ́ tẹ̀tẹ̀ … syndrome” above, or simply “ẹlẹfọ́” is shortened from the call to a vegetable hawker: ẹlẹfọ́! but instead of simply answering the call, announces to the person calling him/her with a dead give-away that the vegetables aren’t from a dunghill: Kì í ṣe ti ààtàn!

      When anybody – in this case, a Nigerian political appointee (Oloyede)announces “non-interference without any pre-accusatory words, he gets the ẹlẹfọ́ metaphoric whip!

      Nigerians already know that under Alhaji Adamu Adamu as Minister and Alhaji Professor Ishaq Oloyede as Registrar, the new and esoteric “Point Option System of admission” into Nigeria’s universities spells nothing but doom for the already-wrecked university education in Nigeria.


      After the Cardinal’s essay went up, it’s interesting to notice a spike in Ladipo Adamolekun’s seminal paper on education which he delivered at Ayo Babalola University over in January 2013: The additional 8 readers in the last 12 hours bring the total to about 4,500 readers, but are those who really need to digest the contents really on?

      We all do not expect any improvement from Oloyede judging from what had appeared in press prior to his appointment and by gosh, why make a bad thing worse which is exactly what the “Point Option System of admission” is really going to become?

      As Cardinal Okogie eloquently enunciated, how can government bureaucrats decide what university Senates are set up to do? Whatever happened to the old but very effective way of getting students admitted to universities: to study Arts, you need a minimum of X Credits in XYZ, to study Engineering, you needed a minimum of …, for Christ’s sake?

      Buhari’s case is a really sad situation for a man who came in with so much support from North and even the usually very discerning Southern Christians; from young and very old but has chosen the route of a sectional chieftain and a Muslim-protecting leader! O mà ṣé, o! [What a tragedy!]

      Fondest regards, Ma.



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