FORMER President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has indicted some lecturers for rigging elections for politicians.
Jonathan, who spoke at the convocation ceremony of Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu, also lamented that some of the nation’s universities had become breeding grounds for cultism which constitute a major obstacle to national development, civilization and social transformation.
He said: “Over time, the place of the academia in our democratic process has become more pronounced, with more members taking the centre stage in election administration in the country.
“The involvement of the academia in our electoral process is premised on the assumption that academics are people of proven integrity who cannot be compromised. Many of them have actually been at the forefront of the campaign for transparency in elections and sustainability of democracy on the continent.
“The involvement of the academia in the management of elections is, therefore, a good idea. However, our scholars should know that they bear the responsibility of justifying the trust placed on them by other members of the society in the management of elections.
“Any member of the academia who compromises what he stands for, by getting involved in the manipulation of elections, betrays that trust.
“It is instructive that while on election duty, these eggheads work with youths, especially members of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, who are usually deployed as ad-hoc staff on election days.
“It is dangerous for members of the academia to get involved in election malpractices because of its wider implication for the future of our country. Once the youth corps members observe these lecturers and professors who they hold in high esteem attempt to change or falsify elections results, they might begin to see such criminality as the new norm in our country.
“Let me use this opportunity to appeal to members of the academia that get recruited for election duties to do the right thing and not compromise their integrity, no matter the pressure on them.
“Our universities should produce rational beings that will be able to distinguish between good and bad. It is the responsibility of the universities to create humanists, scientists and engineers with moral and ethical standing. They, in turn, will be the ones to build the robots that would power our industries and our economy, to make the lives of our citizens more meaningful.’’
On cultism, he said: “It is unfortunate that some universities are becoming breeding grounds for cultism; this is a major burden to civilization and social transformation. My happiness is that this university is not one of such, because of its strong moral base.
“No nation can develop if it does not find answers to such an unfortunate state of affairs in an environment where we groom our future leaders. It is apt to say that character which is manifested in the virtues of honesty, integrity and courage, is the strength of education. A society profits more when the recipients of knowledge are led by these traits to positively influence their environment.’’
In his speech, entitled “the academia, good governance and nation building”, Jonathan noted the importance of the academia in nation building and urged them to be dedicated and discharge their duty diligently.
“I always feel excited whenever I am asked to share my thoughts on issues pertaining to nation-building and good governance. This is consistent with my personal philosophy of promoting credible elections and peaceful transfer of power in the interest of peace and development in Africa.