The Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos, Prof. Folasade Ogunsola says the institution’s International Week is one of the various avenues to change negative narratives about Nigeria and its citizens.
Ogunsola made the assertion in an interview with our reporter on Friday, in Lagos.
It was reported that the institution kick-started the International Week with the theme: Breaking the Borders of Partnership, on Monday.
The celebration, the third in the series, had no fewer than 17 representatives of various foreign universities and embassies in attendance.
Vice-chancellor, University of Dundee, U.K., Prof. Iain Gillespie, was keynote speaker at the opening ceremony, while Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, among others, was also present.
Ogunsola said,“The whole essence of this event is to bring our partners together to meet with us on our soil. The Nigerian narrative outside is not great.
“We have realised a long time ago, that when you talk to people by email, zoom, WhatsApp or other social media platforms, you will discover that they haven’t really experienced you, so, it is a chance for us to experience ourselves and show them who we are.
“It is also for us to have increased engagement. When you are yet to meet someone, there is always that distance. But when you bring them in, they meet us and then they see Nigeria and her citizens.
“In my one-on-one dialogue with the vice chancellor of Dundee, we exchanged ideas and knowledge that will sure benefit our institutions and citizens of the two countries at large.
“So, when they hear the inaccurate information in the news, they can actually put that against what they saw, especially as some are coming for the first time.”
According to her, bringing them in is also important because a lot of persons may not have first hand information about the university’s knowledge based resources and operations.
“I am yet to meet anybody, that didn’t feel that the university is not just great, but exceptionally great. And I think what we keep hearing from these people is that we must tell our stories better.
“What we are taking from that is that we need professional help, in actually articulating our story,” she said.
Ogunsola told NAN that the take home message from her dialogue with the keynote speaker at the event was that the partnership that worked was that which recognised the value of each other.
According to her, when there is partnership with the world, the tendency that may suggest that one party is inferior or giving a helping hand to the other will not arise.
“We are not inferior to anyone and they are not to see themselves as helping us. We know who we are, what we bring to the table and what we can say.
“So, we can say comfortably that our alliance with Dundee is that we are strategic partners.
“What it means is that we are equal partners. We will co-design, we will co-research, decide the questions we want to answer.
“I think when the world recognises the value of Africa; that is when the world is going to prosper.
“I listened to a quote recently that said the world cannot prosper till Africa prospers, and that is true.
“Apart from that, the fact that we have the mineral resources, we also have the largest quantum of young people, that if you do not take care of them going into the future, there could be a major challenge.
“The rest of the world is generally aging, who will take over? So, it is better for them to see us as equal partners, to work with us in development,” the vice-chancellor said.