NOUN Gist. September 2014.

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THE CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS AS REGARDS LLEGUM BACCALAUREUS (LLB DEGREE PROGRAMME) IN NATIONAL OPEN UNIVERSITY OF NIGERIA By Nwokoye Michael F...

THE CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS AS REGARDS LLEGUM BACCALAUREUS (LLB DEGREE PROGRAMME) IN NATIONAL OPEN UNIVERSITY OF NIGERIA By Nwokoye Michael FF-MAXLICONI

The numerous contradictions in Nigeria are glaring to both the local and international communities. Time will
not permit me to begin now to give instances of contradictions in our jurisdiction. But one obvious contradiction of relevance to students of National Open University of Nigeria is the approval of NOUN Law programme by the National Universities Commission (NUC) and its disapproval by the Council of Legal Education (CLE).
For years now, students of this university have been keeping their fingers crossed hoping to see their hopes materialized one day. NOUN graduates are excluded from NYSC; her LLB holders are kept in limbo. In spite of these students are still upbeat that somehow somewhat, in the not too distant future, their expectations will come to fruition.
When considering issues such as those seriously confronting both students and the management of National Open University of Nigeria-NYSC Programme and Law School Admission, certain factors have to be incorporated into our decision.
The prevailing situation has to be factored in, in order to reach a fair (unbiased) decision. Prominent among these are the rapid increase in Nigerian population, advancements in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), relatively higher access to internet and the increasing adoption of modern learning pedagogy across the world. There is now a noticeable departure from the old outdated system to newer and more refined culture. Relying on the situation of things, for instance, in the 60s in making 2014 decision is an experiment in error. It is like driving a vehicle by looking at the rear-view mirror. Any driver that does not look through his windscreen to get the view of where he is going will crash his vehicle and probably lose his life in the process as well. Whenever we fail to factor in the prevailing condition before making our judgments we would always act in error and this may be very costly.

The situation that led to the emergence of National Open University of Nigeria is obvious to every Nigerian.There is a considerable lacuna in conventional universities that Nigerian government need to fill as a matter of urgency. Erroneously, some people claim that NOUN is only meant for the working class. Whereas the truth is that the university was established to serve as many as are willing and able to learn but are denied the opportunity due to any or all of the following:
1. The failure of conventional universities to absorb all qualified JAMBITES thereby creating backlogs of admission seekers to tertiary institutions. Statistics have it that of about two million admission seekers only about 500 thousands can actually secure admission. This is a grave problem begging for solution and to avoid crises the loopholes have to be filled. In Nigeria, there are now youths of school age roaming the street and committing crime or serving as tools in the hands of unscrupulous people. There are those who are used to foment terrorism which is now the order of the day in our country. If they are engaged in something, they will not have time to perpetrate crime in the country.
2. The huge cost of running conventional universities. Today it is clear like day light that the Federal Government is finding it increasingly difficult to finance our traditional universities. This problem is aggravated by sporadic agitation for salary increment by the large number of lecturers in these tertiary institutions. The ASUU strike is one of the tell-tale signs of the difficulties.
3. The need to transcend the numerous barriers that cut many people out of the four walls of tertiary institutions is also met by subscribing to National Open University of Nigeria.
4. The National Open University of Nigeria is an avenue for the working class to upgrade their qualifications. Were it not for a scheme like NOUN’s, many people would have to quit their job to do so.
5. The National Open University of Nigeria adds flexibility to education. You can run your programme at your pace and in your own good time. There are students who appear in a semester and after participating in the academic activities of that semester they will disappear in the next semester only to reappear later. If you try this in any conventional university, you will be withdrawn forthwith from the institution. But NOUN will not question you because they have given you the liberty to do so. Therefore, if you are an employee but loses your job while running a programme in NOUN, you may miss your semester perhaps because you lack the financial wherewithal to do so during the semester. However, NOUN will allow you to continue from where you stopped. So, NOUN is more liberal compared to conventional universities.
6. The National Open University of Nigeria ensure quality and equality of opportunities in education generally but specifically in university education
7 . The National Open University of Nigeria provide a wider access to education generally but specifically university education in Nigeria
8. The National Open University of Nigeria enhance education for all and life-long learning
9. The National Open University of Nigeria ensure the entrenchment of global culture
10. The National Open University of Nigeria provide educational resources through the intensive use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
11. The National Open University of Nigeria provide flexible but qualitative education
12. The National Open University of Nigeria reduce the cost, inconveniences and hassles of education delivery
NOUN delivers the best graduates because there are no rooms for examination malpractices. You can cover your weakness in conventional universities where you are assured of 10% mark for buying a course material and where you can bribe lecturers to pass your courses. But there is no hiding place for weak students in NOUN. There are no specialized lecturers. There are no areas of concentration or special marks for buying a course material. You just have to read before you can pass any course. The e-examination questions are shoveled and in POP examinations students are spaced and alternated with students offering strange courses. There is no way you can cheat; you just have to read.
In spite of the convincing reasons listed supra the university has been suffering status and identity crises for many years. Eligible graduates from National Open University of Nigeria are not allowed to participate in NYSC programme. Why? The reason adduced was that their programme is on a part-time basis. I think It is high time we stopped giving this flimsy excuse. Is it their fault that they are running a programme in NOUN? Is NOUN really running a part-time programme where most students even take more courses in a semester than the so called full-time students? Are they not also qualified to be admited to conventional university but were denied their rights due to what is evident to us all. More so is the fact that conventional universities tend to derail students life ambition; if one applies for Law but is given Efik language to study has the university not robbed him of his life ambition? When such student comes to NOUN for Law degree and graduates. The CLE will say he did not pass JAMB; is there any logic in this?
Many flimsy excuses are given to deny law graduates their rights to Nigerian Law School. Among these are that law cannot be studied on a correspondence basis. Are there not many practising lawyer who also got their Law degree through correspondence; are they professionally weaker than their colleagues in the profession? Is NOUN not accredited by the NUC to run Law degree? Is CLE’s standard for accrediting Law faculties in NOUN supposed to be higher than that of NUC, a body who accredits all degrees in Nigerian universities on the basis that the degrees are of the same rigorous standard? Does the CLE know better than the UK who have been running ODL in Law since 1969 and have been allowing their law graduates to proceed to law school? The UK, USA, HONG KONG and other developed world have, since time immemorial, recognized and established open universities; they have been conducting correspondence learning for years and their LLB holders have never been discriminated.
Like I would say, the NYSC/Law School Admission issues will die out in the process of time; the problem is we would prefer them resolved as soon as possible. What we are witnessing in NOUN today is similar to what Zambian Open University (ZAOU) underwent before June, 2009 when their LLB holders were allowed to join their colleagues at Law School therein referred to as Zambian Institute of Advanced Legal Education (ZIALE). Of course ZAOU had to file in a lawsuit against ZIALE at a High Court in Lusaka for discrimating against her Law graduates. ZAOU won the case and for this students now transfer to ZAOU from University of Zambia because they find the Open University more liberal. The population of Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania are about 15 million, 50 million, 13 million and 45 million respectively. They have ZAOU, UNISA, ZOU and OUT in that order and each of these Open Universities runs a law faculty and qualifies her Law students to become advocates. The combined population of these four countries, about 123 million is still not up to Nigeria's 172 million population yet each them has an Open University in place. You can now imagine why some Nigerians are yet to grasp the need for its National Open University of Nigeria and its modus operandi. Open university is often associated with countries of high population densities of which Nigeria is one.
NOUN was set up by federal government to alleviate the suffering of our youth who cannot secure admission into conventional universities and also to improve the knowledge of workers, farmers, peasant owing to the problems of bureacratization and corruption prevailing in conventional universities which are unfavourable to the class of people named supra. Any person opposing these fair objectives does not desire the happiness and welfare of the less privileged which constitute approximately 80 per cent of our population. This nation having passed through British tutelage know very well that we cannot be misled if we follow them to accept, encourage and embrace distance learning through correspondence. It is through correspondence that Nelson Mandela obtained his Law degree; up till now, no conventional university has ever produced a human rights activist greater than him. Therefore, for the best interest of justice, equity and fairness, NOUN LLB holders should be afforded a fair opportunity to complete their legal education in Nigerian Law School without delay.
You can glean history of NOUN/Law School drama from the chronology given below:
Let me start from the accreditation of Law and other courses as reported in the Punch newspaper on May 9, 2012 by John Alechenu. The whole students were in jubilation when the good news filtered in. For details, open the link below:
http://www.punchng.com/news/nuc-accredits-30-open-varsity-programmes/
The National Open University of Nigeria(NOUN) commenced its law degree programme in 2007 when Law was under the Faculty of Art and was designated as(BA Law). Later, a full fledged faculty was devoted to Law to satisfy the NUC and the CLE accreditation requirements. The Faculty of Law had been operating without any confrontation untill August 2012 when the Director General of the Nigerian Law School, Tahir Mamman, declared in an interview with the Guardian that NOUN law students would not be admitted to Nigerian Law School because their programme is on a part time basis. Click the link below for more details:
http://www.nigerianhomepage.biz/news-from-across-the-nation/12802-law-school-may-deny-noun-graduates.html
However, on March 17, this year, a report came from the Daily Post newspaper that president goodluck Ebele Jonathan had sacked the Director General of Nigerian Law School, Tahir Mamman, for a reason which hitherto remains a guess among Nigerians . Click the link below for details:
http://dailypost.com.ng/2013/03/17/jonathan-fires-dg-of-nigerian-law-school-six-other-deputy-directors/
Also, between March and April this year, three law students from NOUN outsmarted other students from conventional universities in the 2013 Moot Court Competition making NOUN, which participated for the first time, to emerge as the leading university.
You can open the link below for more information:
http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/noun-law-students-emerge-tops-in-contest/142561/
On July 15, 2013, we had the report from THIRDAY LIVE about the emergence of Olanrewaju Onadeko as the new Director General of the Nigerian Law School. He was appointed by the FG to replace the previously sacked DG, Tahir Mamman. It was concurrently reported that Awa Kalu, a SAN, had also been nominated to head a committee that would review the law curriculum of all Faculties of Law in Nigerian universities.
Open the link below for details:
http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/onadeko-emerges-nigerian-law-school-dg/153338/
On July 11, 2013, NOUN Faculty of Law organized a public lecture to honour the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Honourable Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar GCON. The public lecture was delivered at the Shehu Musa Yar' Adua Centre, Abuja. It was at this occasion that Chief Awa Kalu, a SAN, delivered the keynote, 'WHAT IS IT THAT JUDGES DO'.
The atmosphere of the occasion according to an eyewitness, was full of enthusiasm and high energy. In attendance were: the VC of NOUN, Professor Vincent Ado Tenebe, the Registra, Mrs J.O Akinyemi, the Dean of Law Faculty as well as staff and students of NOUN.
Other dignitaries present were the Hon. Justice Mary Ukaego, the former governor of Abia state, Peter Odili and other Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Professors and Lawyers.
The lecture was organized to further project the positive image of the NOUN Faulty of Law to members of the Council of Legal Education. It was a great lecture and all those present can attest to that.
The VC honoured the three students who represented the school at the National Moot Court Competition where NOUN came first. He also presented the NOUN Supreme Court Law Report(vol. 2 and 3) to be sold at a fair price of #850 and NOUN happened to be the first Nigerian university to publish Law Reports.
All these impressed everyone present including the lecturer, Chief Awa Kalu, a SAN, who is an important voice in the Council of Legal Education. The events were narrowly reported in the link below by the New Democrat Newspapers:
http://newdemocrat.com.ng/?p=273

Finally it was gathered from a post on Campus Gists Nigeria dated January 2, 2014 that the Council of Legal Education (CLE) still maintains their stance on the non admission of NOUN Law graduates to the Nigerian Law School. This is also contained in the link below:
http://campusportal.com.ng/noun/national-open-university-graduates-may-admitted-law-school/10262/

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