It is said that urgent matters should be attended to before important matters are attended to. Some matters can be important but not urgent, while some other matters can be urgent and important at the same time.
From this line of thought hangs thoughts on the issue of lack of infrastructure that the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Energy and Natural Resources, Professor Harrison Dapaah, stated at the fourth graduation ceremony of the institution.
Professor Dapaah mentioned the lack of lecture hall complexes for each of its campuses, halls of residence for students, modern administration block and offices for staff and laboratories with modern equipment. One can imagine how teaching, learning and research as well is going on in the institution. Robert Nesta Marley once quipped, “He who knows it feels it most.” If one has experienced a university where space for lectures is limited then one can understand what it means to graduate from such an institution.
Infrastructure is key to effective teaching, learning and research in every university across the world. One cannot discount the negative impact that poor or lack of infrastructure in any academic institution has on teaching and learning especially in a university where research is what gives meaning to all the work that is done. Research at the undergraduate level as well as postgraduate levels is key.
The poor or lack of infrastructure for both lecturers and students is more urgent than naming the university after Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia. One of the reasons our country still struggles with seeming problems is, our leaders do not treat urgent matters as urgent. Usually, urgent matters are difficult. The urgent matters are capital intensive. The urgent matters need money. Our leaders are always settling for the things that will give them some temporal relief.
Our way of treating critical matters leaves much to be desired. We believe that when we name an institution after one great individual then we will receive plaudits from the kin and kith of those great persons. There is nothing wrong with immortalising the names of great men. In fact, it shows that we acknowledge their efforts. While it is important to name some institutions after great men and women, it is not an urgent matter as compared to providing infrastructure in those universities.
An urgent matter is to pursue an agenda of completing every uncompleted structure on all campuses of the university in question and other universities as well, seek funding to build more in order to ensure that every lecturer and student on any university campus across the length and breadth of this country have the serene atmosphere of embarking on teaching, learning and research.
Again, the attitude of not treating urgent matters in universities is the bane of our development. Research and development go hand in hand. The university in question is one that was established to train the human resource of this country in energy and natural resources. Our country finds itself in the debacle of energy crises and accompanied scandals.
Most of the time, in matters that border on energy and natural resources we have not been able to call the shots because the investors who come in usually bring their own men and women. Establishing such a university to train the human resources in energy and natural resource offer us a comparative advantage, where the young men and women in this country will be at the helm of affairs in the energy and natural resources sector of this country.
Why then must we sit and watch while some strategic institution for development suffers for infrastructure? There is so much for us to do as a country and the magic wand for treating these problems is embedded in the word urgency.
Urgency in ensuring that our streets are clean; urgency in ensuring that the filth that is generated is turned into some product for development; urgency in ensuring that the abundant water resources that flow freely from our northern neighbours into our country are harnessed and not become a burden to the livelihoods and settlement of indigenes who live in the catchment areas; the urgency that the youth in this country are trained in universities that have the requisite facilities that facilitate, research, teaching and learning; and urgency in putting concrete and actionable measures bound by realistic deadlines.
The reason “our political independent mates” surpassed us is their leaders invested time, energy and resources in pursuing urgent matters. They did this passionately. Let’s learn to treat urgent matters as urgent; while the important ones take care of themselves.
By: Alex Blege
The writer is a freelance journalist