At inaugural lecture, UNIJOS stands still for Professor Sha
On Thursday penultimate week, the University of Jos in Plateau State witnessed an unusual gathering of crowd from different walks of life both far and within. By 10:00am, the institution’s expansive multipurpose auditorium of the main campus was already filled to capacity. It was the day, Dung Pam Sha, a Professor of Political Economy and Development Studies and a member of the University’s Governing Council delivered his inaugural lecture. Being a single event in one’s life time, the Inaugural Lecture is usually an occasion of significance in an academic staff member’s career as it provides an opportunity for promoted or appointed professors to inform colleagues in the university and the general public, about their research career so far; and update colleagues on their current and future research directions.
Expectedly, the purpose was not lost on Professor Sha when he came out with the topic titled: “Streets and Boardrooms: Contending Hegemonic Spaces in Shaping Political Economy in Africa.” Read by Mr. Major Ezekiel Adeyi of the Political Science Department, Sha’s citation which began in 1959 when he was born at Kuru, present day Jos South LGA of Plateau state to an accomplished intellectual and man of God set the stage for the day’s business. As it turned out, the lecture focused on the role of actors that influence the direction of political economy in Africa. Sha said:” it is my conviction that political economy of countries around the world is being shaped by, but not limited to two hegemonic spaces; the boardroom which is a space mostly used by the state for public policy making and the street which is also a space used the working class and other state actors to voice out their concerns and sometimes resist policies or programmes.”
The professor argued that institutions, policy and scholarship in economics and politics are changing in response to organised street actions citing experiences in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa as well as regime changes in countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Libya to back up his claim, However ,he contended that despite these actions, state reforms and regime reconstitution have not fundamentally changed the political economy that supports exploitation and inequality, expressing regret that instead, states are busy trying to reduce the viciousness of these street actors by introducing some social protection strategies.
Against this background, Prof. Sha submitted that for the tension between the streets and the boardrooms as contending spaces that shape political economy in Africa to be reduced or eliminated, those in position of authority must plan, organise and acquire the capacity to deliver services to the citizens, eliminate poverty and inequality, provide social protection and ensure the entrenchment of an inclusive governance framework. This, he said, calls for the democratization of the state boardroom to make it citizens-friendly, respect for individuals and groups rights and freedom, communication and feedback, constitutionalism and political succession among others. By the time the lecture came to an end with the presentation of an award to the inaugural lecturer, which was done by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics), Prof. Nelson Ochekpe, the people left the venue with the conviction that the lecture recommendation are what Nigerian leaders and their counterparts in other African countries need to practice to enable their fatherland move forward.