The 2019 symposium marking the anniversary of St Thomas Aquinas was held on the 28 of January 2018 at the Dominican University, Samonda, Ibadan. The annual event was graced with the presence of distinguished intellectuals from across the country. Students from various institutions of learning were also present at the occasion. The theme of the symposium was immensely influenced by the nearness of Nigeria’s national elections. The theme was tagged University Education and the Democratic Culture. Speakers from various academic specializations contributed to understanding the place of democracy within the academia and how university education can help to shape a democratic culture.
The Vice-Chancellor of Dominican University, Prof Anthony Akinwale, in his opening remarks, asserted that the university must live up to her character of integral education. According to him, in the University setting, the struggle for power should not be the norm. On the contrary, it should be a place where the Baconian maxim holds sway for indeed knowledge is power. Being a place of excellence, the university marked by her respect for and defense of academic freedom has the capacity and indeed should prepare the way for integral humanism.
Prof Jim Unah, in his paper Ethical Values and Democratic Culture, advanced that one cannot evolve a democratic culture that neglects the culture of the people. He held the view that culture being the value system of a people is the springboard for the cultivation of authentic democratic culture. He encouraged students and indeed all who have Nigeria at heart to work towards imbibing the values of trustworthiness, responsibility, citizenship, patriotism among others. These, he believes, can guarantee a sustainable democratic experience for Nigerians.
Prof Ambrose Aiyelari in his presentation, Democracy in University Administration, also asserted the pivotal place of the university in nations’ development. Using the University of Ibadan as a case on point, he opined that the whole university process (administration) is democratic.
The topic Women Intellectuals and Democratic Culture was delivered by Dr. Idongesit Eshiet. She believed that democracy is the most popular form of government. This is because it allows people to have a say in the things that affect them. Women, she advanced, are parts and parcel of every society and as such should be involved in the decision-making process at all levels. She equally advanced that it is the role of the university through her intellectuals to promote a caring and compassionate society based on social justice in which the poor and vulnerable are chattered for. She spoke extensively on the importance of women being involved in university politics. She encouraged women to seek positions of leadership in order to be acquainted with the issues of politics and governance.
Dr Emmanuel Aiyede addressed the issue of University culture and the challenges of politics and democracy. He saw the whole idea of Politics as collective decision making and education as collective discipline of continuous inquiry. For him, the university is the custodian of values. The university cannot live up to its name until such vices as nepotism, corruption, clannishness and tribalism, mediocrity and intolerance as well as godfatherism is eschewed. He advocated for the enthronement of such values that respect merit, diversity, the spirit of inquiry, due process, academic freedom, and accountability.
Rev. Fr. Dr. Joseph Ekong, in his historical, expository and critical reflection on the Philosophical Underpinnings of Democratic Culture advanced that democracy facilitates free human choice and as such revealed that it has both intrinsic and instrumental value. He, however, observed that despite the pitfalls obvious in our polity, it still has a great deal of potentials if properly harnessed.
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