Many young Nigerians who graduated from polytechnics and other higher educational institutions, often find themselves subjected to light mockery from university graduates who, some of the time, see nothing good about their counterparts in terms of educational standards.
As a result of this, in 2015, the Nigerian Senate took steps to end the University and Higher National Diploma dichotomy in Nigeria, which would put both at par with each other. The move was condemned by several Nigerians as both are seen as different in the values Universities and Polytechnics or Colleges of Education offer students.
According to the Nigerian Observer, universities aim to produce the cultured, public-spirited and conscientious intellectual that would transform the immediate environment and contribute to global culture and civilization. On the other hand, the polytechnic is geared towards the production of an enlightened workforce that would advance the instrument of economic production and infrastructural development, and help the society on the path of industrialization.
However, once in a while, something happens that distorts the notion that University graduates are better than other tertiary graduates. For instance, the emergence of Eluagu William, a sculptor from Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH), a school founded in 1947, as a world class sculptor after his “The World is in Your Hands” cenotaph, an artwork he had done for his 2013 project work while in school started making waves this year.
The Sculpture/Art graduate, who has worked with several other materials like clay, aluminium foil and charcoal, made use of plastic recycled bottles to make the masterpiece. While the narrative on recycling is beginning to change in Nigeria, what William has done is prove to Nigerians that artists can make use of everyday waste that usually clog gutters and drainage systems due to careless disposal, to create something beautiful and useful. The materials used were mainly table water, 7UP, Sprite and Mountain Dew plastic bottles.
Eluagu is also a blogger, who shares his thoughts and work with his audience and fans around the world. On his blog, he credits himself as a full time studio artist with a multiple faceted interest in art, ranging from realism to modern-recycle art as well as architectural finishing and conceptual designs in furniture.
If all Nigerian visual artists could make more use of materials like these, it could help tackle the problem of indiscriminate waste disposal. Eluagu William is another icon in the making that Nigerian youths can look up to as regards innovative thinking and commitment to one’s career path.