BY MOSES IKEBELI and NDIDI UCHE
Professor Festus Iyayi of Faculty of Management Sciences, University of Benin, UNIBEN, has said that Nigeria can afford to run free education for its citizenry without any challenges, adding that if the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi could afford to single handedly give scholarships to Nigerian students since 1973, there should be no reason why the country cannot afford it.
Delivering a speech tittled: “After Education What Next” at the Gani Fawehinmi annual scholarship awards of 2012, where twenty students benefited from the award scheme, Professor Festus Iyayi emphasised the words of Nelson Mandela which says “education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world”.
The professor spoke on countless issues affecting the education sector in Nigeria today, and reiterated that Nigeria is a nation that can afford a free education system. He also talked about how members of society relate to and use time. His words “ given the fact that everything gets done in society through units of time, those societies that do more with the time that is available tend to do better than others”.
Prof. Festus also spoke concerning the state of different Universities campus in the country, “at any time on any university campus, or the campus of any other higher institution for that matter, some religious ceremony is going on noisily even with a class nearby”.
He also complained about how some students use stoves in place of bunsen burners in the laboratories “ no one remotely draws attention to the library without books or power, or to the classrooms that are overcrowded, to the laboratories where stoves are used in place of bunsen burners or hostels where even pigs will refuse to sleep”.
On the way forward for the education system in Nigeria, Prof. Festus had this to say “better funding of the educational sector, better motivation of the participants involved in the process of education, redesign of the structure of the educational system to provide for more practical oriented learning especially at the lower levels, review of curriculum to ensure that its contents match and anticipate the needs of the economy and the bureaucracy, more effective regulation of the standards and of course, as in the millennium development goals, providing access to more members of the society to acquire an education”.
The president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) DR. Nassiru Fagge Isa, was the chairman of the event and he had this to say “ we at ASUU have ways of ensuring that the efforts of people like Fawehinmi are never left unattended”.
He also shed light on a new group ASUU has come up with called the “Council for Popular Education”, he said the group will work closely with other groups like the TUC in reference to the dreams of the late chief Gani Fawehinmi. He also noted that in 2009, the Edo state government organised an event in conjunction with the ASUU chapter of the state, to celebrate the late Chief Gani shortly after his death.
Prof. Chukwuka Okonjo the Obi of Ogwashi-Ukwu on his part called on all to follow the footsteps of Gani Fawehinmi saying “if we follow the footsteps of Gani, in 23years time we will catch up with Canada the most educated nation in the world”.
He also noted that the wealthiest nations in the world all pay special attention to education. He had this to say concerning the late Fawehinmi “what brings us here today is that there is a person called Gani, who pointed out long ago before we did that intellectuals must play a part in society”.
In response to all the activities carried out, the son of late Gani Fawehinmi spoke on behalf of the family saying “it is very sad in this country that we are spending trillions on non productive employees” he thanked all those who contributed one way or another to the scholarship exercise.
Speaking to one of the beneficiaries of the scholarship award scheme after the event, Gado Hussani Titus from the university of Abuja had this to say “ I am very happy and exceedingly excited, I thank God I am among the chosen 20 and I hope with this, I will be able to face all my academic challenges”.
The Gani Fawehinmi Scholarship Awards was started in 1973 by the late Fawehinmi and it is an annual event which occurs every year. The commissioner of finance for Osun state, Dr Wale Bolorunduro is also a beneficiary of the scholarship scheme by the late chief Gani Fawehinmi.