By Rotimi Ojomoyela – Ado Ekiti
The founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti(ABUAD), Aare Afe Babalola(SAN), on Wednesday identified the decay in the nation’s educational system as the source of the crises confronting the country.
The Legal luminary expressed regret that the government was not doing enough to the funding of education, saying paltry six percent was budgeted for education by the present government as against 26 present recommended by UNESCO.
Babalola said this in Ado Ekiti while playing host simultaneously to leaders of Bursars’ Association of Polytechnics and Colleges of Technology (BURSCON) and the Federal Government’s Gas expansion Committee, who paid a courtesy call to ABUAD.
The BURSCON President, Chief Adolphus Obi, and the leader of the FG’s Gas Expansion Committee, Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim, applauded Babalola for laying a solid foundation for the growth of education in Nigeria.
Addressing the gathering of professionals, administrators, and academics, the Legal Icon said: “The problem we have today is decay in quality education in this country. That was why after turning down Ministerial appointments thrice, I agreed to go to the University of Lagos as Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council where I had an insight into what was happening to our education system.
“At times, they used to close down the schools under the guise of strike action for almost a year, this is criminal. I want to be an example, a leader in the transformation of education and that was why I established ABUAD.
“Added to the foregoing was also our leaders who are very selfish. There are many Nigerians who could buy me, they are expected to set up a university like this to give functional education to Nigerians at affordable fees, but they never did”.
Babalola said the position of Bursar in any institution is strategic, urging the financial administrators to commit themselves to transparency in the management of finances in their respective institutions.
“I want you to be committed to financial discipline. But the problem has been that some wanted to be Bursars to steal because money is there.
“Government is not doing enough to the funding of education. UNESCO directed governments to set aside 26 percent to fund education, but what have they done? During the Western region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo set 22 percent , the military came and reduced to nothing. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999 budgeted 12 percent and now just six per cent.
“Looking at all these, we are not serious with education in this country. What are we doing about endowments? We must set up endowments in our schools. The endowment is the main source of funding for universities. If you check American universities, they were being majorly funded through endowments”.
On the issue of oil and gas in relation to Nigeria’s economy, the Legal Icon said the country has more gas resources than petrol that can be turned into wealth, regretting that such enormous opportunities were being squandered due to the country’s wasteful dispositions.
Declaring the 44th conference, attended by Bursars from 40 Polytechnics opened, the Host Rector, Dr. Hephzibah Oladebeye, and the BURSCON President, Chief Adolphus Obi, lamented poor funding of polytechnic education, saying such was responsible for the slow pace of technological development in Nigeria.
The Rector said: “Your role as Bursars in ensuring stability in the finances of polytechnics to bring development can’t be overemphasized. We want you to maintain a good working relationship with the Chief executives, for this remains the best way to promote technical education in our dear nation”.