The founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), Mr. Afe Babalola (SAN), attributed Nigeria’s woes to government’s nonchalant about education.
Babalola stated this yesterday in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State while he was host to the executives of Bursars’ Association of Polytechnics and Colleges of Technology (BURSCON) and the National Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP) at ABUAD.
He said Nigeria would not itself in its current parlous state if its leaders had paid adequate attention to the country’s educational sector.
“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 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 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,” he said.
Babalola said the position of bursar in any institution is strategic.
He urged 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; military came and reduced to nothing. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999 budgeted 12 per cent 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. Endowment is 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 Babalola said the country has more gas resources than petrol that can be turned into wealth.
However, he regretted that such enormous opportunities are being squandered.
Responding, BURSCON president, Mr. Adolphus Obi and the team leader NGEP, Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim, commended Babalola for laying a solid foundation for the growth of education in the country.