A legal luminary and university administrator, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), has condemned the federal government for allegedly ignoring the directive given by the United Nations Education and Socio-Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) that 26 per cent of the budgetary allocation should go to the funding of education.
Babalola, who identified funding as the greatest scourge devouring the country’s education sector, said many of the states, including the federal government, did budget as low as seven per cent to the sector, which he described as pivotal to the development of the country.
Speaking during the 6th convocation ceremonies of his university, Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), the legal icon advised that the federal government should set up a centralised body to conduct unified examinations for all undergraduates of the university, saying this remains the best way to inject standardisation into the system.
At the event, the President, African Development Bank (AfDB) and former Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, and the Chief Executive Officer of Channels Television, Mr. John Momoh, were conferred with honorary doctoral degrees of the university.
Babalola disclosed that the two eminent Nigerians were rewarded based on their sterling contributions to the development of the country, particularly the youth population.
The university also graduated a total of 1,042 students, with 72 bagging first class honour degrees from different departments.
He regretted that Nigeria has one of the most poorly funded universities globally, stating that this necessitated the low ranking the country’s citadels of learning were being accorded on webometrics rating.
“The quality of education is most desirable but is also an expensive enterprise. It is no news that education sector is in crisis due to poor funding. Whereas, UNESCO recommended that at least 26 per cent of national budget should be dedicated to education, but Nigeria budgets less than 7 per cent.
“I urge the FG to revisit the moribund education bank to enable students access loans at reduced rates to finance their education and also to start their own businesses after graduation.
“This is the surest way to put an end to rising unemployment particularly for graduates after leaving universities,” he said.
Babalola appealed to the federal government to establish an airport in Ado Ekiti as well as reconstruct Ado-Ijan-Ikare road for easy access to the university.
“The federal road leading to this university, Ado-Ikare road is in bad condition. Of course there is no rail line and there is also no airport. With the provision of the two in Ekiti, Nigerians will benefit from the 400-bed multi system hospital which has the latest equipment here in this university.
“The FG approved airport for this state in 2009 for the benefit of all Nigerians, who can benefit from our quality healthcare delivery and functional education we are offering in ABUAD,” he said.
Responding on behalf of the honourees, the former minister, Dr. Adesina, noted that the future of Africa does not depend on population and natural resources, but how best they can use the available resources to convert their visions to reality.
Adesina urged the graduands to imbibe the culture of good character, transparency, humility and excellence that had been impacted on them during their stay in ABUAD.
“You must consider yourselves lucky to have attended a university that has become a role model to other universities in Africa. ABUAD is a world class university and with what you have been able to learn here, I believe you have a promising future if you don’t renege on those virtues,” he said.