Declare state of emergency on country’s education, Gbajabiamila urges FG

The Speaker, House of Representatives, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila has urged the Federal government to declare a state of emergency on education in Nigeria.

The Speaker said it would show the urgency in the need to revamp the educational system if the declaration is made.

Gbajabiamila said this at the 80th Anniversary Lecture of the Crescent Bearers (1939), Lagos, themed: Education as a resource for Growth and Development Of a Nation: The Nigerian Case, held yesterday.

Femi said the country will only get its educational system right until everyone sees it as a fundamental human right and not a privilege.

He added that there should also be a unanimous agreement that education is beyond the four walls of the universities.

“We need to declare a state of emergency in education in Nigeria. If this is done, it would mean the urgency of the moment.

“It is important to state that education is not a privilege but a right. If we can agree that education is a fundamental human right even if we have to codify that or amend the constitution that it is fundamental and essential human right, then it becomes an obligation for us to fund it.

“We must also agree that education sometimes goes beyond classroom education. If we can agree that it is not just what you learn within the four walls of the university and agree that it takes a village to train a child, then we are closer to where we want to get to,” Gbajabiamila said.

While explaining the law-making process involved in the assessment of universities in the country, The Lawmaker said that the request of universities is brought to the fore by the community, state governments and also professors.

He noted that they bring that to the National Assembly and the Assembly acts on the request.

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Femi noted that there is a first reading, second reading and the issue of assessment comes in during the Public hearing.

The Speaker stated that It is at the level of the public hearing that the stakeholders have the opportunity to come and advance their argument because thereafter a report is made and presented, where its survival or death will be determined.

While presenting his lecture, the Guest Speaker, Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, stated that the solution to the decadence in the educational sector of the country is for the government to accord priority to the sector.

Mahmood said that this should be done because that is the only way to nurture the country’s heavy population.

He noted that education should be the right of all citizens including those responsible for the provision of education.

“The way forward is for the nation to continue to accord priority to the education sector.

“Education is key. Nigeria is heavily populated but the population has to be nurtured and the best way to nurture the population is through education.

“Education should be the right of all citizens and those who are responsible for providing education because it is on the concurrent list- Federal, State and private proprietorship to continue to accord priority to the education system,” Mahmood said.

The Chairman stated that the problem of the country’s educational system is not funding as claimed but the management of the funds.

He added that the management deficiency is not only notable in the educational sector but all other sectors too.

Mahmood, therefore, urged that resources should be judiciously applied in all sectors for the betterment and growth of the country.

“The Problem of our country’s educational system is not funding but the management of those funds.

“The problem is not money. If someone doesn’t know what to do, there will be no impact if you give the person N10bn.

“Mismanagement of funds do not only apply to the educational system but virtually in all sectors.

“What we want is judicious application of resources rather than continuously providing funding.

“So, we have to identify, prioritize and look for the resources that best priority areas rather than just funding for its own self,” the Chairman said.

He, however, admonished that Nigerian Tertiary institutions must be able to generate funding beyond statutory resources as it is done by all universities in the world.

While giving his brief remarks, Professor Wale Babalakin (SAN) reiterated that the problem of the country’s education is not funding but the genuine application of funds.

He cited the instance of how he was able to make a university in Maiduguri liquid being the pro-chancellor despite the meagre fund available.

“Just like the Guest Speaker said, The problem confronting our educational system in Nigeria is not funding but the genuine application of funds.

“When I got to Maiduguri as the pro-chancellor, the first thing I was told was that there was no money that the place is in desert.

“Now, In Four years, we commissioned 35 major projects including auditorial, a new medical faculty and we had electricity for 22 out of 24 hours.

“We had so much money that we even built hotel in Abuja,” Babalakin said.

Wale lamented that some Nigerian graduates cannot defend their academic excellence while entering the Labour market.

“Today, we have a lot of people with fascinating degrees but have not been able to contribute to your innovation and not demonstrated that education must bring out certain values in you.

“You don’t seem to know how bad the educational system is. If you knew how bad it is, you will cry for this nation.

“Monday Tuesday, I was involved in an interview in a company I was interested in and we had 500 applications but we were looking for 20.

“Throughout the first day, I saw 50 people not three of the 50 who answered elementary questions in their area of study.

“What saddened me was the Degree they paraded. It was 2:1 and first class. So, what does this mean?

He concluded by saying “let us face the challenging problem, let us face the systemic problem and let us start again.

He added, “greatest fear is those who have great ideas of what a good secondary school or good university is like and now in their late 50s and 60s.”

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