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Cut down profligacy, wastages to fund free education, varsity dons urge FG

"According to the professors, free education is possible in the country if only government could cut down wastages and halt profligacy. It is one sure way for government to demonstrate seriousness in using education to solve the myriads of problems bedelving the nation"

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In spite of the economic problems and the huge debt burden that beleaguer Nigeria, the Federal Government should consider introducing free education as part of its interventions in revamping the nation’s education sector, two university dons have advocated.

Prof. Oluyemisi Obilade, a former Vice-Chancellor of Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED), Ijebu-Ode and Prof. Kolawole Kazeem, ex-Provost, Osun State College of Education, Ilesa, said the free education introduced by the late sage and erstwhile Premier of the defunct Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, should be brought back.

The two notable dons spoke while featuring on the 19th edition of the monthly interview programme, Boiling Point Arena, hosted by a media professional and an accomplished public relations strategist, Dr Ayo Arowojolu, monitored by Persecondnews.

One of Nigeria’s notable monarchs, the Olowu of Owu Kingdom, Abeokuta in Ogun State, Oba (Prof.) Saka Matemilola was the keynote speaker at the online current affairs programme which held via Zoom and transmitted live on a radio station, Sweet 107.1FM

According to the professors, free education is possible in the country if only government could cut down wastages and halt profligacy

The policy, they said, is one sure way for government to demonstrate seriousness in using education to solve the myriads of problems bedelving the nation.

Reviewing the state of decadence in Nigeria’s educational system, Prof Obilade, for her part, tasked government that it has become necessary to show by sacrifice an appropriate prioritization of education in which the sector would account for, if possible, the highest percentage of the national budget in the interest of the country’s future leaders.

She said: “I hold this strong opinion that free education is still possible in Nigeria. It is very very possible. If you take a critical view at the allocation of resources, free education is possible. Very very possible.

“There are wastages that we are not looking at but when we start cutting costs and cutting needless wastages in governance, you find out that you have a lot more to offer to the populace who must count in terms of getting qualitative education”

“If you remove all the money that people waste on non-essentials, reality shows, on mundane things that people waste, on big vehicles that cannot ply the roads, that people waste on big mansions that they are not sure they will live in it, that people waste on bribing people and holding parties, free education is the surest indication that our leaders can structurally revamp education and drastically reduce the rate of out-of-school children”.

Obilade, who lamented that education has been greatly devalued in Nigeria opined that the reason for the present rot in the education sector is the exhibition of wrong priorities by government.

“The government has failed to prioritize education. We have the wrong priority. We are a nation that exhibits the wrong priority in most of the things we do, even in our budgets.

“Please go and check for the past 10 years the budget on education and even health and we know health is linked also to education. A child that is malnourished, a child that is sick, that child cannot learn very well, cannot stay in school.

“Those two key areas that have to do with development how much are we budgeting to it?

“Our profligate spendings must be looked into. What business does government have about sponsoring people for pilgrimages when our classrooms are falling down, when our children are studying in decrepit environment we call classrooms.

“Sometimes we say we are the Giant of Africa. What sort of giants are we? So we need to reprioritize. We need to put the right value on education and it must be reflected in everything we do, our policies, our budgets, our actions, our inactions, our talk and we must walk the talk.

“What sort of nation are we? Our education has been devalued and it shows in the treatment we met out to our students who are the future leaders.

“When I hear about N160m SUVs for legislators, sometimes I hear about money that people have stolen and I am amazed. And I wonder what do they need that humongous money for? Is there something wrong with us as a nation? What is the essence of life If it is not a life of impact,” she also asserted.

In his own view, Prof. Kazeem, currently of the University of Ibadan, bemoaned the level of decadence in the sector, submitting that those who said education is a scam aren’t wrong at all whereas education is supposed to be the saviour of the society.

He posited: “I can say with all sense of responsibility that this country has not been lacking in talking but we have been doing things to show that things are not going well. it is about reprioritizing things for ourselves. We are a society whose education is in shambles, a destroyed and finished society.

“I think it is time we spoke to ourselves the truth that we are a nation digging our graves by ourselves, by not attending and looking at education as the savior of this society.

“And I say with a sense of responsibility that the rot started at the time when military boys who now see opportunities that going to school has a way of supporting their weight, helping them to get to positions, wanted to be part of the educational system at all costs.

“And so the gates were let loose to the extent that we now have graduates who parade certificates that they cannot defend.

“To cut a long story short, the rain started beating us when we devalued everything called educational system. We have been lying to ourselves and the consequences are now staring us in the face. Because the uneducated mind is the one that is responsible for destroying the system to the extent that we now have hordes of educated illiterates.

“When you say some people are corrupt, you ask yourself what manner of education did he get? Because there are some people who are educated but are illiterates.”

Kazeem pointed out: “Imagine somebody who is educated and is stealing billions of naira. If you are normal and you are actually educated, would you be looting and stealing what you don’t need?

“But here we are. We have lost it. And the moment we lost it, we lost education we are losing our lives. We are losing our soul as a nation.”

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