THE founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) has lambasted the federal government for flouting the directive of the United Nations Education and Socio-Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) that 26 per cent of its budget should be allocated to the funding of education.
The legal icon, who spoke at the sixth convocation of ABUAD on Sunday, maintained that funding was the greatest problem facing the country’s education sector, and said many of the states, including federal government did budget as low as seven per cent for education, a sector he described as “pivotal to the development of the country.”
On the occasion, 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 honourary doctorate degrees of the university.
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Babalola advised that the federal government should set up a centralised body to conduct unified examinations for all undergraduates of universities, saying this was the best way to bring standardisation into the system.
He said Adesina and Mommoh were honoured because of their sterling contributions to the development of the country, particularly the youth population.
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.
He said: “The quality of education is most desirable but is also an expensive enterprise. It is no news that the education sector is in crisis due to poor funding. Whereas, UNESCO recommended that at least 26 percent of the national budget should be dedicated to education, but Nigeria budgets less than seven per cent.
“I urge the federal government to revisit the moribund education bank to enable students access loans at reduced rates to fiancé the 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.”
Babalola appealed to the federal government to establish an Airport in Ado Ekiti as well 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.”
Responding on behalf of the honourees, the former Minister, Dr Adesina, noted that the future of Africa didn’t 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 characters, 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.
A total of 1,042 graduates, 72 in first-class category, graduated on the day.
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