The Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, University of Lagos, Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN), has charged the Kwara State Government to make the State University (KWASU), Malete, a pilot case for restructuring education in Nigeria.
Babalakin maintained that the country must start again by revamping its education sector through adequate funding and manpower development to compete globally.
He made the call while delivering the seventh Convocation Lecture of the University on Saturday, June 8, 2019.
The convocation of which the lecture was a part, featured the investiture of the newly appointed Chancellor of the Institution, Justice Alfa Belgore, former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) by the State Governor, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, represented by his Deputy, Mr. Kayode Alabi.
The ceremony also witnessed the awards of first and postgraduate degrees (Masters and PhDs), as well as the conferment of Honorary Doctor of Law Degree on Dr. Babalakin.
Describing as totally unacceptable, a situation whereby KWASU has not received any subvention from the state government within the last five years, the Convocation Lecturer said it was unthinkable to give birth and abandon the baby prematurely.
Babalakin, while advocating adequate funding for the Institution, urged the state government to make education free if it could but that it must not for any reason sacrifice quality for quantity.
Reiterating the need for education reform in the country, he lamented that Nigeria has lost its relevance completely, as its most highly ranked University occupies 800th position in the world.
Stating that it was a case of regression, the Convocation Lecturer recalled that the five first generation universities in the country were among the best in the world in the early 1970s, just as he cited University College Hospital, Ibadan, as the fourth globally back then.
He, however, regretted that today, the hospital was not reckoned with even at the level of primary healthcare services, recalling that the nation started getting it wrong from the period of the oil boom, prompting its then leader to proclaim that the country’s problem was not money but how to spend the money.
Describing the claim as false and misleading, he said Nigeria is among the poorest countries in the world, which he said confirmed the earlier warning by two world leaders that the country risked being poverty capital of the world if it failed to take proactive measures.
He also admonished that the country should have an education sector that can compete globally or stop educating its people, which he said must never be an option.
But in the face of all this, Babalakin urged Nigerians not to despair, saying “We must start again as a nation.”
He stressed that enabling environment should be created to attract qualified young men and women for the industrial, rural, and urban development of the nation, adding that the nation must redefine standard to rise again.
“We shall turn every stumbling block into a stepping stone for the attainment of a greater height,” he concluded.