Gives full scholarships to 27 escaped Chibok girls
Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has decried the rising level of illiteracy in the country, noting that Nigeria will be a country of uneducated, angry and hopeless people by 2050 if new solutions are not developed.
The former vice president gave the warning in a keynote speech he delivered at the 2016 London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) Africa Summit held between April 22 and 23.
Abubakar, who spoke on the topic: “Philanthropy and Human Capital Development in Africa: A Contribution from Yola, Nigeria, disclosed diverse social interventions he had provided to help realise sustainable development in the country.
He explained that such social interventions included full scholarship he granted to 27 Chibok girls, who bravely escaped from the captivity of Boko Haram insurgents.
He therefore argued that there “are far broader benefits to the wider society from higher education. Higher education not only boosts individual incomes of its graduates, but also the overall GDP of African nations.”
He said a recent study revealed that a one-year increase in “Africa’s stock of institutions of higher education, with no other actions, would raise output growth by 0.63 per cent per year, boosting incomes about three per cent after five years and by 12 per cent over a decade.”
He noted that increasing economic growth “is absolutely essential for all African countries, but development is more than merely increasing incomes and enlarging GDPs. Development is also about improving health, preserving and enhancing the environment, developing good governance, and increasing human welfare, especially for the poor.”
Abubakar therefore explained the rate at which Nigeria, like many other Africa countries, “is experiencing very rapid population growth. My country’s population is doubling about every 27 years. Right now we do not have enough trained teachers to teach, and classrooms in which to learn.
“Unless we develop new solutions for education, by 2050 when we are projected to be the 3rd largest country in the world, we will be a country full of uneducated, angry, and hopeless young people,” he explained.
He cited different social intervention he had been providing through the establishment of American University of Nigeria (AUN) to help realise the country’s development goals, noting that Chibok “is a community to our north, and a handful of these girls managed to escape their Boko Haram captors.”
At AUN, he disclosed that about 27 of these remarkably brave and resilient young women “are on full scholarship and being educated. One of them recently expressed what education means in our area of the world. She said education gives me the wings to fly, the power to fight, and the voice to speak.”
He therefore said that was the reason behind the establishment of the AUN, acknowledging that philanthropy and entrepreneurship “have an important role to play in promoting human capital development in Africa.”
However, Abubakar noted that African states, like states everywhere, “have the primary responsibility for security, education, healthcare and environmental protection and the provision of good governance.”
He said private efforts, including philanthropy, “are not a substitute for carefully targeted and efficiently managed public investments in these vital areas. Investment in human capital is not simply a cost.”
Rather, he said it “is an investment, the most important of all investments to produce skilled and healthy workers and knowledgeable and engaged citizens is critical for Africa. Economic growth, and employment and wealth creation are not just socially important.
“They are also critical for the national security of African states. High levels of illiteracy, unemployment and social alienation of the populace, especially young people, are linked to widespread discontent, criminal behaviour and indeed militant insurgency,” Abubakar explained.