By Victor OgunjeÂ in Ado Ekiti
The Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday inaugurated the 400-bed Afe Babalola UniversityÂ Teaching Hospital(ABUTH), Ado Ekiti, saying it would help in stopping Nigerians from seeking medical treatments abroad.
Osinbajo, who was represented at the occasionÂ by the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, saidÂ Nigerians spentÂ multibillion naira onÂ overseas medical trips annually, revealing that the hospital, which he described a masterpiece would fill the gap and enhance healthcare delivery system in the country.
This was as the Governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose and former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission(NUC), Prof Peter Okebukola, solicited special funding from the federal government to drive private universities in the country for better efficiencyÂ .
Okebukola, who delivered a lecture entitled: â€˜The Place andÂ Continued Relevance of Private Universities Globallyâ€™, stated that there was need for private universities to be given grant-in-aid and have unfettered access to Tertiary Education Trust Fund(TETFUND) .
Osinbajo while performing the commissioning praised the founder, Chief Afe Babalola(SAN) for his vision and love for humanity, saying the step taken was a watershed in the history of the nation.
â€œThis hospital will go a long way in conserving funds being spent by Nigerians on medical trips abroad.Â
With this, Nigerians can now be treated by Nigerians.” he said.
â€œIt takes a man with vision and large heartÂ for his nation and people to do this. It will help in addressing the poor heath indicators in our system,â€ the VP said.
Fayose, who noted that ABUAD remained the second largest employer of labour in Ekiti State, said the hospital could not be compared with any in Nigeria andÂ African continent.
â€œIt could have been disastrous to Ekiti if this university is built elsewhere. The facilities in this university and the new hospital have no rival. ThoseÂ medical treatments you go to London, South Africa and America to do can now be done here in Ekiti.â€
Okebukola, in his lecture saidÂ out of the 23,000 universitiesÂ that exist globally that private universities represented less than 25 per cent, adding that â€œthey are doing excellently well in human security by way of complementing the public universities forÂ human capital developmentâ€.
He added further: â€œ68 per centÂ of scholarsÂ thatÂ had won Nobel laurels in Physics, Sciences and Medicine were trainedÂ in private universities.
â€œApart from this, many of the world icons, I mean presidents and Prime Ministers of great nations were trained in private universities , so they are making good contributions to nation building and their effects canâ€™t be underestimatedâ€, he said.
Okebukola said it was wrong for the federal government to restrict the TETFUND solely to public schools since the two were working for the same purposes of producing human resources to drive the countryâ€™s economy.
â€œMany captains of industries and workers in the multinational organizations were trainedÂ by private universities. If you look at their contributions, they pay taxes and since they do this, they should be given grant-in-aid and access to other sources of funding.
â€œThey are good competitors for private universities. They fostered discipline and maintain standards through stable academic calendars .
â€œGiving them financial support will help in reducing their tuition fees which were adjudged too high now.
â€œThe FG can give them those financial supports with conditions that there will be staff retention, stable academic calendar , sustained performances and reduction in tuition fees and all these will help in shaping our education sectorâ€.
Okebukola predicted that the future of private universities is bright in Nigeria and that no effort should be spared in helping them to rise to stardom to boost the countryâ€™s ranking globally.