By Udora Orizu in Abuja
The sole recipient of the 2018 Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM), Professor Olufemi Obafemi, has appealed to the federal government and everyone concerned with development to adequately fund the educational system so that quality education can be delivered to the people.
Obafemi while addressing journalists at the 2018 reunion of University of Ilorin Alumni Association, Capitol Assembly in Abuja put together to honour him, noted that education is the fundamental tool for growth and development of any country.
According to him, “education is the foundation of growth; it is what helps the society to actualise itself; a nation without education has no civilisation. Fundamentally literacy is critical to development, if you do not read you are as good as dead because you are disconnected from the world out there.”
While lamenting the level of literacy and readership in the country, he said governments, cultural creators, educators and everyone concerned with development must give a helping hand to resuscitate the reading culture.
“Our youths nowadays are more interested in their phones – not the educative part of their phones; but rather the horrendous aspect of the internet; people have moved away, thinking that books are dead.
“There is no culture that can grow without books, no matter how sophisticated we get. No society can develop without a vibrant reading culture. No matter how digitalised you are, without books, which are the permanent record of knowledge, you cannot make it”, the emeritus professor added.
He also said government has a responsibility to promote book culture.
“Government should make books available in libraries, bookshops. They must contribute to the development of book industry, not just publishing books but also getting them to bookshops and so on.
“Government through laws and regulations must protect intellectual properties; books are protected, piracy of books must stop. Writers also should be motivated by government by buying thousands of books of writers and distribute to schools,” he added.
Obafemi expressed discontent on the present state of Nigerian universities, saying the country’s universities are no longer respected because of the quality of education and lack of inconsistency in the calendar.
He advised government to make rapid movement towards vocal and adequate funding for the educational system, while improving delivery, remuneration and inducements of workers.
The professor added, “even though people think that we are well paid in the universities it’s not true. We are one of the poorest across the world; we must do a lot to improve our economy so that we can attract people here and also make provision for the improvement of the resource facilities, infrastructure so that quality education can be delivered in the country.”
He however expressed his gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Merit Award Board for choosing him as this year’s awardee.
He said, “It’s very humbling for me to be the sole recipient of the 2018 National Merit Award winner; it is a great honour and I don’t take it for granted. I thank the board of national merit award for recommending me to the President and I thank the president for accepting the recommendation.’’