The Pro-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Dr. Wale Babalakin (SAN), has said Nigeria needs over N2.5 trillion annually to provide quality education at all levels.
Babalakin spoke at the weekend at a Fund Raising Dinner organised by the Alumni of the College of Medicine, UNILAG. He was the chairman of the occasion.
The senior lawyer and businessman explained that the government clearly does not have enough resources to adequately fund first- class education and other sources of funding must be explored.
Babalakin said: “The College of Medicine, UNILAG, is a very good product to celebrate. But to keep the flag flying, to maintain the standards, we need substantial funding. Government alone cannot afford to fund education. To have quality education in Nigeria today at all levels, it requires between N2.5t per year. That is close to 50 per cent of total receipts of monies coming to this system, yet we cannot delay the funding of education.
“We cannot give low quality education because there is no money, so we must look at all sources. We must look at governmental sources, private sources and every other source to achieve the objective of funding a first class educational system. We have all it takes in terms of personnel and basic infrastructure. What we require is substantial funding. I look forward to a day when Nigerian universities will be sufficiently robust financially; a day when government funding will only be, at best, an addition.”
Babalakin reminded the guests of the good old days when the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, was one of the top five hospitals in the Commonwealth, which includes England, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Canada.
He said it was possible to have that high quality of education and performance again, if we make it a priority.
His words: “We have done it before and we can do it again. Between 1972 and 1975, UCH was the 4th to 5th rated hospital in the Commonwealth. So, I don’t want you to place your ambition at the local level. I don’t want you to aim for the roof. Let’s start aiming for the sky. “
Let us have a vision that will take us out of this situation we are in; a vision that will reposition our educational system.
“Let’s have what we had as UNILAG students in 1978. About 20 per cent of our law class did their A-levels abroad and came back to UNILAG to read law. That was how great the faculty was. Now you have so many people who think that unless they’ve gone abroad, they’ve not started education. We have to reverse this trend and we can only do so with the right resources. With the people I see here and the commitment I see here, I have no doubt whatsoever that we are on the right part and this is the beginning.”
Babalakin assured donors to the college that their funds would be judiciously spent and they would be invited to see the projects their funds were expended on. He appealed to the Lagos State government to fix the road leading to the College of Medicine, which is in a deplorable state.
The pro-chancellor said he was impressed that the likes of Prof. Dapo Ashiru and Dr Sunny Kuku, who left the College of Medicine a long time ago, were still actively involved in improving the college, adding that their enthusiasm was infectious.
The Provost of the College, Prof. F.E. Lesi, said the college had pioneered many great innovations but its major challenge was funding. He explained that funding was needed for capital projects and maintenance of facilities.
Lesi also identified space constraints as one of the college’s challenges and urged the Lagos State governor to look into it.