Buhari: FG Spent N1.3tn on Education in Five Years

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Muhammadu Buhari

Inaugurates CBN centre of excellence in ABU CBN plans support for health sector, says Emefiele

James Emejo in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday disclosed that a total sum of N1.3 trillion had been committed to funding education since the inception of his administration.

He said the figure excluded monies spent on overheads and personnel costs.

He assured that his administration will continue to accord premium to education by ensuring adequate funding of the sector, notwithstanding the current fiscal challenges.

He said the objective was to make education affordable, qualitative and competitive with what is obtainable in developed countries.

Speaking while inaugurating the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Centre of Excellence, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Buhari praised the CBN for supporting the federal government’s investments in the educational sector as well as other key areas of the economy, which are tied to the overall national development.

He urged the apex bank to sustain funding support for research and overall economic development.

He said due to the perennial funding challenges over the years, the quality of facilities in universities across the country had deteriorated.

Buhari further assured that government will continue to fund the budget despite the fiscal constraints, adding that education remained the bedrock of development and a means through which people can overcome poverty.

He said investment in education remained critical for driving technological advancement and innovation towards economic growth.

The president said his administration will not relent until it delivers on its commitments to the people.

He added that the immense challenges in the education sector called for the kind of partnership which gave birth to the CBN project.

Earlier, CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele said the bank’s involvement in the funding and infrastructural support in the educational sector was borne out of the conviction that an educated workforce played a critical role in the advancement of the Nigerian economy and the society in general.

He said the CBN’s analysis of the factors responsible for the growth of successful economies, indicated that investment in education played a prominent role in driving innovation and growth in advanced and emerging economies, while also contributing to significant reductions in inequality.

The CBN governor noted that as a knowledge-driven organisation, the apex bank had to ensure the sustenance of improvements in institutions of higher learning across the country.

Emefiele said the Centre of Excellence project was also designed to accommodate the CBN Collaborative Postgraduate Programme (CBN-CPP), which he described as a child of necessity in the bank’s intervention programme in the educational sub-sector.

He further explained that the project was conceived to produce a critical mass of skilled professionals that will be able to apply their knowledge towards supporting growth and continued innovation in the nation’s financial sector and the economy in general.

He said: “This was against the recognition that the dearth of skilled manpower constituted a binding constraint towards making Nigeria the number one hub for economic activity in Africa.”

He explained that ABU, University of Ibadan (UI), and the University of Nigeria (UNN), Nsukka, were selected under the first phase of the intervention programme across the six geo-political zones, adding that the programme was later expanded to cover six other tertiary institutions across the country, which are already nearing completion.

Emefiele said the project was mainly to ensure that students at postgraduate levels in economics, accounting, banking and finance, business administration and statistics, study in a serene environment that would stimulate effective learning with a view to building human capacity for the financial services sub-sector. The CBN boss further disclosed plans by the bank, to also intervene health sector in the near future.

He said support would be provided through the establishment of six diagnostic centres across the geo-political zones of the country.

According to him, the decision of the CBN to support the health sector was based on the realisation that education and health formed the bedrock of development in any society.

He said the three Centres of Excellence in Zaria, Enugu and Ibadan will commence operation in October.

He said the CBN expected the universities to take maximum advantage of the world-class facilities provided by the bank to challenge their counterparts in London, New York and Dubai, in the provision of training programmes in banking and finance-related disciplines for the global business community.