Osinbajo, Obi lament, seek massive investment in education

By Valentine Amanze

Nigeria’s Vice President Prof Yemi Osinbajo, and the Vice Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in 2019 elections, Mr. Peter Obi, have lamented the government’s poor investment in education.

Both however appealed to the Federal Government to reverse the trend for speedy development of the country.

They spoke at the TECHISD 2020 Online international Conference organized by the Centre of Lion Gadgets and Technologies in partnership with the Department of Electronic Engineering of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

Osinbajo and Obi agreed that while investing in education, the Nigerian government must pay more attention on specialized technological educational trainings that would enable students and youths to fit into the emerging world and compete favourably with their global counterparts in science and technology.

They pointed out that the world was fast changing technologically, stressing that anyone who did not catch up with the new wave of technology would be left behind.

Obi also commended Osinbajo for showing leadership by sharing his knowledge with the participants, while insisting that human capital development via quality education remained the easiest way of fostering development in a country.

The Anambra State former governor further said that the amount of financial investment countries of comparative stand commit to education showed far more seriousness than Nigeria.

Using South Africa as an example, Obi said: “Besides extra-budgetary funding for education, what is our provision for education in our budgets? Between 2010 and 2016, for instance, South Africa invested over five percent; Egypt more than 3.5%; and Nigeria barely one percent” of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Education. From 2010 to 2014, Nigeria budgeted N1.860 trillion for the sector – or US$11.1 billion at the exchange rate of N160 to the dollar.

“In 2015 and 2016, the combined budgetary allocation was N761 billion – or US$2.1 billion at the rate of N360 to a Dollar.

“Therefore, over a period of seven years, 2010-2016, Nigeria, then with a population of about 190 million people, spent just US$13.2 billion on Education. Juxtapose this with South Africa, the second biggest economy in Africa which, with a population of 55 million invested over US$15 billion on that critical sector in 2015 alone; and Egypt, the third biggest economy with a population of 95 million people spending about US$12 billion in that same year only. Obviously, Nigeria is still in slumber as far as investment in education is concerned.”

Obi, however, called on the government to prioritize education, which he said, could give more returns on investment than oil.

He argued that countries like Venezuela had more oil than Nigeria and indeed many countries, but Venezuela remains undeveloped, a proof that oil proceeds alone cannot guarantee national development.

His words: “Our world today is more technology and knowledge-driven. All the countries ranking high in sustainable development have all made serious investments in their education sector.

“These developed countries have prioritized human infrastructural development through education which is more important. If our leaders can pay more critical attention to education in Nigeria, the return on investments will be far better than oil proceeds the nation currently gets”.

On his level of commitment as the former governor of Anambra State, Obi reiterated that he had always preached and practised investment in education.

He recounted how he provided over 30,000 computers he provided for schools in Anambra State, which he said, was the highest number of computers any government had bought at a time in sub Saharan Africa.

He also pointed out that under his administration, schools in Anambra State were connected to the internet and computer teachers massively employed and trained to teach ICT in schools.

Obi called on leaders not to see financial commitments to education as expenses, but as investment, which has short term, medium term and long term returns.

Canada-based IT expert, Mr. Magnus Ekwunife, who spoke on e-learning, appealed to Nigerian leaders to emulate what Obi did in education, which earned him international awards and accolades.

He recalled how Prof Paul Collier of Oxford University was contracted by the United Nations to study what Obi did, which he said was comprehensive rehabilitation of education in the state, with emphasis on the introduction of ICT to make it globally compliant.

In his address, the Director of Lion Gadgets and Technologies, Dr. Edward Anoliefo, a Catholic priest, who recalled the aim of the establishment of the centre, their output so far and the continued efforts to achieve their target, urged Nigeria to continue to seek ways to solve local problems through the use of technology.

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