Education

I’m ashamed of Nigeria begging for COVID-19 vaccines –Okebukola

…says corruption, bane of university development

 

A retired Lagos State University (LASU) don and former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC) Prof. Peter Okebukola, has described as shameful for Nigeria to beg European, America countries or organisations for COVID-19 vaccines.

 

This was as he said that Nigerian scholars and universities could produce vaccines, but what they lacked are the political will, necessary funds and the enabling environment for research to thrive.

 

The retired don, who expressed dismay over the development, however, lamented that the funds or money that should have gone into Nigerian universities for cuttingedge research and production of such vaccines had been drained off and kept in foreign private bank accounts in Swiss, Europe, Asian and North America.

“I am ashamed that Nigeria is today begging European, American, Asian countries, as well as other organisations for COVID-19 vaccines when Nigerian universities can produce such given the enabling environment.

This is because the money that is supposed to go into the universities for academic exercise and research has been siphoned and kept in private foreign accounts in those countries.

He spoke on Saturday during the launch of a book, titled: “Pivotal Issues in Higher Education Development in Nigeria – Essays in Honour of Distinguished Professor Peter Okebukola,” edited by Professors Sola Akinrinade, Siyan Oyeweso, Samuel Odewumi and Anthony Kola-Olusanya.

 

The book was launched in his honour and to celebrate his 70th birthday as well as his retirement from Lagos State University on February 17, 2021.

 

The event, which was held via the Zoom platform, attracted members of academia, especially colleagues, associates, students and friends of the retired Professor of Science and Computer Education and Fellow, International Academy of Education.

 

They include Prof. Nimi Briggs; Prof. Juma Shabani from Burundi; Fred Awaah from Ghana; Prof. Sola Akinrinade, who chaired the book launch; Prof. Siyan Oyeweso; Prof. Idowu Olayinka; Mr. Ayo Ogunruku, former Registrar of OAU; Prof. Samuel Odewumi; Prof. Okesina; Prof. Ayodeji Tela; Prof. Hakeem Ibikunle Tijani; Prof. Olumuyiwa Noah; Prof. Kola-Olusanya and Prof. Emmanuel Ologunorisa, among others.

 

Okebukola, who expressed gratitude to the editors and contributors to the book and organisers of the book launch, however, regretted the poor funding status of Nigerian uni versity system, saying that funding is a major challenge confronting the development of the system.

 

Apart from the problem of inadequate funding, he said that corruption was alsoone factor stagnating the development and growth of the university system.

 

“Corruptionshouldbereducedorat least wrestled down since the menace cannotbetotallyeliminatedsothat the required money would come to the universities for research and other developmental purposes,” he added.

On the free tuition in universities, the retired don, who also noted that funding of university education should be cost-sharing, said this had become exigent since the government could not adequately fund the system.

“The government should either be ready to provide the needed funds based on the cost of training a university graduate which depends on the course of study, but if not, other stakeholders should also be ready to share the cost.

Also, on the crisis rocking appointment of Vice-Chancellors, Okebukola traced the rush to the peck usually enjoyed in the office by the vice-chancellors, but added that the appointment of such principal officer of the university should be transparent and merit-based.

 

Similarly, the retired Distinguished Professor spoke on the crisis between the Governing Council of a university and the management, pointing out that it is usually triggered by ego and involvement of money or university resources.

 

Reacting to the quality and development of the nation’s education sector, he said though there are challenges, the country is not the worst scenario when it comes to the standard and development of the education sector.

 

On the scrapped satellite campuses, Okebukola, who said that the activities of satellite campuses were inimical to the development of university growth in terms of quality assurance control, regretted that the centres, which were scrappedduringhistenureattheNUC, weremerelygivenoutcertificateswithout quality assurance mechanism. “Though, some of them are still in operation, but if I still have my way I will still clamp down on them,” he added.

 

Meanwhile, Professor Akinrinade said the book was written by renowned scholars to reflect on the challenges, development and way forward for Nigerian higher education, and by extension Africa and the world in general.

 

“The book focuses on the state of education which has become a matter for concern. Like Prof. Okebukola once said that the progress of education is slow down not because we lack an idea, but the political will to nurture the idea.

 

We the friends, colleagues, associates, mentees of the have done the book to honour our retired mentor, who also clock 70 years,” Akinrinade said

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