Afe Babalola Advocates Increased Funding For Education


-Conferencees propose way out of infrastructure problems in Africa’s education sector

Mr Samuel Sogunro, Rector of the Lagos State Polytechnic (sitting 2nd left) with other dignitaries at the opening of the 7th International Conference on Infrastructure Development In Africa (ICIDA) which was recently held at the Ikorodu main campus of the Lagos State Polytechnic

An elder statesman  and founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, Aare Afe Babalola, SAN, has called for increased funding for the nation’s education sector.


He said there must be active and deliberate commitment by Nigerian governments to actively invest in all levels of education to promote availability, affordability and accessibility of quality education.


The Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who was the keynote speaker at the opening of the 7th International Conference on Infrastructure Development In Africa (ICIDA), held at the Lagos State Polytechnic, Ikorodu Campus on Wednesday, March 28, 2018, made these assertions while speaking on the topic, “The State of Educational Infrastructure in Africa: The Way Forward”.


The theme of the 7th ICIDA Conference was “The Complexity of Infrastructure System: What Are We Fixing?”.


Babalola, who lamented the progressively dwindling quality of education in Nigeria which, according to him,was occasioned by the dearth of  necessary infrastructure, said: “For many years, Nigerian universities have at a geometric rate waned in quality, substance and prestige. Those of you here who attended and taught in any Nigerian university in the 1960’s and 1970’s would easily appreciate the extent of dilapidation of necessary physical structures and facilities in many of our universities today.


“A combination of infrastructural decay, lack of adequate funding, dearth of qualitative practical training curriculum and inability to attract the best teaching minds have all combined to stagnate our universities to the current appalling point whereby QS World University Ranking and Webometrics Rankings that rank universities based on facilities, programme and instructional content, perennially fail to rank or mention a single Nigerian university in the top 1,000 category.


“For many of us, this situation was an unbearable dishonour to the legacy of the first Premier of Western Region, Late (Chief) Obafemi Awolowo, that required urgent and aggressive turn around. It was the commitment to play a role in reforming Nigerian educational system that spurred me to initiate diverse reforms during my tenure as the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council of the University of Lagos. Many of the achievements we recorded during that period have been lauded globally and remain a reference point till today.”


He added: “No doubt, one of the major challenges facing the education sector is the severe dearth of infrastructure. In the last several years, schools and other vocational institutions have collapsed due to abject neglect by successive regimes.”


For Nigeria to wriggle out of the quagmire of the infrastructural decay and catch up with the rest of the world in terms of quality education, Babalola advocated the need for the country to comply with the international guideline by UNESCO, which directs each government to devote 26 per cent of its annual budget to funding education and invest in research and innovation.

Mr Sogunro, Lagos State Polytechnic Rector (standing 2nd left) and Prof. Gbadamosi, Chairman, Governing Council, Lagos State Polytechnic and other dignitaries in a group photograph at the conference

In addition, he encouraged the alumni of tertiary institutions to learn how to give back to their Alma Mata by donating handsomely to them as it is the practice in universities like Harvard, Yale and Stanford among others.


Mr Samuel Sogunro, Rector of the Lagos State Polytechnic, in his welcome address stated:


“I want to state here that Africa is blessed with people of high intelligence quotient, who are well endowed with ability to proffer solutions to problems challenging the very existence of man in Africa.


“I have no doubt in my mind that the convergence of eminent scholars at this conference will at the end, further prove to the world that Africans can actually put Africa in the domain of developed world.


“The perpetual perception of Africa as a peripheral continent by the Euro-centric theorists will definitely be deflated at this very conference considering the feelers that I got from the organizers of this conference on the caliber of scholars, keynote speakers and the quality of papers to be presented.


“Physical infrastructure covering transportation, power and communication, through backward and forward linkages, facilitate growth, while social infrastructure, including water supply, sanitation, sewage disposal, education and health, which are in the nature of primary services, have direct impacts on the quality of life”, said Sogunro.


The Rector challenged participants at the conference to look in the direction of using information and Communication Technology (ICT) to resolve the complexity of infrastructure development in Africa.


“At this vital conference, I challenge the participants to look in the direction of information revolution that is sweeping across the globe and now rapidly approaching Africa.


“The continent is recognizing the opportunities, challenges and complexities of the information society. While the impact of this revolution is tremendous, the existing infrastructure, socio-economic , cultural and political situation pose major difficulties in introducing, implementing and diffusing new technologies”, he stated.

Dignitaries at the conference

Papers presented during the conference plenary session were “Infrastructure Concession And PPP As A Tool For Addressing Infrastructure Deficit In Africa” by Engr. Chidi Izuwah, Director General, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, FCT, Abuja, “What Should Continuously Happen To Infrastructure” by Engr Nurudeen Rafindadi, “Mobility in Construction Industry For Global Competitiveness” by Dr. Paul Chan, Lead Project Research Group. University of Manchester, United Kingdom, and “Bridging Infrastructure Gaps In The  Agricultural Value Chain In Africa: A Case Study Of Nigeria” by Engr. (Prof) Jeremiah Oludele Ojediran, Vice Chancellor, Bells University of Technology,Ota,Ogun State.



Others were “The Nexus Between National And Food Security And Infrastructure: Challenges In Nigeria” by Prof. Isaac Adeyemi, Vice Chancellor, Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomoso, Oyo State, Enhanced Road Condition Monitoring Framework For Sustainable Infrastructure Maintenance In Africa”  by Dr. S.A. Oladele, Coordinator, African Transportation Professional Networking Group and Transportation Technology, Transfer Unit, Botswana International University of Science and Technology, Botswana, and “Public Private Partnership As An Alternative Form Of Procurement :  Concept , Context and Constraint” by Chukwuma Katchy.


After extensive deliberations, participants observed that the infrastructure in the education sector is lagging behind other developed countries due to poor funding, inadequate maintenance,  creation of  major crises at different points in infrastructure development due to policy somersaults, instability in foreign exchange market, underdevelopment of the financial market, lack of regulatory framework for PPP implementation, lack of transparency, political will and non involvement of stakeholders in procurement process, lack of infrastructure development plan and lack of focus on environmental issues.

Resource persons at the plenary session

Other challenges observed were encroachment on right of way for rail network,  erratic and unstable implementation of PPP concept despite being a good initiative, lack of adequate infrastructure in the food value chain, poor conditions of roads in rural areas, development of infrastructure projects without adequate consultation with the communities that will use them and effect of corruption which has restricted proper implementation of infrastructure projects among others.


Among the recommendations by participants at the conference are financing options for education infrastructure development, adequate project planning that  will lead to improved outcomes, systematic consultation with communities in project development and implementation, development of exit options for financiers of projects and streamlining of approval process for infrastructure projects.


Other recommendations are development of workable framework for PPP to enable full benefits of PPP, improving access to long term financing with low interest rate, promoting information-rich economy, participatory regulation for the communication industry, widening of evaluation process, improving infrastructure for food preservation, transparency must be enforced in award of PPP projects, effective commitment to long-term development plans to avoid policy somersault, integration of the public and private sectors for infrastructure development and need for continuous and committed maintenance regime for rail infrastructure.




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