The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila at the weekend in Lagos said that the time has come to declare a state of emergency in the education sector of Nigeria.
This is just as other eminent Nigerians Prof Mahmoud Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Dr Wale Babalakin SAN, Chief Bode George, former Attorney General of Lagos State, Alhaja Wonu Folami and others joined him to discuss the parlous state of education in the country.
The occasion was the 80th anniversary lecture of the Crescent Bearers, a Lagos based Islamic Organization founded in 1939 for the purpose of the development of the Muslim child through education.
Amongst the founding fathers was the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, the late Justice Atanda Fatayi-Williams, Mobolaji Odunewu, S.M Onigbanjo, IAS Adewale,Ola Aboaba, N.A Kekere-Ekun, M.R.B Ottun, R.A Gbajumo, Ade Thanni, K.B Shomade, T.A.B Oki, K.A Fashola, S.A Olorunnisola, and Hamzat Balogun.
According to the Chairman, Alhaji Wahab Babatunde Dabiri, ” the primary objective was to promote the acquisition of western education by Muslims for their collective improvement and upwardly social mobility in a colonial society where Muslims experienced marginalization”
Also the Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Crescent Bearers, Alhaji Lateef Femi Okunnu SAN, said that “at the time all the founding fathers of the Crescent Bearers were born, there was not a single Muslim Primary or Secondary School in Lagos, or elsewhere in Nigeria. But like bigger Islamic organizations of that era, the Bearers foister lofty ideals of Islam in pursuit of educating the Muslim child, and also in defence of Islam”.
In his keynote address as special guest, Hon Gbajabiamila decried the state of education in the country. “It is important that we all join hands together to address the decline and rot in the education sector if we want to give our children the best education can offer,” he said.
The Speaker noted that education is not a privilege but a fundamental right of the Nigerian child and therefore obligatory for all, particularly the government to give.
The INEC chairman, Prof Yakubu who delivered the annual lecture went down memory lane on the history of education in Nigeria. The lecture was titled ” Education as a resource for growth and development of a nation: The Nigerian case”.
Babalakin in his contribution said that Nigerian Universities should be able to fund themselves as government no longer has the capacity to do so. “The mindset of the universities is from the oil boom era where they believe government must fund everything,” he said, adding that if government must declare education as a fundamental human right as canvassed by the Speaker, it must be ready to fund it, and not do so only by word of mouth.
He said that Nigerian youths faca the danger of not knowing what good education is. According to him, anyone in that is not in the late 40s to mid 50s age bracket cannot claim to have enjoyed good education in Nigeria. The youths may therefore continue to believe that what they have is education and pass it on to the next generation.
Former governor of Ondo State and a political chieftain, Chief Olabode George quoted the popular saying ” education makes a people to govern but absolutely impossible to deceive”. He then said that rather than talking about the troubles in the sector, there must be a way out in terms of solutions.
Alhaja Folami said that the fundamental problem of education is the content. “We produce graduates that cannot adapt to modern challenges. They therefore roam the streets looking for 9-5 jobs.
She cited modern technological inventors like Facebook and Alibaba that may not have tasted university education. She therefore stressed on the need to “strengthen our technical education”.
She said most Chinese and Indians working in Nigeria are only technical people who never tasted university education, yet they are doing well in Nigeria.
The Crescent Bearers include former Managing Director, Habib Bank, Mr Akin Kekere-Ekun, Chairman Calverton Group, Mr A.M Makanjuola, former Attorney General of Lagos State, Adeniji Kazeem SAN, Mr Gbolahan Elias SAN, Mr Oluwakemi Pinheiro SAN who was Master of Ceremony,Hon. Segun Oki, an aviation consultant, and a host of others.