By Ezra Odogu
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has stated that funding of the education sector must be prioritized and consistently improved if the country desires to be a player in the 21st century economy, which is knowledge and technology driven.
Speaking at the Third Edition of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) Taxpayer’s Forum with the theme “Tetfund Intervention: Catalyst for Transforming Tertiary, held at the Lagos Continental Hotel, Victoria Island, the Governor who spoke through the Deputy Governor, Dr. Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, said no nation can attain any meaningful development without improving its human capacity.
He noted that it is only through the upliftment and sustenance of the human resources that other factors needed to grow the economy can be given meaning.
He said “as we all know; no nation can talk about meaningful achievement without the development of its human capital. It is through the upgrade and sustenance of human resources that other factors needed to grow the economy can be given meaning”
He noted that it is imperative for stakeholders in the country to collectively show commitment to develop implementable strategies and initiatives that will significantly enhance the level of funding on a sustainable basis for public tertiary institutions in the country.
While acknowledging the contribution of TETFund to the improvement in the quality of tertiary institutions, he averred that effort should not just be limited to the building the physical structures alone but to invest in research and development as well. He cited the role of the academia in the development of Thailand which paved way for the transformation of the country.
According to him, there are several universities whose endowment funds are in excess of what nations in Africa can muster. He added that “the challenge to TETFund is how do we galvanize a “Silicon Valley” for Nigeria. We can partner to create Tech Hubs”.
“Adequate funding for infrastructural development and research will definitely have a positive impact on the quality of research at this level will hopefully reduce the incessant disruption of academic calendar in our public institutions”, he concluded.
Earlier in his address, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu who was represented at the event by the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council, University of Benin, Dr. Sonny Kuku adduced that the development of a nation is synonymous with that of its education sector, as many nations, with highly developed economies have reached such by deploying huge investment in the sector from both public and private sectors and Nigeria cannot be an exception.
He added that it is the desire of the federal government to among other things, reduce significantly the out of school children population, consolidate on the achievements of millennial goals on education and improve access to and quality of the nation’s tertiary education. These, he said, are some of the many programmes, projects and policies of the present administration to change the narratives of the education landscape in the country.
The Minister reiterated the unflinching resolve and determination of the Buhari administration to collaborate with the Federal Internal Revenue Services at ensuring that Education Tax (EDT) Collection is improved and well enhanced so as to revamp and sustain the re-engineering cum redirecting processes of TETFund operations.
In his welcome address, the Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund, Professor Suleiman Bogoro stated that the Taxpayers Forum serves as a platform to honour and identify individuals and companies that have made tremendous contributions to education through the consistent payment of education tax and have invariably contributed to the development of education and by extension that of the entire nation.
The Executive Secretary said the development of the needed skills, knowledge and ability to manage the vast human and material resources of the nation, investment in education has become inevitable as it is only through education that the human capital required to develop the social, economic and infrastructural sectors of the country can be achieved.
He stated the Fund since establishment in 2011 has continued to record tremendous achievements as it has always made funds available to institutions in various intervention lines.
Considering the projects carried out since inception 2011 to 2021, Prof. Bogor disclosed that an estimate of 152,838 various infrastructure projects have been carried out across various public tertiary institutions. He noted that the projects include construction of lecture theatres, classrooms, hostels, offices, laboratories, road networks and fencing of institutions in different parts of the country.
Delivering the keynote address at the event, the Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe recapped the laudable interventions of TETFund in the area of Research and Development, Library Development and Training of Lecturers as key aspects of the interventions.