By Tunde Oyekola, Osogbo
The Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has described the situation where operators of Universities in Nigeria rely on subvention from the owners and burden students with humongous tuition fees as intellectual laziness.
The Governor observed this at the formal opening of the access road to the University of Osun (UNIOSUN), at the entrance to the university in Osogbo.
He held that Nigerian universities should adopt world best practices where schools raise funds through endowments, grants and donations from the larger society, which is the primary beneficiary of university education.
The Chancellor of UNIOSUN, Chief Mrs Folorunso Alakija was said to have assisted the university with the sum N250 million, which was the exact amount they needed to complete the road project.
Aregbesola averred that university funding anywhere in the world is capital intensive and requires helps from philanthropist like Mrs Alakija to boost education system.
He commended Mrs Alakija’s gesture, saying it is a refreshing perspective on funding for education, particularly the university, which requires a huge financial outlay.
Aregbesola said: “Universities require a large amount for capital projects and not less sum for recurrent expenditure.
“In our intellectually lazy (or idea challenged) environment, the line of least resistance has largely been followed – which is to rely on subvention from the owners and burden the students with humongous tuition fees.
“But the best practices, as we see from other climes, are to raise funds through endowments, grants and donations from the larger society, which is the primary beneficiary of university education anyway.
“Universities also generate revenues through patents, royalties and other intellectual property materials.
“This is why there is a huge gap between per capita spending on students by the Euro-American universities, compared to our own.”
The governor commended UNIOSUN for being on this same path of operating within the framework of intentional standard of running a tertiary institution.
He stated that the university has been self-subsisting for some time now as government has stopped giving any subvention to it.
He added that universities all over the country must wake up to the economic realities of the present time and be creative in sourcing funds to run their institutions.
He also called on other people of good will to emulate the good gesture of Mrs Alakija by contributing to the growth and development of education in the state and country at large.
He equally tasked alumni of the educational institutions in Osun who have education background, to support students of elementary and middle schools in the state as their own contributions to education development.
He continued: “The university has been responsible for generating its own revenue, even when we asked it to review tuition fees downward.
“In light of dwindling revenue and rising cost, universities must be creative in sourcing for funds. The burden of funding education should be spread in the society.
“There are thousands of people who will gladly give money, build roads, donate buildings, endow chairs in the name of a cause, a relation etc. and do many more for education.
In light of this, I must add that contribution is not limited to giving money.
“There are many alumni of our primary and secondary schools who have education background; they should support our students in basic education.
“All they need to do is to volunteer to teach in any of our elementary and middle schools for one hour in a day in English, Mathematics and the Sciences. We need them as volunteers.
“I am therefore commending Dr Alakija for her kind gesture in helping the university to construct this road and for her other interventions in the institution.
“She has etched her name in history and a grateful state, government and people will not forget her good deeds.”
In her remarks, the donor, Mrs Alakija, attributed the gesture towards the construction of the university’s access road to her immeasurablem passion for education.
She lamented on deplorable state of the nation’s education system, saying it is lamentable and disheartening that no Nigerian University made the list of the first 1000 universities in the world.
According to her: “The education system in Nigeria presently needs urgent assistance and unless there is a major overhaul, the future of the next generation of Nigerians will be bleak.
“As we all know, education is very important for sustaining and developing people. With it, people acquire wisdom and knowledge. They build confidence and develop the ability to fend for themselves from what they have learnt.
“It is also both an instrument of stability and of change; stability in the sense that good traditions are documented, taught, imbibed and practiced; change because it prepares and equips people to meet new challenges. In the same vein, education is a tool for inculcating moral values in the citizens.
“The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Sustainable Development Agenda has identified 17 Global goals, which every nation of the world must strive to accomplish by 2030.
“The 4th goal which is quality education, requires that inclusive and equitable quality education which promote lifelong learning opportunities be made available to all.
“Education is a vision my family and I do not take lightly. This is evidenced by the support we continue to give to students through our Rose of Sharon Foundation where almost 1,500 students benefit from our scholarship program up to university level and the same spirit of which also drove the completion of this project.
While calling on all to support education in the country, Alakija said the attainment of qualitative education will require all of us to pull resources together to make the difference the system so desperately needs.
In his welcome address, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Labode Popoola, applauded the philanthropic gestures of the donor, Dr. (Mrs) Folorunso Alakija, describing her as a seasoned philanthropist.
Professor Popoola recalled the steps taken by the management of the institution at constructing an access road to the university’s main campus, saying that the vision led the management of the institution to extend hands of help to the Chancellor.
According to him: “One of my first major activities on assumption of duties was a meeting to renegotiate the contract for the construction of this road. I bless the day, 22 March, 2017 when I led my Management Team to our Chancellor, Dr. (Mrs) Folorunso Alakija, in her Lagos Office as part of the preparation towards the 6th Convocation of our University.
“In my briefing, I lamented the state of the access road to our university and the challenge to raise the sum of N250 million to complete the road project
“But three days after the visit, we received the alert of the sum of two hundred and fifty million naira from the school chancellor and for this reason, the chancellor deserves our accolade.
“She is always there for us, her unparalleled benevolence for the completion of this road project is highly commendable. Her unending passion to positively impact humanity is an inspiration for us as an institution.
The Chairman Governing Council of the University and Pro-Chancellor, Mallam Yusuf Ali, also commended the donor, Mrs Alakija, for being passionate about the plights of the institution.
He disclosed that the institution only paid N100 million out of N350 million spent for the construction of the access road.
Mallam Ali however called on well-meaning Nigerians to see the need for supporting education by imbibing the philanthropic life style that could help to advance quality, qualitative and sound education in the country.
“Government alone cannot bear the cost of financing education. Those who run institutions of higher learning should put on their thinking cap and be creative in sourcing for funds to develop these institutions.
“Also, an individual, whom God has materially endowed has shown by the example of our Chancellor, Dr. Folorunso Alakija, could make a lot of difference. Where the managers of our resources act honestly, transparently and without corruption, men and women of goodwill who are endowed will be more readily disposed to help fund our educational system.”