Former Vice President and Founder, American University of Nigeria (AUN), Atiku Abubakar, has urged the Federal Government not to renege on its responsibility of providing qualitative and affordable education to its teeming citizenry, in order to give the country a comparative advantage among the comity of nations.
Speaking over the weekend at the grand finale of the Ninth Founder’s Day celebration of the decade old citadel for Africa development at the Lamido Aliyu Musdafa Commencement Hall of AUN in Yola, the former Vice President and All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential hopeful, told the assembly of global eggheads and other guests in the university’s ultra modern auditorium “private education is not, should not and cannot be a substitute for proper government-financed public education.”
Rather, he said, private education “should be supplementary and by choice for those who wish to and can afford to use its services.”
According to him, “very good government must and should invest appropriately in public education for development to take root in our country.”
He, however, recalled that “historically, education in Nigeria begun as private since early schools were established and ran by colonial missionaries.”
Meanwhile, in awarding Atiku Abubakar with its prestigious Harris Watford Global Citizen Award, the American Peace Corps Association had said of the former Vice President, “no private businessman in Africa has worked harder for democracy or contributed more to the progress of higher education than Atiku Abubakar.”
In her own remarks, President of AUN, Prof Margee Ensign, said that the purpose of the annual Founder’s Day was to celebrate the founding, development, and remarkable progress of the development university.
“AUN is a reflection of our Founder’s vision, and it has only been made possible by his extra-ordinary generosity. The AUN Community is particularly pleased to use this occasion to publicly thank its Founder, His Excellency Atiku Abubakar, for making American University of Nigeria possible,” Ensign said.
This year’s grand ceremony was marked with colourful procession, reflective speeches on the consequences of insurgency in the North East and the threat of Ebola, and achievement awards to deserving students, staff and outstanding friends of the university.
Among the Special guests in attendance were Professor William Ellis Bertrand (keynote speaker), former minister of education and DG Atiku Campaign, Prof. Babalola Aborishade, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah and elder statesman Otunba Oyewole Fasawe, an age-long friend of the founder.