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More Over the years, many Nigerian universities have fought for more funds to flow into infrastructure, research, training and other critical areas for the benefit of students as well as teaching and non-teaching staff.
Many Nigerians believe that insufficient investment in education has led the country to lose its best brains to other countries that place great importance on the education of the rich and the poor. The complete absence or insufficiency and degradation of infrastructure, the lack of manpower and the lack of political will of the government have put Nigeria’s education system on a perpetual deterioration over the past decades.
Disturbed by this unpleasant development, academics, investors, administrators and other stakeholders continued to insist on the need to put all hands on deck in order to restore the lost glory to government-owned higher education institutions. .
Aside from government funding, which appears to be dwindling, one of the ways to maintain quality education in Nigeria, experts say, is for successful Nigerians to be patriots by making generous donations to the institutions that shaped them. In addition to alumni who give back to their institutions, they argued that voluntary and ongoing donations from education lovers, philanthropists and businesses would complement government efforts to aid teaching and learning.
This was picked up again in Lagos ahead of the launch of the Obafemi Awolowo University Advancement Foundation, a one billion naira appeal fund and award for 60 alumni, as part of the activities marking the 60th anniversary of the institution. The event is scheduled for today, Saturday December 4, in Ikeja Lagos.
At the event, the Vice-Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University (OUA), Ile-Ife, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede said that the reason for the creation of the foundation was that across the world the existence Continuing, the success and overall development of any higher education institution depends in large part on the financial and material benevolence of its alumni community as well as of its friends, benefactors and other stakeholders.
The VC’s speech delivered by its representative, Professor Charles Ukeje, read in part: âThis garners global support for the comprehensive development and real-time growth of our renowned university. We are proud that the OAU is not only renowned for being the most beautiful campus in Africa, but we also pride ourselves on very versatile and accomplished individuals whose tentacles extend into all spheres of human endeavor across the world.
âIndeed, our alumni community around the world has continued to distinguish themselves, positively impacting their immediate surroundings and at the forefront of the advancement of humanity, in general.
âOur distinguished alumni, as well as our friends and other benefactors, have already started to come forward to send kind gestures to the university. Many more inquired about how they could support their alma mater. We all now have that window of opportunity; an organization that will be open, transparent and accountable, led by women and men with impeccable credentials with the creation of the Foundation for the Advancement of the OAU.
âThe foundation will help us, among other key responsibilities, to reposition the university to meet 21st century standards as they can be achieved in other climates inside and outside Africa. It will also help us to maintain and support the ideals of the founding fathers of our great institution so that the OAU is ranked first in Nigeria and Africa.
While answering questions from reporters, Ukeje, who is the chair of Great Ife’s 60th anniversary celebrations committee, described the foundation’s launch as a way to gather resources and put them aside for rainy days. for university.
âIndeed, for those of you who know Ife, the midwives at the university have been very deliberate to ensure that the university can weather the storm at very difficult times. So we believe that establishing this foundation of advancement is an effort to update ourselves to the realities of the 21st century. This new initiative is supposed to respond to the imperative of the 21st century and beyond.
Responding to the foundation’s readiness to handle potential accumulated funds, particularly comparing it to Harvard University with a multibillion-dollar endowment fund, Ukeje said activities would be managed by the board. individuals, of which the vice-chancellor is only a member. .
He said there are only a couple of conditions Harvard University spends its endowment fund on – during economic recession or war. He assured donors that the money that will be generated will not be spent lightly, but on things that last. He stressed that it would be spent on things that would be for the greater good as needed, not on paying salaries or buying buses for students. And the council, in its wisdom, will do what is necessary when the need arises, he promised.
The donation and the administrator of the university further explained that the previous donations to the institution were managed by the university, made up of administrators who themselves are not necessarily businessmen, but ordinary people. teachers.
âSo this one is led by people who have extensive experience in the board of directors, the legal profession, in different disciplines, who can contribute their experience. Several of them sit on the boards of large companies and we believe they will be able to do exceptionally well, âsaid Ukeje.
Could there be an area in which the OAU faces certain challenges? In fact, he pointed out that there is no university in Nigeria that does not face one challenge or another.
âI think the challenges for public institutions in Nigeria, especially higher institutions, are enormous. When you send your child to primary and secondary schools like many of us have done, and you pay that much, your child now goes to public university and your education budget goes down. Something is wrong with such a society. When you come to the OAU, the parents’ budget for education is practically zero.
âSo when you hear about the collapse of hostels in public universities, what you go through is what comes out. Nigerians must have a major national conversation about the future of higher education. If we want standard higher education, we must be prepared to finance it. And this is why a lot of private universities thrive because they charge a lot of fees and they use these fees to improve their university. If you go to a public university today and go there next year, maybe things have turned sour. We cannot live with this contradiction as a nation.
âSo the first challenge we face is primarily funding. I know how many times people like me go out of their way to even support our students’ initiative to pay for things they cannot afford. Thus, until we resolve this fundamental contradiction, we will never be able to move the public institution forward. The bottom line is that public institutions are the largest ever created, where people get knowledge. It is the public institution that the rich man’s child and the poor man’s child stay in the same space and the poor man’s child could indeed excel. As Nigerians, we must all commit to taking an interest in what is happening in public institutions, âhe urged.
Speaking on the support of benevolent Nigerians for the OAU so far, he revealed that the university has enjoyed the magnanimity of individuals across the country and beyond. He said the generosity extended to building hostels, drilling boreholes, as well as participating in other business activities within the university.
He said, âOne of our old boys, through his business, committed resources to renovate the Oduduwa Hall. I am talking about an amount of 45 million naira. This is the Ecobank Foundation and we are very excited about it and we hope that individuals will not only come as individuals to support the university but also to take advantage of the institutions they work for, in terms of accountability. social enterprise.
âThere are so many multinationals who come, they do training; they are looking for a job. Ife is a major hunting ground for the big companies who have poached some of our best students. Even before obtaining their diploma, they have the possibility of doing internships, short training courses, etc.
âThe university currently has an institute on entrepreneurship. And we make sure that our students have optional and constant training in entrepreneurship. We train our students to become more and more independent and to understand that they do not need to look for a formal office job in order to survive.
In order to raise abundant funds for the university, Ukeje stressed, âWe also don’t just contact the alumni of the university, we ask the companies, foundations and individuals who are very attached to Ife to come forward and partner with us.
âIn terms of trust, the board of directors will be very transparent and accountable. When you put money into the OAU Advancement Foundation, you can go home with your eyes closed. The board of directors will not only determine which priority projects it wishes to support in the university, it will receive the resources, invest them and multiply the resources. And that’s why we have chosen people who have this credibility and who have stood out in what they do.