By Adesina Damola
Any person that is starved with books especially the right type of books, will suffer intellectual malnutrition, stagnation and atrophy” Obafemi Awolowo.
Ogun state, the state with the highest number of tertiary institutions in Nigeria, the self prided education capital of Nigeria, also ancestral home of the great Obafemi Awolowo, the progenitor and pioneer of free education in Nigeria. What will readily come to the mind of a rational being is that the education policy for sustainability would be adopted into a cheap, affordable and qualitative education policy without compromising standard rather ,the politicians who as a part, were major beneficiaries of the education policy and who were expected to carry on the legacy, rather monopolised and cleverly rigged the source of wealth, weaponised poverty and illiteracy to their advantage just to perpetuate themselves in power, consequently putting the poor and downtrodden in intellectual servitude.
Ogun state owned tertiary institutions epitomizes an infant that was conceptualized, birthed but then deprived parental care and support for its basic need, thereby left at the mercy of external intervention for crumbs which are barely sufficient for subsistence. There has been little or no financial support from Ogun state government to its tertiary institutions.
Lecture halls are inconducive, without proper ventilation system and hardly accommodate students during lectures, to get a seat for a general class in the large lecture theaters, you have to be around hours ahead to stand a chance to get a seat. Library books are outdated, archaic and out of touch with what is obtainable in saner climes.
Tuition fee is exorbitant and out of reach of the common man who make up the larger strata of the society, many parents take loans to pay their wards tuition fee, and for the few unlucky ones without sponsors rely on holiday jobs which are now harder to come by, some skip classes just to hustle their way. Every academic session students take leave of absence and some dropout entirely (as such was the case of many admitted aspirants who dropped out at the point of entry by forfeiting their admission because of their inability to meet up with the exorbitant acceptance fee and tuition fee), not because of academic reasons or performance rather it is because of their inability to meet up with the high tuition fee, many resorted to to crowdfunding appeal on internet and some from sympathetic students.
Past administrations never bothered about scholarships scheme for indigent students neither did they gave out bursary consistently to alleviate financial burden on students. They rather use it as a political weapon during or close to election period for vote buying and manipulating students.
Take Olabisi Onabanjo University as a microcosm of Ogun state tertiary institutions. Olabisi Onabanjo University is a multi-campus university founded on July 7, 1982 as Ogun State University and was renamed Olabisi Onabanjo University on May 29, 2001 in honour of Chief (Dr) Olabisi Onabanjo, whose effort as the then civilian governor of Ogun state birthed the university.it is also known by some quarters as Omo Olowo University (Rich-man pikin University) due to its high tuition fee which is out of reach of an average Nigerian.
One may find it mystifying to believe that in Olabisi Onabanjo University Main Campus (Permanent site) the state government cannot boast of seven fully funded lecture hall, most lecture halls were donated either by private citizens and organizations, Federal government subventions or school management internally generated revenue. The only state built lecture hall in Olabisi Onabanjo University Main campus worth mentioning was built by Former Military Administrator of Ogun state, Sam Ewang.
Within a period of four academic session(2005/2006 and 2008/2009) there was a ridiculous increase in tuition fee by a whooping 1000% in Olabisi Onabanjo University, a period of sharp increase in the cost of living and consequently a sharp decrease in the standard of living. It makes one wonder if education is supposed to be a privilege or probably a fundamental right as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. One may be permitted to tag the then state Governor irrational and insensitive to the plight of the common man who makes up the larger percentage of the state’s population, who also lives below the international standard of living and whose children seek education to achieve a better living status.
Liberia a country not at per with Ogun state in population, resources and economic strength can afford to make tertiary institutions free for its citizens, why can’t Ogun state make it tertiary institutions affordable?. A government that establishes a public tertiary institution must fund it and not shift the burden of funding on poor students which is totally wrong. We condemn the nonchalant attitude of Ogun state government to the educational sector. The exorbitant fees are oppressive, anti-poor, nefarious and extortive. Education is a social service that must be funded from the collective wealth of the state.
Students of Ogun state tertiary institutions appeal to the conscience of the incumbent state governor of Ogun state, Prince (Dr) Dapo Abiodun to be proactive by placing premium on state owned tertiary institutions in Ogun state.
We advise the state government carry out an oversight visit to have firsthand information on the state of Ogun state owned tertiary institutions.
Among other things, we, students of Ogun state tertiary institutions request proper and adequate funding, prompt release of funds to tertiary institutions, reduction in tuition fee with flexible mode of payment, award of scholarship to indigent student, payment of bursary to indigent student, revamping of infrastructural facilities, building of new lecture halls, stocking our library with modern books, training and retraining of academic and nonacademic staff to enable them perform optimally.
Education is the bedrock of any society, human capital development, through education is necessary for the progress and stability of any state. Like the late sage Nelson Mandela said. “No country can develop unless its citizens are educated, education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.
Adesina Damola is a Public Affairs Analyst.