Nigerians prefer subsidy on education over fuel

Nigerians want their education to be subsidised ahead of any social amenities such as fuel, BusinessDay Poll reveals.

The poll shows that 98 percent of respondents want the government to subsidise education ahead of fuel as against two percent that prefer otherwise.

The respondents expressed their preference for an education subsidy for various reasons such as an increase in literacy level, large-scale impact unlike fuel subsidy that only benefits a few, increase in human capital development and increase in tech and innovation among others.

Olawale Olonade, a PhD holder and lecturer, Department of Sociology, Covenant University, who was one of the respondents, said education is the bedrock of every society and it is crucial for sustainable development.

“Fuel subsidy has been riddled with corruption and a lot of mismanagement. Anyone who can afford a car should be able to fuel it,” he said.

“More funding and budgetary allocation should be given to education and a relative tuition fee should be paid to get the best out of our education system,” he added.

Also, Taiwo Folorunsho, an experienced HSE professional, spoke about the long-term effect of education while highlighting how fuel subsidy benefits non-Nigerians.

“Education subsidy all the way; it has a better long-term impact on society than fuel subsidy, everyone needs education but not everyone has access to education.”

Daramfon Bassey, a renewable energy expert, spoke on the poor outcome of fuel subsidy, so far.

“I prefer they give subsidy on education than petrol subsidy because historically the reason why people justify fuel subsidy is that it is meant to help the poor, but studies have shown that it will only benefit those who are rich,” Bassey said.

He stressed that education cannot be overfunded. “Education is a very important sector and unfortunately, the sector has been underfunded in Nigeria.”

In the 2023 budget, Nigeria allocated N1.79 trillion to the education sector, an amount that is almost twice less than what it will spend on fuel subsidy in six months, according to data from the budget office.

While Nigeria is spending billions on fuel subsidies, crucial sectors of the economy like the education and health sectors are grossly underdeveloped.

Read also: Fuel scarcity mocks Buhari, APC’s claim on subsidy being scam

Already, Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in the World. At 13.5 million, one in five of the world’s out-of-school children are Nigerian.

A report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) last year showed that 62.9 percent of the (133 million) people who are multi-dimensionally, experience deprivations in more than one dimension (health, education and living standards), or in at least 26 percent of weighted indicators.

According to Julian Garritzmann in “The Political Economy of Higher Education Finance,” he said that when we want to understand why higher education systems differ across countries and time, the answer is politics.

“Careful attention to the political process also helps to understand which reform potentials are still possible today and how policies could be designed to enable at least incremental change,” he said.

Damilola Adewale, a Lagos-based economic analyst said that subsidy in education is an investment in capacity development.

“Subsidising education is a good thing, it will yield fruits for the nation. Fuel subsidy on the other hand is for consumption, and though the idea is to keep fuel prices low for the average person the major beneficiaries have been the rich, and not the poor,” he said.

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