• Monday, July 15, 2024
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Nigeria’s education development in 2023 seen hinged on presidential election

The value of a good education

Despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s increased education budgetary allocation from 7.9 percent in 2022 to 8.8 percent in 2023, many stakeholders believe the fate of the sector will be determined by who wins the 2023 presidential election.

The president proposed N1.79 trillion out of the total N20.5 trillion budget proposals which is the highest he has made to the sector since he assumed office in 2015.

The proposal, however, is still less than half of the percentage recommended by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the global education agency for expenditure on the sector.

Michael Ukonu, a senior lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka sees the future of the education sector in Nigeria as depending so much on the realm of hope and expectations.

Ukonu disclosed that going by the lofty promises of each of the presidential candidates, there is a good reason for Nigerians to be hopeful.

“Three of the presidential candidates promised to pay off the backlog of arrears owed ASUU by the federal government. If that is done, it will go a long way to stabilise the sector, especially at the tertiary level,” he said.

“We’re just hoping that 2023 will be better off. We are looking forth to the future as we await the new president and the fulfilment of his promises.”

Akanni Sulaimon, an education consultant believes the education sector will witness stability and progress functional to who wins the forthcoming presidential election.

“The person that wins the presidential election will be a key factor to what becomes of the education sector in 2023. First, he will try to consolidate his office against the second term election thereby will do everything possible stabilise the sector.

“Besides, I believe with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) singing a new tone to going on strike the sector, especially at the tertiary cadre will improve this time around all things being equal,” he said.

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Bamidele Okuwoga, a legal practitioner, ASUU strike is not totally ruled out because the lecturers union is not stable with its decisions; moreover, he does not see a strike as an ideal tool for negotiation.

“Strike has never been a productive tool of negotiations. It is counterproductive with the attendant loss of learning time, manpower and potential for productive activities,” he said.

Okuwoga applauded the increased budget allocation for education but reiterated that implementation of the budget is more important.

“The increased education budget is a welcome development, but budget implementation is more important,” he noted.

He reiterated that what is needed to improve education is the provision of infrastructure and other amenities for the growth of the sector and the wholesome development of all facets.

To this, the legal practitioner argued that the leadership and his team of administrators that will take over the mantle of governance from the present government are critical to what becomes of the budget.

Friday Erhabor, the director of media and strategies at Markelenz Limited except the country is fortunate enough to get a president that has love and passion for education, the sector would probably witness a worse scenario.

“The current regime at the federal level is not convincing enough when it comes to education, despite the fact that it increased the budgetary allocation.

“What happened the last time ASUU went on strike was not a good development. It appears the no work no pay is a deliberate attempt to subdue the lecturers, and once that happens, what happened in public primary and secondary education will happen to tertiary institutions where everyone will be struggling to send their children to private schools while public universities will no longer attract good and quality lecturers,” he said.

Similarly, Biodun Ogunyemi, the immediate former president of ASUU revealed that a fresh strike by lecturers of public universities in the country cannot be ruled out in 2023.

Ogunyemi disclosed this recently while featuring on Channels Television’s 2022: In Retrospect, an End-Of-Year special programme.

Ogunyemi pointed out the insensitivity of the federal government to the plights of ASUU as a reason for his view and noted that it is an injustice not to pay its members in arrears as they work in arrears as well.

“We must understand what triggers strike action. I don’t think anybody can promise you there will be no strike in 2023,” he said.

Robert Ibeawuchi, a civil engineer based in Benin disclosed to BusinessDay that the fate of the education sector as far as he is concerned rests on who wins the forthcoming presidential election.

According to Ibeawuchi, “If the presidential candidate of the ruling party wins the election, then, we should not expect anything different because he would like to maintain the structure established by his predecessor.

“However, if the country is fortunate to have a change of government at the centre, well, we can begin to think of a changed system which doesn’t necessarily suggest it will be ‘uhuru’,” he said.