Former Nigerian Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has challenged the Federal Government to emulate Adamawa State Governor Rt. Hon. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri policy of allocating at least 10% of the total budget appropriations to the education sector.
The former Vice President gave the challenge while presenting a paper titled “A pathway to exit the dubious record of being a word headquarters for extreme poverty”at the 14th American University of Nigeria ceremony held at the Aliyu Mustapha Commencement Hall American University of Nigeria Main Campus in Yola.
He said “We cannot grow Nigeria if we do not invest in education, reason why we have insecurity is because we have poverty, and the reason why we have poverty is because we have illiteracy. It is a cycle that we can only break by educating our people”
He further described education as the ultimate key to greatness “Education is the principal thing. When we get this right, we will get Nigeria right. The easiest way, to make the most significant impact, in the shortest amount of time, is via education”.
“As proof, I cite the fact that 2014 represented the year Nigeria invested the most in education with a ₦493 billion allocation (then the equivalent of $3.3 billion) to education, representing 9.94% of the total budget” he mentioned
“The very next year, the trio of the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, and CNN Money rated Nigeria as the third fastest-growing economy in the world. Again, I ask, was that a coincidence?” he queried.
“If you think that it is, then how do you explain the fact that Nigeria slid into a recession the same year that our education budget began to drop from their pre-2015 levels? The total percentage of the budget allocated to education in 2014 was 9.94%, which dropped to 6.10% in 2016. It is as clear as night and day” he stated.
In ending poverty, he mentioned that “if we can find a way to ensure that all Nigerian children leave school with at least basic reading and writing abilities, we would have found a way to end extreme poverty in Nigeria, which is why we must devote the bulk of our resources to education”.
Furthermore, the former Vice President explained that with support from the government by way of tax incentives and part funding, Nigeria can ease her educational challenges by adopting the German Dual VET model. “And it is a win-win for both government and the Organized Private Sector in that the educational boost will lead to an increase in highly skilled workers for the real sector, which will boost the economy and reduce unemployment”.
“I want to see an MTN Academy for Telecommunications Studies, an Access Bank School of Business and Banking Studies, a Dangote Institute for Agriculture and Engineering and an Innoson School of Automotive Studies” he challenged.
He added that vocational education is so big in Germany and Japan that a lot of the German and Japanese labour force are vocationally educated by the private sector.
He finally challenged students to reach for the stars and change the face of Nigeria and the world for the betterment of mankind.
Earlier in her remarks, the President American University of Nigeria Dr Dawn Dekle applauded the former Vice President for his foresight in establishing the university with a conducive learning environment for students.
She said the former Vice President has changed the face of education not only in Nigeria not Africa but the world in general.
Also in his remarks, the president of the Student Union Government (SUG) of the university Mr. Taslim Oladoja appreciated the effort of the former Vice President in contributing his quota in the upliftment and development of education in the country.
He said that AUN has given them the opportunity to learn and develop their skills while impacting them with knowledge.
Mr. Oladoja mentioned that AUN students can compete with any student from around the globe, all thanks to Atiku Abubakar.
There were presentation of awards to staffs, students and lecturers alike who distinguished themselves in their area of specialty.
Among the dignitaries that graced the occasion include Adamawa State Governor Rt. Hon. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, Speaker Adamawa State House of Assembly Aminu Iya Abbas, Lamido Adamawa Dr. Muhammadu Barkindo Aliyu Mustafa ably represented by Kaura Adamawa, Sen. Binos Yaroe, Commissioners and other top government functionaries.