No fewer than 75,000 Nigerian students are currently studying in three Ghanaian universities incurring a total of N160billion expenditure annually, the Chairman, Committee of Pro-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, Dr Wale Babalakin, has said.
The expenditure is less than the Federal Government’s total budget for all its universities last year, Babalakin, Pro-Chancellor, University of Maiduguri added.
He spoke in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, at the weekend at an award night organised by the University of Ilorin Alumni Association in honour of Governor AbdulFatah Ahmed and three other alumni of the institution.
Also honoured were the outgoing Vice Chancellor of UNILORIN, Prof Ishaq Oloyede; Vice Chancellor of the Kwara State University (KWASU), Malete, Prof Abdulrasheed Na’Allah; and the Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer of UTC Nigeria Ltd, Mrs. Folusho Olaniyan.
Babalakin, who was the chairman of the occasion said: “University education is at a crossroad in Nigeria. Only in 1973, four Nigerian universities were rated among the best 20 in Africa. Today, none of them is among the best 30, while none is among the best 1000 in the world.
“University education is a collective effort. University education can only grow properly with government and active support of the populace. Leaving it for government alone is not fair. Everybody should contribute to ensure education that grows in Nigeria.
“Since 2009, when the power to appoint VC had been delegated to the university, it has been done relatively peaceful. Most people are surprised that there has not been any rancour in the appointment of VCs. This is the first step towards university autonomy. There are still so many areas that are still not autonomous. It is when we become totally autonomous that all the universities will have the necessary energy to develop at their own pace.
“The university should be allowed to generate money internally for development purposes. If we generate substantial money within the university and those monies are spent with great discretion, you will be alarmed at how far it will go and the catalytic effect of development.
“Nigeria government should put measure in place to attract foreign students to Nigerian universities. In the 70s and 80s, so many went abroad for their ‘A’ level and came back to the Nigerian universities.”
“Before the just concluded Olympic games everyone of us was happy that Nigeria was participating, but I told some of my colleagues that Nigeria would have a dismal outing. This is because we don’t have outstanding primary, secondary and tertiary institution competition.”