Nigeria @ 62: Stakeholders advocate higher budgetary allocation to education, agriculture

By Sam Oditah

Stakeholders in the education sector in the South-East have advocated higher budgetary allocation to the education sector at the federal, state and local government levels.

They spoke in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), while assessing how education had fared in the post independence era in the country.

They argued that education being the bedrock of any society deserved better attention, if it must contribute to human capital development and technological advancement.

Mr Jerome Amuh, a retired Lecturer from the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu, said Nigeria was not moving on the right direction in the education sector.

Amuh said that the current strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other sundry challenges in the sector could only be averted with the right investment in education.

He said that lecturers stand on equal pedestal with the Police, Army Doctors and other professionals in terms of their contributions to national development.

He, therefore, decried the current strike by the union, which has spanned more than seven months, saying it is a great disservice to the country and its youths.

“If you do not pay them for the work they do, you employ mediocres as lecturers and the system suffers.

“You also inadvertently encourage brain drain,” Amuh said.

He frowned at the poor funding of public tertiary institutions by both the State and Federal Governments.
He said: “If you go to the laboratories in most universities, there is no equipment to work with.

“Everything is based on theory but theory and practicals go hand-in-hand.

“Very soon, doctors will begin to use axe and cutlass to perform operation on patients because they lack the practical knowledge due to our poor education system,” Amuh said.

An undergraduate, Chukwuemeka Chioke, appealed to the government to invest more in education in order to scale up its standard.

Chioke expressed concern that incessant strikes by ASUU had the danger of the universities churning out graduates that are not employable.

He therefore urged the Federal Government to take urgent steps to end the lingering dispute with the union.

He called for salary increase and improved welfare package for teachers in public schools as a way of motivating them to give their best.

Chioke also advocated a downward review of tuition fees in public tertiary institutions in order to promote inclusive education in the country.

“How can we be paying over N100,000 as school fees in the universities?

“This is exorbitant, particularly for families that can barely afford three square meals daily,” he said.

In another development, stakeholders in agriculture in Ebonyi also urged the Federal Government to sustain its current efforts to revitalise the agricultural sector to ensure that the country attained self-sufficiency in food production.

Mr Hyginus Agbo, an agricultural expert, advised government at all levels to establish farm settlements to enhance mechanised agriculture.

Agbo said that the settlements, which must have the necessary social amenities, including power and water, would cause massive revolution in the agricultural sector.

He further advised the government to support research institutes to improve their services and attract grants from international development agencies.

“As the country marks her 62nd independence anniversary, we want the Federal Government to energise these sectors,’’ he said.

Another stakeholder, Mrs Apolonia Aligwe, underscored the need for the government to strengthen the existing agricultural programmes and train farmers in modern techniques and organic farming.

Aligwe further urged the government to build or rehabilitate storage facilities in orderto minimise post-harvest losses of farm produce.

She said,”The training of farmers and provision of loans, improved seedling, agricultural inputs and other agro-allied incentives to them will help to ensure food security in the country,” she said. (NAN)