Former Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State says the lack of adequate investment in education is responsible for Nigeria’s economic downturn.
Obi said this in Nsukka on Wednesday during the University of Nigeria, Nsukka’s 60th Founders’ Day Lecture, entitled: “Nigeria at 60: the journey so far,” which was delivered virtually.
He said all over the world, education remains the engine room and driver of any economy, empowering the citizens and fast-tracking infrastructure development.
He said: “For Nigeria to compete with developed nations, the country must massively invest in education by allocating adequate fund in the budget.
“The annual budget of Nigeria on education is low and an indication that government is not giving education the required attention.
“Adequate investment in education will create more employment, increase literacy and reduce poverty levels in the country.
“Its unfortunate that no fewer than 15 million children are out of school in the country, who knows what will be their contributions, if they were educated.”
Obi countries like China, India, America, Britain and South Africa had good economy because they dedicated a substantial percentage of their annual budgets to education.
The former governor further advised political office holders to reduce the number of aides and other expenditures that waste tax payers’ money in order to cut cost of governance.
“If those in government should cut cost by avoiding unnecessary expenditures, it will help to give more communities infrastructure and create more employment,” he said.
He urged the Federal Government to increase its financial assistance to Micro Small and Medium Enterprises to boost the economy and create more employment.
“It is investment in education and support for MSME that boost the economy of China and other leading economies in the world,” he said.
Obi, who is a member of UNN Class of 1984, thanked the university management for finding him worthy to deliver the Diamond Founders’ Day lecture and promised to remain a good ambassador of his Alma Mater.
“I am happy that my Alma Mater invited me to deliver the diamond founders’ day lecture. I am humbled and overwhelmed,” he said.
The Chairman of the occasion, Dr. Tunde Lemo, in a remark, via zoom, said he was happy that the institution was using the occasion to raise funds for infrastructure development.
Earlier, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Charles Igwe, described this year’s event as special because it marked the diamond anniversary of the university.
Igwe said the day was set aside to celebrate the institution’s founding fathers, whose vision midwifed the university.
He said: “May I extend special greetings to President Samuel Stanley of Michigan State University that mentored us at inception and all other alumni and friends of the university, who have connected virtually from different parts of the world.
“At 60, we believe we have a lot to celebrate and so much to be happy and proud about.
“We also have a mountain of challenges to surmount as we keep pace with our peers and meet the expectations of a 21st century learning institution.”
Igwe listed the infrastructure needs of the university to include additional classrooms, laboratories, theatres and hostels.
He added” “We also need to make huge investment to improve the state of the roads and other municipal infrastructure, including power generation and water distribution.
“We must also fund additional investment in ICT infrastructure to be able to mount effective online classes as we seek to decongest our classrooms in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Prof. Uche Azikiwe, the wife of the first Predisent of Nigeria, late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, was among the dignitaries at the event.