The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Zone D, yesterday, berated the senator representing Lagos West District at the National Assembly, Solomon Olamilekan, over his alleged declaration that the Federal Government should stop funding education.
The association threatened that Nigerian students would be back on the streets very soon, which would make #EndSARS protest look like a joke if the Federal Government stops funding education.
A statement signed by Coordinator, NANS Zone D, Adegboye Emmanuel Olatunji and PRO, NANS Zone D, Awoyinfa Opeoluwa and made available to The Guardian in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, stated: “We watched with utter dismay the video of the Senate Committee on Finance, Solomon Olamilekan where he said that the Federal Government should stop funding education.
“We find the statement very ridiculous and irresponsible of a lawmaker.
“We were expecting Senator Solomon to know better. But, Alas, we were proven wrong by his sheer display of ignorance. We could have categorised it as wilful ignorance but it is obvious that the senator does not understand what the business of governance is.”
“We may conclude that Senator Solomon and other members of the committee like many other government officials are lacking the knowledge of what Section 18 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) says on the enforcement of public education right in Nigeria.
“It is also disturbing that these same people forget that they appoint members of governing councils for these institutions. And, if the import of what Senator Solomon is saying is that they are not aware of how the generated revenue is being spent, the Senate Committee on Tertiary Education has been nailed of inefficiency.
“As much as we know, fees are now being paid to the purse of the Federal Government through Remita.”
“Meanwhile, the essence of the Treasury Single Account is to enhance government revenue generation and to ensure transparency and accountability in government expenditure. Unfortunately, revenue leakages is still rampant in several ministries thereby defeating the purpose of the TSA.”
NANS pointed out that education is in the concurrent list which implies that the bulk of the responsibility falls on both State and the Federal Government, lamenting that “Unfortunately, successive government in the country has failed to invest in the educational sector.”
They insisted that education must be free at all levels, functional, and we call on the Federal Government to invest massively in public education.
Speaking further, the students said: ‘’In the said video, the lawmaker was seen decrying the inability of managements of tertiary institutions to remit “reasonable sum” to the purse of the Federal Government. This now leaves us to ask if the essence of institutions of learning is profit-making or impacting knowledge.
“This is not surprising as we are aware of a Federal Government report of 2012 that recommended that our Universities should start paying between #450,000 to #525,000 as tuition fees. It is also on record that the Federal Government brought forward same recommendation to ASUU in 2020. The plan has always been to take public education out of the reach of the poor (which we shall fight to a standstill)
“And, this is the reason the government has been recalcitrant in resolving ASUU strikes. They are not interested in education funding.
They would rather prefer we remain slaves to their kids who now enjoy oversea education than to invest in the country’s educational sector. Meanwhile, the Nigerian tertiary institutions were a sort of Mecca to foreigners prior mid 1980s.
“However, as an association, we insist that education must be free at all levels, functional, and we call on the Federal Government to invest massively in public education.
“We maintain that education remains a right and the Nigerian State must be mandated to fund same. Even in advanced countries where their institutions are self-dependent with huge endowment fund, the government still do follow-up by budgeting heavily for the institutions.
‘’It is a shameful act to come out and blame ASUU for your lack of proper management of the national resources. What we can make out of the embarrassing statement of the Senator is that the Senate Committee on Finance is indirectly saying that Public Universities should be privatized.
“The question we ask them is how well are the privatized national corporations like water, power etc functioning if not that this same government still gives them bailout funds after selling them?
‘’No doubt, the Nigerian students will be back to the streets very soon, and with such mobilization that will make #EndSARS look like a joke.”