By BENJAMIN OMOIKE
The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has said that when provided with the right platforms, young Nigerians will always rise to the stature of national and global challenges, while finding solutions to them through innovation and technology.
Speaking at the Yaba College of Technology (YabaTech) N50 Billion Endowment Fund launch on Thursday, Osinbajo emphasised the need for a robust private sector intervention, in addition to government funding, to further drive world-class, ground-breaking research and cutting-edge innovation in the country’s higher institutions of learning.
According to the Vice President, not only are “institutions of higher learning proving ground for our best ideas, the birthplaces of innovation, and ground-breaking research,” they are also “to all intents and purposes designed to guide and nurture a society’s pathway into the future.”
But, as he noted, “research and inquiry may lead to revolutionary discovery or lead nowhere. Either way, the process is expensive and can only depend on large sums of patient capital.
“How do you fund world-class, relevant, cutting-edge higher education sustainably? The question has even greater resonance in Africa where public resources are low and the poverty levels put access to quality education beyond the reach of many.”
Buttressing the need for endowment funding for higher institutions of learning, Prof. Osinbajo said endowments have helped to drive some of the most important global discoveries across different sectors.
Osinbajo said that Yaba College of Technology, is one of the best institutions to use as proof of the concept that the pepole can indeed develop world-class higher institutions for innovation, and research using both private and public-sector finance.
Addressing the endowment promoters, the Vice President said that the N50 billion ambition of the endowment fund “mirrors your vision for this great institution and demonstrates your keen awareness of what is truly at stake. And we must approach this with a sense of mission and duty. “We must augment government’s finest intentions with our individual and collective desire to see us do better, to see Africa do better; to see our children step into global arenas of enormous and unprecedented opportunities. One thing is clear, young Nigerians will always rise to the stature of the challenges the world presents them, and even beyond, if we continue to provide a platform for them to stand on.”
Noting the commitment of the Buhari administration to increase budget allocation to the education sector, the Vice President, referring to the sums allocated, and not percentages of the total budget, stated that, “year on year we increased budget allocation to the sector in a way no government before us had done. We took capital allocation for education up to N35.99bn in 2016 and stretched it further to N56.81bn in 2017. By 2018 we had increased capital budget allocations for the sector to N102.9bn and the trajectory has remained upward. (In 2019, N620 billion was allocated to education, in 2020, N671.07billion was allocated and in 2021, N742.5billion was allocated to education).”
He, however, noted that it was unrealistic to rely on public finance alone for higher education, especially in a country the size of Nigeria.
“The truth is we can completely revolutionise our nation’s education sector with radical, long-term commitment and investment from the private sector; a win-win situation for all of us eventually. And I trust that this (endowment fund launch) will be a solid start and step in that direction,” Prof. Osinbajo further said.