The chairman of the Governing Board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, has emphasised the need for adequate funding of university education in the country.
Ndoma-Egba made the call at the weekend while speaking during the 31st convocation ceremony of the University of Calabar, where he was conferred with Doctor of Laws, (Honoris Causa).
Other awardees were the Emir of Borgu Kingdom (Niger State), Barr. Muhammad Sani Haliru Kitoro, who was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in Business Administration, and late Chief Michael Archibong, who was given a posthumous honorary doctorate degree.
The NDDC Chairman, who responded on behalf of the awardees, expressed gratitude to the university authorities for finding them worthy of the honour.
He said, “while we celebrate excellence, it is also an opportunity to reflect on certain issues of the moment, one of which is the state of education in our country.”
Ndoma-Egba lamented that funding constraints had hindered education in Nigeria, stating that many public universities were in various stages of decay on account of poor funding.
The NDDC chairman observed that funding of universities had consistently fallen short of the 26 per cent of the total national budget recommended by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
He regretted that between 2003 and 2014, education funding had fluctuated between 8.2 per cent and10 per cent, a situation he described as dissatisfactory.
Ndoma-Egba, who stated that “as we move into the future, education must be visionary and innovative. We must not just fund education. It must be funded adequately as it remains the bedrock of our future.”
The NDDC chairman noted that between 1980 and 2017, the number of recognised universities in the country grew from 16 to 152, saying, “for the first part of the growth, higher education capacity building was primarily in the public sector, driven by federal and state governments.
“By late 1990s, the Federal Government had liberalised and encouraged the setting up of private universities. This resulted in a dramatic growth in the number of private universities.
“As at 2017, private universities constituted about 45 per cent of all Nigerian universities, growing from three in 1999 to 68 in 2007. About two-thirds of these private universities were affiliated to religious organisations.”
Speaking at the occasion, the Vice Chancellor of the school, Prof Zana Akpagu, said the awardees were selected based on their positive contributions to the society and for their supports to academic excellence in the institution in particular, and the country in general.
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