A Professor of Civil Engineering, Professor Gbenga Aribisala, has tasked the National Universities Commission (NUC) to apply stringent regulation for the operations of special universities and polytechnics in the country to provide special skills that would enable graduates to be job and wealth creators.
Aribisala gave the task Thursday during the “2nd Engr. Ayodele Afolabi Esan Annual Public Lecture” that was organised by the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) at the Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD).
Delivering a lecture titled “Economic Development Through Entrepreneurship and Skills Acquisition,” Aribisala posited that the two major problems of insecurity and unemployment could only be solved with robust entrepreneurial and skills acquisition, which could be guaranteed by special institutions.
The professor also hinted that Nigeria has remained economically retarded in terms of development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) because only 60 million out of 200m million Nigerians have access to electricity.
He said: “Specialised universities of agriculture and technology as well as polytechnics must be regulated properly by the NUC. They are already being polluted by being allowed to run courses in social sciences and others.”
Aribisala advised the NUC to look into conversion courses being run by institutions, while researches in schools should be geared toward solving local problems.
“The government must provide bailouts for drowning SMEs. Nigeria should consider exporting skills to other nations to be able to garner more experiences and skills for local development,” he said.
The academic stated that Nigerian engineers could not be productive as long as there is disconnect between the education being offered and the environment.
“China unemployment rate is just two per cent, India with over one billion population has unemployment rate of 7.0 per cent. But that of Nigeria is between 33 and 35 per cent. We are just consumers without productivity. But productivity and wealth creation can only occur when we have infrastructures. It is the bedrock of the economy and its driving force,” he said.
Aribisala added that “in energy production, we are the third country without electricity in the world. Only 3.0 per cent of rural communities and 30 per cent of the nation have access to electricity. You can see how this has affected inflation and unemployment.”
The Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who was represented by the Commissioner for Public Utilities, Professor Bolaji Aluko, said that his administration has begun an Independent Power Plant (IPP), in partnership with some firms to take away some section of Ado Ekiti off the national grid.
Fayemi said: “The national grid was not well supplied with adequate current and voltage to power electricity. Ekiti receives 6.0 mgw from the national grid. How do we have regular electricity with this? We are building an IPP that will help in solving our perennial power problem.”
The Founder of ABUAD and Chief Host of the Lecture, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), said that Nigeria is already in a mess in the areas of unemployment and insecurity, urging the engineers to up their games and rescue the nation from total collapse.