By Ayo Ajayi
A professor of Accounting at Covenant University, Ota, Professor Francis Iyoha, has observed that Unity Schools and Federal Universities are being used to subsidise the budget of the rich.
He also advocated that the unity schools should be taken over by respective states in which they are situated while reasonable school fees should be introduced in the universities.
Iyoha made the observation on Friday in his submission at a roundtable discussion on the 2019 Budget, organised by Covenant University’s Centre for Economic Policy and Development Research (CEPDeR) with the theme, “2019 Budget: Pertinent Issues and Sectoral Impacts.”
“Out of the 49.29 billion naira capital expenditure for the Ministry of Education, 3billion is going to the fencing of the Unity Schools. They are called Unity Schools because they were expected to bring unity to this country. I don’t know how many of us here attended Unity Schools? Unity School are a means of subsidising the budget of the rich. So my advocacy is that Unity School should be taken over by the States in which they are located. Those schools should be able to fence their perimeter,” he argued.
Iyoha explained further that, if the schools are taken over, such monies being spent on them would be available for Research and Development in the universities.
He also revealed that out of the 49. 29 billion naira, 1.8 would go for allowances for payment to Federal Teachers. “Is that reasonable? 6.8billion of that is also going to scholarships. Who are the recipients of these scholarships? He queried.
“Another thing is the budget of universities which is about 12.6 billion naira; 12. 3 of that are going to recurrent expenditure, living only a small fraction for development. My advocacy is, even though we are saying there is unemployment; I am saying that about half of the staff strength of those universities should be asked to go home; so that we can save about 5billion out of the recurrent expenditure for capital development.
“Also, we have 28 parastatals in the Ministry of Education, why do we have NUC and we have NABTEB? Why won’t NABTEB be a section of NUC? Let us also reduce these parastatals to, maybe about five, so that some funds could be freed.
“Also, let reasonable school fees be introduced in the universities. Education is not free; anything that is free is not valued. If we have about 40, 000 students in UI, UNILAG and ABU, and each of them is paying about 250, 000 per session, that is a lot of money. In Malaysia, the government is providing money to subsidise the school fees of children from low-income group, but we are using Unity Schools and Federal Universities to subsidise the rich. Let’s pay school fees.
“If we are able to do these, we will be in a position to be able to free some funds and devote those funds for capital development in the universities. Today, about 13. 2million children that are supposed to be in school are on the street, nobody is talking about that.
“Out of the 700, 000 teachers we have in the primary and secondary schools, 300, 000 of them are unqualified. Of those in primary schools, 40% are unqualified. We need money to mitigate all these challenges. So because we are unable to increase these allocations, let’s free some funds from many of these expenses that are not necessary.”