Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, has condemned the move by the federal government to increase university tuition fees.
Falana said yesterday while speaking on Arise Network interview segment programme, THISDAY Live.
He warned the Nigerian state against commercialising education, which he described as a basic requirement enshrined in Section 18 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to the effect that the federal government would provide free and affordable education from primary to university level as and when due.
He said the country was endowed with enough resources and should be in a position to fund education adequately if the government prioritised its programmes.
“It is the responsibility of the government to invest in education so that our human resources can be developed. My only worry now is that whereas our country is training young people, they are trooping out of the country after graduation and the government does not seem to be bothered. How can you spend money to train your own citizens to serve other governments?” Falana questioned.
He said the removal of fuel subsidy coupled with raging economic crises had “phenomenally” impoverished over 140 million Nigerians as many children of the poor would no longer be able to access education if it was commercialised.
His words: “What is the way forward? We need to make three percent of the profit of every company go into funding of education. Again, under the UBE Act, the Compulsory Free Education Act provides that the state government will contribute counterpart funding to the money released by the federal government for Universal Basic Education.
“So every Nigerian child from primary to junior secondary school should be educated at the expense of the state. If the law is implemented we would not have our children roaming the street,” Falana said.
He also urged government to think outside the box and display political will by collecting over $15 billion which the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) report said the NNPC was withholding as well as the $62 billion which the Supreme Court said was lost by Nigeria by the failure of the IOCs to comply with the Offshore Production Basic Act for 18 years.
Falana further knocked the recent approval of 35 per cent and 25 percent salary increment for staff of all federal tertiary institutions as unthinkable, saying it was ridiculous that a professor would be earning N520,000 per month or ($500 per month) as salary in the present world.