Nigeria’s Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo has stated that Nigeria’s main endowment will help Nigerians compete among the comity of nations.
Vice President Osinbajo, stated this while delivering the keynote address at the 111th Founders’ Day Lecture of King’s College, Lagos.
According to Osinbajo “when people are nurtured in the notion that rent-seeking or the prebendal capture of wealth or benefit by access to power is the path to success, then the society will not prosper. A few will capture all the resources, everyone else will be poor or on their way there.”
He stated that Nigerians are gifted with attributes of confidence, resilience, and mental acuity that is by any standard exceptional, adding that this is best demonstrated in how “we excel even in other countries in sciences, medicine, and even politics.”
Referring to Edward Banfield, an American Political Scientist, the Vice President explained further that those exceptional attributes do not free us from what Banfield describes as “the moral basis of a backward society”, which is the self-interested, family-centric society where often the public good is sacrificed for personal or parochial benefit.
Whilst receiving an education, the mind of a young person must be lifted up beyond self, the education “must teach the primacy of community, of the good and the well-being of the collective over self,” Prof. Osinbajo submitted
The Vice President said that the educational design and content must take into account, the current moral and social circumstances, as well as the physical and mental constraints we face as a people.
According to him “there must be, as a rule, a prevailing moral standard, corruption or deviance must be the exception, not the rule.”
Osinbajo added that the national conversation on education will be futile unless it also addresses the “concerns faced at the lower levels of our society; the problems of out-of-school children and the huge deficit in the education of girls.”
He noted that there are challenges of government investment in education, arguing that public funding alone cannot be enough to deal with the sector. The Vice President then proposed that such challenges can be tackled head-on when associations such as King’s College Old Boys’ Association (KCOBA), private individuals, and corporations put their resources together to change the narrative.
Prof Osinbajo highlighted other points in his remarks such as the need to recognize that Nigeria’s main endowment as a country “is neither crude oil nor any other mineral resource, rather our people.”
He also noted that the country’s economic aspirations and capacity to compete in the global economy depend on “how effectively we empower our people to fulfil their potential.”
Thirdly, the VP observed that of utmost importance, is the need to focus on productivity, character and civic education. Finally, he also listed the need to “change both the substance of education and the methods of educating our children.”
In her own contribution, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ms. Amina Mohammed, the guest speaker who also joined the event virtually, commended the Federal Government’s response to COVID-19 through the Economic Sustainability Plan which allocated resources to boosting broadband for education and minimizing the disruption caused by the pandemic.
Mohammed further stated that “scaling up the infrastructure for connectivity will be crucial” as well as “access to digitalized curricula, digital skills training for teachers and students, and methods to protect privacy.”
Other dignitaries at the event include the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, who virtually-delivered a goodwill message from President Muhammadu Buhari; the National Security Adviser, retired Major-General Babagana Monguno; Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba; Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folashade Adefisayo; and the former Emir of Kano, His Highness, Sanusi Lamido II, among others.