By Ruth Oketunde
A UK-based group has pleaded with the Nigerian Government to “walk its talk’’ by scaling up its education budget, to put the West African country on course for sustainable growth in the 21st century.
Speaking on the Federal Government’s sectoral allocation of 7.9 per cent of its 2022 budget to education, the international group, IA-Foundation, pointed out that “the figure does not reflect the commitment made by President Muhammadu Buhari at the International Education Summit, held in London last July.
The Federal Government allocated N1.29 billion to education in the 2022 budget, representing 7.9 per cent of the total budget.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the group, Mrs Ibironke Adeagbo, made the appeal while speaking in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Sunday.
“The 7.9 per cent allocation to the education sector does not go far enough because education in Nigeria has lost much ground during the coronavirus pandemic.
“More so because banditry and other crimes have taken tolls on the education sector in the country.
“This is the right time for the Federal Government to build capacity and develop resilience for the education sector, to engender brighter future in a country where an estimated 13 million children are currently out of school.’’
Adeagbo, who is Nigeria’s Ambassador for Health and Safety, argued that that government should keep its pledge of doubling the education budget as made by Buhari on July 29 in London during the education summit.
The international summit was facilitated by the British Prime Minister, Mr Boris Johnson and the President of Kenya, Mr Uhuru Kenyetta with Buhari in attendance.
Adeagbo, who is also an international campaigner for Nigeria to tackle the out-of-school crisis plaguing millions of children in the West African country, noted that government must make huge investments in the country’s education sector to tackle perennial under-development.
She described quality education as the pillar of growth and development of any nation, saying that Nigeria can never be the “Giant of Africa’’ without giving education to its citizens, especially the younger segment of the population’’.
The former Director of the British Safety Council also charged the Nigerian Government to take advantage of the new malaria vaccine announced by the World Health Organisation to protect its younger generation from dying from the disease.
She described the malaria vaccine breakthrough as heart-warming for malaria-endemic countries such as Nigeria and other African countries.
Adeagbo lamented that thousands of African children had lost their lives from year to year, due to high child-mortalities caused by malaria and other avoidable diseases.
Records show that approximately 51 million cases of malaria are recorded each year in Nigeria, accounting for about 207,000 deaths.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation also accounts for about 30 per cent of the total malaria burden in Africa, records show.
About 97 per cent of Nigeria’s huge population risk suffering from malaria from year to year, according to medical experts.
Adeagbo has been collaborating with the Nigerian authorities over the years, to tackle problems in the education sector.
She focuses her campaign on the rising problem of millions of children forced out of school, due to various problems, including terror, insurgency and banditry. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)