Despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s increased budget allocation for education from 7.9% in 2022 to 8.8% in 2023, many stakeholders believe that the fate of the sector will be determined by who wins the 2023 presidential election.
The president proposed N1.79 trillion out of the total budget proposals of N20.5 trillion, which is the highest he has done to the sector since he took office in 2015.
The proposal, however, is still less than half the percentage recommended by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the world education agency for spending in the sector.
Michael Ukonu, Senior Lecturer at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka believes that the future of the education sector in Nigeria depends largely on the realm of hope and expectations.
Ukonu revealed that, following the lofty promises of each of the presidential candidates, there is good reason for Nigerians to be hopeful.
“Three of the presidential candidates promised to pay the accumulation of arrears owed to ASUU by the federal government. If that is done, it will go a long way in stabilizing the sector, especially at the tertiary level,” he said.
“We just hope that 2023 is better. We look to the future as we await the new president and the fulfillment of his promises.”
Akanni Sulaimon, an education consultant, believes that the education sector will witness stability and functional progress for whoever wins the next presidential election.
“Whoever wins the presidential election will be a key factor in what happens to the education sector in 2023. First, they will try to consolidate their position in the face of the second-term election, so they will do everything they can to stabilize the sector.
“In addition, I believe that with the Union of Academic Staff of Universities (ASUU) singing a new tone to go on strike, the sector, especially in the tertiary cadre, will improve this time on equal terms,” he said.
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Bamidele Okuwoga, legal practitioner, the ASUU strike is not totally ruled out because the teachers’ union is not stable with its decisions; furthermore, she does not see the strike as an ideal bargaining tool.
“The strike has never been a productive bargaining tool. It is counterproductive with the consequent loss of learning time, manpower and potential for productive activities,” he said.
Okuwoga applauded the increase in the budget allocation for education, but reiterated that budget implementation is more important.
“The increase in the education budget is a welcome development, but the implementation of the budget is more important,” he said.
He reiterated that what is needed to improve education is the provision of infrastructure and other amenities for the growth of the sector and the healthy development in all its facets.
To this, the legal practitioner argued that the leadership and its team of administrators who will assume the mantle of governance of the current government are critical to what happens with the budget.
Friday Erhabor, director of media and strategy at Markelenz Limited, unless the country is lucky enough to have a president who loves and is passionate about education, the industry would likely see a worse scenario.
“The current regime at the federal level is not convincing enough when it comes to education, even though it increased the budget allocation.
“What happened the last time ASUU went on strike was not a good development. It seems that no work no pay is a deliberate attempt to subdue teachers, and once that happens, what happened in public primary and secondary education will happen in tertiary institutions where everyone will fight to send their children to private schools. while public universities will. they no longer attract good, quality teachers,” he said.
Similarly, Biodun Ogunyemi, immediate former president of ASUU, revealed that a new strike by teachers from public universities in the country in 2023 is not ruled out.
Ogunyemi recently revealed this while appearing on Channels Television 2022: In Retrospect, a year-end special.
Ogunyemi pointed to the federal government’s insensitivity to ASUU’s difficulties as a reason for his view, noting that it is unfair not to pay its members in arrears, since they too are working behind schedule.
“We must understand what triggers the strike action. I don’t think anyone can promise you that there will be no strike in 2023,” he said.
Robert Ibeawuchi, a Benin-based civil engineer, revealed to BusinessDay that, as far as he is concerned, the fate of the education sector depends on who wins the upcoming presidential election.
According to Ibeawuchi, “If the ruling party’s presidential candidate wins the elections, then we should not expect anything different because he would like to maintain the structure established by his predecessor.
“However, if the country is lucky enough to have a change of government at the center, well, we can start thinking about a changed system that doesn’t necessarily suggest that it will be ‘uhuru,’” he said.