Former Governor Peter Obi has called on the Nigerian government to prioritise investment in education, noting that it was the most important asset of any nation.
Obi, who made the call in his keynote speech at the Maiden Education Summit of National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), Enugu State, maintained that, as the greatest asset of any nation, education can help to boost the economy, build the social values of individuals, and achieve better governance in a nation.
He lamented that governments, over the years, have not paid due attention to education as the most important tool for national development, arguing that the Nigerian society rewards political thugs more than teachers and professors, who are the pillars of educational growth in the country.
He regretted that the government negotiates with bandits while lecturers on strike are ignored. “Professors, teachers and retired teachers are owed their due financial rewards while political leaders share and spend money on frivolities,” Obi said.
“In the United States, for example, the governor of California earns about $200,000 while Stanford University professors earn about $300,000 each. This is because they understand that the professor is more valuable to society than many political leaders,” he added.
Citing examples with countries like China, India, Bangladesh and Ghana, which had similar low-ranking HDI with Nigeria in the year 2000, Obi said that these countries are, today, doing better than Nigeria because they have invested in the critical areas of development, of which education was the most important.
Obi also blamed rising poverty and dearth of entrepreneurship in Nigeria on inadequate education, occasioned by government’s apparent neglect of the education sector.
In his words, “The progressive societies you see today are propelled by the private sector, the bedrock of which is entrepreneurship. Without proper education, it would be difficult for a nation to raise an army of entrepreneurs that will drive the economy.”
Obi urged the government to invest aggressively in education so as to move the country forward.