Dr. Wale Babalakin

Babalakin faults South-West free education policy

NEWS DIGEST–The Pro-Chancellor, University of Lagos, Dr Wale Babalakin (SAN), has described the 1979 free education policy in Western Nigeria as one of the saddest events in Nigeria’s history.

According to him, Western Nigeria embarked on a free education policy without the resources to fund it.

Babalakin argued that while there was nothing wrong in free education, quality education should not be sacrificed on the altar of free education.

According to a statement on Sunday, the UNILAG pro-chancellor said this in his review of Chief Olatunde Abudu’s biography, titled, “Sowing the Industrial Mustard Seed.”

The biography, written by Prof. Omololu Soyombo, was publicly presented in Abeokuta, Ogun State as part of events marking the 90th birthday of Abudu, a seasoned lawyer and industrialist.

The event was graced by former President Olusegun Obasanjo; the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo; the Osile of Oke-Ona Egba, Oba AdedapoTejuoso; Justice Bola Ajibola; Chief Ayo Adebanjo; a former Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga; Senator Femi Okurounmu; Prof. Ajao Adelekan and Dr G. Soyoye, among others.

The Governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun, was represented by his deputy, Mrs Yetunde Onanuga.

In his review of the biography, Babalakin said, “One of the saddest events in Nigeria’s life was 1979, when free education was declared in Western Nigeria without the resources to fund it. There is nothing wrong with free education, I support it but if I have to choose between quality education and free education, I will choose the former.

“For example, my alma mater, Government College, Ibadan, which used to have 100 students per class, now has 2,000 students, without any increase in infrastructure. This prompted a writer to say that this misguided egalitarianism should be the subject of a UNESCO investigation on how education was destroyed in this area.”

Babalakin described Abudu as “a man of integrity, an exceptional scholar, a great family man, a brilliant and foresighted lawyer, a remarkably resourceful person, a phenomenal entrepreneur, a knowledgeable man of industry, a relentless giver and the most charitable person you can ever imagine.”

He regretted that Abudu shied away from politics.

He said, “We cannot have the most gifted people shying away from politics. The most painful thing in this world is to be subject to a powerful mediocre. He has the power to destroy you but he has no knowledge to understand what you are saying,” Babalakin said.