The Founder, Bayo and Bunmi Babalola Foundation, Engr. Sunday Adebayo Babalola on Monday said the revelation that about 13.2 million children in Nigeria, which is an equivalent of seven per cent of the country’s population, are out of school is debilitating.
The Governor of Gombe State, Governor Mohammed Yahaya, had while flagging off the domestication of At-Risk Children Project (ARC-P) in the state said about 13.2 million children in Nigeria are out of school.
Babalola in an interview said the development is a sad retrogression and will negatively affect national growth and development.
He identified lack of planning by relevant authorities, lack of patriotism, insecurity, unemployment, harsh economic conditions as some of the contributory factors.
He called on the different tiers of government, security agencies, corporate bodies, donor agencies and philanthropists to salvage the ugly situation.
He stated that his the foundation will be investing in 2021 N10m in scholarships for benefiting pupils in Junior and Senior Secondary Schools as well as students in tertiary institutions as part of his
contribution to educational development.
He stated that the organisational cost and other logistics are not included in the N10m. He noted that the foundation had in previous years awarded scholarships to indigent and deserving pupils and students.
Babalola said, “In this time and age, every child should be educated.
That is what will move our nation forward. Having over 13m out of school pupils is not good. A country that can not educate its citizens is bound not to progress, It is bound to go down. Education is the bedrock of development and having 13 million out-of-school children is the height of retrogression. The development could further worsen Nigeria’s already heightened insecurity. Insecurity has already exploded and things are normal. There are robbery, banditry, kidnappings. Nigeria is not even sitting on a keg of gun powder. The gun powder has already exploded.
“What caused this 13 million out of school pupils is planlessness and lack of patriotism. The resources we have in this country is enough to make all sectors functional and people comfortable. Most of our leaders and Nigerians are self-centred. We have enough resources to grow all sectors. We can plan things very well so that we can have a good balance but lack of patriotism and lack of planlessness are inhibiting factors. Insecurity is also another problem.
“Also the out of school pupils are part of the insecurity problem in this country. Those who are educated are part of the insecurity problem because many of the graduates are unemployed and they look for a way to survive.”
He added, “People in government should start thinking and ensure that they do the right thing. There was a time when nomadic education was implemented in this country. If they could try to educate nomads, I do not see why the 13 million out of school children should not be educated.”
He said it is illogical that while the FG had claimed to have spent billions of naira on its National Home Grown School Feeding Programme, the number of out-of-school children in the country increased.
For instance, The Federal Government had claimed to have spent about N1.8bn in Ondo State over three years.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, had also claimed that FG was spending N8 million every day on 114,261 pupils benefiting from the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), in Enugu State Also Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje has said that the Federal Government spends N1.5 billion monthly on school feeding programme in the state.
Babalola said, “The FG said it is doing feeding programme and 13 million children are not in school. It will be a shame for the country in future.”
He stated that his the foundation was investing in scholarships for pupils and students to aid their academic advancement.
Babalola said, “Our scholarships affect children who are in school. If they are not in school, they can not enjoy the scholarship or bursary.
“We are trying out best to get indigent students who are doing very well and whose parents want to train them. We take that up in our little wat as our contribution to the society.
We are planning to spend N10m absolute. More money will also be spent on organisation and logistics. The beneficiaries will be JSS 1- 3, SSS 1-3 and tertiary students.”
Babalola, who is also, an energy expert urged the Federal Government to prosecute culprits of the about 13,000 uncompleted projects as revealed by the a forensic audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission.
He lamented that in spite of about N6 trillion approved for NDDC by the FG in 18 years, between 2001 – 2019, about 13,000 projects remained uncompleted, according to the forensic audit.
He said, “It is sad and showed a lack of patriotism, you are giving money to do a project, you are in charge of that project and you refuse to do it. That is very sad. There is no basis to have 13,000 uncompleted projects. Money is realised, why should work not be done?
“The FG should take a step further, arrest all the culprits. Those who will prosecute the suspects must not leave loopholes for them to explore, latch onto and escape justice. The prosecution must be thorough and effective. The country can not continue like that. There are people who are responsible for the projects, the FG could not have woken up to say we want to do 13,000 projects. Those in charge of the uncompleted projects should be prosecuted.”
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