Keynote address delivered by Engr. Dideolu Falobi, at the convocation ceremony of Lagos City Polytechnic held on March 5, 2020

Protocols duly observed.

Rose Sithole in “Values of Education” said, “Education is first and foremost a fundamental human right that is essential for the exercise of all other values.” Education provides individual freedom and empowerment and yields important benefits. Education is a powerful tool by which economically and socially marginalized adults and children can lift themselves out of poverty and participate fully in nation building as citizens.

Education gives us knowledge which in itself is power as it is a rope that can carry us to greater heights. It removes our doubts and fears. Education is self-empowerment, creates awareness and better understanding of your environment, and enhances your ability to support or constructively criticize government policies and regulations.

In view of the foregoing, it is my opinion that Education benefits all stakeholders in the project called Nation-building. It should not be treated as a privilege or just a right but as a FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT that should be qualitative, be made compulsory, be free up to secondary level; and that should be accessible to all at Tertiary level. Education should be the second most important function of government after the security of lives and properties.

In the words of Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.”

The topic for me is “Enhancing the Standard of Tertiary Education in Nigeria” This topic is understandable given the facts that we are within the precincts of a provider of tertiary education. Founded in 1995 as the first private tertiary educational institution in Nigeria, the polytechnic has, over the years, held its own creditably among the comity of tertiary institutions in Nigeria.

I salute the vision of the founders, I salute the achievements of Lagos City Polytechnic so far, I congratulate today’s new graduates and their parents/sponsors. I welcome you to the labour world. I wish you success in your future endeavours.

I consider it a big privilege to be chosen to deliver the Keynote Address at this special occasion, and before this most distinguished audience. On behalf of myself, my family, and my corporate and other tangible and intangible interests, I thank the Governing Council for the honour. Let me admit that the topic of this speech was made known to me a bit late but being a son of two quintessential educationists, primary school teachers and head teachers, I found the topic most exciting. In my position as the National President of the Old Students’ Association of Methodist High School, Ilesa and having just been elected exactly a week ago today as the National Chairman of the University of Lagos Faculty of Engineering Alumni Association, the choice of this topic is actually a gift to me. Thank you.


Yaba Higher College, founded in 1934, was the first forum of higher Education Institution established in Nigeria. Its establishment was sequel to a realization by Mr. E.R.J Hussey who was the country’s colonial Director of Education that, “The number of Europeans in posts in Nigeria not only of senior but also junior ranks, was very large and that situation could not continue indefinitely. Indeed, British personnel were performing duties which in other countries in Africa were already being performed by Africans. It was obviously necessary to start an Institution which in the first instance would be a “Higher College” and develop in due course into a University.” (Hussey, 1959:91). It is instructive to note that Hussey was also of the opinion that although no limit would be set to the scope of the Institution, it may take a long time before it reaches the standard, which must be its ultimate aim of that of a British University (Hussey, 1930:29–31). In 1948, staff and students of Yaba Higher College numbering 13 and 104 respectively were absorbed into the University College as a College of the University of London. They joined Dr. Kenneth Mellanby who had been recruited to set up the institution as recommended by the Asquith Commission (Ejiogu, 1986:51).

According to Azikiwe and Ojukwu (1954:32-33) “In order that the foundation of Nigeria Leadership shall be securely laid, to the end that this country shall cease to imitate the excrescence of a civilization which is not rooted in African Life, we recommend that a full-fledged university should be established in this region. Such a higher institution of learning should not only be cultural according to the classical concept of universities, but should also be vocational in its objective and Nigerian in its context.”

The University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) thus emerged on October 5, 1960 with a “Commitment to a philosophy that provides for the broadening of higher education whereby it can be fully equipped to offer courses in such branches of learning as are related to Agriculture, Business and Industry without excluding the classics, the arts and scientific studies.”


Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, (1962), the University of Lagos (1962) and the University of Ife (1961) were products of the Ashby Commission which was  set up in April 1959 to conduct an investigation into Nigeria’s needs in the field of post-school certificate education for over twenty years. These, together with the University of Ibadan and the University of Benin (Established in 1970) are known today as first generation universities.

In the third National Development Plan (1975 – 1980), the Federal Government of Nigeria established seven universities by fiat namely, Universities of Calabar (1975), Ilorin (1976), Jos (1975), Sokoto (1977), Maidugiri (1975), Port Harcourt (1977), and Ado Bayero University, Kano (1977). These are the second generation universities. All these Universities became Federal Universities by virtue of Decree 46 of 1977 (Iruonogbe Egbeweva, 2015).

Federal Universities of Technology situated at Akure, Owerri, Markurdi, Yola and Bauchi as well as the state Universities at Owerri, Ado-Ekiti, Lagos, Uyo and Calabar constitute the third generation of universities. They were established between 1980 and 1990. Others include Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye and Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma.

The fourth generation Universities were those established between 1991 and date with neither adequate planning nor proper feasibility studies.  Several of them started from makeshift campuses without enough resources and facilities thereby making guinea pigs of the first five generation of students from such institutions.


The UNESCO’s guideline for the funding of education stipulates that developing nations should invest as much as 26% of their annual budgetary allocation to the Education sub-sector. In Nigeria, the percentage of the budget for education has always been abysmally short of the UNESCO target, and even then the budgets are under-implemented on most occasions.

It was the hideously poor allocations in the 90s that led to the encouragement of private investment in tertiary education. Another reason was the lack of capacity of the existing public universities to absorb the number of students seeking admission. For example, only an average of about 14% of the students seeking admission got admitted between 1978/79 and 2007/2008 with the lowest being a paltry 5.25% in 2002/2003, a year that the funding of education was a ridiculous 1.53% of the annual budget.

Thus, private tertiary institutions which had first become a feature of our education scheme during the Shagari era (1979 – 1983), reared up its head once again in 1999.

According to Okebukola (2002) and NUC (2004) the licensing for private tertiary institutions is justifiable because of the numerous benefits. Some of the benefits are:

  1. Provision of enough and adequate teaching and learning materials.
  2. Raising alternative ways of funding the University.
  3. Improving the quality of University Education.
  4. Enhancing efficiency
  5. Widening access to tertiary education.
  6. Provision of stable academic calendar.


Education, as stated earlier is the foundation upon which developed societies are built (Budgit). Nations that thrive invest in education as a tool for the development of skills which can be used to produce wealth, create and sustain a suitable society. Each time the nation founded universities/Tertiary Institutions, there were plausible reasons given. I recall some of those reasons as follows for emphasis:

A .Yaba Higher College

The need to begin to create a pool of Nigerian personnel who could understudy and eventually replace the large British Personnel in the country. The goal was eventually to develop the institution to a standard that is comparable to that of a British University.

B.University of Nigeria, Nzukka

The need for a University that will be cultural, vocational in objective and Nigerian in its context with full responsibility for its degrees unlike UCI which degrees were awarded by the University of London till 1963.

C.Ashby Commission University

Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, University of Lagos and the University of Ife (Now Obafemi Awolowo University) were founded in anticipation of the manpower needs of post-independence Nigeria up till 1979.

  1. The Second Generation Universities

They were founded to fill the identified gap between the growing demand for Tertiary education and the number of available Universities. Spread across the country was obviously a major consideration.

  1. The Third Generation Universities

Again, demand and need for geographical spread informed the founding of the third generation institutions inclusive of state-owned institutions. Unfortunately, inadequate planning and inadequate funding started rearing its ugly head by this era. Founding and location were driven by political considerations as against diligent planning. Most of these Universities started from make shift/temporary campuses with huge population, poor entry standards and poor regulation.

F.The Fourth Generation Universities

The Fourth generations Tertiary Institution are those established between 1991 and now including the private tertiary institutions. Most of them were founded without adequate planning or feasibility studies. Monitoring and Regulation were poor. The faculties were not staffed adequately and funding was a major problem from the beginning. Their founding was driven by demand and politics.

G.The Private Universities

While the private universities were founded as a result of demand and the rejection of the public universities which had become enmeshed in various crises, poor planning, Poor approval/licensing process and compromise of the standards put in place have led to the poor state of most of the private universities and tertiary institutions in the country.


Several studies and reports by Azikiwe & Ojukwu (1954), Banwo (2012) Coombs (1968), Coombs (1985), Ejiogu (1983, 1997, 2010), Fafunwa (1970), Okebukola (2002) and Ejiogu & Sule (2012) have established that the challenges facing tertiary education can be listed under the following “Key cross cutting issues (Ejiogu & Sule 2012).”

  1. Challenges of Access and Carrying Capacity

Today, Nigeria has 43 Federal Universities, 52 State Universities, and 79 Private Universities. There are 29 Federal Polytechnics, 48 State Polytechnics and 55 private polytechnics. There are also 21 Federal Colleges of Education, 49 State Colleges and 82 Private Colleges of Education yet; the consensus is that they are inadequate for the Almost 200 million Nigerians. In fact, it is an irony that the percentage of admission on yearly basis between 2010 and date belies the number of tertiary institutions in the country. A paltry 30-35% of the applicants have been admitted over the past ten years. The reason for the low admission is the low carrying capacity of the Institutions. The available teaching – learning facilities; infrastructure, and standard teacher-student ratio are inadequate. Since 1999/2000, the institutions have exceeded their respective carrying capacity by over ten present whereas over 60% of qualified candidates cannot find a place of study (Ejiogu & Sule 2012). In seeking to meet the demand for access, institutions have been established/licensed without adequate planning and resources.

  1. Inadequate funding

Coombs once observed that national education systems have always seemed tied to a life of crisis. Each has periodically known a shortage of funds, teachers, classrooms, teaching materials – a shortage of everything except students (Coombs, 1968:1). This scenario is still very true of Nigerian Universities. The percentage of the budget for education has ranged between 7.14% and 12.28% between 2011 and 2018 (Budget). Even all the allocation hardly gets disbursed. Capital expenditure has suffered more in this regard thereby depriving the institutions of the needed facilities and equipment. RESEARCH, WHICH IS A MAJOR ROLE OF TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS HAS SUFFERED ALMOST IRREVERSIBLY!!!

“Such is the plight of the Nigerian Tertiary institutions in which the federal and state governments go on opening up new institutions with unmitigated recklessness; inadequate funding to sustain the existing ones, and establishing new ones without any infrastructure in place nor funds to provide for same. The private universities may seem to be doing better in terms of funding and infrastructure, but the very high fees which they charge students make them accessibility herculean (Ejiogu & Sule).” I cannot agree less. I can only add that the regulatory authorities for tertiary institutions have not been sufficiently diligent in ensuring that both private and public institutions meet the minimum requirement for licensing and operation. A number of tertiary institutions run courses that are not even accredited!!!

  1. Brain Drain

One of the fall-outs of inadequate funding of Nigerian tertiary institutions is the “Brain drian” phenomenon (Ejiogu & Sule). It refers to emigration of academics, skilled professionals and high technical manpower from Nigeria to institutions abroad. Young academics refuse to return to the country after their studies abroad thereby depriving Nigeria of their highly needed knowledge and skills. The resultant effect is that Nigeria tertiary institutions are suffering from inadequate faculty.

Poor remuneration also ensured that even the few that are in Nigeria do not devote their full time to their jobs because of their efforts to make ends meet (FME, 2007:185). The push factor are pitiable and eroding salaries and allowances, unsatisfactory working conditions, inadequacy of support staff, lack of up to-date teaching and research facilities, social unrest and discriminatory appointment and promotion practices. It was so bad that between 1997 and 2009, the number of academic staff declined by 12%. In fact, according to Olufemi, 2000, Brain Drain has left the institutions with less than 48% of its staffing needs achieved. The worst affected in the shortfall are engineering (73%), medicine (65%) and the sciences (53%).

  1. Instability of Academic Calender

Successive riots and all sorts of crisis have also led to the closure of institutions and instability of the academic calendar of the institutions. Between 1993 and 2012, public institutions were closed for a cumulative total of 177 weeks due to ASSU strikes (Bamiro, 2012:58). “These incessant strikes continue to paralyze academic activities, prolong duration of courses and consequently disorientate students and lecturers alike (Ejiogu & Sule, 2012).” Okwa and Campbell (2011:303) revealed that 80% of the respondents in their study, “Choose private institutions because of frequent strikes in public institutions”.


  1. Liberalisation of University Ownership and the Aftermath

The whole essence of liberalisation of ownership of tertiary institutions, argued Worka (2002), is competition, and hence; expectation of high yield dividends or profit from investment as well as higher standards or value for those who put their wards there. However, the emergence of private tertiary institutions in 1990 has not really impacted as positively as expected on higher education. Save for a few private institutions, most of them are underfunded, under-staffed, expensive, and their certificates unreliable. I am pleased to report that Lagos city Polytechnic, is not only the first private polytechnic in Nigeria, it is also one of those who have justified the policy that brought about private tertiary institutions on account of all their courses being fully accredited by the National Board on Technical Education. The core values of Lagos City Polytechnic are pioneering Excellence, mentoring and Modeling through the provision of high academic standard moral values and uninterrupted sessions. They have been living up to the academic creed. Kudos to the Founder, Governing Board, Management and Staff for the good job they are doing.


Cultism is another factor that has impacted negatively on tertiary education in Nigeria. Unfortunately, it cuts across public and private institutions. Cultism has not only created an atmosphere of insecurity on our campuses, it is also diverting attention from the primary purpose of the institutions which are education and research.

I do not want to discuss the causes and effects of cultism in details but I will speak more on how to eradicate cultism in our Universities later. Suffice to state that the primary school, secondary school and home environment have significant roles to play in the causes of cultism.

  1. Drug Abuse

Unfortunately, what applies to cultism applies to Drug Abuse. The role of those who provide pre-university education as well as that of parents cannot be under-rated in discussing these evil Siamese twins.


The topic for this lecture is “Enhancing the Standard of Tertiary Education in Nigeria”. Having listed the challenges, I guess the solutions are almost obvious. However, I crave the indulgence of the audience to allow us to take a look at the state of Primary and Secondary Education Institutions in Nigeria because the Tertiary Institutions are fed from these Primary and Secondary Schools. However, I will leave the history and causes of challenges with primary and Secondary Education and concentrate on what we need to do to enhance the standard of education at those levels.


There is a need to review the curriculum of primary education in Nigeria to reflect the fast-paced changes happening in the world. This is the computer age with coding being introduced at pre-primary school level yet most, if not all public school pupils have never seen a computer before not to speak of coding or programming.

Also, the infrastructures in most primary schools are so rotten that they are not fit for animals. Some study under trees and/or windowless, door less, classrooms with leaking roofs. Despite all the acronyms that have been bandied about, not much has been achieved in terms of quality education in public primary schools.

Other major challenges with primary school education are standardization of curriculum across public and private schools as well as the quality of the teachers. We cannot, by deliberate actions, be producing kids with different training, culture and orientation. Some are being prepared for the IVY League institutions of this world while some are being prepared to be artisans for life.

The quality of teachers at Primary schools needs to be reviewed as a matter of urgency. The teaching profession has become unattractive because of poor remuneration and conditions of service. Salaries are paid irregularly and those that retire hardly get their person and gratuity when due. Thus, people only go to the teaching profession when they have no choice. There is a need to change that, and fast too.

On private schools, there must be strict monitoring and assurance of availability of perquisite requirements before licenses are issued. The primary and secondary schools are supposed to provide mental, moral, physical and psychological education. Pupils transit from childhood to adulthood in these institutions. We must do everything to ensure that what we produce from them can fit the bill. Today, most private primary and secondary school institutions do not have facilities for taking care of the physical health of their pupils in terms of sporting facilities and medical support.


Whatever applies to primary education institutions applies to secondary education institutions apart from the issue of cultism and drugs which is now rearing its ugly head at secondary school level. Also the quality of tuition and management of secondary school have deteriorated sharply to the extent that most of the products of public secondary schools can no longer compete competently for spaces in tertiary institutions. Only private institutions are now able to prepare the students enough.

The National policy on education in Nigeria is based on 6-3-3-4. Unfortunately, the second “3”, which is the most pivotal if everybody who passed out of secondary school would be useful to himself is no longer effective. It is also pivotal if we were determined to achieve industrial growth as they provide the bulk of personnel for industrialization. The government needs to provide the technical laboratories that will take care of those who should undergo technical education after JSS3. Every school must be adequately equipped to do this, failing which we are only wasting the time of those who should have gone there. I call on all stakeholders in Education in Nigeria to ensure that 6-3-3-4 is operated in deed and in truth.


In discussing the enhancement of the standard of tertiary education effectively, we must first look exhaustively at FUNDING. Both Federal and State Governments are suffering from funding. Ditto the private sector.

Thus, I wish to review ways of means of making adequate funding for the educational sector be it primary, secondary or tertiary.

In the 2020 Budget as analysed by BudgIT, the approved budget is ₦10.59 trillion with a Deficit of ₦2.18 trillion. Of this, ₦2.47 trillion was allocated to recurrent expenditure while ₦4.49 trillion was allocated to Capital Expenditure. Of this amount, ₦706 billion was budgeted for Education which represents 6.67% of the total budget but 10.14% of the non-statutory provisions. This comes after Defense.

However, only ₦84 billion (11.9%) out of this huge budget will be deployed on capital Expenditure while works and Housing, Power and Agriculture Ministries will spend 315 billion (91.8%), Power ₦129billion (95.5%) and Agriculture ₦124billion (67.7%) on capital projects respectively. The paltry figure of ₦84.728million represents an increase of 44.37% over 2019 Budget.

UNESCO’S benchmark for education is 26% of the annual national budget. The provision of ₦315 billion for the ministries of Works and Power is also paltry compared with the result of Mckinsey on Nigeria’s infrastructure requirements of a yearly investment of ₦11.25 trillion ($31 billion) over a period of 10 years to bridge the gap. The usual source of funding which is loan has also become an albatross because the 2020 Budgetary Allocation for debt servicing at ₦2.72 million is ₦260 billion higher than the allocation for all capital expenditure in the budget which is ₦2.46 trillion. This is not healthy for the economy.

There is a budget deficit of ₦2.28 trillion which is almost the same as the capital revenue. Since debt servicing and other strategic allocations are almost untouchable, it is most likely that any deficit in budget revenue will impact negatively on the capital budget.



My recommendations are itemized below for clarity. If adopted, it should solve infrastructure problems, remove the loan burden while freeing funds for investment in Education and other critical investment areas such as Health, Agriculture, mass Housing through provision of Mortgage and Social Welfare which is presently non-existent.

1.All infrastructure that has inbuilt capacity to pay for itself such as Roads, Rail lines, Dams, Power Services and so on should be constructed on a Build, Operate and Transfer basis with full funding provided by private investors.

  1. Such investors will be responsible for the maintenance of the infrastructure during the lifetime of the Agreement.
  2. In order to achieve the above, the government should limit itself to Design, Scouting for Investors and Supervision of Construction.
  3. A robust legal frame work that will be acceptable to global equity Investors should be put in place to facilitate this with Arbitration domiciled in places like United Kingdom.
  4. Funds freed from this can be used to provide critical infrastructure for the educational sector, health sector, Mass housing and Agriculture.
  5. Part of the fund freed from infrastructure can be used to set aside two article funds namely:

A.Education investment funds

  1. Students loan fund

There will be more on students’ loan schemes later. The Education Investment Fund can be made available to private investors on a low-interest basis.


In line with the commitment of government to the provision of inexpensive education for the citizens up to tertiary level, and partly because of resistance by parents and students alike, school fees have been kept at a minimum at public tertiary institutions.

Thus, those institutions have relied on the government for funding which continues to reduce on a yearly basis. It is my position that every tertiary institution should be allowed to charge fees that will enable them to provide quality tuition and research. The government should however create, as I stated earlier an effective Students’ Loan Scheme that will give every student access based on liberal repayment terms post-graduation. Of course such loans should be interest free. In order to put this in place, the National Identity Card scheme has to be in place while each student should also have traceable guarantors before the loan is disbursed. The setting up of a Credit Risk Platform to classify defaulters on the loans and block their access to credit facilities will enhance the success of the scheme.


The current salary and remuneration of academic staff of tertiary institutions will not attract quality personnel. Where there are quality personnel they will always be distracted by the need to augment their income through what we call “Private Practice (PP)”. Of course, “PP” will detract from the quality of tuition and time for research. However, this is tied to funding and as soon as funding improves, the remuneration should be reviewed considerably.


The menace of drugs, cultism and other vices has eaten deep into the fabric of tertiary institutions. The federal government should become proactive in the approach to these menaces. The failure to eradicate them is a failure of intelligence. The percentage of students being recruited into cultism, drug abuse and related vices are increasing at such a rate that it should be declared a national emergency as against occasional lip-service. It is endemic.


While the NUC and others vested with the responsibility of monitoring Institutions seem to be getting better, there is need for more to be done. The Regulatory Authorities have to be proactive and effective in the discharge of their roles. The quality of Education receivable must be maintained across board. I believe that certain institutional certification schemes should be put in place to drive home the need for excellence among the tertiary institutions. Private Institutions should also be closely monitored to ensure that certificates are not commercialized. Everything that will ensure that tertiary institutions become the Centers of Excellence they are meant to be in all ramifications should be pursued by the Regulatory Authorities before and after take-off.


Tertiary Institutions should think out of the box so that their value can be higher as the full multiplier effect of their existence can be brought to bear on the nation. Quality of Research, Consultancy for Industries, Cooperation with industries, Provision of Training, Consultancy for Federal, State and Local Governments, Partnership with International and Local NGOs and Development Organizations are some of the ways they can generate funds creatively. These should be exploited maximally by all Institutions.


The government should begin to encourage the existing Institutions to increase their carrying capacity as against the proliferation of Institutions each of which add little or nothing to the overall effectiveness of the Institutions as a whole. Most of the first, second and third generation universities still have ample land for expansion. They should be expanded and made to deliver their mandate for a greater number of students and stakeholders.


All over the world, the growth of tertiary institutions and even others are not left to the government, promoters and/or the institutions alone. However, the responsibility for initiating the processes of getting such support should be that of the leadership of the Institutions. Every institution should identify and work with public spirited individuals and corporate organizations within their catchment area so that they can partner with them through various ways and means.

The cultivation of a virile Alumni Association is also helpful as most Alumni are easier to persuade to use their resources to develop their alma mater. Members of such Alumni Associations are also able to use their goodwill and network to enhance the growth of their Institutions. Parents of students are also stakeholders that should be partnered with to ensure that Institutions are able to meet the expectation of their founding fathers.


The enhancement of the standard of Education in Nigeria at all levels is the responsibility of all stakeholders including and not limited to the Parents, the Students, the Promoters, the Management of the Institutions, the Staff and the Regulatory Authorities. Everybody must identify and play their role. However, the Federal Government must declare a state of emergency in the educational sector. The decay, the rot and the level of decadence are too much. The children that are not trained might not allow those that are trained to live in peace. The future is here. The time to act is now.


Continue to improve yourself. Continue to acquire knowledge on all subjects. Set realistic, time based and measurable goals on your career, marriage, finances and any other thing that you consider to be of importance to your life. Work at the goals which could be short or long term and be focused. You will need tenacity of purpose, determination and hard work to succeed in life. Be close to your God and do not be distracted by the achievement of others which root you may not know. Respect your parents. Build and nurture your networks. Run your race and seek excellence at all times. I pray that the Almighty God will crown your efforts with success.

Once again, I thank the governing council of Lagos City Polytechnic for this opportunity and I congratulate and wish all the new graduates of today the very best in their future endeavours.

Thank you.

Engr. Dideolu Falobi, FNSE, FIoD

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