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Don laments government’s poor investment in human capital

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PHOTO: bellanaija.com

Eminent scholar and member of The Guardian editorial board, Mr Francis Onaiyekan has deplored the failure of successive leaders in the country to invest in education and invariably, human capital.

Onaiyekan posited that if education is so valuable to the nation it should be the topmost item on the nation’s investment plan.
Sadly, he lamented that available data showed that the nation’s political leadership does not desire to invest in public education that will benefit the greatest number of citizens.

Onaiyekan stated this in his paper presented at the 60th anniversary celebration of the founding of St. Augustine’s College, Kabba.

In his paper titled, “What is the great purpose of education”, Onaiyekan also tasked leaders on the need to embrace continuous learning reminding that leading people in the 21st century required an all-round knowledge.

“If education is so obviously valuable, beneficial and desirable, one should reasonably expect it to be the topmost item on Nigeria’s investment plan as indeed, it is in development-focused countries. After all, you can reap dividends only from what you invest in. Alas, there is enough evidence to show that Nigeria’s political leadership does not desire to invest in public education that will benefit the greatest number of citizens.

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“Ask Israel, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore that have little natural resources but possess huge intellectual capital and corresponding productive capabilities. These countries wield global influence far beyond their physical sizes. Brain power is forever the name of the game.”

“Aspiring leaders, as well as persons in leadership positions cannot educate themselves enough. In order to be ready and able for the multi-dimensional challenges of leading unpredictable men and women in a complex world, leaders must continually educate themselves in diverse fields of knowledge.”

According to him, human resource is the most important asset of a nation; intellectual capital is the most precious component of that human asset and education is the means to build intellectual capital.

He said, “I single out the political leadership for a reason. Government, in the hands of political leaders, is a crucial determinant of the condition, the direction, the progress, and ultimately, the fate of a nation. I do not think that Nigeria’s political leaders in the past 50 years have been truly ‘educated’. For, they do not show sufficient appreciation of the value and benefits of an educated citizenry, and the positive difference this can make for the leader in the task of governance.

Citing the guidelines and qualifications set out in the constitution for persons seeking elective positions, Onaiyekan said such calls for serious concern.

His words, “Our past leaders, particularly authors of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) do not seem to see a necessary connection between education and leadership, Nigeria’s supreme manual on governance states in Section 13 (d) that a person shall be qualified for election to the office of President if ‘he has been educated up to at least school certificate level’.

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