Former Vice Chancellor of University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof Tolu Odugbemi, has said that Africa can break away from the backwaters of underdevelopment if greater attention is directed at adequate funding of universities.
Prof Odugbemi said this while presenting a paper at the second matriculation and distinguished lecture of Mountain Top University (MTU), Ogun State, titled, “Fundamental Issues in Running a New University in Nigeria.”
He lamented that inadequate funding of varsities has, to a great extent, hindered the progress of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) on the continent, urging African leaders to ensure that universities are well-funded so as to impact profoundly on the quality of higher education delivery, develop a good and well-coordinated research policy to be backed up by local and international research grants.
He said: “Universities are first and foremost communities of scholars and students committed to the search for knowledge in specific areas. They are also centres of excellence and innovations, committed to knowledge generation (research), dissemination (teaching) and application (community service).
“But Africa is yet to witness meaningful development due to poor funding. The progress of STI on the continent has been hindered to a very large extent by underfunding of universities due to rival claims on public finances. Investments in STI are key ingredients for long-term development, and they are critical elements in achieving the objectives of the SDGs in Africa.
“Private organisations and governments therefore, at both the state and federal levels, must increase their spending in science and technology researches in universities. Top graduates of these institutions must be retained, if Nigeria and indeed Africa is to become competitive in global economy. I desire to see a Nigeria that is in the forefront of scientific and technological achievements,” Odugbemi said.