By Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday inaugurated the 400-bed Afe Babalola University Teaching Hospital(ABUTH), Ado Ekiti, saying it would help in stopping Nigerians from seeking medical treatments abroad.
Osinbajo, who was represented at the occasion by the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, said Nigerians spent multibillion naira on overseas medical trips annually, revealing that the hospital, which he described a masterpiece would fill the gap and enhance healthcare delivery system in the country.
This was as the Governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodele Fayose and former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission(NUC), Prof Peter Okebukola, solicited special funding from the federal government to drive private universities in the country for better efficiency .
Okebukola, who delivered a lecture entitled: ‘The Place and Continued Relevance of Private Universities Globally’, stated that there was need for private universities to be given grant-in-aid and have unfettered access to Tertiary Education Trust Fund(TETFUND) .
Osinbajo while performing the commissioning praised the founder, Chief Afe Babalola(SAN) for his vision and love for humanity, saying the step taken was a watershed in the history of the nation.
“This hospital will go a long way in conserving funds being spent by Nigerians on medical trips abroad.
With this, Nigerians can now be treated by Nigerians.” he said.
“It takes a man with vision and large heart for his nation and people to do this. It will help in addressing the poor heath indicators in our system,” the VP said.
Fayose, who noted that ABUAD remained the second largest employer of labour in Ekiti State, said the hospital could not be compared with any in Nigeria and African continent.
“It could have been disastrous to Ekiti if this university is built elsewhere. The facilities in this university and the new hospital have no rival. Those medical treatments you go to London, South Africa and America to do can now be done here in Ekiti.”
Okebukola, in his lecture said out of the 23,000 universities that exist globally that private universities represented less than 25 per cent, adding that “they are doing excellently well in human security by way of complementing the public universities for human capital development”.
He added further: “68 per cent of scholars that had won Nobel laurels in Physics, Sciences and Medicine were trained in private universities.
“Apart from this, many of the world icons, I mean presidents and Prime Ministers of great nations were trained in private universities , so they are making good contributions to nation building and their effects can’t be underestimated”, he said.
Okebukola said it was wrong for the federal government to restrict the TETFUND solely to public schools since the two were working for the same purposes of producing human resources to drive the country’s economy.
“Many captains of industries and workers in the multinational organizations were trained by private universities. If you look at their contributions, they pay taxes and since they do this, they should be given grant-in-aid and access to other sources of funding.
“They are good competitors for private universities. They fostered discipline and maintain standards through stable academic calendars .
“Giving them financial support will help in reducing their tuition fees which were adjudged too high now.
“The FG can give them those financial supports with conditions that there will be staff retention, stable academic calendar , sustained performances and reduction in tuition fees and all these will help in shaping our education sector”.
Okebukola predicted that the future of private universities is bright in Nigeria and that no effort should be spared in helping them to rise to stardom to boost the country’s ranking globally.