Fashola marks 2,200 days in office with focus on education

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babatunde_fasholaLagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Thursday commemorated his 2,200 days in office with a parley with higher education institutions and undergraduates, reiterating that the nation’s training methods must not only be re-orientated to retain the critical building blocks but must also become adapted to the real needs of society.

The governor, who spoke at the Lagos State University, Ojo Main Campus Auditorium, before a gathering of students of all the major higher institutions, student bodies and voluntary organisations, said this has become imperative because it seems clear from the deduction of experts that the GOWN (which is the generic word for our higher institutions of learning such as LASU, AOCOED, LASPOTECH, MOCPED) is not communicating with the TOWN (the generic word for the larger society comprising the government and its institutions, as well as private sector).

He added that from now on, it is very important that the GOWN and the TOWN must begin to talk as there must be a handshake, adding that the decision to hold the interactive session at the Lagos State University is to facilitate and encourage the discussion and communication between the GOWN and the TOWN.

“Our students in tertiary institutions are in the generation right behind us. They are the ones who in a short time will bear the responsibility to refine our crude oil, generate our electricity, produce our water, manage this university, build our trains, secure our state and country and generally be responsible for our people’s well-being”.

“The question then is this. Do these leaders in waiting and in training understand what we are doing? Do they understand why we are doing it? What are the choices of study that they themselves have made? Why did they make them? Does our society still require those skills they are learning? Is there an inherent flaw in the training we are offering in a way that it does not connect with our societal needs? Why do we have so much to do in our country and yet still have so many unemployed people?,” the governor sought to know.

He explained that the need to re-orientate the nation’s training needs informed the setting up of a School of Transportation at LASU, to prepare a new generation of professionals that will become transport planners, transport managers and transport operators as transportation is a global problem and it is no less so in Lagos or any other part of Nigeria.

According to him, to help the GOWN assist in developing the TOWN, the state has created an Innovation Council led by the Commissioner for Science and Technology and other members drawn from the private sector with their brief being to promote innovation and development.

Fashola informed that the administration is also operating an After-School Graduate Development Programme where it is investing graduates with new skills to help them adapt to the needs of the nation’s economy and find well-paid jobs or start their own business while a provision to fund research has also been created in the State budget.

He explained that for the current year, N1.5 billion was budgeted but which no one person has yet applied for the research fund.

He said the ultimate answer to finding a solution to unemployment and joblessness lies in three simple words which is ‘made’ ‘in’ ‘Nigeria’ as no other nation has done it another way.

“So to get to “Made in Nigeria”, we must innovate and be creative. Innovation requires us to start looking for new and more efficient ways of doing the same thing. Creativity is the hand maid of innovation which suggests we must develop things for ourselves”.

“This is the road to “Made in Nigeria”. This is the super-highway to a new economy that is home-grown and increasingly self-dependent and self-reliant”, he reiterated.

The governor who gave examples to back up his expositions said the training of doctors must adapt to what is being experienced today in terms of public health issues, life style diseases like hypertension, heart and kidney diseases and cases of cancers for which treatment must be available locally in order to keep the jobs here.

“Our medicine must now focus also on sports medicine which is a growing area of need and which requires specialization. We must stop thinking about treating malaria, and start thinking about how to eradicate plasmodium or create a vaccine for it. Our lawyers for example must receive training in either contract or commercial law on how to negotiate PPPs or concessions”.

Fashola also used the occasion to give an account of what his administration has achieved in the last 100 days, saying the 2013 Budget recorded a first quarter performance of 61 percent during the period with the impact being felt across various sectors.

He said the implementation has helped government to continue to progress in many civil works projects such as the Adiyan Phase II water works, the Lagos Badagry Expressway, Mile 12 – Ikorodu Road, over 200 inner city and neighbourhood roads across Lagos, educational projects within LASU, AOCOED and other institutions.

“Many housing projects across Lagos are now at roofing stage while we have commenced many more as we prepare to start allocation later this year. We have also completed some projects in the last 100 days such as the Emeka Anyaoku Housing Estate in Ikeja, the flagship twenty-four hour Primary Health Care Centres in Lagos Island, Mosan Okunola in Alimosho and Ajara in Badagry have been fully re-fitted, re-staffed and now operational”, he said.

He said two more will be added in June as the state marches on to fulfil her commitment to deliver a pilot of 57 (Fifty Seven) flagship primary Healthcare facilities that will set the pace for Grassroots Healthcare and a robust preventive and referral based health care system.

He said the commitment of the State Government to Education was also heightened as she hosted her 3rd Education Summit which showed a successful implementation of the recommendations of the last summit, adding that two of the quick indices of the successful implementation is the improvement to an average of 39 percent of students who passed WAEC in 2012 with five credits including English and Maths from the 7 percent recorded in 2007 from the State.

“At the University level, from a baseline of a withdrawal of accreditation for 10 (ten) courses, all courses have received accreditation except 1 (one) and LASU is now ranked 11th amongst the list of 129 (One Hundred and Twenty Nine) Nigerian Universities and is the highest ranked State University”, he stated.

The governor also said during the last 100 days, the state approved bursaries and scholarships to different categories of students in order to help them support themselves through school and to ensure that no child is left behind only because the parents are poor.

“We have been vigorously battling crime and the security reports I received at our monthly meeting which held yesterday shows that things are getting better. In addition to the security reports, our security agents and agencies have become more pro-active”.

Fashola said in the last 100 days, the administration completed and opened the first cable stayed bridge in West Africa, the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge as a transport solution to decongest Lekki, Victoria Island, Ikoyi and access to the Mainland.

He re-assured Lagosians that the State Government remains focused on service delivery and that its commitment to the residents in the remaining 2 (Two) years will not be different from administration’s commitment on the first day.

Responding to a question on Research Fund accessibility during the question and answer session, Governor Fashola again explained that Government has set up a committee to set guidelines for accessing the fund pointing out that although the guidelines were yet to come out, a person wishing to access the fund would submit, a written document specifying the type of research he or she wishes to undertake, what the existing state of affairs is and what they have done thus far to justify the need for the fund.

“These are what the Committee would like to see before the funds are made available”, the Governor said. He, however, agreed that the existence of the fund has not been given adequate publicity adding, “This is the reason why I have deliberately included it in my speech for today so that many more people can be aware of it”.

He further disclosed, “The Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget with the Ministry of Education oversee the implementation of these funds and should you require further inquires about how this would operate, I am sure if you approach them, they will respond”. The Governor, however, also directed any interested group to call him or send enquiries through his mail box.

Fashola, in response to another question on Child Rights and child abuse, said his administration has been doing a lot in that direction recalling the maiden Annual CEO Forum and Business Roundtable on Children’s Rights organized in Lagos by the Children and Business Network, Nigeria, where the issue was exhaustively discussed.

“Let me say, for example, that just last Thursday I was at an event where the issue that was discussed from morning till evening was about how much more we can do about implementing the Child Rights Law enacted in this State; a law that sets out the rights of children, the obligations of Government and their parents, a law that we have published in simplified form so that children can read and understand as to what their rights and entitlements are”, the Governor said.

Fashola further explained that the purpose of that Thursday’s conference was to highlight the roles corporate organizations were supposed to play and their obligations towards the implementation of Child Rights Law pointing out that the organizations were the ones which had direct and substantial interacts with children.

Noting that the Child Rights Law was silent on the role corporate organisations were expected to play, Governor Fashola declared, “They are the ones who, in the event, have substantial interaction with the children in terms of food supply and so on and we thought they should have a role to play”.

He admitted the existence of a problem with the protection of child’s rights in the State but declared, “It is not a problem that we cannot deal with. We understand what those problems are. We are responding as best as we can and that is why the protection of women and children has been at the focal point of our administration’s commitment”.

“What we have done is that we have sat down with our experts over the last six years, to explain and to teach us what are the causes of maternal and infant mortality and they identified a lot of causes. They first identified the preference of our people for traditional birth attendants. We trained hundreds of those attendants to be able to operate in more sanitary and more contemporary environment”, the Governor said adding that as a result of expert advice Government also bought anti-shock garments for the hospitals to save women from excessive bleeding during child birth.

The governor also said in order to solve the problem of distance which the experts also identified as cause of maternal and infant mortality, Government has now built seven Maternal and Childcare Centres across the State comprising a four storey building with modern health facilities, two surgical theatres for mothers and children in the State.

“There is one in Ikorodu, there is one in Ifako-Ijaiye, there is one in Isolo, there is one in Ajegunle, there is one in Surulere, there is one in Amuwo-Odofin and we are building one in Lekki and we have awarded the contracts for the ones in Badagry and Epe. Five are functional and the sixth one is being equipped and will soon be functional”, the Governor said adding that Government was also engaged in sensitization of women about how to look after themselves during pregnancy and childbirth.

Fashola, however, said in as much as the Government would continue to do its best towards the protection of the child in the State, the peculiarity of the State in terms of rate of population increase would always constitute a challenge adding, “There cannot be a life without problems but what is important is that we recognize that there is a problem. Are we doing something about it? Yes. Can we do better?, we can always do better because there is no finish line in the race for excellence”.

Describing Child Abuse as a global phenomenon, the Governor, who recalled the incident in the United States recently where a man was arrested for illegally keeping two girls in his custody for ten years, called on all and sundry to join hands with Government in solving the problem of child abuse saying that was the only way to confront the challenge in the State and the country.

Responding to another question by a physically challenged female student on the unemployment of physically challenged people, Governor Fashola explained that his administration “has enacted a legislation that seeks to protect physically challenged people in the way that we develop our society”, adding that the legislation compels people to design buildings and other facilities in such a way that they make provision for physically challenged people.

“The journey to implementing that legislation now rests with all of us. Our architects, our building engineers, our contractors should adapt that law to meet the realities of members of our society who have physical challenges”, the Governor said adding that Government has also employed some physically challenged people in the Ministries of Finance and Justice and has treated many of such applications that have come to him.

Fashola, however, encouraged the physically challenged to also seek to acquire some skill that could enable them to be self employed pointing out that no matter the efforts of Government, not everybody would be in government employment. He added, “I don’t have all of the answers but I know that some of you are intelligent and some of you are very creative and if we sit down to talk to ourselves instead of ignoring ourselves, we can find a solution to this problem.

On a question on infrastructure in the schools, Fashola who described it as an unending journey declared, “When this school (LASU) started many years ago, it did not have this type of population. Now We do plan for population growth and we do put in place development plan. That is where we are today”.

“That is why we are implementing 10 or so projects simultaneously at a time when we should have been doing it one at a time. But going forward, when we catch our breath from this, it will not happen again because we are almost through now to develop a master plan to sustain the growth of this school for the next 50 years”, the Governor said.

In response to a question on provision security in tertiary institutions in the State, Governor Fashola said putting external security in the University was an anomaly pointing out that if the students maintained peace and non-violence in the schools, they would not need external security.

Prominent among those who witnessed the event were the Deputy Governor, Hon (Mrs) Adejoke Orelope Adefulire, former Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, his wife, Alhaja Abimbola Jakande, former Deputy Governor, Prince Abiodun Ogunleye, members of the State Executive Council including the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Lateef Ibirogba, elder statesman, Alhaji H.A.B. Fasinro, traditional rulers and students from various institutions in the State.

 

 

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