By Mike Odiakose
Professors and academics must take a keen interest, especially in issues of education and healthcare, exploring options for reform and innovation in those Human Capital Development sectors.
This was the highlight of the virtual meeting between Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN and a team of professors drawn from the six geo-political zones under the auspices of the Progressive Intellectuals Advisory Group (PIAG).
The Vice President who interacted with the dons on a number of topical national development issues urged stakeholders especially members of professional bodies to make contributions towards addressing them.
Discussing tertiary education, for instance, Prof. Osinbajo said, “given the rate of interest in tertiary education, we cannot cope with the brick-and-mortar approach, we won’t be able to cope with the numbers in the near future because there will be millions more who will not be able to get into our schools.
“One of the things I have been thinking about is how to be deliberate about online tertiary education. And how to develop it to the point where Nigeria offers the best services in the sector.
“One of the things I want us to think about is how we can develop this idea and in what ways we can put together a plan, even if it is just an outline so we can push the idea further,” the VP added.
Leader of the group and Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, National Open University of Nigeria, Prof. Shehu Adamu also spoke about the need for Nigeria to strengthen the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) option to address the issue of access to university education.
Also in healthcare, the VP called on members of the group to support the Federal Government’s efforts to reform the healthcare system by contributing to ideas that will make health insurance work effectively in the country. He mentioned that a Health Reform Committee is already in place looking at the issues.
According to him, “the second thing is health care and how we can fund it. It is evident that the government
by budget alone cannot fund health care sufficiently and in the scope that is required.
“No matter what we do and how hard we pushed, we still haven’t been able to get close to our Abuja declaration threshold budget for healthcare either at the federal or at the state level. So, it is evident that we need to do something different and that is health insurance, it remains the way to aggregate or pull resources for healthcare.
“We now have a new health insurance law that makes health insurance compulsory and a few other provisions that are helpful. But I think that this is something that we have to take a good look at also.”
The Vice President then thanked the professors for their support in the race to the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential primaries, describing their backing as “one that I greatly treasure above others.”
According to the VP the visiting group of professors “understands better my motivation for running and the motivation for the views I expressed.”
He assured them of his commitment to the cause of a better Nigeria and promised not to give up the struggle.
In separate remarks, Professors Nasiru Yauri, Philip Okolo, Ernest Ugbejeh and Yahaya Baba commended the VP’s dedication to the development of Nigeria and style of leadership, noting that “you (Vice President) remain deeply rooted in our hearts.”
They said their support for the VP’s run for the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was premised on his track record and his ideas about transforming Nigeria, describing his loss as a missed opportunity.
The group then pledged to work for the Vice President in all of his future aspirations, promising to maintain the relationship regardless of the outcome of the APC primary elections.