While addressing Nigerians at the 33rd Convocation Ceremonies of the University of Ilorin on October 21, 2017, President Muhammadu Buhari, made a promise. Represented by the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, the Visitor to the University said there would be an Education Summit “within the next few weeks” to be attended by all his Ministers with the aim of restoring education to its lead role as human development changer.
Last Monday (November 13, 2017), a Special Retreat of the Federal Executive Council held at the State House Conference Centre, Presidential Villa, Abuja, under the theme, “Education Sector in Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects.” The Retreat was facilitated by a Committee of highly-accomplished Nigerians, including our own President of the Nigerian Academy of Letters, Prof. Olu Obafemi of the Department of English, under the Chairmanship of the former President of the General Conference of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Emeritus Professor Michael Omolewa. It was a privilege to work with such a team that the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, said he had “not seen more intimidating CVs than theirs.”
The good news is that the Retreat succeeded in putting education at its deserved front burner in national discourse as our leaders deeply appreciated the enormity of the challenges facing the sector and the urgent need to salvage the situation. The President recalled how his life had been shaped by the nine years he spent in the boarding school after which he joined the Army and illustrated the “very tragic situation we are in” while considering the gathering as one of the most important fora of his Administration. He noted that “we cannot progress beyond the level and standard of our education” and that “it is those who acquire the most qualitative education, equipped with requisite skills and training, and empowered with practical knowhow that are leading the rest.”