Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, is one Governor that has won the hearts of many Nigerians, including mine. This is because of the popular assessment that he has done tremendously well as the helmsman of the famed Centre of Excellence. Few people dedicate themselves seriously to the work of public service as Mr Fashola does.

His success story as an individual is the story of what education can do to change life. He is what the Yoruba would call a typical “atapatadide” (the-one-who-rose-from-grass-to-grace). But to God be the glory, the starry-eyed boy of 1976 is the well-respected action Governor of today.

As Governor Fashola wrote in his inspiring foreword to Mr Segun Odegbami’s book, “Me, Football and More” (2013), a collection of the author’s essays, he was a poor secondary school boy of 13 years of age in 1976. Like many other football lovers, Segun Odegbemi was his hero.

But more than that, Fashola even idolized and venerated Odegbami. It is unfortunate that few Nigerians have indigenous heroes to venerate today that everything, from role models to Brazilian hair and Chinese food, is imported. No thanks to bad governance.

Well, that year, Mr Fashola decided to “play truant” one day and since the IICC Shooting Stars were camped in a hotel behind Tejuosho market as part of their preparations for a match, he strayed there perhaps he would see his football hero. He ended up in a sports store and he was admiring a pair of “green football shorts” that he could not afford to buy. It is better he speaks for himself:

“If dreams come true for children, mine came true many fold that day. As I was longingly admiring the shorts, the man I came to catch a glimpse of walked in and asked me if I liked them and when I nodded, he asked me to take it and told the shop keeper that he would come back to pay it. ‘Big Seg’ was big then in my eyes and he remains even bigger today,” the Governor wrote.

Governor Fashola must have benefitted from the free meals and affordable education of his day to be able to complete his university education. He is now the Governor but his State University is making education unaffordable to the average Nigerian. The Governor should re-think the fees and show the generosity of Odegbami as an individual to the students so that they will laugh at last. He has done something but he can do more.

In clear terms, it is stale news that Lagos State University (LASU) has been grounded for some time now partly because of the increase in school fees. The students are crying loud because while their colleagues elsewhere are learning, their own university is grounded.

After some days of protest by students and their harassment by the state security apparatchik, the Lagos State Government under the leadership of Governor Fashola offered to reduce the institution’s fees by 34 to 60%. We thought that was a breath of fresh air but while rejecting the offer, the students made a good argument that would make one chuckle in admiration.

According to the President of Students’ Union Government, LASU, Nurudeen Yusuf, “We do not accept the percentage reduction offered by the government because when the fees were increased, it was not done on percentage method; rather the government made the pronouncement in naira and kobo.

“We urged the government to come out in unequivocal language as to how much will be paid by students in naira and kobo and not in percentage. How do they expect our parents in the market, who did not go to school, to calculate the percentage?”

It is apparent that with the current regime of fees, many students will not be able to afford education. By so doing, Governor Fashola would deny many young people whose future lies in education the opportunity he had. It is not good for many young people to remember the Governor as the person who denied them the opportunity of university education because of the exorbitant school fees his government introduced.

I join the students in enjoining the action Governor to put smiles on the faces of LASU students so that they won’t forget him for good.

FEEDBACK

Re: This University of Life

Dear Sir, I read the article tagged “The university of life”. It was interesting and educative to learn from the lesson illustrated. God bless. Adekunle.

Learning makes life worth living. There wouldn’t have been any difference between man and animal if not man’s continuous learning. Salaudeen Oladipo

 

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