By Adamu Muhd Usman
Time, history, events, circumstances and human nature are very important attributes that no serious person should joke with.
I was glad to learn that the Jigawa State governor, Alhaji Muhammadu Badaru Abubakar, visited the state university (Sule Lamido University, Kafin-Hausa) recently during the opening ceremony of the first national conference on: “COVID-19 Pandemic, Educational Attainment and Labour Productivity” organized by School of Preliminary Studies of the university.
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While delivering his address, Badaru said it was expedient to “tie education to the needs of the society.”
The governor promised to build more hostels in the university and provide timely and adequate scholarships to students among others.
I commend the governor’s plan to sponsor the education of the children of the poor, especially Jigawa indigenes sent to study Medicine abroad. It takes a prudent leader, courageous mind, an ideological and visionary person to make this kind of move.
But for the governor’s plan to sponsor 160 Jigawa State indigenes to study Medicine in another country, not Nigeria, not to talk of in the North or Jigawa, I make bold to register my reservations, no matter any level of affront, intimidation, humiliation and deprivation from any quarter.
I am of the view that studying at home will be better, especially when it comes to saving cost, sustainability, safety of the students, improving the state varsity, fear of obstruction like the COVID-19 pandemic, culture clash, change of government and failure of licence exam – that is the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria examination for foreign-trained doctors. Any Nigerian, who studies Medicine abroad, must pass through this exam. Anybody who fails it will not qualify as a doctor in Nigeria. I know some people who studied in Ukraine and Sudan but failed to make it after sitting for the exams for over five years.
Looking at the money spent in sponsoring the first set of 60 students to study in China about three years ago or thereabout and the money that will be spent on this new set of 160 students, it will be reasonable to build a faculty of Medicine or Medicine Department, hostel and other things in the state university.
My findings indicate that the average tuition fee for a medical degree programme in Sudan is $10, 000 per annum (about N5m). The total amount for 160 students without living expenses, study materials and accommodation amount to about N800 million for a single year. This amount for a minimum of five years will cost Jigawa taxpayers a staggering N4 billion. Sule Lamido University Kafin-Hausa can start a medical faculty with as little as N500 million. This I find unacceptable for a regime that flaunts a calculator and claims financial prudence.
I commend Sule Lamido for establishing the Jigawa State University in order to afford state indigenes more access to higher education opportunities. Before the establishment of the university, many eligible candidates of Jigawa origin who sought admission into higher institutions in other universities failed to get it due to lack of opportunities, hence the warm welcome with which Jigawa citizens received the establishment of the state university, which was named after him: “Sule Lamido University Kafin-Hausa.”
I appeal to Governor Badaru to establish a college of Medicine in SLU with even a fraction of the money he intends to put into the Sudanese economy. Even students from other states can benefit from it, especially because of the safety of the state, good conducive environment and the facilities therein, etc. This will create and improve the revenue of the state and expand the economic activities in the town and the state as a whole.
Our fears of sending Jigawa students abroad is sustainability. The question we need to ask is, will parents be able to afford the excesses and continue in case the government fails to continue the programme? The episodes that happened in our neighbouring states must be a wake-up call.
One important thing to note here is, there are still medical graduates who are not fully employed, but collecting allowances instead of full salary. How will the Jigawa State Government address or reconcile that issue?
Also, people living with disabilities have alleged that they were neglected and deprived of the opportunity from benefitting from this package despite a wider publicity of carrying everyone along in the processes of selecting the beneficiaries.
Governor Badaru should please do something urgent to prove wrong the allegation levelled against him that, he doesn’t have the interest of the varsity at heart because for the past six years, he hasn’t created any other course or done anything tangible in the state university asides completing a few projects most of which are said to be TETFUND-funded.
We appeal to the governor to look into this issue with sincerity of purpose and focus. We want the state university to be improved upon. We want Jigawa to move to greater heights. We want people to be carried along, have a sense of belonging and sustainable development.
Usman writes from Kafin-Hausa, Jigawa State