Afe Babalola, the founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), believes that the only lucrative industry in Nigeria these days is politics.
During the 11th convocation ceremony of Afe Babalola University on Saturday, the legal icon addressed and bemoaned the progressive marginalisation of education in favour of politics.
The founder of ABUAD related his encounter with a first-class graduate who declined to pursue graduate studies after earning a master’s degree because he witnessed a classmate from secondary school who forwent higher education succeed financially in politics.
“I was the Pro-Chancellor of the University of Lagos and a young man came out with first class in Chemistry and had the highest score that year. I called him and said, ‘I am going to give you a scholarship to do your master’s.
“He was very happy and he agreed; he passed his masters. I had forgotten all about him, then he came in and said, Sir, thank you for the scholarship given to me’ and I said Yes, proceed to your Ph.D.’ and he said ‘No’ and I said ‘Why?’
“He said, ‘My colleague who was in class with me in secondary school did not go to university; he is the chairman of the local government of my place. He is riding a car; he has a house.’ I was depressed.
“I said, ‘What do you want to do now?’ He said, ‘I want to go into politics.’ I wept inside me. That is what your country has made of Nigeria. The only business in this country today which is lucrative is politics,” Babalola said.
Although he does not oppose political aspirations, he stated that he feels politics has moved away from serving the public interest and towards more selfish interests.
“I do not say you cannot be a politician but to be a politician is different from what we have now. Who thinks that politics is for making money? Politics is for service,” the legal icon added.
“I was a Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor before and I never had a kobo because I saw it as service. People go now to make money from public money given to them.”
Babalola said the nation lacks strong leadership and high-quality education.
“Our problem in this country is leadership in Africa. People believe that when they come out of university, they should go and work or alternatively, go into politics,” Babalola said.
“What we need in this country is quality education. When you have quality education, you have power and when you have power, every other thing submerges, ” he said.