By Sunday Oguntuyi Osogbo
Osun state Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola on Thursday, bagged the Awolowo free education award of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife.
He received the award at the 2021 edition of the Lecture Series of the institution’s Faculty of Education, which was delivered by former Governor of Osun, Chief Adebisi Akande.
The award, according to the organisers, was in recognition of the governor’s significant efforts to turnaround the educational fortunes in the State within the almost three years of his Administration.
Oyetola who dedicated the award to the memory of the founder of free education in Nigeria, late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and the people of Osun, described the honour as “an invitation to continue to seek better and improved ways to sustain free education in the knowledge and technology-driven world.”
The Governor also restated his commitment to sustain the legacy of free education in Osun, adding that his Administration had succeeded in its resolve to retain education as the bedrock of socioeconomic and infrastructure development of the State.
He said: “Education is the most crucial aspect of our Development Agenda in Osun in view of its place as the driver of all the sectors and the face of sustainable development.
“Despite the limited resources at our disposal, we have sustained free tuition in primary and secondary schools in the State while also providing free feeding for our pupils to enhance their nutritional abilities and mental alertness.
“We have substantially increased our budgetary allocation for education and we are working tirelessly to radically diversify our economy to achieve our goal of sustaining free education up to secondary school level and affordable at the tertiary level.
“Our education programme cuts across all levels. We are supporting our primary, secondary and tertiary institutions and positioning them to compete globally. Our strategy is to commit huge financial resources into the sector, assemble the best hands to manage the institutions and partner with well-meaning citizens and friends of the State to achieve our objective.
“Under this arrangement, we are renovating our schools, including technical and school for children living with disabilities, providing educational facilities and training and re-training our teachers to make them to provide top-notch services and produce competitive products.
“We are also collaborating with our partners to facilitate equipment, including laboratories, research workshops and teaching hospital for our tertiary institutions as appropriate,” he
Governor Oyetola also commended the organisers of the award for instituting the Obafemi Awolowo Free Education Series to interrogate and advance tangential development issues in the nation and to keep the legacy of free education alive.
Speaking on the theme of the lecture, “Awolowo Legacies In Education and Policies: Enduring Lessons for Contemporary Nigeria”, Chief Adebisi Akande said the late Awolowo was an exceptional model in politics whose indelible legacies in education cannot be over-emphasised.
According to him, the late Sage believed so much in education as he, in 1952, awarded 200 scholarship to indigent students for a university education having submitted in his advocacy for mass universal education as a panacea to socioeconomic development.
“Awolowo left behind imperishable legacies. He believes that the man’s greatest need is education. He ensured that every child must be educated. His policies were centered on education.
“Some of the Awolowo’s imperishable legacies were his consistent advocacy for true federalism to put an end to unchecked impunity of the then rulers, he fought for the unity in diversity among Nigerians as he used his innovative tendencies in governance to impact many lives”, Akande added.
Receiving Governor Oyetola and other awardees, Vice Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede, lauded the Administration of Governor Oyetola for investing hugely in the education sector as manifested in the success the State had recorded so far.
Ogunbodede who described Oyetola as a lover of education said the award was in recognition of his tremendous contributions to educational reformation and advancement of the course of quality, functional and qualitative education in the State.
He said: “This programme is aimed to honour our own, late Obafemi Awolowo whose passion and love for education cannot be quantified. He used all the available resources to advance the education as this legacy lives till now.
“It is in respect of this that we have resolved to honour this legacy. No doubt, our Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola has done so much to develop the education sector. He has done so much for the university more than expectation.
“You have been so supportive. You have been coming to our aid whenever we need your support. You have been doing well. Our prayer is that God will continue to be with you and enrich you to continue to do more for the State.”
In her welcome address, the Dean, Faculty of Education, Prof. Bonke Omoteso, urged the leaders and well-meaning Nigerians to support education and donate generously to the growth and development of education in the country particularly in the university.
She said: “Awolowo was a man of vision and a dynamic administrator. He fought that the State resources should be channelled into education. He introduced free basic education. We enjoyed it and we are still enjoying it until today.”
The representatives of the National Leader, All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu and Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi lauded the Awolowo’s enduring legacy on education.