Stakeholders in the education sector yesterday lauded President Goodluck Jonathan for giving the sector the highest budgetary allocation in the 2013 Appropriation Bill presented on Wednesday.
Jonathan had proposed a N4.9 trillion budget to the joint session of the National Assembly for approval.
The proposal allotted N426.5 billion to education while defence came second with N348.9 billion and the police had the third highest share of N319 billion.
A former Minister of Education, Mrs Chinwe Obaji, told newsmen that the move was “a right step in the right direction’’.
She, however, called for effective measures in monitoring the use of the funds.
Also speaking, Prof. Ukachukwu Awuzie, immediate past President, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), expressed the hope that the education vote, if approved, would turn around the fortunes of the sector.
“However, we would need time to look at how the budget to the sector got to be one of the highest beneficiary, where it should be channelled, the implementation, how it should be managed and what it portends to the sector.
“It is only when we study all these details that we would be able to get a better view of how this would transform the system for the advancement of the country’s economy,” he said.
Dr Olubunmi Ajibade, a Senior Lecturer, Department of Mass Communication, University of Lagos, said the budget, if approved, would be one of the best things that had happened to the sector in recent times.
“We have been advocating crucial funding of the sector because that is the only way to restore its glory.
“There is no way we can talk about national development without sound education.
Director, Centre for Environment and Science Education, at the university, Mr Ademola Onifade, told newsmen that the “jumbo allocation’’ would improve the standard of education in the country.
For Head of Department, Mass Communication Department, Lagos State Polytechnic, Ikorodu, Mr Ifedayo Daramola, the allocation to the education sector was a demonstration of the interest the president had in developing the country’s education.
“Definitely, it will bring a lot of improvement to the sector. This shows that our president knows the importance of education’’.
In his contribution, Prof. Ayo Fadahunsi, Dean, Faculty of Arts, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun, said the allocation would enable the government to build more hostels and lecture halls in the nation’s tertiary institutions.
A member of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mrs Adebimpe Akinsola, also lauded Jonathan for the initiative, saying the funds would help to improve infrastructure in the institutions.
Similarly, some financial experts yesterday said that the 2013 budget would impact positively on the financial sector if well implemented.
They told newsmen in separate interviews in Lagos that proper execution of the 2013 budget would impact on all aspects of the national economy.
Managing Director of Boaz Management and Financial Strategies, Mr Oluwole Ibikunle, said that the capital and recurrent expenditure estimates in the 2013 budget proposal were better than those of 2012.
“ If the N1.54 trillion allocated for capital projects can be judiciously used, more industries will be established and hence, more job opportunities for our youths,“ he said.
Ibikunle said that although the 75 dollars per barrel crude oil price benchmark was commendable, government should be careful of the sudden changes in international oil price.
General Manager, Capital Trust Broker Ltd., Mr Abiodun Omojokun,, said that the 2013 budget should focus on improving the Human Development Index.
General Manager, Apt Securities and Funds Ltd., Mr Peter Kanayo, said that there was the need for the private-public sector collaboration to make a success of the 2013 fiscal proposal.
Kanayo also said that full implementation of the proposed budget estimate would restore confidence of foreign investors in the economy.
He commended the Federal Government for planning to invest more in the educational sector than before.
“The ailing educational system has made so many Nigerians to take their children aboard to study to the detriment of our own educational development, “ he said.