Former Nigerian president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo at the 7th round-the-table discussion which took place at the Obafemi Awolowo University’s Staff Club has said that he has no regrets regarding the actions he took concerning the education sector when he was in power.
In his words, ‘I have no regrets in whatever I have done in the education sector. If I have the chance, I will do it again. When I came in as a military head, I established UBE (Universal Basic Education), when I came in as a civilian president, I established UBE.’ This was in response to a question raised by a professor who stated that during Obasanjo’s tenure in 1984, catering for students was abolished.
Obasanjo in a bid to answer the question said it would not have been possible to provide quality education to students and at the same time feed them without paying a penny. He said there was no way the feeding could have continued.
“I have no regrets regarding the decisions I took in terms of education including removing free food in our institutions. We had 53 institutions when I came in 1999 but as at the time I left we had 150 institutions.
“I prefer to have all persons in schools than to have some few persons simply enjoying free food.”
A student of political science who also had the privilege of asking the former president a question, sought to know the available opportunities that await the younger generation in politics and the issue of ‘god-fatherism’ that has plagued the Nigerian political world . The former president reminded him that he had approximately 60 people who were below the age of 40 that worked with him during his tenure.
He furthered in response by stating that, he does not have a godfather. According to Obasanjo, ‘if what you are waiting for is for someone to prepare the ground for you, you may wait till eternity. You have to get your hands dirty, get your feet wet.’
The elder statesman did not however end without commenting on the political party where he led the nation as the President; Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He pointed out the fact that the money needed for sponsoring elections these days is outrageous, which does not favour an ordinary man. He mentioned that the monetary support given to the PDP in 1998/9 was $7 million, in 2003, $9 million while he said he heard from a reliable source that a sum of $4 billion was spent during the last election. He concluded that things could not go on that way.