The founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), Afe Babalola, believes politics has become the only lucrative business in Nigeria.
The legal icon spoke during the 11th convocation ceremony of Afe Babalola University on Saturday, lamenting that education is gradually being relegated to the background with politics taking centre stage.
The ABUAD founder recounted his experience with a first-class graduate who turned down further education after a master’s degree because he saw a secondary school colleague who didn’t go to a higher institution achieve material success 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.
He said that while he does not disapprove of any political ambitions, he believes that politics has become less ethical and more of personal gain than about serving the public good.
“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.”
According to him, 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,” he 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,” Afe Babalola said.