Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria’s Vice President, has challenged universities in Nigeria to work aggressively to raise funds and market their institutions, claiming that no government in the world can fund universities to the extent that is required.
On Tuesday, he issued the challenge at the Kessington Adebukunola Adebutu Foundation, KAAF, Auditorium, Department of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Ibadan.
Sir Kessington Adebutu, a Nigerian philanthropist, donated the auditorium.
Insisting that government budgeting would not provide the funding required for universities to operate optimally in Nigeria, the Vice President stated that tertiary institutions must engage in aggressive marketing to raise the funds they require.
“As a result, the best universities in the world are those with aggressive fundraising.”
“At some of the best universities, Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge, all have very aggressive departments solely dedicated to marketing the university and fundraising.”
“For example, I attended the University of Lagos, which is my Alma Mater.” But I also attended the University of London’s London School of Economics.
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“Every month, without fail, I receive a letter from the London School of Economics asking me to donate money, even if it is only ten pounds.”
“They are always aggressively marketing, and I have received this letter every month since I left in 1981.” I have not received a letter from the University of Lagos. Not a single one.
“No one has ever approached me and said, ‘You’re an alumnus; come and donate, no.'” And I’m sure it’s the same here at Ibadan University. Aggressive marketing is required.
“No government in the world, no government, can ever fund universities to the extent that is required.” It must be aggressively promoted.
“We need to have programs that we can sell so that the university can make money.” Universities are supported by private funds.”
Concepts and solutions
Speaking about developments at the University of Ibadan’s Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Vice President Osinbajo stated that the department’s work is critical given the great challenges Nigeria faces in human nutrition today.
According to him, his three-year tenure as Chair of Nigeria’s Nutrition Council revealed the country’s serious nutrition problems.
“In the aftermath of the avian influenza pandemic, poverty has deepened, and malnutrition and unhealthy dietary practices have created unique threats to health and productivity for a large segment of our population.”
“A large number of children are malnourished—and malnutrition and food insecurity have simply made it more difficult for children to learn and gain the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the workplace.”
“But the worst part is the irreversible mental and physical stunting.” Consider a generation of adults who have halted their physical and mental health, as well as the social and economic burden this places on communities and the nation.
“Think about the implications of potentially putting half of our population at risk of irreversible mental and physical stunting if we don’t get it right.”
“So, I believe the work of this premier institution and department is well defined.”
Food that is therapeutic
Vice President Osinbajo stated that the department has been engaged in research in public health nutrition and agricultural linkages, and that Nigeria has the local capacity to produce therapeutic foods, also known as Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF), which are used to treat acute malnutrition.
“We have the potential to produce enough of that RUTF for the entire continent, and projections indicate that the price of ready-to-use therapeutic foods will rise; that with all of the food chain problems we have around the world, these prices will rise.”
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“There is a large market there; there is a large economic opportunity there, as well as large research opportunities.”
Osinbajo stated that the KAAF Auditorium demonstrated the convergence of two ideas, describing how ideation, research, and teaching intersected with philanthropy, particularly in supporting development ideas in bringing the facility to fruition.
While praising Chief Adebutu for his generous donation, Osinbajo urged the Department of Human Nutrition and Dietetics to work with the philanthropist to establish a research grant.