By Tunde Odediran with Introduction by Abdulwarees Solanke

We identify ourselves as Unilag Mass Comm Topaz 88 as we belong to Class 1985-1988 of Mass Communication Department of the University of Lagos.

Quite a number of us are making waves in the industry of broadcasting, journalism, and PRAD.

A number of us are in NGO work, and few are in the academia.

We also have some in Dawah (Islamic Work) and in the Lord’s vineyard. We have some in business of entertainment and public service.

Although a number of us have reached 60 and so retired but not tired, most of us are now in our late 50s but we still relate the way we were over 38 years ago when we first stepped into University of Lagos to begin our journey into journalism as students of mass communication.

In all, we are still very cohesive, although a number of us have answered the Lord’s call.

Nonetheless, we always wanted to give back to Unilag that made us. QUALITATIVELY.

Indeed, one of us, John Momoh, is one of the highest employers’ of labour in the media industry with his ownership of Channels TV. He was the immediate past Unilag Alumni President. Another of our class is Azu Ishiekwene, leading The Leadership Newspaper as MD after setting some records at the Punch.

As many of us are outside Nigeria, time and clime, however may not permit physical touch, but we connect almost on a daily basis with whatsapp affordability, poking jokes, sharing thoughts, offering insights, even benefitting ourselves spiritually and temporally.

One of our means of qualitative connection is whatsapp or zoom conferences, during which, as corporately responsible citizens of Nigeria and proud ambassadors of the Unilag brand, we interrogate public issues.

Today, broadcasting trained Tunde Odediran, now a wizard of Information technology leads us into the enriching engagement we had with Professor Ogunsola, the first female VC of our Alma mater, the University of Lagos, from where we graduated in mass Communication, almost 36 years ago


Before this lecture, I was struggling with understanding why Nigerian universities struggle to run independently and financially-healthy like their peers in Western societies, through which many Akokites have passed, do. The guest lecturer, Vice Chancellor of our alma mater, the University of Lagos, Professor Folasade Ogunsola, provided strong insights that have helped me shift certain perspectives.

Prof. Ogunsola started by taking us through the challenges peculiar to federal universities in Nigeria, which is revolves around the lack of adequate funding.

According to her, every country is expected to spend between four to six percent of GDP on education. Nigeriah has, however, never kept up with this recommendation, leaving the universities in a state where they could not efficiently transform people and materials into value for national development.

Universities are supposed to be funded from a myriad of sources, only one of which is the government. Most nations fund their universities through tuition and fees, research grants and contracts as well as endowments and donations. Other ways include income from investments, commercialization of intellectual property and continuing education and professional development programs.

While these revenue streams a varied, they do not generate enough financial throughput to balance the books in Nigerian federal universtities.

The UNILAG Vice Chancellor also revealed what the universities spend money on, of which personnel cost is the highest. Other big expendiation channels include operating expenses, instructions, research and development, student services, infrastructure and capital projects, financial aid and scholarships and administration or overhead costs.

Prof. Ogunsola compared our university system with foreign universities, which are better able to provide services because they have steady revenue streams, usually from tuition and healthcare services, such as their teaching hospitals. In Nigeria, there are serious challenges, with the universities unable to manage the finances of their teaching hospitals and unable to determine or collect tuition according to the cost of teaching. In addition, Nigeria’s large population, made mostly of young people, imposes extreme stess upon federal universities’ resources.

She noted that the Federal Government pays salaries of staff, but leaves every other cost of education to the universities to bear. The adverse effect is that regular closure of universities leaves a devastating impact on the ability of the universities to meet their budgetary plans because the session is often short. The universites are left crushed in their ability to meet strategic plans, financial commitments and budgetary outcomes.

Consistently, allocations from the government has been low, the Vice Chancellor remarked, adding that government funding has been dwindling while inflation trends upwards.

The big challenge, she noted, is that the government allocates funds without tying it to the actual cost of education. It is a funding system not supported by data. And with the proliferation of federal universities, it got even worse. She gave a picture of a parent who keeps having more children on a fixed income. The more federal universities are established, and more are added annually, the less the ability of the government to ensure adequate funding.

Prof. Ogunsola also stated that there are many regulations and policies preventing universities from growing their potential revenue base, even when the cost of running federal regulatory agencies kept being passed on to the universities.

She not only identified the challenges, she had solutions. Among them, she advocated the following:
•Endowment funds should be released to the universities to manage.
•The true cost of education should be determined scientifically and funding should be released on the basis of valid and reliable data. Government should provide a grant tied to student population.
•Funds should be released per quarter and the universities should be able to manage such funds independently, according to their financial plans.
•Research is expensive and it must be properly funded by the governement and private organisations.
•Governing councils should be properly constituted to include professionals who have good understanding and vision of the system, rather than politicians.
•Student loans, bursaries, work study, scholarships from various sources, and alumni support should be strengthened.

In summary, Prof. Ogunsola advocated holistic policy review, the payment of appropriate fees by students just as it is done in state and private universities.

When tuition is normalised, she also wants those who cannot pay what it requires to run world-class universities to be offered financial aid. Lastly, she said traditional university education is not the only solution, requesting for more use of technology to expand university education through other means, such as open and remote learning.