By Ngozi Nwankwo
Benue State Governor, Rev. Fr. Hyacinth Alia has decried the high level of graduate unemployment in Nigeria and insisted that skill acquisition and entrepreneurship education remain critical towards tackling menace.
Alia, who noted that his administration would give education top priority in Benue State, has also sought partnership with the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), to boost the quality of tertiary education delivery in the state.
He spoke on Thursday in Abuja when he paid what he described as a solidarity visit to Executive Secretary of TETFund, Arc. Sonny Echono at the Fund’s Headquarters, where the new Governor who is barely 8 days in office, commended TETFund management for the huge intervention in public tertiary institutions in Benue state and the nation at large.
The Governor said what he has discovered as responsible for high rate of unemployment in Nigeria was that a lot of degrees have been acquired by youth in the country but the “skills are not attached to those degrees, noting this was one of the reasons why both graduates and those who have not attended the four walls of education roam the street across the nation.
Alia said his administration would go back to the drawing board in a bid to revitalise education in the state, saying tertiary institutions in Benue State were known for quality and scholarship in the time past and emphasised that the lost glory would be restored.
He said his desire was to promote skill acquisition at all levels of education and informal sector in his state, so as to make young people self-reliant and employers of labour.
He said: “We are here on solidarity visit with my brother, the Executive Secretary of TETFund. I’m honoured to be here having understood how much he has been doing, promoting education nationwide and improving on the teaching and learning infrastructure as well as making the educational wheel of the nation to run and running smoothly.
“Benue state is also a beneficiary of the projects from you and the good people of the state have conveyed our appreciation to your establishment. I’m just 8 days old as Governor and I’m looking forward to partnering with your establishment in the collaborative efforts to move the education forward in our nation,” he said.
Executive Secretary of TETFund in his remark, Arc. Echono described Alia as man called to rescue Benue State from the quagmire and pledged to support his administration in the efforts possible within the laws of the Fund in revitalising tertiary education in the state.
He informed his guest that as part of the parting gift of the immediate past President Muhammadu Buhari, the Finance Act 2023 was endorsed that has now increased the Education Tax, which is the primary source of revenue of TETFund to 3 per cent.
According to him, TETFund is already intervening in about 8 to 9 public tertiary institutions in Benue State, with massive infrastructure development and training of teachers among others in both the institutions owned by Federal and State.