Elder Statesman and frontline Legal icon, Aare Afe Babalola, SAN, has advocated that reputable Colleges/Faculties of Law in Nigerian Universities should henceforth be saddled with the responsibility of training Law graduates preparatory for their final Call to Bar Examinations at the Central Nigerian Law School.
With this proposed arrangement, Law graduates from Nigerian universities will proceed to these reputable Colleges/Faculties of Law with up-to-date facilities and Faculty members of international repute for their post-LL.B training for 18 months and only go to the Law School to write their Call to Bar Examinations conducted and moderated without having to be residential students in the Law School as is currently the case.
This way, Babalola, who spoke yesterday at the commencement of the 48th Conference of the Nigerian Association of Law Teachers (NALT) in Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD) yesterday, said Nigeria would have borrowed a leaf from the practice in England, thereby frontally addressing the problem which the Law School had had to contend with over the years.
Said he: “In Nigeria today, we have a Central Law School where the annual number of intake is severely restricted due to inadequate funding which curtails the number of students University Colleges can admit annually. This also affects the fundamental rights of parents to allow their children to study Law”.
According to the Founder ABUAD, the problem of paucity of facilities and accommodation space have been some of the major problems the Law School had had to content with and its attendant bottleneck of having backlog of students because it does not have the capacity and the resources to cope with the number of law graduates being churned out by the various Law Colleges/Faculties annually.
On admission into Colleges of Law in Nigeria, Babalola urged the Federal Government to take a cue from what obtains in Germany and the United States where a student to be admitted to their Law Colleges must have earned a degree in some other disciplines or at least G.C.E Advanced Level as obtained in England.
According to him, “it is a well-known fact that in the United States of America and Germany and many other countries of the world, the standard of law practice is very high unlike what obtains here. One of the factors responsible for the high standard is that they have ensured long ago that admission to their Law Colleges is not open to teenagers. And that is why they have ensured over time that Law is studied as a second degree to ensure that those to be admitted into Law Colleges are really mature before coming to the Law College”
He added: “On the contrary, in Nigeria, students who are admitted to study Law need only to pass School Certificate and JAMB examinations. Time it was when students must pass GCE Advanced Level or Higher School Examination (HSE) before they were admitted to universities. However the Federal Government in their wisdom lowered admission to universities to only School Certificate.
“I therefore urge this Conference to recommend to Government to take a cue from what obtains in Germany and the United States where a student to be admitted to their Law Colleges must have earned a degree in some other disciplines or at least G.C.E Advanced Level as obtained in England”.
Babalola, an exponent of quality and functional education, lamented the progressive decline in education in recent times, particularly shortly after independence as a result of which all professions, including Law, have been afflicted and affected by the same societal virus that has ravaged all the fabric of the society.
He recalled how in the years before and immediately after independence, the standard of practice was high, particularly with the prevalence of white Lawyers and white Judges around and how Lawyers who were the best dressed people around and rode the best cars in town, were respected. Judges, on the other hand were not only respected but they were deified and seen as the replica of God mutatis mutandis on planet earth and not candidates for Owambe parties like is currently the trend today.
In his view, education in Nigeria has been badly affected due to paucity of funds thereby negating the thinking of one of the world’s most famous philosophers, Aristotle, who once said that: “education is the creation of a sound mind in a sound body. It develops man’s faculty, especially his mind so that he may be able to enjoy the contemplation of supreme truth, goodness and beauty of which perfect happiness essentially consists”.
The frontline legal icon who did not mince words that quality education is a very expensive enterprise, stressed that when education is not properly funded, institutions of learning will be ill-equipped in terms of teaching facilities and staff while the products of such poorly funded institutions including those who study Law are bound to be poor materials.
Because Law is not isolated from the lager societal body, improperly funded education will also reflect in the standard of practice and standard of judgments in the law profession.
He therefore urged Nigeria to step up its current allocation of about 7% of its national budget to fund education to meet the UNESCO recommendation of at least 25% of the national budget of every country should be dedicated to education, the fact that it has to grapple with other matters such as health care delivery, security and infrastructural development, funding of education must nonetheless be accorded prime of place by any serious government notwithstanding.
To drive home his point, Babalola wondered why the annual budget of $7,130,137,243 which translates to N1,212,123,331,310 for North California State University in 2012 could be more than the Federal Government of Nigeria’s budget of N495,456,130,065 for 50 Federal Universities and UBE (Universal Basic Education) which translates to 40.88% of the budget allocation of American University within the same time frame.
“We do not need a soothsayer to tell us that the quality of education in Nigeria cannot be equated to that of the North California State University”, he concluded.
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