Due to the importance of law as a field of study and its inaccessibility for many aspiring students, the School of Law (SOL) Seminar on September 27, 2019, focused on funding legal education in Nigeria.
SOL instructor, Benjamin Danpullo called on wealthy Nigerian lawyers home and abroad to support legal education. “They should consider initiating an endowment that can sponsor young indigent students who cannot afford the cost.”
"There should be something done either by the Nigerian Bar Association or by the Council of Legal Education or whatever necessary body, to woo the hearts and minds of wealthy legal practitioners to endow this kind of funding to support legal education."
More candidates apply to be admitted into the pursuit of legal education annually. He lamented about how aspiring law students cannot fulfill their dreams even when they are qualified to be admitted. part of the reason is due to the non-affordability.
Danpullo observed that besides receiving grants from the federal government and allocating them to federal universities, one of the statutory responsibilities of the National Universities Commission (NUC) is to obtain, collect and receive funds and grants from individuals and institutions that are within Nigeria and outside.
"Shouldn't NUC ensure that more energy is put into this responsibility that is placed on it to be able to contact individuals and institutions within and outside Nigeria who can channel funds to tertiary institutions? Do we not have lawyers in this country who are so blessed?"
During his presentation, Danpullo listed 20 top universities in the United States with the highest endowment. Harvard is the wealthiest in the world. He said that Harvard, formerly New College, was renamed after John Harvard, a clergyman, after making a fund donation and a large collection of books. Other people have donated too, he added.
"Does it mean that we do not have Nigerians living in the country or outside who can endow this kind of funds to our tertiary institutions apart from what the Federal Government does?"
Among the recommendations he gave for making legal education affordable is for the NUC to consider reducing the law program from five years to four. This can reduce the burden on poor families for those who want to have their children study law.
One of the professors who commented on the presentation was Dr. Erebi Ndoni who identified corruption as a factor preventing people from donating to education. She gave instances where donated books for a school were not put to judicious use.
"It does not get to people that deserve them."
Ms. Olanike Adelakun said that there is a great need for more lawyers in the country and the inadequacy is a factor contributing to corruption.
"That is why you have corruption, human rights abuses, lots of social problems that keep going without redress. It should be a ratio of 50 [persons] to one lawyer."
Legal education is quite costly in Nigeria despite the fact that studying law offers the opportunity to build defenders of social justice and equity. The School of Law Seminar series provides a platform for intelligent discussions, insights, and solutions to a myriad of social problems.
Reported by Omorogbe Omorogiuwa