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Amid Poor Funding, Senators Push For 50 More Tertiary Institutions

Despite public outcry over the poor funding of the education sector, senators in the 8th Assembly are pushing for the establishment of 50 new tertiary institutions in the country, checks by LEADESHIP Sunday have revealed.

It was learnt that while some of the bills seeking their establishment have been passed, others are still at various stages of enactment.

LEADERSHIP Sunday reports that, so far, 24 bills seeking the establishment of new tertiary institutions in different parts of the country have been passed by the Senate

The move by the 8th Senate to increase the number of higher institutions in the country has been faulted by professionals who warn that it would be counterproductive given that most of the existing institutions continue to be starved of much required funding, leading to incessant strikes including the ongoing ones by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP).

The main issues raised by the two unions were the poor funding of public universities, non-payment of salaries and other entitlements and the lack of commitment on the part of the federal government to revive the Nigerian university system.

Some of those who spoke with LEADERSHIP Sunday lamented that instead of focusing on ensuring that the current ones are brought up to the level that they can compete with other universities around the world class, the senators are sold on the idea of creating more universities.

Checks by LEADERSHIP Sunday show that, presently, there are 293 accredited higher institutions across the country, which include 34 federal universities, 31 state universities, 34 private universities, 24 federal polytechnics, 43 state polytechnics and 83 colleges of educations (federal, state and private ones inclusive).

However, it is due to their poor conditions that Nigerians have continued to call for the declaration of a state of emergency in the sector in the last decade.

This is also coming at a time when the education budget in the country continues to decline as against the 26 percent universal standard recommended by UNICEF.

For instance, in 2018 the education budget was 7.04% of N8.6 trillion. The total allocation to the sector in 2018 was N605.8 billion with N435.1 billion for recurrent expenditure, N61.73 billion for capital expenditure and N109.06 billion for Universal Basic Education. This was lower than the 7.4 percent in 2017.

So far, N462.24 billion was proposed for education in the 2019 budget which is a little higher than the N435.1 billion allocated in 2018.

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Among the proposed tertiary institutions are: FCT University of Science and Technology Bill 2015 which was passed on the 18th of October 2018; Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurum, Bill 2015 which was passed on the 23rd June, 2016; Federal College of Agriculture and Related Discipline (Establishment, etc) Bill 2015; Post-graduate Physiotherapy College of Nigeria (Establishment, etc) Bill 2015 and Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurum, Bill 2016 which was passed on June 23, 2016.

Others are: Federal University of Wukari (Establishment) Bill 2016 which was passed on the 29 of September 2016; Maritime University of Nigeria, Oron (Establishment, etc) Bill 2016 which was passed on the 6th of July 2017; Federal College of Forestry, Toungo, Bill 2016; National Postgraduate College of Medical Laboratory Science Bill 2016; City University of Technology, Yaba, Lagos Bill 2016 and City University of Technology Kaduna, Bill 2016.

Also in the list are: Maritime University of Nigeria, Lokoja (Establishment,etc) Bill 2016; Sports University of Nigeria, Abuja (Establishment,etc) Bill 2016; Federal University of Education, Kano, Bill which was passed on July 5, 2018; Alvan Ikoku Federal University of Education Bill 2016 which was passed on July 5, 2018; Adeyemi Federal University of Education, Akure, Bill 2016, which was passed on July 5, 2018; Federal University of Education, Zaria, Bill 2016, which was passed on the 5th of July 5, 2018 and Federal University of Agriculture Kaaba (Establishment, etc) Bill 2016 which was passed on the 23rd of November 2017.

It also includes Federal Polytechnic Silami Sokoto State (Establishment,etc) Bill 2016 which was passed on the 6th of November 2018, Federal Polytechnic Kabo (Establishment, etc) Bill 2016 which was passed on the 28th of November 2018, Federal College of Education Gumel Bill 2017 which was passed on the 6th of November 2018, City University of Technology Enugu (Est, etc) Bill 2017, Federal Polytechnic, Ukana, (Establishment, etc) Bill 2017.

City University of Technology Auchi (Establishment,etc) Bill 2017 which was passed on December 5, 2018; Federal University, Gashua (Establishment, etc) Bill 2017 which was passed on March 13, 2018; Federal University of Technology, Ilaro (Establishment, etc) Bill 2017 and Federal University of Technology, Yaba (Establishment, etc) Bill 2017.

Also approved are: Federal Polytechnic Daura (Establishment, etc) Bill, 2017 which was passed on November 28, 2018; Federal University of Agriculture and Technology Oke-Ogun (Establishment, etc) Bill 2017, Federal Polytechnic Ogbomosho (Establishment,etc) Bill, Federal Polytechnic, Kaltungo, (Establishment, etc) Bill, 2017 which was passed on December 5, 2018; Federal College of Education, Omuma, Imo State (Establishment, etc) Bill 2017; College of Information and Technology, Oyo (Establishment, etc) Bill 2017 and Federal Polytechnic, Adikpo Benue State (Establishment, etc) Bill 2017 which was passed on December 5, 2018. Others include: Federal College of Education (Special), Onueke Ezza South, Ebonyi (Establishment, etc) Bill 2017; Federal College of Education, Nkalagu, Ebonyi State (Establishment,etc) Bill 2017; Federal University of Health Science, Otukpo (Establishment, etc) Bill 2017, which was passed on July 5, 2018; Federal College of Education (Technical) Arochukwu (Establishment, etc) Bill 2017, which was passed on November 8, 2018; Federal Polytechnic Item, Abia State (Establishment,etc) Bill 2017; Federal University Uga, Anambra State (Establishment, etc) Bill 2017; Federal Polytechnic Mpu, Enugu (Establishment, etc) Bill 2017, which was passed on December 5, 2018 and Federal University of Technology Manchok (Establishment,etc) Bill 2017 which was passed on November 28, 2018.

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More in the document are: Federal University of Education Okene (Establishment, etc) Bill 2017; Federal Polytechnic Orogun, Delta State (Establishment, etc) Bill 2017; Federal College of Nursing and Mid-Wifery Irrua (Establishment, etc) Bill 2017; Federal College of Education Usugbenu-Irrua (Establishment, etc) Bill 2017 which was passed on November 28, 2018; FCT College of Nursing and Mid-Wifery (Establishment, etc) Bill 2017; Federal College of Education (Technical) Arochukwu, Abia State (Establishment, etc) Bill 2018 which was passed on November 6, 2018; Federal Polytechnic Aba, Abia State (Establishment,etc) Bill 2018 which was passed on November 6, 2018, and Federal Polytechnic, Kwale Delta State (Establishment, etc) Bill 2018 which was passed on December 5, 2018.

Baring his mind on the senators’ move, the national secretary of ASUP, Anderson Ezeibe, described the establishment of new universities as the political gimmicks of a government, saying such move would continue to bring down the educational standard of existing ones

“What are they establishing? The ones that they have established, have they finished funding them? They are just playing politics. If the federal government is funding existing tertiary institutions, they are not supposed to be on strike. They don’t have any business establishing any other institutions. They should fund the ones that ard existing properly so that they can meet their mandate. They just want to establish new ones just for political consideration. It doesn’t make sense,” he said.

Also speaking, a lecturer in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Dr Philip Mefor, stated that the establishment of new universities should be far from the thoughts of government, adding that government should give a thought to giving complete autonomy to the public tertiary institutions. “Government should give university complete autonomy. We have internally generated revenue in universities. If there is complete autonomy, it will help a great deal in shaping the nation’s tertiary institution.

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“Universities are not properly funded and that is the reason we are still on strike. How can you talk about establishing new universities when the ones on ground are not properly funded? It will keep on bringing down the standard of education. The federal government should properly fund these universities so that they will be able to live up to their responsibilities. If you go abroad, you will see universities like shopping complexes you find in Abuja. That is to tell you that it is not the structure per se that is the university but the capability of producing quality students that can compete globally.

“Our education sector is dying due to poor funding. There are no funds for research and all that. You fund your own research,” he said. Speaking on the wisdom of adequate funding of the universities, ASUU president, Prof Biodun Ogunnyemi, remarked that investing in the nation’s universities will not only stop the frequent strikes but also create an avenue for the tertiary institutions to become money spinners for the nation.

“If we have facilities that are world class, we will attract students. See what we are paying to Ghana annually. Ghana, South Africa years ago were coming to Nigeria for education. We were rated among the best 10 in the Common Wealth. We can fix our education, and the education tourism we are giving to others, we can give to ourselves. We can get income from foreign students. That is the direction our government is not looking into. Rather than turn our universities into constituency projects, they should sit down and ask themselves what type of quality of education the nation needs and how to go about achieving it,” he said.

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