The House of Representatives Committee on Tertiary Education and Services is considering bills for the establishment of nine new tertiary institutions across the country, just as the lawmakers move to amend the Acts establishing six existing ones.
Chairman of the Committee, Suleiman Aminu (APC, Kano), who disclosed this on Wednesday at a public hearing in Abuja, listed the proposed tertiary institutions as Federal Polytechnic, Dukku (Gombe); Federal Polytechnic, Shendam (Plateau); Federal Polytechnic, Abriba (Abia); Federal University, Birnin-Kebbi (Kebbi).
Others include Federal University of Agriculture, Jalingo (Taraba); Federal College of Education, Akwette (Abia); Federal University of Technology, Kaduna (Kaduna); Federal College of Education, Monguno (Borno); and National Institute for Education Planning and Administration (Nigeria).
More so, the universities whose Acts are billed for amendment include Usman Dan Fodiyo University, Sokoto; University of Lagos, Akoka; Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife; University of Nigeria, Nsukka; University of Maiduguri; Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi; and National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN).
“We deemed it expedient to subject these bills to public scrutiny and elicit inputs from the general public. You will agree with me that easy access to quality tertiary education is not only desirable but also inevitable.”
“However, the tertiary institutions in the country cannot adequately accommodate the quests for admissions by Nigerians, which calls for more to address the protracted problem,” the Chairman said.
In his submission, President of the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU), represented by Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, expressed concern over the state of tertiary education in the country, especially the grossly inadequate funding, which calls for drastic action.
“My heart is heavy that we want to establish new universities when nothing is being done about the existing ones. The Federal Government is considering the imposition of tuition fees when most Nigerians cannot afford three meals a day, and you are talking of new universities,” the ASUU boss queried.
But Uzoma Nkem-Abonta (PDP, Abia) countered ASUU, insisting that federal character demands that all states should be entitled to a federal polytechnic and shutting some states out of it would amount to abuse of equity.
He said, “Federal character entitles every state to a polytechnic. Let us establish them first, after which the issue of funding would be addressed.”
Nkem-Abonta’s position was also shared by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TET-Fund) and the National Board for Technical Education (NABTEB), whose officials lauded the move for new tertiary institutions.
“NABTEB is fully in support and even canvass that every state in Nigeria should have a federal polytechnic to enhance technical education, industrial dev and employment generation,” a NABTEB official said.
On the outcome of the public hearing, Chairman Suleiman promised that the Committee would be thorough, fair and objective.
“A number of factors will guide our action. But we promise to be thorough, fair and objective; above all, necessity and the co-operation of host states, would be the deciding factors.”