More tertiary institutions are springing up in different parts of the country under the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari despite public concerns over poor funding of the existing ones as well inadequate budgetary allocations to the education sector.
Findings show that no fewer than thirty new tertiary institutions have been established by the federal government since Buhari’s assumption in 2015.
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Daily Trust reports that the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics on Tuesday said the establishment of polytechnics in Nigeria was fast becoming mere ‘constituency projects’ to satisfy political convenience.
ASUP President, Anderson Ezeibe, who stated this in Abuja at a two-day workshop said: “We do not agree with the continued establishment of new polytechnics on the largely unsubstantiated premise of providing greater access to tertiary education for young Nigerians as the existing ones remain unattractive to young Nigerians.
Earlier in April, ASUP had asked both the federal and state governments to shut down polytechnics if they can no longer fund them.
The zonal coordinator of ASUP in South West (Zone C), Nureni Yekini who stated this at a briefing held in Abeokuta, shortly after the leadership monitored compliance of strike action in the state said: “The governments are just creating schools for fun and crippling what we called TETFUND in the institutions whereby you are just waiting for the federal government to build one structure or the other which is not acceptable to us.”
Findings by Daily Trust show that among the new tertiary institutions established by the Buhari-led government are 11 universities, 9 colleges of education and 10 polytechnics.
In June, the federal government approved release of N18 billion for take-off of four specialised universities established by the Buhari administration.
The established universities include: the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko (2018); Air Force Institute of Technology, Kaduna (2018); Nigerian Army University, Biu (2018; Federal University of Transportation, Daura, Katsina State (2018); Federal University of Agriculture, Zuru, Kebbi State (2020) and the University of Health Technology, Otukpo Benue State (2020).
Other universities established by the Buhari government include: the Federal University of Technology, Babura, Jigawa State (2021); Federal University of Technology, Ikot Abasi, Akwa Ibom State (2021); Federal University of Health Sciences, Azare, Bauchi State (2021); Nigeria Air Force University, Kaduna (2018) and the Federal University of Health Sciences, Ila Orangun, Osun State (2021).
Findings also show that the ten polytechnics established include: Federal Polytechnic Ile-Oluji, Ondo State; Federal Polytechnic, Daura, Katsina State; Federal Polytechnic Kaltungo, Gombe State; Federal Polytechnic Ayede, Oyo State; Federal Polytechnic Munguno, Borno State; Federal Polytechnic N’yak, Shendam, Plateau State; Federal Polytechnic Ohodo, Enugu State; Federal Polytechnic Ugep, Cross Rivers State; Federal Polytechnic Wannune, Benue State and the Federal Polytechnic, Orogun, Delta state.
The nine Colleges of Educations established are: Federal College of Education, Iwo; Federal college of Education, Odugbo; Federal College of Education, Isu; Federal College of Education,Ekiadolor; Federal College of Education, Gidan Madi; Federal College of Education, Jama’are; Federal College of Education, Birnin Kudu and Federal College of Agriculture, Kirikasamma.
Experts want existing institutions revamped
A Professor of Education Leadership Development at the University of Abuja, Salihu Ingawa, said establishment of more tertiary institutions is a “crude fraud” as the lawmakers are using it to please President Buhari and to “get something for their pockets and constituency”.
Professor Ingawa said: “Yes we have the number but do we have the capacity? How many universities can admit even 30,000 students?”
Insisting that there is a need to provide the infrastructure, Ingawa said: “How can you go to these institutions where they have no instrument to provide the practical, even as the theoretical is not there.
“The first generation universities are suffering and they said they are aged and the university I attended was established in 1804, how can you say universities established in 1960/61 are aged.
“What they should do is to increase the capacity of the first generation universities both in infrastructures and human resources so that they can admit more students as they have established a name for themselves,” he said, adding that instead of building new universities, they should put all the infrastructure they are going to put in the new universities to the old ones and see what will happen.
“You see the N5 billion for a new university, give it to ABU or UNN Nsukka and see what will happen but because they want to impress Buhari to say he expanded the universities from like 20 to 100,” he said.
For Dr. Abdullahi Yalwa, there are two sides to it, based on the population and the space for people to study; there is a need to establish more institutions considering the number of applicants from JAMB and the institution, there is a need for expansion for absorption capacity.
“But the question is what sort of education are we giving? We are just processing people to hold a paper of NCE, HND, DIPLOMA or degree and people will just carry the paper with nothing practical to show or to defend,” he said.
He argued that what they have in existence is not properly groomed to provide the right quality of education because the existing institutions are not well equipped and funded, while the teachers are not well equipped and trained to provide the right quality of education.
“What we need to do is to invest in the standardisation of the existing institutions, not in mere expansion in numbers. What we used to have in Nigeria earlier is few institutions with quality graduates but what we have now is the proliferation of institutions across Nigeria with people who cannot say what they have studied in the university or polytechnic,” he said.
He said: “We need to revamp and rejig our educational system to ensure standardisation not just proliferation of new institutions, that should not be a priority now, but that we get what we desire from the existing ones and expand them in so many ways including the capacity to admit many students.”
ASUP decries 2022 education budget
The President of ASUP, Anderson Ezeibe, could not be reached as his phone rang unanswered but he had told journalists at a press briefing on Monday that only alternative and more sustainable funding could help polytechnic systems out of its current woes.
Ezeibe stressed that no hope for the sector with the current budgetary allocation earmarked for the entire education in the country, which is approximately 8% of the total budget.
According to him, the 8% which is approximately $3.2bn if converted using the current rate, is less than what a single higher institution abroad budgets for in a year.
He said, ‘’Recently, the government’s budget was presented to the National Assembly and approximately 8% was dedicated to education, though we’ve not seen what is there for our polytechnics.
‘’What’s allocated to the entire education in the country, if you convert it to dollars at the current rate is about $3.2bn. I mean from basics to tertiary – all tiers of tertiary.
‘’If we continue to wait for the handouts that are coming from the budgetary allocations, then, certainly, we are not going to get to where we are supposed to get to. Mind you, the polytechnics are capital-driven because we deal with hands work training. What that means is we deal with infrastructures a lot. These don’t come cheap at all.
‘’Then, how do we go about adequate and sustainable funding for these polytechnics?’
ASUU President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, when contacted by one of our correspondents promised to get back but he was yet to do so as at when filing this report.
Presidency, ministry mum
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, did not reply to a text message from our reporter on Wednesday after several phone calls.
The text reads: “The President recently approved the establishment of varsities, polytechnics, and colleges of education.
“How will the federal government fund these new institutions at a time when the existing ones are complaining of poor funding; won’t this create crisis in the system?”
Director of Press and Public Relations at the Federal Ministry of Education, Bem Ben Goong declined to comment when contacted on Wednesday.
By Fidelis Mac-Leva, Chidimma C. Okeke, Idowu Isamotu, Muideen Olaniyi