Stakeholders in the educational sector have disagreed on the need to establish more tertiary institutions in the country.
While the National Universities Commission called for more schools to accommodate the rising number of applicants, academic workers said more attention should be paid to the existing ones.
The House Committee on Tertiary Education and Services/TETFUND had, on Thursday, organised a public hearing on a bill seeking to establish the Federal University of Technology Asaba, Delta State, and another on the Federal College of Education Keana, Nasarawa State.
At the hearing were the NUC, Academic Staff Union of Universities, Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, and the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union, among others.
The Minority Leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu, from Delta State, sponsored the bill to propose the university in the state.
The stakeholders were, however, divided on the establishment of new tertiary institutions.
The NUC noted that the 172 universities in Nigeria can only admit not more than 500,000 admission-seekers, while the applicants were sometimes in excess of a million.
The Director of Public Affairs, NUC, Ibrahim Yakasai, said, “We are excited and we support this. In fact, every state of the federation has a federal university – at least one; a few of them has two – and if this one comes on board, Delta will be having two specialised universities.”
ASUU, however, noted that Delta already had three federal universities – the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Admiralty University of Nigeria and the Nigerian Maritime University.
The President of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, whose speech was read by the Abuja Zonal Coordinator, Prof. Theophilus Lagi, said, “We call on the honourable House of Representatives to support the cause of revamping and revitalising existing universities in Nigeria rather than creating new ones that will, in no time, suffer the fate of the older ones.
“The case of the 12 new universities, including the Federal University of Petroleum Resources (Effurun, Delta State), created by fiat under the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration clearly attests to this point.”
According to him, establishing another federal university in the state would trigger agitation for equity by other states, which can also add to the challenges currently facing the Nigerian university system.
The SSANU, on its part, listed issues with having more tertiary institutions.
The National Financial Secretary of the union, Mohammed Aliyu, who represented the National President, Mr Samson Ugwoke, declined to categorically state if the body was for or against the proposed university.
President, COEASU, Nuhu Ogirima, welcomed the establishment of new institutions for the sake of access to education across the country. He said with the recent establishment of six new Federal Colleges of Education across the country, and with the mandate to produce trained teachers for the basic education sub-sector – primary and junior secondary school levels – the number of education colleges will rise to 27.