Data obtained from the National Universities Commission on Friday revealed that a total of 33 private universities were approved by the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari[retd.] within 16 months.
The period under review is January 2021 and April 2022. Sunday PUNCH reports that while 21 of the private universities were approved in 2021; 12 were approved during the present strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
Prior to the establishment of the 33 universities, the total number of universities in Nigeria stood at 186 comprising 49 federal universities; 59 state universities and 78 private universities. Private universities established in 2022 include Pen Resource University, Gombe, Gombe state; Al-Ansar University, Maiduguri, Borno state; Margaret Lawrence I -University, Delta state; Khalifa Ishaku Rabiu University, Kano; Sports University Idumuje Ugboko, Delta state; Bala Ahmed University, Kano; Saisa University of Medical Sciences and Technology, Sokoto state; Nigerian-British University Hasa, Abia state ; Peter University Acina-Onene, Anambra state; Newgate University, Minna, Niger state ; European University of Nigeria in Duboyi, Abuja and North-West University, Sokoto.
Some of the private universities approved in 2021 include Topfaith University, Mkpatak, Akwa Ibom; Thomas Adewumi University, Oko-Irese, Kwara; Maranatha University, Mgbidi, Imo; Ave Maria University, Piyanko, Nasarawa,;Al-Istiqama University, Sumaila, Kano.; Mudiame University, Irrua, Edo; Havilla University, Nde-Ikom, Cross River; and Claretian University of Nigeria, Nekede, Imo.
Others are NOK University, Kachia, Kaduna; Karl-Kumm University, Vom, Plateau.; James Hope University, Lagos; Maryam Abacha American University of Nigeria, Kano;Capital City University, Kano;Ahman Pategi University, Kwara; University of Offa, Kwara; Mewar University, Masaka, Nasarawa;Edusoko University, Bida, Niger;Philomath University, Kuje, Abuja and Khadija University, Majia, Jigawa ,among others.
Speaking in an interview with our correspondent, the Programme Director, Reform Education Nigeria, AyodamolaOluwatoyin noted that while private universities have their benefits; they shouldn’t take the place of public universities.
“The failure of the government to efficiently manage the public university system gave rise to the birth of private universities in Nigeria. While one cannot fail to admit the importance of private universities, it is very important to note that not everyone in Nigeria can even afford payment of fees in public institutions, not to talk of private fees who charge exorbitant fees.
“However, the government should ensure that sanity is returned to the administration of our public institutions. For instance, ASUU has been on strike for months now and nothing has been done.”
Reports had it that the strike by ASUU which started on Monday, February 14, 2022 entered its 180th day on Saturday, making it the second longest strike since return to democracy in 1999. The longest strike ever was in 2020 under the regime of Muhammadu Buhari. The National President, ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke could not immediately be reached for comments.
Meanwhile, the release of dollars for foreign education by the Central Bank of Nigeria increased by 13 per cent in quarter two of the year 2022. The period under review was between April 2022 and June 2022 according to the latest statistics made available by the apex bank.
The figure is contained in data obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria, calculated based on the data provided on the amount spent on educational service under the sectoral utilisation for transactions valid for foreign exchange. $60,202,730.84 in January; $69.9m in February 2022.
There was a significant increase in March when a total of $87.26 million was spent. So far in Q2, Nigerians have so far expended a total of $246.2 million. $78.62 million in April; $82.70 million in May 2022 and $84.9m in June 2022 making a total of $462 million in 2022 altogether.
Education in Nigeria, especially in the tertiary education sector, has been marred by industrial actions by tertiary institution-based unions such as the Academic Staff Union of Universities, the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics and the Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union.
Currently, academic activities in Nigerian universities are grounded on issues bordering on lecturers’ welfare. The data from the apex bank revealed that Nigerians remitted more than $462million to foreign academic institutions in five months without significant reciprocity in form of inflows from foreign sources to the local education sector.
The huge net dollar outflows have dual adverse effects of underinvestment in domestic education and creating pressure on the naira exchange rate. The high demand for dollars to pay foreign educational institutions affects Nigeria’s foreign reserves and increases pressure on the exchange rate.
The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation observed that about 76,338 Nigerians were studying abroad as of 2018, the highest from an African country.
While commenting on the state of tertiary education in Nigeria, a Professor at the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba, Victor Olumekun siad, “Education is an essential ingredient for national development hence the government needs to substantially invest in it. However, universities can then look for other sources to complement.
“Unfortunately, our leaders have stolen more than enough to cater for their great grandchildren that are yet to be born. They can afford to send their wards to Oxford, Cambridge that charge in excess of N35,000 per session”.
So far, the ongoing strike by ASUU seems to have no end in sight as the union has vowed to sustain its strike until the government meets its needs, The union is seeking for the release of more funding for universities; release of earned allowances; deployment of the University Transparency Accountability System for the payment of salaries and allowances of university lecturers; Renegotiation of condition of service among others.