As Nigerian universities grapple with the challenge of basic infrastructure, there are concerns over the disparity in proposed allocations for capital and recurrent expenditure contained in the 2017 budget proposal of the education ministry.
In the Ministry of Education budget proposal, N398 billion (88.8 per cent) was allocated for recurrent expenditure and N50 billion (11.2 per cent) allocated for capital spending.
Compared to the 2016 budget, however, the figures appear better as less sum was allocated for capital expenditure and more for recurrent. In the 2016 ministry of education budget, N37 billion (7.7 per cent) was allocated for capital expenditure while N445 billion (92.3 per cent) was allocated for recurrent expenditure.
Disparity in allocations between capital and recurrent expenditure was much worse in the case of universities. A breakdown of the allocations to universities in the 2017 budget shows that recurrent expenditure still gulps a large chunk of the entire budgetary allocations to the universities.
In the budgetary allocation proposed for Nigeria’s oldest university, University of Ibadan, N13 billion representing 99.2 per cent was allocated for recurrent expenditure while N99 million went into capital provisions, representing 0.8 percent of the total allocation of N13.1 billion for the institution.
For Ahmadu Bello University, N14 billion (98.5 per cent) was allocated for recurrent expenditure while N219 million 1.5 per cent)was budgeted for capital expenditure.
The University of Abuja, however, fared better with N4 billion (89.7 per cent) recurrent expenditure and N457 million (10.3 per cent) capital budget.
While older universities already have significant structure and thus may require less money for capital expenditure, similar scenarios existed for the newly established universities.
Checks by PREMIUM TIMES revealed that the worst hit institution among new universities is the Federal University, Kashere, Gombe State with N2.4 billion (93.6 per cent) recurrent expenditure and N164 million (6.4 per cent) capital proposal.
It was followed closely by Federal University, Oye-Ekiti with N2.3 billion (93.3 per cent) recurrent and N164 million (6.7 per cent) capital expenditure projections, respectively.
The Federal University, Dutsin-Ma, Katsina State, had what could be considered a fair proposition among the lot with N2 billion (83.3 per cent) recurrent expenditure and N400 million (16.7 per cent) capital spending proposal.
Reacting to the differences in recurrent and capital expenditures, Razaq Adisa, a senior lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication, University of Ilorin, said the budget reflects a lack of foresight on the part university administrators.
The don explained to PREMIUM TIMES that most institutions have to grapple with high overhead cost because they do not comply with employment policy.
“The high expenditure on wages, salaries and overheads in the budget of Nigerian universities is an outcome of lack of foresight by the management of affected institutions. It is a result of
non-compliance to employment policy as well as staff ratio.
“Specifically, most of the universities are over staffed in an area and understaffed in other areas,” he said.
On his part, a union leader, Tajudeen Habeeb, decried the high allocation for recurrent expenditure, stressing that it has always been an issue of public debate every year.
Mr. Tajudeen, however, said it is sad that the poor allocation to capital spending is happening under a government of ‘change’.
“While it is a non-issue to encourage the lecturers with wages and attractive salary scheme, it becomes so worrisome when the facilities to be used by these lecturers are left unattended to. So one wonders how effectively these people would deliver.”
While lamenting the poor investment in infrastructural facilities across the universities, Mr. Habeeb who is also the Chairman of National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, in Kwara said the nation has failed to develop as a result of poor investment in education.
“Nations with vision for the future understand that investment in the education system means investment into their future. They therefore invest in it with more preference for infrastructures and other required equipments necessary for effective learning.
“This is a government clamouring for local production yet fails to invest in the system that will train and nurture the ‘local producers’. Many of our university lag behind in engineering exploits as a result of inadequate state-of-the-art laboratories for practical classes.
“It is indeed a sad thing that we are failing again as a nation at this critical moment,” he said.