The target is to have at least one federal university in every State in Nigeria.
The Executive Council of the Federation, FEC, on Wednesday during its maiden meeting in 2013 approved the establishment of three new federal universities in Gashua, Birnin Kebbi and Gusau in Yobe, Kebbi and Zamfara States respectively.
The Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, and his Education counterpart, Ruqayyatu Rufa’i, who announced the decision of the FEC at the end of its meeting in Abuja, said this is in fulfillment of government’s policy last year, to site a federal university in every state in the federation.
The council meeting was chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House, Abuja.
To justify the imperative to create more universities at this time, Mr. Maku painted a grim picture of the decline in the country’s education system, noting that only 10 per cent of school leavers get admission every year into higher institutions nationwide.
Ms. Rufa’i said about 1.3 million school leavers seeking admission into higher institutions every year compete for less than 200,000 available openings in the existing institutions.
The minister said eight out of the nine federal universities approved in 2012 have since taken off, except the one in Otuoke in Bayelsa state, which is billed to commence full academic activities next month after the delay caused by the recent floods in the area.
She announced that skeletal services are to start as soon as possible in the newly approved universities, while normal academic programme should start by 2014/2015 academic year. She said that this is part of attempts by government to complement efforts to redress educational challenges at all tiers in the country, from almajiri schools to post-primary institutions.
Also speaking, the Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Ngama, explained to reporters the benefits of the economic transformation efforts of the government.
He said the “economic transformation” has secured the country recognition and a louder voice and influence in the global financial institution among 16 developing nations to be allotted more shares in the World Bank.
According to Mr. Ngama, the 16 countries, including Nigeria and South Africa, were shortlisted from among 118 considered based on size and strength of their economies, impact on world economy, and expected growth in gross domestic product, GDP.
He said such global recognition represents a “Certificate of Good Health” for the country’s economy saying that Nigeria, with an external reserve of over $42 billion currently, has over a 1000 shares in the World Bank, with an extra 119 that have now been offered, which value would be paid for as soon as the Breton wood group demands.
The FEC also endorsed a new tourism brand identity for Nigeria, following the presentation of the Ministry’s appraisal and performance report by the Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Edem Duke.
Mr. Duke said the policy, which seeks to give priority attention to the exploitation of Nigeria’s tourism potentials, would build on the contributions of the creative industry to national development as well as provide opportunity for expression of bountiful youthful talents.
The policy, Mr. Duke said, includes evolution of retail destinations with the hospitality sector properly dove-tailing into tourism, while also promoting health tourism, adding that FEC also approved new campaign adverts to showcase Nigeria’s tourism potentials.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who presided over the meeting had, prior to the opening of the meeting, spoke on his administration’s perceived achievements recorded in the last one and half years. He urged the ministers not to take anything for granted, saying there is a need to consolidate on the foundation laid.
“This is a year to work harder and faster as a team and take responsibility for our Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs)”, Mr. Maku recalled the President as saying during the meeting.
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