The Federal government has granted approval for the establishment of five private universities in the country.
The new universities are Macpherson University, Seriki Sotayo, Southwestern University, Okun Owa, all in Ogun State. There are also Elizade University Ilara Mokin, Ondo State, Evangel University, Akaeze, Ebonyi State and Gregory University Uturu, Abia State.
Minister of information, Labaran Maku, who made the announcement after the weekly meeting of the Executive Council of the Federation at the State House, Abuja, also said the newly approved universities have been allocated mentor universities among the federal universities within their catchment areas.
In that regard, University of Ibadan is to serve as mentor to Macpherson University, while the University of Lagos will serve as mentor to the Southwestern University. The Elizade University in Ondo state will have the Federal University of Technology, Akure, as mentor while the University of Nigeria, Nsukka will play a similar role to Evangel University in Ebony as well as Gregory University in Abia State.
Mr. Maku said the Federal government deemed it necessary to grant operational licenses to the universities “in order to bridge the yearning gap for further education in the country”.
The minister said the licenses were approved after a rigorous selection process and that the approval is for a period of three years after which they will be re-accessed for full licensing.
Today’s FEC meeting was presided over by the Vice President Namadi Sambo on behalf of President Goodluck Jonathan who left Abuja for London earlier in the day to attend a meeting on Somalia on the invitation of the UK prime minister, David Cameron.
Mr. Maku was accompanied to the briefing by the Minister of Education, Rukayyat Rufai, and the Minister of State, Trade and Investments, Samuel Ortom.
Speaking further, Mr. Maku said with the five new universities, the country now has a total of 122 universities comprising both government owned and private ones.
“Private universities would continue to play critical role in improving access to university education, establishment of more private universities is also an antidote to the proliferation of illegal universities and degree awarding mills across the country.” Mr. Maku said
Though Mr. Maku lamented the high fees charged by private universities, he said he understood the plight of the operators because of the capital intensive nature of setting up a good university.
Also speaking on the matter, the Minister of Education,Mrs. Rukayyat Rufai said her ministry had concluded plans to engage the proprietors of all private universities to look at the possibility of cutting the high tuition fees.
Meanwhile, Labaran Maku also said the 220 Sapele power plant has commenced full generation. He also says the plant was one of ten new power plants expected to come on stream this year.