Despite poor state of Nigerian institutions, 20 senators want new federal universities, polytechnics, colleges

National Assembly Complex
National Assembly Complex

The 8th Senate has over the past three years, prided itself as the best so far, having passed over 200 bills against previous assemblies.

Top among the bills are those seeking establishment of universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, among others.

In what has almost become a tradition at the upper chamber, at least one bill seeking the establishment of a tertiary institution is presented for deliberation, consideration and possible passage into law, by a lawmaker almost each week.

Most times, when these lawmakers present such bills, they give several reasons to back their request, ranging from “there is no federal university in my constituency” to “establishment of this institution will help boost the economy of that constituency”.

The lawmakers, however, do not find it ironical that existing tertiary institutions across the country undergo challenges that require the urgent attention from both the federal and state government – rather than establishing new ones.

No Nigerian university is currently ranked among the top 600 in the world, with the highest ranked university being Covenant University, a private institution.

Several times, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has expressed disappointment at the federal and state governments over the creation of new tertiary institutions.

The academic body had said the creation of too many universities is one of the reasons the system is not producing the desired results.

”Every now and then we see new universities springing up without really trying to find out what impact the existing ones have made in the political, social and economic development of the country.

“I dare say that the unbridled proliferation of universities in the country is, in fact, one of the reasons why the system is not producing a functional result that it should produce.

“Most of the universities do not even have personnel, especially lecturers to teach, let alone the requisite infrastructure that will enable a well-rounded university education,” the ASUU chairman, University of Lagos Chapter was quoted as saying during a public hearing at the National Assembly.

PREMIUM TIMES takes a look at some lawmakers who sponsored bills seeking the establishment of tertiary institutions in their constituencies and the reasons they gave:

1. Ibn Na’Allah: Federal University of Agriculture, Zuru, Kebbi State

The bill was first presented on the floor of the Senate on July 4 and was read for the second time on July 12. Although there is no University in Zuru, the constituency has a College of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry (CAOZU) and Saham College of Health Sciences and Technology.

After the second reading, the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institution and TETFUND for more deliberation and for it to report back in four weeks.

Already, the state has the Federal University, Birnin Kebbi and Kebbi State University of Science and Technology.

2. Stella Oduah: Federal University of Education, Aguleri, Anambra State

The bill was co-sponsored by a senator Victor Umeh and was read for the first time on April 19.

While presenting the bill, Mrs Oduah maintained that the establishment of the institution will help achieve her priorities, top of which include the development of human capital of the youth and women, which will ultimately increase economic activities and development of the communities affected.

The Anambra senator has also presented a bill seeking the establishment of Federal University of Aquatic Studies in Ogbaru, Anambra State.

She has said the bill, if passed, is expected to develop the aquaculture sector in the predominantly fishing community of Ogbaru in Anambra state by ensuring the availability of highly skilled manpower and development of cutting-edge research and technology for the industry.

Both bills are yet to be read for the second time.

Other universities in the state include the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (formally known as Anambra State University), Nnamdi Azikiwe University and some private universities.

3. Gershom Bassey: Federal Polytechnic, Akpabuyo, Cross River State

Mr Bassey presented the bill on the floor of the Senate for the first time on March 29, 2018. Akpabuyo local government has only one tertiary institution – the Arthur Jarvis University, a private university inaugurated on March 6, 2017.

The lawmaker had said the federal polytechnic will be the first institution within Akpabuyo and a development that would be well appreciated by the people of the community. The bill has not been read for the second time.

Presently, the state has no state or federal polytechnic. Only a private institution, Novak Polytechnic exists in Ikom local government of the state. The state, however, has both a state and a federal university.

4. Barnabas Gemade: Federal College of Education (Technical), Korinya, Benue State

The bill was first presented on the floor of the Senate on February 1. Korinya, a town in Konshisha Local Government Area of the state, does not have a tertiary institution.

The bill is yet to be read for the second time.

The state however, has two polytechnics – Benue State Polytechnic, Ugboloko and Fidel Polytechnic, Gboko. It also has three universities: Benue State University, Makurdi; Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi and University of Mkar, Mkar – Gboko.

There are about four colleges of education in state: College of Education, Oju; Federal College of Education, Agasha; College of Education, Katsina-Ala and College of Agriculture, Yandev.

5. Biodun Olujimi: Federal College of Education, Omuo-Ekiti, Ekiti State

The bill was first presented to the Senate on February 1, 2018. It was then read for the second time on February 7 and referred to the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institution and TETFUND for more legislative work and public hearing.

In her debate, Mrs Olujimi noted that there has been ”an educational neglect in the Omuo-Ekiti senatorial district”.

The Senate Committee on Tertiary Institution and TETFUND held a public hearing on March 19, to consider the bill and a sum of over N1billion was estimated for the project execution. Efforts to find out from the lawmaker if the bill has been sent to the president for assent were unsuccessful.

The state, however, has a college of education in Ikere-Ekiti. It also has a federal polytechnic, a federal university and a state university.

6. Theodore Orji: Federal Polytechnic, Aba, Abia State

The lawmaker presented a Bill for an Act to establish the Federal Polytechnic Aba, Abia State on January 30. It was read for the second time on February 28, 2018 and was referred to the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND.

Mr Orji later clarified that the purpose of the bill was for the upgrading of the Abia State Polytechnic into a federal institution and not the establishment of a new polytechnic.

He also said the bill was to provide for full time courses in technology, applied sciences, management and other fields of studies and make provision for the general administration of the polytechnic.

In March, a public hearing was organised for deliberations on the bill and participants of the event unanimously supported the purpose of the bill.

The only polytechnic in the state is the Abia State Polytechnic. The state, however, has both a state and federal university.

7. Mao Ohabunwa: Federal polytechnic, Item, Abia State

The bill was first presented on January 30 and passed through second reading on February 21.

Messrs Ohabunwa and Orji, both Abia senator, thus proposed two different bills for two federal polytechnics in Abia.

During the presentation of the bill, Mr Ohabunwa, noted that apart from the University of Agriculture Umudike, there is no other federal institution in the state.

He said the Senate came up with the resolution that there should be a federal presence in every constituency in the interest of Nigerians. He said the Federal Polytechnic is ”well cut out as the best location to site the institution because of the abundance of technical know-how in the area”.

The Senate Committee on Tertiary Institution and TETFUND held a public hearing on March 19, to consider the bill.

8. Danjuma La’ah: Federal University of technology, Manchok, Kaduna State

Mr La’ah first presented the bill at the upper chamber on July 25, 2017. It was read for the second time on February 6.

However, the lawmaker wants the Federal School of Statistics in Manchok to be converted to a Federal University of Technology. He explained that the community is even willing to negotiate for more land with the federal government.

He further said Kaduna State has suffered neglect in terms of building tertiary institutions in the area.

The Senate Committee on Tertiary Institution and TETFUND on February 23, held a public hearing to consider the passage of the bill.

At the hearing, the president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Biodun Ogunyemi, urged the government to promote a culture of strengthening the capacity of existing tertiary institutions rather than creating more in the face of dwindling financial resources.

Kaduna already has a federal university, the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; as well as the Nigeria Defence Academy, which has the status of a military university. It also has a state university and a state polytechnic.

9. Joshua Lidani: Federal Polytechnic Kaltungo, Gombe State

This bill was first introduced to the Senate in June 2017 and was read for the second time on January 31. The lawmaker who sponsored the bill said the polytechnic will provide full-time courses in technology, applied science management and other fields of study.

The Senate Committee on Tertiary Institution and TETFUND held a public hearing on July 19, to consider the passage of the bill.

Although there is no known federal polytechnic in the state, the state has both a state and a federal university.

10. Barnabas Gemade: Federal Polytechnic Adikpo, Benue State

This bill was introduced to the Senate in June 2017 and scaled through second reading on January 31.

Mr Gemade, in his presentation, stressed that Benue State does not have any federal polytechnic or federal college of education and it is against this backdrop that the Bill was proposed “to address these challenges by establishing a Federal polytechnic at Adikpo in Kwande Local Government Area which is very central within the North-east senatorial district of Benue State which does not have any federal tertiary institution”.

He added that the Bill is a right step in the right direction as it seeks to address not only the technological needs of the populace but also provide training in the fields of applied science management, technical and vocational training of artisans for the development of the nation’s diverse economic potentials and industries.

From his submission, the financial implication for the federal polytechnic amounted to N2.15 billion.

11. Clifford Ordia: Federal College of Education, Usugbenu Irrua, Edo State

While presenting this bill, Mr Ordia argued that the enactment of the bill will help in transforming the educational fortunes in Nigeria and in producing the desired manpower and expertise that Nigeria is yearning for in the area of teaching profession.

He also said the establishment of the institution will create a favorable atmosphere for the educational development of our country.

It was first presented on January 24 and was read for the second time on February 7.

There is no known federal college of education in the state. The only state college of education is located at Ekiador. The state, however, has a state and a federal university.

12. Late Ali Wakili: Federal College of Education, Dass, Bauchi State

The late lawmaker presented the bill on the floor of the Senate on January 25 and was read for the second time the following week (January 31).

Before his demise, the lawmaker had convinced the upper chamber on the establishment of the college, which made the bill scale through second reading and referred to the committee on Tertiary Education and TETFUND.

The committee, thereafter, set a date for the public hearing of the bill.

The progress of the bill was, however, halted when a fellow senator from Bauchi Central, Isah Misau, raised a point of order, asking the Senate to cancel the public hearing on February 20.

He lamented that Bauchi South (where Dass, is located), already has six federal institutions: Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Federal Polytechnic Bauchi, Federal School of Nursing and Midwifery, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital, National Open University study campus, and Federal Government Girls College.

He also said the establishment of the college in Dass could hinder the proposed establishment of the Federal College of Education Misau in his senatorial zone of Bauchi Central.

The deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, mandated the Senate Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFUND to investigate Mr Misau’s claims.

Mr Wakili died on March 17.

13. Yusuf Yusuf: Federal college of education, Mutum Biyu, Taraba State

This bill was presented for the first time on May 30 and scaled through second reading on July 18. Although there is no college of education in the constituency, the state, however has a college of education, located at Zing. The state also has a state and a federal university.

The bill is yet to be read for the third time.

14. Ahmad Lawan: Federal University, Gashua, Yobe State

The bill seeking the establishment of a federal university in Gashua, Yobe State was first presented in April 2017 and was read for the second time in May 2017.

The bill was referred to the relevant committee which held a public hearing and re-presented its report to the upper chamber.

The bill was read for the third time and passed on March 13, 2018. Effort to know if the bill has been transmitted to the president for assent was unsuccessful as he could not be reached.

15. Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi: Federal University of Education, Kontagora, Niger State

Mr Abdullahi first presented the bill on July 4 and this was read for the second time on July 18, 2018.

It is yet to be read for the third time. Mr Abdullahi’s constituency already has a college of education. The state also has a Federal University of Technology.

16. Baba Kaka Bashir Garbai: Federal Polytechnic Maiduguri, Borno State

This bill has only been presented on the floor of the senate on January 31 and is yet to be read for the second time. There is no known polytechnic in the state.

17. Joshua Dariye: Federal College of Education, Kanam, Plateau State

On February 7, 2018, the bill was first read on the floor of the Senate. Although the bill has not been read for the second time, the state however, already has a Federal College of Education in Pankshin local government. It also has an existing federal university.

18. John Enoh: Federal Polytechnic, Ikom, Cross River State

Mr Enoh first presented the bill in April 2018. The bill scaled through second reading on May 30, 2018 and was referred to the appropriate committee.

The committee is yet to present its report to the Senate for furtherance of the bill.

Mr Enoh presented his bill two months after his colleague, Gershom Bassey, proposed the bill for the Federal Polytechnic, Akpabuyo,

19. Foster Ogola: Federal College of Education (Technical), Aghoro, Bayelsa State

This bill was first read in February 2018 and scaled through second reading on May 30.

While leading the debate on the bill, Mr Ogola said the existence of a sound and robust educational system in any country is predicated by qualified and well-trained teachers.

He said the objective of this bill is to, among others, ”develop an upright learning, technical and professional programme leading to the award of certificate degrees, post-graduate research, diploma and higher degrees with emphasis on planning developmental and adaptive skills in education, engineering technology, applied science, agriculture, commerce and social science humanities, management and allied disciplines.”

The bill was referred to the appropriate committee which is yet to present its report. There is no known Federal College of Education in the state which has both a state and a federal university.

20. Ali Ndume: Federal College of Education Gwoza

The bill was read for the first time on January 31, 2018. Although Borno State has some higher institutions, Mr Ndume’s constituency, however, has none.

Efforts to reach Mr Ndume for clarification on the status of the bill, were unsuccessful.

Gwoza Local Government has been terrorised by the Boko Haram insurgents for over six years. Up till early this year, village heads and residents of several communities in the local government, have lamented that most part of the area is still controlled by the insurgents.

Most recent incident was the abduction of some women along Pulka Road in the local government.

Effort to reach Mr Ndume and discuss the progress of the bill was unsuccessful as he did not respond to calls made to him.


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