The Federal Government seemed unconcerned by the continuing strike by members of the Academic Staff Union of Institutions, ASUU, as President Muhammadu Buhari presided over a Federal Executive Council meeting that approved the formation of 12 new private universities.
Lia Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, who made the announcement on behalf of the Ministry of Education, stated that the 12 private institutions will be mentored by current universities.
Aside from that, the new institutions will get mentorship in areas such as the recruitment of senior officers, academic, and administrative personnel, as well as the availability of human and material resources for the start of any academic program.
Recall that several education stakeholders have chastised the government on several occasions for the growth of higher institutions while ignoring the older ones.
Some have speculated that the establishment of these universities was motivated by political considerations.
However, Mohammed justified the current decision by claiming that Nigeria lacked suitable universities to handle the increasing population of young people interested in university study.
He said the memo was provided by Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, Minister of State for Education, on behalf of the National Universities Commission, and it was accepted by the cabinet.
Kano, Niger, Gombe, Sokoto, Delta, Abia, Anambra, and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, are among the states that would gain.
“The document for the issuing of temporary licenses for the creation of 12 proposed private institutions was authorized by Council,” he stated.
“The proposed private universities are Pen Resource University in Gombe, Gombe State, Al-Ansar University in Maiduguri, Borno State, Margaret Lawrence University in Delta State, Khalifa Ishaku Rabiu University in Kano, Kano State, Sports University in Idumuje Ugboko, Delta State, Bala Ahmed University in Kano, Saisa University of Medical Sciences and Technology in Sokoto State, Nigerian-British University in Hasa
He indicated that relevant government ministries and agencies were coordinating with striking unions such as the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), the Non-Academic Staff Union of Allied and Educational Institutions (NASU), and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) to bring the strike to an end.
When asked whether the government will allow additional institutions while ASUU is on strike, he responded, “Can we claim that because ASUU is on strike, we will not have new universities when we know that currently 65 percent of eligible students at universities are merely wandering the streets?” When we consider that there are over 5,000 Nigerian students in Ukraine alone now.
“And I believe there are roughly 165,000 Nigerian students outside of Nigeria.” We have a population of roughly 200 million people and only about 200 universities, compared to about 1,200 institutions in Indonesia. Because ASUU is on strike, we will not be able to extend our educational facilities.
“You inquired if the ASUU matter had been considered in council. Every day, we have Ministers and departments dealing with ASUU and labor unrest on a full-time basis. No, you don’t talk about everything in Council.
“However, I can assure you that no government would go to sleep pretending that ASUU is not on strike when, in fact, engagement is taking place.”