The Nigerian Senate has held a public hearing seeking to establish the first ever Federal University of Technology in the North West region of the country, and two other colleges of education in the north east, and the south-south regions.
President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki while declaring the one day event open, assured Nigerians that the establishment of more tertiary institutions of learning across the country would boost the human capital development needs of the rising population.
The Senate President who was represented by the Deputy Minority Whip of the Senate, Senator Biodun Olujimi, noted that, as a responsible institution, the 8th National Assembly will always supports every genuine efforts to prepare Nigeria’s future generation for the challenges of development by equipping them with adequate knowledge and exposure.
“I am of the firm conviction that establishment of the University of Technology and colleges of education will encourage the advancement of learning and it will go down to all persons without distinction of race, creed, sex, and the opportunity of acquiring a higher education in technology. The location of this proposed institution is worthy of note because, this is in consonance with the policy of the federal government to ensure that at least one federal university of technology is situated in each geo-political zone.”
In a presentation on the need to establish the Federal University of Technology, Manchok, a representative of the Southern Kaduna people, Dr. Zuaku Boanat, highlighted four major benefits accruable to Nigeria through the existence of the University.
“We want to assure you that the southern Kaduna has enough candidates to fill this university and beyond the senatorial zone are also other states around Kaduna that would benefit from this specialized university. When we talk about equity, there is only one federal institution awarding certificates and Diploma in the southern Kaduna where there are 3.5 million people,” he stated.
Although the Bill had overwhelming support from participants at the Thursday public hearing, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) faulted the move, citing funding issues as their major concern.
President of ASUU, Professor Biodun Ogunyemi who presented the union’s position ahead of the legislations for the tertiary institutions, including the Manchok University of Technology, 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.
In his remarks, Chairman of the Senate committee on tertiary institutions and TETFUND, Senator Barau Jubril, allayed the fears of the ASUU members and indeed other Nigerians, insisting that establishing such University of Technology would add more value to Nigeria’s socio-economic development.
“We are on the same page with ASUU with respect to ensuring that our institutions of learning are well funded. During the debate on the general principles of the 2018 Appropriations Bill, I made this view clear, that government should adequately fund our institutions of higher learning outside of what we get from the UBEC, TETFUND, etc. However, I don’t think that the issue of funding should stop us from establishing more of these institutions.”
“We must continue to put pressure on the government to improve funding of our educational institutions of higher learning. It’s a work in progress, and we must continue to clamour for more and better funding of institutions of learning but these institutions also need to be proactive on their own by creatively generating funds to run their daily activities.”
The one day public hearing was organized by the Senate committee on tertiary institutions and TETFUND, and it focused on the Bill seeking to establish the Federal College of Education, DASS in Bauchi state, north east Nigeria, and the Federal College of Education Usugbenu Irrua, in Edo state, south-south Nigeria.
Also considered were the Bills seeking to establish the Federal University of Technology, Manchok in Kaduna state, North west Nigeria, and the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) Act, 2011 (amendment) Bill, 2018.