By Gift Chapi -Odekina
The Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed has supported the move by the House of Representatives to establish two tertiary institutions in Delta and Nasarawa states.
The bills which are for the establishment of Federal University of Technology, Asaba, Delta State, sponsored by the Minority Leader, Rep. Ndudi Elemelu and a bill for the establishment of Federal College of Education, Keanu, Nasarawa State, sponsored by Rep.Abubakar Nalaraba Hassan.
Rasheed who was represented by Ibrahim Yakassai, declared his support while making his presentation on the bills at a public hearing organised by the House committee on Tertiary Education and Services on Thursday.
The NUC boss said the organisation would always support the establishment of more tertiary institutions considering that the annual intake of students across the nation is minimal.
He said considering the importance of education in national development, it is imperative to support the establishment of more institutions to allow more student enroll in tertiary institutions.
The Senior Staff Association of Universities, SSANU were also in support of the bills but called for the need to upgrade existing tertiary institutions.
SSANU represented by Mohammed Aliyu said funding is important for not only the continued existence of the tertiary institutions but also for the putting needed infrastructure in place for the impartation of quality education across the country.
Similarly, the National Commission for Colleges of Education represented by Mr. Achumie Jonathan supported the bill, but also noted, like most other stakeholders that funding has always been an issue.
Also, the Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyin Okowa, applauded the bills especially the one on the University of Technology in Asaba.
Okowa who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Chinedu Ebie, said special schools are established for the purposes for which they have been set up.
“The Maritime University is totally different from the federal university of technology. Specialized education is a specialized educational institution. You can’t equate a maritime university with a university of technology and vice versa.
He said the Issue of proliferation and funding should not be entertained.
“First of all, it is not just a need for an additional one. Do we really need this university, yes. Funding with have to stepped up for these educational institutions. In terms of proliferation, we need these schools. We need education. No nation can developed pass the level of education of its people. Yes, we need them.
The Minority Leader Rep. Ndudi Elumelu who sponsored the bill, said there was a need to fast-track the passage of the bill.
“If there is any school that will face speedy commencement, it will be Federal University of Technology, Asaba.
“One: Asaba is friendly. The Delta State government is friendly. They appear towards ensuring that Nigerians are well educated. And that’s what our governor and the government of Delta State are geared towards. Then, we have the best international airport in Nigeria and this will to a large extent ensure that all students that will be coming in even outside the south south states will have easy way of reaching out to the school without problems.”
On the issue of infrastructure development, Elumelu said “all the roads to the school are tarred. The compound where this federal university of education, technical, is situated is well managed. The residential apartment for the school is available. The classrooms for the school, they are available, even the hostels are there.
So, the federal government will have less to spend for the take-off. It is the easiest that any institution that I have ever seen set up can boast of. And that is why I think that this should be supported and be given easy passage.”
President of Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union, Nuhu Ogirima, , said they are losing prospective students and lecturers to the universities.
“It is, therefore, imperative and incumbent on the Honourable Committee, and indeed, the National Assembly, to do the needful and see to the urgent amendment of the Establishment Act of FCEs to grant autonomy for degree programmes in education.
“In the long run, the country would have achieved the following anticipated successes: Production of better qualified, competent and professional degree graduates, in the teaching profession, who have gone through the NCE programme and then advanced to the degree programme.
“This training process will enhance professionalism in the teaching profession.,” he said.
However, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU represented by Prof.Theophilus Lagi Abuja Zonal Coordinator, sounded a note of warning that establishing new institutions might be desirable, but cognizance must be taken of the issues of funding, qualified personnel and infrastructural development.