President Bola Tinubu has approved the staggered take-off of the 14 universities established by his predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari few weeks to the end of his administration.
To this end, the President has okayed a plan to implement only six of the universities due to their cost and specific requirements while the remaining 14 federal tertiary institutions are to be kept in abeyance
Minister of Education, Prof Tahir Mamman, who disclosed this to newsmen yesterday, after a meeting with the President at the State House, Abuja, said the government has decided to stagger their implementation with a focus on six of the intuitions in agriculture, education and medicine.
According to Mamman: “There are quite a number of universities and other institutions which were approved in the last days of the last administration, which because of issues of funding and even staff, it may not be prudent to get these institutions to take off altogether at once.
“So, Mr. President has directed we stagger their commencement (their takeoff) whether the government can properly support them.
“Honestly there are very many, probably about a dozen of them, if not more than a dozen or 14. That’s the number and you know tertiary institutions are highly capital intensive, they need a lot of money, especially at that takeoff stage, for infrastructure, staff recruitment and all other needs.
“So by the time you want to start off about 12, 14 institutions at once, it is a very heavy burden on the finances of the government. So, that’s why.
“Ordinarily we would have said we’ll review whether we should actually go ahead with that, but most of them are specialised institutions; colleges of education, agriculture, medicine and they are institutions that will support some of the mandates, the priority areas of this government.
“We will have a need for trained teachers which colleges of education will provide and the same thing with agriculture.
“So, that’s why the government has not stepped down that approval. Instead the president in his wisdom said we stagger their implementation on the grounds of funds, essentially.
“We’re starting with about six, two of each; two agric, two colleges of education and then two medicine.
“This time around, we’re going to be conservative about the pace of development of tertiary institutions. The priority of this government is going to be on institutions that provide skills that enable its graduates to stand on their own. So that’s the direction we’re moving at the moment,” Mamman noted.
Buhari had approved the establishment of five new universities specialised in technology and health, which his administration haf argued would close the huge gap in the doctor-patient ratio as well as in medical research and production of pharmaceutical products.
He had also approved a take-off grant of N4 billion each for the universities of technology and N5 billion each for the universities of health science from the funding resources of TETFund for early take-off.
The former president had also approved the establishment of and take-off of seven new federal polytechnics in some states of the federation where none existed.
They included those slated to be established at Monguno, Borno State; N’yak, Shendam Plateau State; Wannune, Benue State; Ugep, Cross River State; Ayede, Oyo State; Ohodo, Enugu State; and Orogun, Delta State.
Similarly, he had approved six new federal colleges of education in each of the six geo-political zones of the country to be sited in Bauchi, Benue, Ebonyi, Osun, Sokoto and Edo states.
Mamman, further revealed that Tinubu has given the go ahead to complete the abandoned multi- billion naira National Library Complex in Abuja, as an important educational institution for the nation.
He noted that all relevant stakeholders including the government, the consultants and the contractors involved will work together to review the project to determine what is left to be done and the cost.