The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has said Nigerian politicians are proposing the establishment of more tertiary institutions to impress their constituents.
This remark was made by the president of ASUU, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, in reaction to the recently proposed 235 new tertiary institutions by the National Assembly.
Ogunyemi in an interview with The PUNCH said the government usually goes to sleep after these universities had been established, saying they always replaced the statutory funding of tertiary education through an annual budget with the Revitalisation Fund of the Needs Assessment.
“It is ridiculous and unimaginable that our lawmakers could contemplate such a scandalous increase in the number of tertiary institutions in one fell swoop. It goes on to buttress what we have been saying that Nigerian politicians are proliferating tertiary institutions not because they acknowledge education as a tool for national development, but because they see those institutions as projects to appease their constituents.
“They go to sleep, once the institutions are established. They do not care about developmental plans for such institutions or even budgetary allocations for setting them up. The next thing you hear is ‘go to TETFund’. It was TETFund that provided the take-off grants for the twelve new universities established by President Goodluck Jonathan about ten years ago. Many of the new universities established under the current administration are also being bankrolled by TETFund.
“Visit all federal and state universities in Nigeria today, over 90 percent of their capital projects in the last one decade were either funded by TETFund or Revitalisation Fund of the Needs Assessment. These two intervention initiatives, which are products of ASUU struggles, were not expected to replace statutory funding of tertiary education through annual budgets. However, both the executive and legislative arms of Nigerian government have made them so by the consistent decline in allocations to education in the country’s yearly budgets.”
Ogunyemi added that it was disheartening that legislators who couldn’t propose an increase in the education budget could request more universities.
He said, “It is sad that the same legislators who cannot push for raising budgetary allocations to education in last six years, watching what goes into the sector sliding from 10 percent, eight and now to about six percent in 2021, could contemplate flooding the country’s landscape with as many as 235 new tertiary institutions.
“The questions any rational person should ask include: What are these legislators doing to rescue the existing institutions which are now comatose? How much funding support are they bringing into the proposed institutions to see them through, at least, the first ten years of existence? Are there no other tangible projects the legislators could take to their constituencies other than tertiary institutions?”