The Federal Government yesterday issued provisional licences to the 20 new private universities recently approved by federal executive council.
The universities are – James Hope University, Lagos; Maryam Abacha American University of Nigeria, Kano; Capital City University, Kano; Ahman Pategi University, Pategi, Kwara State; and University of Offa, Kwara State.
Others are Topfaith University, Mkpatak, Akwa Ibom State; Thomas Adewumi University, Oko-Irese, Kwara State; Maranatha University, Mgbidi, Imo State; Ave Maria University, Piyanko, Nasarawa State; and Al-Istiqama University, Sumaila, Kano State.
Also granted provisional approval are – Mudiame University, Irrua, Edo State; Havilla University, Nde-Ikom, Cross River State; Claretian University of Nigeria, Nekede, Imo State; NOK University, Kachia, Kaduna State; and Karl-Kumm University, Vom, Plateau State; Mewar University, Masaka, Nasarawa State; Edusoko University, Bida, Niger State; Philomath University, Kuje, Abuja; Khadija University, Majia, Jigawa State; and ANAN University, Kwall, Plateau State.
The new entrants bring the number of private universities to 99 and the total number of universities in Nigeria to 193.
Speaking at the event, the minister of education, Mr. Adamu Adamu said the approval for the establishment of the universities was a testament to the continued partnership of the federal government with the private sector towards widening access and quality of university education in Nigeria.
Adamu who was represented by the minister of state for education, Mr. Emeka Nwajiuba, said Nigeria needs more universities considering the population of the country.
He noted that private universities had contributed to the opening up of admission space for the swelling population of candidates seeking university education in the country.
Adamu faulted the argument in some quarters that private universities had become too many in Nigeria saying comparative figures of universities in other countries show that Nigeria needs more universities.
“Government is also well aware that countries that are consistently well-ranked in Human Development indices have, in recognition of the important role of Universities in human capital development, maintained a respectable number of Universities relative to their population.
“In relation to Nigeria’s population of over 200 million, the current 193 Universities is quite low when compared to those of other economies’ such as, Brazil (209 million) 441 Universities, Mexico (126million) 375 Universities, Russia (1445 million) 741 Universities.
“In 2019, the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) announced that out of over 1.8 million candidates registered for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), only 612,000 were admitted into Nigerian universities representing 34 per cent. This shows gross inadequacy in terms of access,” he said.
He contended that with the population of the country, the current number of universities is low when compared to that of some other countries.
The minister said the government will continue to ensure that as quantity is increased, the quality is not compromised.
He said the private universities had contributed to the opening up of the growth of admission and urged the proprietors to live up to the standard, noting that quality assurance should not be compromised.
In his remarks, the executive secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof Abubakar Rasheed, congratulated the proprietors of the new universities on their zeal and determination in pursuing the great initiative of establishing universities to address the seemingly intractable problem of inadequate access to quality university education in Nigeria.
However, he warned that government will not tolerate a breach of the conditions for the approval.
“Any unwholesome practice or operation outside the provisions of NUC guidelines is unacceptable and will attract appropriate sanctions.”
“Proprietors should note that, beyond receiving the licences, NUC will embark on a resource verification exercise to certify that the minimum human and material resources, required for the commencement of academic activities in the take-off programmes, have been provided,” Rasheed added.
He said NUC will embark on a resource verification exercise to certify that the minimum human and material resources required for the commencement of academic activities in the take-off programmes have been provided.
Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, the chairman, board of trustees, of newly approved James Hope University, Lagos appreciated the commission for the approval and pledged to keep to the mandate for the establishment of the universities.
Ovia who is also the chairman of Zenith Bank Plc also said 20 per cent of his yearly dividend at the bank would be used for the development of the university.