Stakeholders in the education sector at a public hearing on Thursday were divided on bills for establishing a new university and college of education.
The public hearing was organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Tertiary Education and Services led by Rep. Aminu Suleiman (APC-Kano) in Abuja.
The hearing was on a bill for an act to provide for the establishment of Federal University of Technology Asaba, Delta and a bill for an act to provide for the establishment of Federal Government of Education, Keana, Nasarawa State.
The sponsor of one of the bill, Rep. Ndudi Elumelu (PDP-Delta) said that the university, when established will support the effort to address militancy in the south-south region of the country.
He said that it would also address pipe line vandalisation as it will engage the youths meaningfully.
He also said that establishing the university in Delta would also serve as a compensation to residents given the contribution of the state to national economy.
Elumelu said that the government would not be required to spend much funds as there was an existing institution that would be converted into a university.
But Mr Biodun Ogunyemi, President Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), observed that Delta already had three federal universities.
He said that establishing another federal university in the state would trigger agitation for equity in other states of the federation.
According to him, this could fuel the proliferation challenge currently facing the Nigerian university system.
Represented by the Abuja Zonal Coordinator, Mr Theophilus Lagi, Ogunyemi said that creating new universities without addressing the challenges of the existing ones would further undermine the quality of university education in the country.
“As a matter of principle, ASUU is strongly against the proliferation of public universities; it is our considered view that the existing public universities are in dire need for upgrade and revitalisation, not creation of new ones,” he said.
Also, the National President of Senior Staff Association of Universities (SSANU), Mr Samson Ugwoke, said that there was need to address challenges in existing universities.
Represented by the National Financial Secretary, Mr Mohammed Aliyu, Ugwoke said that though “there is need for universities, there are matters that have not been adequately taken care of.
“It is important to bear in mind that proliferation of new universities have consequences that should be attended to.
“For instance, if we have more universities, it will serve a purpose but one of the problems will be staff, manpower is a serious problem in this country.
“The universities established in recent past added more problem to the system rather than taking care of what is on ground.
“It is important to note that mainstreaming new universities into the old ones could assist the situation of the entire universities in Nigeria,” he said.
Representing Keana community, Mr Musa Elayo, a former Minister of State for Justice, said that the community was ready to hand over hectares of lands without demanding for compensation.
He said that Nasarawa is the only state in the country that do not have a Federal College of Education.
“It is fair and equitable that the state gets one federal college of education; there is a very local government secretariat of about 120 offices in addition to so many committee rooms that can serve as classrooms.
“There is also a staff quarters and the committee is ready to give 100,000 hectares of land free of charge without compensation,” he said.
Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Kayode Olaitan (NAN)