Inside Stuff: Before NASS Creates 80 Varsities, Polys, COEs By Martins Oloja
Our obsession with breaking political stories may have taken some steam out of a remarkable public policy story on tertiary education last Friday.
Specifically, continued coverage of the content of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s book launch, customs interception of two aircraft, 40 containers of tramadol and the EFCC’s sealing off of houses they claimed were linked to former Governor Fayose were normal lead stories in most newspapers last Friday.
But the Abuja-based ‘Daily Trust’ did not allow the winds of these political times to blow away the significance of a retrogressive step the National Assembly has begun on tertiary education in the country – that is still tolerating their disservice. The story was their lead!
According to the shocking report, the National Assembly had been working to create 80 new federal universities, polytechnics and colleges of education despite poor funding for the existing tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
In this regard, if the new institutions are created, it will bring the total number of federal educational institutions to 164.
The story broke at the weekend while the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) was still on strike, which began three weeks ago, over inadequate funding of research and infrastructure in public universities.
The incredible story reveals that at the moment, there are 80 bills at various legislative processes pending before the Senate and the House of Representatives for the establishment of tertiary institutions across the country.
It is paradoxical that in the 2018 budget, the 84 existing federal government tertiary institutions across the country were allocated N367 billion out of the over N600 billion approved for the education sector.
And so the 80 proposed federal institutions, which have been artfully made to spread across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT, comprise 27 universities, 22 colleges of education, 19 polytechnics, six institutes, one police academy, one federal college of agriculture, a federal college of forestry, one para-military academy and one federal college of veterinary assistants as well as a school of mines and geological studies.
Out of the 27 proposed federal varsities, 10 are for education, eight are for agriculture, four for technology, and one each for science and tech, medicine and medical sciences, aquatic studies and health.
The joint contrivance of Nigeria’s bicameral federal legislature is unique: a total of 37, out of the 80, are from the Senate, while 36 are in the House of Representatives with seven other bills concurrently undergoing legislative processes in both chambers.
Meanwhile, inquiries have revealed that many of such bills will still come up before the expiration of the current 8th National Assembly in June next year.
No doubt, if these tertiary institutions are established, they are expected to gulp the federal government’s hundreds of billions of naira annually for salaries of staff, research, infrastructure and other recurrent expenses.
In the past few years, academic staff unions of other federal polytechnics, colleges of education, among others had embarked on strikes to press home their financial demands – that these bills have not addressed.
It is also regrettable that while we are immersed in juicy political stories of complicated primary and sometimes inconclusive elections, the bills for 80 higher education institutions that came up for public hearing had ostensibly received massive support from all the stakeholders for the establishment of the institutions.
Only a few of the bills are yet to come up for the public hearing in National Assembly, Abuja.
Checks have also revealed that most of the bills came up from late 2016 to date as the lawmakers devoted much of their time at the initial stage to the bills on constitution amendment.
Going by legislative practice for bill passage, either of the two chambers that passes a bill that is not with the other chamber shall transmit the same to the other chamber for concurrence, and vice-versa.
It will be recalled that in January this year, senators approved a report on modalities of establishing federal universities, polytechnics and colleges of education in the country.
They had then noted that federal polytechnics and colleges of education should be established only in the states without any of these institutions.
Since the resolutions, there appeared to be a surge in the number of private member bills seeking to establish federal tertiary institutions in the Red Chamber.
Meanwhile, available data showed the breakdown of the proposed institutions according to states: Kaduna and Anambra states have the highest with five each, while Kano, Borno, Cross River, Abia, Taraba, and Ogun have four each. States that will have three institutions each include Gombe, Bauchi, Benue, Plateau, and Ondo, whereas states such as Kebbi, Ekiti, Adamawa, Edo, Sokoto, Jigawa, Rivers, Osun and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), will have two each.
Further checks have also revealed that states with one proposed institution each are Yobe, Niger, Bayelsa, Katsina, Imo, Kogi, Delta, Nasarawa, Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Ebonyi, and Lagos.
During a recent public hearing on some of the bills, the chairman of the House Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFUND, Aminu Suleiman, said the committee would be thorough, fair and objective. His words:
“A number of factors will guide our action. But we promise to be thorough, fair and objective; above all, necessity and the co-operation of host states, would be the deciding factors…”
It is, however gratifying to note that President of ASUU Prof Biodun Ogunyemi has reportedly responded to the insensitive contrivance of our federal legislators, in this regard. The ASUU boss said that there was no need for any additional university in the country, but that what Nigeria needed was for the existing ones to be improved upon. This is a fitting reaction to this unconscionable act of our representatives.
“We don’t need them. What we need is to improve what we have. What are we doing to fund the universities we have? What are we doing to bring them up to speed with their mandate? Government isn’t addressing that.
“Why is ASUU on strike? ASUU is on strike because the existing ones have been neglected? So, it’s sheer politics, and when you over politicise education, it cannot be used for national development….”
What is more ironical, these same legislators have just cut education budget to finance elections. So, they’re interested in education just for the sake of it, not because they’re committed to robust funding of quality education. How many of these legislators and their power elite counterparts get their children admission in Nigerian universities?
Let’s freeze partisan politics and examine the following facts (since 2015) about Nigerian universities, to illustrate the tragedy that our federal representatives have chosen to ignore. The data and fact file have just resurfaced without clear attribution thus: “For Those Who Do Not Understand Why ASUU Is On Strike, Please Read This And Share Widely”:
1. Less than 10% of the universities have Video Conferencing facility.
2. Less than 20% of the universities use Interactive Boards
3.More than 50% don’t use Public Address System in their lecture overcrowded rooms/theatres.
4. Internet Services are non-existent, or epileptic and slow in 99% of Nigerian Universities
5. Nigerian Universities Library resources are outdated and manually operated. Bookshelves are homes to rats/cockroaches
6. No university library in Nigeria is fully automated. Less than 35% are partially automated.
7. 701 Development projects in Nigerian universities 163 (23.3%) are abandoned 538 (76.7%) are perpetually on-going projects
8. Some of the abandoned projects in Nigerian universities are over 15 years old, some are over 40 years old.
9. 76% of Nigerian universities use well as source of water, 45% use pit latrine, 67% of students use bush as toilets.
10. UNN and UDUS have the highest number of abandoned projects (22 and 16 respectively).
11. All NDDC projects across universities in Niger Delta States are abandoned. About 84.6% of them are students’ hostels.
12. 77% of Nigerian universities can be classified as “Glorified Primary Schools” Laboratories are non-existing.
13. There are 8 on-going projects at the Nasarawa State University, Keffi. None of them is funded by the State Government.
14. 80% of Nigerian Universities are grossly under-staffed
15. 78% of Nigerian Universities rely heavily on part-time and visiting lecturers.
16. 88% of Nigerian Universities have under-qualified Academics
17. 90% of Nigerian Universities are bottom-heavy (with junior lecturers forming large chunk of the workforce)
18. Only 2% of Nigerian Universities attract expatriate lecturers, over 80% of Ghanaian Universities attract same.
19. 89% of Nigerian Universities have ‘closed’ (homogeneous staff – in terms of ethno-cultural background)
20. Based on the available data, there are 37,504 Academics in Nigerian Public Universities.
21. 83% of the lecturers in Nigerian universities are male while 17% are female.
22. 23,030 (61.0%) of the lecturers are employed in Federal universities while 14,474 (39.0%) teach in State Universities.
23. The teaching staff-students ratio is EMBARRASSINGLY very high in many universities.
24. LECTURER STUDENT RATIO: National Open University of Nigeria 1:363 University of Abuja 1:122 Lagos State University 1:111
25. (Compare the above with Harvard 1:4; MIT 1:9; Yale 1:4, Cambridge 1:3; NUS 1:12; KFUPM 1:9; Technion 1:15).
26. Nigerian Universities Instead of having 100% Academics having PhDs, only about 43% do so. The remaining 57% have no PhDs.
27. Nigerian University medical students trained in the most dangerous environment, some only see medical tools in books
28. Only 7 Nigerian Universities have up to 60% of their teaching staff with PhD qualifications
29. While majority of the universities in the country are grossly understaffed, a few cases present a pathetic picture
30. There are universities in Nigeria, which the total number of Professors is not more than Five (5).
31. Kano University of Science and Technology Wudil, established in 2001 (11 years old) only 1 Professor and 25 PhD holders.
32. Kebbi State University of Science and Technology, Aliero, established in 2006 has only 2 Professors and 5 PhDs
33. Ondo State University of Sci & Tech Okitipupa, established in 2008, has a total of 29 lecturers.
34. MAKE-SHIFT LECTURING SYSTEM: Out of a total of 37,504 lecturers, only 28,128 (75%) are engaged on full-time basis.
35. 9,376 (25%) Nigerian Lecturers are recycled as Visiting, Adjunct, Sabbatical and Contract lecturers.
36. In Gombe State University, only 4 out of 47 Profs are full-time and all 25 Readers are visiting
37. In Plateau State University, Bokkos, 74% of the lecturers are visiting.
38. In Kaduna State University, only 24 out of 174 PhD holders are full-time staff.
39. 700 EX-MILLITANTS in Nigeria are receiving more funds anually than 20 Nigerian universities under ‘Amnesty Programme Scam’
40. 80% of published journals by Nigerian University lectures have no visibility in the international knowledge community.
41. No Nigerian academic is in the league of Nobel Laureates or a nominee of Nobel Prize9 (only one Nobel laureate in Literature since 1986).
42. There are only 2 registered patents owned by Nigerian Academics in the last 3 years.
43. Numerically more support staff in the services of Nigerian universities than the teaching staff they are meant to support.
44. More expenditure is incurred in administration & routine functions than in core academic matters in Nigerian Universities.
45. There are 77,511 full-time non-teaching staff in Nigeria’s public universities 2 times number of academic staff.
46. University of Benin, there are more senior staff in the Registrar cadre (Dep. Registrars, PARs, SARs) than Professors.
47. Almost all the universities are over-staffed with non- teaching staff.
48. There are 1,252,913 students in Nigerian Public Universities. 43% Female 57% Male.
49. There is no relationship between enrolment and the tangible manpower needs of Nigeria.
50. Nigerian Universities: Horrible hostel facilities, overcrowded, overstretched lavatory and laundry facilities, poor sanitation, etc
51. Except Nigerian Defence Acadamy Kaduna, no university in Nigeria is able to accommodate more than 35% of its students.
52. Some universities (e.g. MOUAU),female students take their bath in the open because the bathrooms are in very poor condition.
53. Laundries and common rooms in many universities have been converted into rooms where students live, in open prison style.
54. In most improvised cage called hostels in Nigerian Universities, there is no limit to the number of occupants.
55. Most State universities charge commercial rates for unfit and unsuitable hostel accommodation.
56. In off-campus hostels, students are susceptible to extraneous influences, violence, prostitution, rape, gang violence, etc.
57. Nigerian University Students sitting on bare floor or peeping through windows to attend lectures.
58. Over 1000 students being packed in lecture halls meant for less than 150 students.
59. Over 400 Nigerian University students being packed in laboratory meant for 75 students
60. University administrators Spend millions to erect super-gates when their Libraries are still at foundation level; Expend millions to purchase exotic vehicles for university officers even though they lack basic classroom furnishings; Spend hundreds of millions in wall-fencing and in-fencing when students accommodation is inadequate and in tatters;
61. Government interested in spending money on creation of new universities instead of consolidating and expanding access to existing ones; Keen to award new contracts rather than completing the abandoned projects or standardising existing facilities; Expend hundreds of millions paying visiting and part-time lecturers rather than recruiting full-time staff.
62. Govt spending hundreds of millions in mundane administration cost instead of providing boreholes and power supplements; Government hiring personal staff, including Personal Assistants, Special Advisers, Bodyguards, Personal Consultants, etc.
*We will continue with this subject of urgent national importance next week. Don’t mind changes since 2015 in some of the above data. They are still useful…