FG inaugurates varsities’ boards amid opposition  Gbemi Saraki chairs Federal University, Otuoke

 Paul Obi in Abuja

As the federal government search for practical solutions to the lingering crisis in tertiary education, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFund, Senator Binta Garba, on Tuesday said Nigeria loses about $2billion annually to service the fees of elite’s children who embark on foreign education at the expense of Nigeria’s educational system.

 The lawmaker stated this at the inauguration of the governing councils of 12 universities, bemoaning the trend, which she described as embarrassing to Nigeria’s global standing. 

She observed that the ugly trend could be curbed if stakeholders work to strengthen the weak educational system in the country.

 Garba explained that the ongoing government’s economic policies remain a deliberate agenda to reduce such huge capital flights by 2019. 

She contended that: “Tertiary institutions in Nigeria are gradually scaling up to be ranked among the top 1,000 best universities in the world, and this is a positive development.

 “Capital flight from education in Nigeria is about $2billion, and this is something we must work hard to put a stop to.

“We at the National Assembly are projecting that before 2019, there should be a very drastic reduction of such funds going out of the country.”

Meanwhile, amid stiff opposition, the federal government yesterday went ahead with the appointment and inauguration of members of governing councils of 12 federal universities established by former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.

The new appointments continued to receive strong opposition as well as protest against the decision of the federal government to arbitrarily sack 13 Vice Chancellors through what the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) called ‘executive fiat’.

ASUU had argued against the sack of the VCs by the government, stressing that only the governing councils reserve such rights. They also disapproved the setting up of the universities through an executive order during the last administration.

Last week, President of the Nigerian Academic of Science, Prof. Oyewale Tomori, had accused the National University Commission (NUC) of negligence and corruption, while tackling the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, on interference on university autonomy.

Also, in the new appointments, former Senator and Senate President’s sister, Gbemisola Saraki, was appointed the Chairman of Federal University, Otuoke, Bayelsa State.

The universities are: Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State; Federal University, Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State; Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State; Federal University, Dutsin Ma, Katsina State; Federal University, Gusau, Yobe State and Federal University, Gusau, Zamfara State.

Others are Federal University, Kashere, Gombe State; Federal University, Lafia, Nasarawa State; Federal University, Lokoja, Kogi State; Federal University, Ndifu-Alike, Ebonyi State and Federal University, Wukari, Taraba State.

The Minister of Education, Adamu, at the inauguration cautioned the new governing councils against undue interference in the day-to-day administration of the institutions.

 He charged them to carry out their job on a part-time basis without meddling in the overall running of the universities.

 ‘’As governing councils, you must be bold, courageous and responsive in ways that provide the kind of leadership that supports the growth and development of universities, making them globally competitive and attractive.

 ‘’In doing all these, you must ensure that the universities’ planning and growth are in consonance with NUC guidelines, especially with regards to the issues of academic briefs and development of appropriate master plans. I would like to remind you that governance and management are two distinct responsibilities in the university system, Adamu said.

Speaking on behalf of the board members, Saraki assured the minister of the readiness of the boards to contribute their quota to the upliftment of the education system.

 She further stated that members are eager to assist government in formulating policies that will improve standards of education across a broad spectrum of the sector.