Former Executive Secretary, Nigeria Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Munzali Jibril on Friday, called on private universities to reduce their fees, saying the success of private universities of the future would not be for profit making.
He also said high level poverty and the lack of capacity by middle class to afford high fees was the cause of shortcomings of private universities.
Professor Jibril spoke while delivering lecture as guest lecturer at the 20th anniversary of Igbinedion University, Okada, headquarters of Ovia Local Government Area of Edo State, noting that many private universities in the country neglected staff development and welfare as they only provide staffing for accreditation.
He declared that the late former Head of State, General Sani Abacha did not do was the establishment of private universities because he believed the Nigerian private sector was not responsible enough to be entrusted with the delicate task of owning and running universities.
To this end, he said Abacha in 1996, gave a verbal directive for action to be suspended on the processing of applications for private universities.
He however, stated that because General Abdulsalami Abubakar upon taking over after the death of Abacha was disposed to establishment of private universities, the processing of applications were brought out of the freezer.
According to him, “General Abubakar was favourably disposed to the processing of the applications for the establishment of private universities and Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, the Esama of Benin Kingdom went on to work on him to plead that the applications for the establishment of private universities be brought out of the freezer.”
Chairman of the occasion and former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, praised Chief Igbinedion for relentlessly pursuing the licence for a private university for nine years.
Founder and owner of Igbinedion University, Okada, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, said his vision for establishing the university was to bequeath to future generation, university education of international standard where academic calendar is run without interruption.
Chief Igbinedion hailed the efforts and contributions of two former Heads of State, Gen. Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, and Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar for granting approval for the establishment of Nigeria’s First Registered Private University in the country.
He said Gen. Abdulasami Abubakar did not only actualise the dream of private universities since 1999, but provided the foundation for the establishment of 79 private universities in the country.
The Chancellor of Igbinedion University, Okada (IUO) expressed appreciation to the federal government under the leadership of former Heads of State , Gen. Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida IBB, and Gen. Abdulasami Abubakar.
He said “The remarkable initiative and uncommon bravery and disposition towards granting licences for the private universities establishment in the country is today being celebrated after 20 years of the University approval with certificate number 01”.
Igbinedion recalled with nostalgia the challenges he faced in getting approval for the commencement of the first private university in the country in 1999.
Deputy Chancellor , Igbinedion University and former Governor of Edo State , Chief Lucky Igbinedion who addressed the audience at the institution’s 20th Anniversary in Okada, Edo State said the University was committed to academic excellence.
In his speech, Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki described the University which is the brainchild of the Esama of Benin as the pace setter of private universities in the country.
Represented by his deputy, Comrade Philip Shaibu extolled the sterling qualities of the chancellor of the institution, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion adding that without his pursuit for private University Establishment, there would be no private universities in the country.
The 20th Anniversary of Igbinedion University witnessed the presence of various heads of higher institutions including, Vice Chancellor of University of Medical Science Ondo State, Prof. Friday Okonofua and Representatives of University of Benin (UNIBEN), Delta State Polytechnic, Auchi Polytechnic and Benson Idahosa University (BIU).