Lawmakers Reject Plea to Suspend Bill Establishing Transportation University in Katsina, Others
Udora Orizu in Abuja
Members of the House of Representatives, yesterday, rejected plea to stop bills seeking the creation of more tertiary institutions amidst cash crunch, insisting that they promised their constituents tertiary institutions during campaigns.
At the plenary, the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, had during the debate on a bill to establish the University of Transportation, Daura, Katsina State, urged his colleagues to agree to suspending all tertiary education establishment bills in line with the recommendation of the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
Gbajabiamila’s plea followed the contribution of Hon. Ifeanyi Momah, who opposed the establishment of the school. Momah argued that the federal government should instead upgrade the National Institute of Transportation Technology, Zaria to a federal university.
“I’m just thinking aloud because we have the NITT – Nigeria Institute of Transport Technology – in Zaria. When there is an institute of transport technology, which deals with the science of transportation itself. Why are we now looking at establishing a Federal University of Transportation?
We can amend the enabling law, the Act and upgrade the NITT to a federal university.
“Why I’m saying this is that the constant proliferation of universities in our country is not helping us. That is the truth! We have so many universities here and there. We have so many university bills and at the end, when they are approved, we will be talking about funding, no funding,” he said
Corroborating, Momah’s suggestion, Gbajabiamila informed the lawmakers that the request was imperative, considering the financial situation of the country and the inability to meet existing obligations to ASUU.
“Do we continue to bring bills for university establishment at this very time, when there is even no revenue? We have been meeting with ASUU. We had a four-hour meeting the other day, what they said– which was uniformly agreed– was that the NUC bill is before us, they pleaded that we put a curb to it,” he said.
Consequently, Gbajabiamila proposed a motion for suspension of such bills. But, when he put it to a voice vote, majority of the lawmakers screamed ‘Nay’.
Sequel to the rejection, Gbajabiamila, therefore, allowed both the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Idris Wase and Minority Leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu to speak on the proposal.
Wase said to halt university bills would mean putting the political ambition of lawmakers in jeopardy, because some have promised their constituents tertiary education.
“You know how politicians behave sir. When some people don’t hear their community mentioned, whether the bill will be signed or not, it is also negative, politically. Those who have gotten the scores have gotten. Those who have not gotten, if you say don’t do that, you may also be putting their opportunity in jeopardy. I am sorry to say it live. The issue is political.”
On his part, the minority leader said lawmakers were under pressure from constituents on the establishment of universities.
Before the Bill was eventually passed through second reading, Gbajabiamila said there is a need to strike a balance between what they feel is right and the expectation of the constituents.
He noted that the House would consider putting stringent conditions for establishment of universities in the Nigerian Universities Commission bill, to prevent proliferation of schools.
Meanwhile, Gbajabiamila has expressed concern over the dwindling recognition of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS).
He said being important and strategic to national development through its core mandates, the institution should not lack all the required assistance it could get towards the attainment of its mandates.
Speaking on Thursday while receiving a delegation from the research institute led by its Director General, Prof. Ayo Omotayo, the Speaker expressed the readiness of the House of Representatives to expeditiously attend to requests of NIPSS as soon as presented to the parliament.
Earlier, Omotayo informed the Speaker that even as the generator of developmental policies in the country’s public and private sectors, NIPSS was almost going unrecognised, lamenting the negative effect of the paucity of funds on the implementation of the institution’s mandate.