*** Urges Senate to review the law to ensure that they are Penalised PDP Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubabkar By Henry Umoru
Former Vice President and Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the 2019 Presidential election, Atiku Abubakar on Thursday accused governors of diverting funds that are allocated from the Federal Government to fund education in their various states.
Consequently, Atiku has urged the Senate to as a matter of urgency, have a holistic overview of the law concerning the allocation to ensure that such persons or governors who may have been found to have diverted the funds were penalized and made to face the full wrath of the law.
Speaking at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja when he appeared as a Stakeholder on the Public Hearing on Modibbo Adama University, Yola, Adamawa State (Establishment, etc Bill 2019( SB51), the former Vice President who noted that he fanatically believes in education as the surest road to the development of Nigeria as a country.
Atiku said, “There is largely overwhelming demands among college-age Nigerians. When we were in office, we passed compulsory education from primary to Secondary schools and also imposed taxation on education. DSP, Senators and members of National Assembly, I will appeal to you to look at that law again because there is a defect in the sense that money and fund being given to States to develop education are being diverted. There is need for you to look at the law so that you can amend it in such a way that if a particular state refuses to do the proper thing, it should be penalised.
READ ALSO: Breaking: Atiku, others attend public hearing in Senate ” I want to appeal to the Senate to look at defect in funding. Ensure that States that divert allocation for education are penalised. About two-thirds of applicants for tertiary education don’t get admitted into higher schools, leading to insecurity, poverty and more pronounced in Northeast because of insurgency. Even when admissions are offered, it is more precarious for parents to send their children.”
Recall that the bill on the conversion of Modibbo University of Technology to a complete conventional University was sponsored by Senator Aishatu Dahiru, All Progressives Congress, APC, Adamawa Central.
The Public Hearing is being organised by the Senator Ahmed Baba Kaita, All Progressives Congress, APC, Katsina North led Senate Committee on Tertiary Institution and TETFUND.
Also yesterday, there was a Public Hearing on Federal University of Agriculture and Technology, Funtua, Katsina State( Establishment Etc Bill 2019( SB 150). A Bill for the establishment of Federal University of Agriculture and Technology (FUAT) in Funtua, Katsina State is sponsored by Senator Bello Mandiya, APC, Katsina South). Speaking further, Atiku Abubakar who noted that the nation’s Universities were being oversubscribed, thereby making it difficult for teeming youths from Adamawa State to get the required admission, adding, ” I feel moved by the plight of our teeming youths denied admission over the years by our inability to convert Adamawa University to a multidisciplinary institution. “Nigeria population has quadrupled by 2016, it will be the third-largest population by 2050, we must then invest in education. Our population is putting immense pressure on public service and fund. We must then invest in education. Our provision for education is at its lowest. Figures from JAMB shows clear disparity between applicants and the number that eventually get admitted. Atiku who cited the American University, AUN example that is at the receiving end of insurgency, said, “Our advocacy for conversion of the university of technology from a specialised university to a conventional university will push up enrolment for admission. The reduction in students enrolment led to reduction in IGR of the university leading to lack of fund for research.
On-call for the conversion of the University to a Conventional one, the former Vice President said, “it is in the overall national interest that you favourably consider the conversion of Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola to a conventional University (Modibbo Adama University, Yola) which in addition to courses in Science and Technology will have the mandate to run courses in Medicine, Pharmacy, Law, the Arts and Social and Management Sciences etc.
“This indeed is the surest way to accelerate access, quality, relevance and equity for our people in Adamawa State, the Northeast and indeed Nigeria. It is equally part of a right step toward rebuilding a broken people. We lose nothing and gain everything if we just get this done.
“Converting MAUTECH to conventional University would expand the chance of qualified candidates to get placement beyond the limited confines of Engineering and Sciences.
“When in 2016, the Federal Executive Council directed that admission into non-specialized Science and technology courses be stopped, there was adverse effect on the University and even the host Community.
” For instance, student enrolment drastically reduced from 7,309 in 2016/2017 session to 3,795 in the 2018/2019 session, and 2,556 in 2019/2020. This is aside the social and economic multiplier effect on the host community and beyond.
“The reduction in student enrolment resulted in drastic decline in Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the University and the attendant difficulty in providing basic services needed for teaching, learning and research.
“There is also the fate of the lecturers in the Management Sciences to be tackled.A compelling justification for the conversion is the location of the University. MAUTECH Yola, is located in the North-East region of the country, a region just emerging from a gruelling insurgency whose central creed is antagonism with conventional education. Limiting access to higher education to large number of youths in the region will not only mean submitting to the defeat of the insurgents but worsening the challenges of youth bulge in the area.
“The general state of fear – both imagined and real, that has enveloped the region as a result of the activities of the dreaded Boko Haram and general insecurity on the roads, has extinguished the motivation in parents to send their children to neighbouring conventional Universities that should ordinarily absorb the candidates.
“Added to this, is the worsening economic situation in the region, which has been deepened by the insurgency. The conversion of the University would create more access to students and lessen the burden on parents and guardians who would ordinarily find it difficult to send students far for academic pursuit.
“Generally, Nigerian public Universities are over-subscribed. It is also becoming increasingly difficult for Adamawa State candidates to get admitted into neighboring conventional Universities. For example, not more than 2 candidates get admitted to read Law, Medicine and Pharmacy in nearby Universities.
“All the States in the Federation now have conventional universities. For the purpose of equity and fairness, it is just rational for the University to be converted. At least, qualified Adamawa citizens and other students within the catchment area would have the advantages of accessing admission into highly competitive courses like medicine, law, pharmacy, etc. which the country badly needs and sadly lack in sufficient numbers.READ ALSO: Govt should give incentives to private varsities—Southwestern varsity Chancellor
“The conversion would confer a lot of advantage to an already educationally disadvantaged region. It would especially, lead to the improvement in gender mainstreaming and girl-child education. It is on record that the region is already a leader in poor girl-child mobility from secondary to tertiary education. For development purpose, this would aid tremendously in reversing the trend and entrenching equity.
“Almost one in four Sub-Saharan people reside in Nigeria, making it Africa’s most populous country. It’s also the seventh most populous country in the world, one with ongoing growth. From an estimated 42.5 million people at the time of independence in 1960, Nigeria’s population has more than quadrupled to 186,988 million people in 2016 (UN projection). The United Nations anticipates that Nigeria will become the third-largest country in the world by 2050 with 399 million people.
“Nigeria’s exponential population growth is exerting immense pressure on the country’s resources and overstretching public services and infrastructure. At the center of this pressure is the nation’s education sector. More profound is the access gap that characterizes the higher education sector in the country. Record from JAMB indicates a wide disparity between the number of applications and the actual number of successful admission in the nation’s tertiary institutions.
“There is largely overwhelming unmet demand among college-age Nigerians. Nigeria’s higher education sector has been overburdened by strong population growth and a significant youth bulge. More than 60 percent of the country’s population is under the age of 24. And rapid expansion of the nation’s higher education sector in recent decades has failed to deliver the resources or seats to accommodate demand: A substantial number of would-be college and university students are turned away from the system. About two-thirds of applicants who sat for the country’s Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board Examination could not get places in Nigerian colleges and universities in recent years.
“In the North East of Nigeria, the situation is even more precarious. With the insecurity attendant upon by the activities of the Boko haram insurgents, even where admissions are offered, movement within the sub-region to access the required education becomes not only herculean but risky. Any serious government requires adequate investment of thought into expanding access and deliberately incentivizing availability so as to shrink the application-admission gap and encourage our willing and able youths to move beyond secondary education.
“Thus, our advocacy for the conversion of MAUTECH from a specialized University to a conventional University is advocacy for access and equity. This is informed by our verifiable peculiarities.”
Earlier in his remarks, while declaring open the Public Hearing, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo – Agege, APC, Delta Central who noted that the two institutions are important, said that was required was the need to be dispassionate and ensure that justice was done on the proposal in establishing the institutions.