Controversy Over N1.3tr Fund For Nigerian Universities | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Controversy Over N1.3tr Fund For Nigerian Universities

Posted: May 6, 2015 at 5:37 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


Under funding of the Nigerian public university system remains an issue that has over the years resulted into steady decline and rot that characterized learning at tertiary institutions in the country. To redress the situation that had resulted in the mass exodus of young Nigerians to seek further education abroad, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP) and other pressure groups in the education sector resulted to strike actions. It is on record that lack of commitment by successive administrations agreement willingly signed between the government and the unions had resulted to 19 strike actions between 1992 and 2013. Recently, ASUU condemned the Federal Government’s failure to release the sum of N1.3tr meant for the revitalisation of the nation’s universities beyond the N200bn released for 2013, as the first batch of the money. There was no money released in 2014, and the first quarter of 2015 has come and gone with no money for the universities from the government.

Ibrahim Shekarau, Education Minister

Ibrahim Shekarau, Education Minister

In this special report, Sylvester Enoghase, Sola Alabadan, Andrew Airahuobhor, Phillip Oladunjoye, Apata Oyeniran,  Emma Okwuke, Bamidele Ogunwusi, Abel Orupke and Olamide Bakare  examine the various issues surrounding the non-disbursement of the fund meant for the nation’s  universities, and other issues affecting the tertiary education sector in the country.


Government shall consider the provision of quality infrastructure for teaching and learning in all universities as a national emergency. All on-going physical facilities development in the University System shall be completed within the stipulated time and be put to use. Funds made available.  Supervision to ensure compliance with project timeline. All abandoned projects in the university shall be completed as a matter of priority.

Technical Committee of experts is set to determine the cost University facilities shall be conceived and built as role -models in quality, utility and aesthetics so as to reflect these values on university students in their training and also to build their confidence based on the nature of the environment they are being trained Imbue the provisions of international best practices and comply with standards. Refectories, sporting arenas, convocation squares etc that are converted into ‘lecture halls’ shall be reverted back to their original intended purpose. A university student that is supposed to be trained in decent lecture rooms and laboratories should not be put in a kitchen or an open-air sport arena or be peeping through the window in the name of lectures. These demoralise and humiliate the student. The result is a university graduate without self-worth.

Teaching be restricted to facilities meant for that purpose. More facilities for teaching and learning be provided. Regulatory agencies to ensure compliance. Large lecture theatres shall be discouraged. Universities should be encouraged/directed to adopt the interactive pedagogy which requires students to be taught in small groups. Consequently, 150-300 seat capacity theatre shall be promoted and classrooms of 50-150 seats capacity shall be encouraged. All new lecture facilities development to be made compliant with interactive pedagogy.



The funding of any university shall remain, primarily, the responsibility of the proprietors of the university. University managers need to be creative in diversifying sources of revenue to the institutions: establishing viable commercial ventures, marketing their consultancy services,

Commercialization of accommodation, charging competitive fees for postgraduate studies, converting innovations into commercial products, Pursuing endowments and bequeaths etc.

Capital allocations to universities need to be released in full. The non – release of capital grant contribute a lot in the buildup of abandoned projects as well as having inadequate facilities. Universities where proprietor failed to allocate and release at least N 50 ,000.00 per student per annum as capital grant shall get their licence withdrawn by the regulatory agencies . Recurrent allocations to universities need to be beefed up to allow Varsities to recruit more teaching staff. This is not without prejudice to the recommendations on general staff auditing and transfer of non – teaching staff to mainstream civil service. University managers need to be deploying the University’s IGR properly. Considering the percentage IGR in relation to TETFund subventions, IGR projects shall be seen to be competing favourably with TETFund projects in many universities. But this is not the case . Accounting procedures of the universities shall be reviewed to ensure that Total Income (including IGR) and Total Expenditure are reported to Council


Stakeholders’ fears of unending crisis over fund meant for universities

Despite the fact that the federal government sets up a National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) committee that identified the needs of the sector and recommended proper funding of the nation’s university system to meet up the international standard, the Government has held back the release of approved funds for that purpose.

The NEEDS ASSESSMENT report may turn out to be another futile national effort with resultant negative effect impacting directly on the poor quality of manpower produced by the country.

Not long ago the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) condemned the Federal Government for failing to release the N1.3trillion set aside for the revitalising and re-engineering of Nigerian university system.

ASUU argued that apart from the N200billion FG released in 2013 as first batch, none was released in 2014, and the first quarter of 2015 has come and gone with no money for the universities from the government.

Speaking on the non release of funds for universities, Coordinator of a non Government Organisation, Education Rights, Mr. Francis Abu, said that the Federal Government should be held responsible for further deterioration witnessed in the country’s university system.

He stated that the inability of the government to release funds meant for the revitalization of universities will have further devastating effect on the standard of university education, production of half baked graduates that cannot defend their certificates and graduates that cannot be compared to other university graduates outside the shores of this country.

Abu wondered how Nigerian university system could have grown when the Federal Government refused to release funds in 2014 as a whole and from January 2015 till date nothing has been made available to keep the system going.

The N200 billion released in 2013, he said would not make any meaningful impact because the deterioration in the Nigerian university system is huge as it amounts to a drop in the ocean.

Abu said that the solution to the issue of underfunding is for private organisations to begin to fund university education not by building private university but by expanding and providing facilities for existing universities.

He urged the tertiary institutions to look inward by accessing funds from Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and also ensure that accessed funds are judiciously utilized for projects and issues they were meant to addressed.

Abu said that TETFund is an intervention agency set up to provide supplementary support to all level of public tertiary institutions with the main purpose  of using funding alongside project management for the rehabilitation, restoration and consolidation of tertiary education in Nigeria.

The main source of income available to TETFund is the two per cent education tax paid from the assessable profit of companies registered in Nigeria

The funds are disbursed for the improvement of education in federal and state tertiary institutions specifically for the provision or maintenance of essential physical infrastructure for teaching and learning, institutional material and equipment, research and publications, academic staff training and development and any other need which is considered critical and essential for the improvement and maintenance of standards in higher educational institutions.

An Associate Consultant, Africa Practice, Jennifer Ehidiamen, in her presentation titled, “Tackling the Challenges of Funding Higher Education and Eradicating Acute Student Poverty” lamented the absence of students loan in Nigeria to improve student’s access to quality education, contending that any indigent student that is desirous of financial assistance to enhance his or her education must be ready to obtain and pay back.

She added that even when the Federal Government awards scholarship, the number of people that benefits from it is very minimal.

According to her, “No students’ loan in this part of the world where I grew up. If you want a good education, then you must be ready to pay for it. I am oblivious of any existing government loans. Okay, they award scholarship; it trickles down to the bottom of the pyramid. Only a handful of people are lucky to get it”.

She pointed out that that does not eliminate the fact that funding is still a big issue where qualitative education is concerned.

She stated that she almost jumped out of her seat when she first read Ayodeji Abiola’s articles about how to get the big money into Higher Education System in Nigeria which is equally applicable to other African countries.

She said that in the series, Ayodeji shed light on the challenges of funding high education, how it affects the quality of graduates churned out into the labour market and of course suggested ways to tackle the challenge by encouraging government-private partnership in getting the big money into higher education.

She urged students not seat back and expects manna from the private sector, contending that alternatively indigent students can pick up a job to augment their purse as they study for quality learning.

Describing the move as the first step to eradicate acute poverty among students, she advised them to sharpen their entrepreneurial and work-experience for win-win situation.


The Way Forward

Ehidiamen posited that in other parts of the world organisations support education by investing money in researches that benefit their operations, but lamented that the reverse is the case in Nigeria, as multi-nationals operating in the country prefer to invest money in institutions in their home countries.

According to her, “All over the world, including developed nations, corporate organisations fund and support education through investments in educational research that benefits their operations.

In the case of Nigeria, most multi-nationals, operating in the country do little of these within Nigeria. Rather, they expend the bulk of their research budgets in institutions at their home countries, usually in North America, Europe and Asia and periodically send few of their workers who require on-the-job training to those facilities for training and research”.

She said that science and technology education in Nigeria will benefit immensely if these facilities were to be sited in Nigeria instead of an exodus of Nigerian students, foreign students may find Nigeria’s institutions attractive for their studies, noting that the economic growth of any is tied to the quality of her workforce.

The creation of sustainable student jobs on campus, she said should  be a major concern for advocacy by student unions, parent associations, academic staff unions and other educational stakeholders.

This she said will not only help reduce students’ poverty, but also go a greater length to foster students’ personal and professional development.

Ehidiamen argued that students ,who are able to work and earn on campus while studying will also develop time management capacities, budgetary skills in addition to the job-specific skills, adding  that  on graduation, such students would have built enviable curriculum vitae that prospective employers will cherish.

She said that this is also a great way to create entrepreneurs out of fresh school graduates rather than 100 per cent job seekers, stressing that institutions of higher learning are one of the great places to build and nurture entrepreneurship…”

Recounting the ordeal of a particular indigent student, an Engineer and Educator, Mr. Abiola Ayodeji, said he recently heard a case of a student in a Nigerian university who lost a full year of his studies because of his inability to pay N11, 000 about $68 tuition.

Emphasising the level of poverty in the country, he lamented that many students still find difficult to pay minimal tuition less than N100, 000 about $600 charged by government owned institutions.

Ayodeji stated that as a student of a Nigerian public institution, the total amount he paid as tuition for a five year programme was N12, 200 about $75.

The educator lamented that as cheap as it sounds, many his colleagues from low-income households struggled to pay this amount.

Ayodeji, who is currently a researcher and a teacher at Western University, Canada, posited that the grave economic lack is better understood considering that the average Nigerian is said to live on less that $2 about N300 a day, adding that considering what N300 means in a Nigerian economy, a student who has up to N300 each day could be considered, “rich”.

“Why does such level of poverty exist amongst students of publicly owned educational institutes? This is a demography, which spans the ages 16 to 30 and should be considered agile and productive.

“However, the situation we have is such that this demography remains largely dependent on their parent’s largesse. A largesse, which is usually inadequate, since it is typical for a Nigerian family to have up to five or more children” he said.

The solution to students’ poverty, Ayodeji argued is  not farfetched, adding that in many European and North American countries, students usually pay or contribute financially to their education and that young students working for a specified number of hours each week in addition to full time study is common.

He advised government to facilitate student loans, which are repayable when employed after graduation, but that  although the student loan systems in some of these countries  have challenges of their own, the challenges therein are comparatively simpler compared to the endemic poverty of Nigerian students.

Explaining further, Ayodeji in his presentation, “Who Should Pay For Higher Education” posited that basic education, which is supposedly free in Nigeria ends at the junior secondary school; the first nine years of schooling.

He stated that privately owned schools on their part are not free and it could be argued that the free education offered in the publicly owned schools is of poor quality value compared to the paid ones, adding that at the basic education level, the primary benefit of learning is directly to the student.

He added that students who are well educated tend to conform reasonably well to the demands of the 21st century society without being a societal misfit and that this is perhaps government’s motivation for paying for basic education, especially when cost could have been a hindrance.

He contended that beyond the basic level, the next years of schooling, three years spent at the senior secondary level and then at least two years at the post-secondary level molds a learner into a professional in his chosen career, adding that presently, post-secondary education has become elusive to many citizens for various reasons.

These reasons for this, he said usually include cost and inadequate spaces at the schools, stressing that the cost factor is especially worrisome given that many institutions are publicly owned either by a state or the federal government and attended mostly by students from non-high income earning households.

Ayodeji opined that as result, these institutions do not usually charge high fees compared to the privately owned ones mostly attended by learners from more affluent households.

“The low earning capacity of the publicly owned institutions from low student’s tuition coupled with inadequate funding from the government exposes them to the plague of funding crises.

According to him, “The quality of learning from such poorly funded schools will no doubt impact negatively on the job such students take on. I cannot fully address the need for increased government funding for publicly owned institutions in this piece.

However, I find a probable funding source for these institutions in the student’s potential employers,” he said.