BY EMMANUEL EDUKUGHO

PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan in his speech to delegates at the PDP presidential primary in Abuja last Thursday before picking the party’s ticket for the April 2011 election saying his administration will ensure equity in the establishment of educational institutions, whereby every state will get a federal university has been described as a political gimmick.

National President of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Professor Ukachukwu Awuzie, in a reaction, told Vanguard Education that President Jonathan is politicising the issue of university location, as if it’s a constituency project.

He asked whether establishing more universities will address the problem of intakes.

“In a study carried out, we are short of 30,000 lecturers needed to teach in our universities. Even some of the lecturers we have are leaving . What are we doing to upgrade existing facilities?”

He said in a brief chat on telephone that government should be prepared to fund the system properly in order to become quality institutions.

“It is not the number of universities that matters. Are we establishing these universities for those attending to be day students! I don’t understand this.”

President Jonathan

Apparently referring to the number of already existing universities in the country now over 110, Awuzie argued that the problem is not about number.

“They should be properly funded, provision of modern equipment, facilities and running relevant programmes.”

Vanguard Education monitored the PDP national convention beamed live on television in which a sitting president declared his commitment to bolster the education sector, raising hope of our beleaguered youths for increased university placements.

“As you traverse this country from Bayelsa to Borno, from Cross River to Katsina, you see a lot of young men and women that need education, you see the challenges of technology.

And to develop a strong economy that could handle this, you need somebody as an agent of transformation.”
Jonathan acknowledged himself as that agent who can stand the threshold of history, that can lead Nigeria to greatness.

He referred to a presidential summit on education chaired by him after which a special technical committee was inaugurated and they are now working on primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education.

According to Jonathan, his government had a deliberate policy to address injustice in the distribution of federal universities in the country because while some states have two of these universities, others especially in the north, had none.

“And it had been on the programme of government that every state must get a federal university. I did not initiate that, but so far, it has not been implemented.

We realised that so many states, especially from the northern part of this country, are yet to get and I felt that is injustice.”

The president said his administration has established nine (9) new federal universities so far. He added that by God’s grace, in the next three years, every state must get a federal university and will create jobs for the Nigerian youths. ”I will give this country strong leadership that will transform us to a great nation in the nearest future.”

Jonathan claimed to have established more universities in the north.”

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