By FAVOUR NNABUGWU
The Federal Government has put on hold further upgrading of colleges of education to university status as it hinges its priority on the take-off of nine new universities this year.
Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa’i in Abuja yesterday told Jigawa State House of Assembly’s Committee on Education led by its chairman, Honourable Nasir Mohammed and accompanied by the House Deputy Speaker, Honourable Inuwa Sule Udi who paid her a courtesy visit, that the main concern of the federal government was the take off of nine new universities.
Rufa’i said that though the upgrading of Jigawa State College of Education to a degree-awarding university could not be entirely ruled out, he noted that until the new universities had fully taken off, any request to upgrade colleges to varsities would not be attended to at the moment.
It was in the light of the federal government determination to ensure the take-off of the varsities that it allocated N10billion through the Education Trust Fund, ETF, to the new institutions as take -off grants.
Breakdown of allocations to the universities showed that the Federal University of Oye Ekiti has N1.076billion, Federal University Otuoke- N1.08billion, Federal University Dutse, N1.01billion; Federal University Ndufu Alike, N1.07billion; Federal University Lafia, N1.1billion; Federal University Dutsin-Ma, N1.1billion; Federal University Kashere, N1.1 billion; Federal University Lokoja, N1.1billion and Federal University Wukari, N1.1billion.
The Minister reiterated that the desire of the federal government was to see that the universities indeed take off as planned this year.
According to her, “The College of education should follow the process of being up-graded as a university and if the college can go through the process, with time, there would be a possibility for the upgrade but as for now, we are trying ensure the development of the nine new universities. We want to ensure that they all take off this year”.
The Minister however express her appreciation of the support she got from the state assembly during her tenure as the Jigawa state commissioner for education which she remarked, paved the way and laid the foundation for her being the Minister of education.
“I want to thank you all for the foundation and support l got from the state assembly members who were there for me and the Jigawa State Governor, Dr Sule Lamido when l was the Commissioner of education which by extended got me to the federal level. It was the foundation you laid for me in Jigawa that empowered me at the federal level”
She acknowledged, “I cherish it the most when appreciation of my efforts come more from the grassroots”.
Speaking earlier, Honourable Nasir Mohammed, Chairman, Education Committee, Jigawa State House of Representatives commended the efforts of the minister and for representing the entire state of Jigawa well even at the federal level.
He conveyed that the entire Jigawa State Assembly sent the committee on what the chairman described as ‘an historic, monumental and solidarity visit’ which he admitted was short but important and memorable to the state.
He said that the facilities in the college of education have been upgraded in preparation for its upgrade to a university level. We want the federal government to upgrade the Jigawa state College of Education to degree-awarding university rather than building a new university. That will compliment existing university in the state
Mohammed said that the state lawmakers would ensure the speed up of the bill on upgrading the College to university status.
“We want to use this opportunity to tell you that we appreciated all that you did in Jigawa State as the Commissioner for education during your tenure and that we appreciate what you are doing as the Minister of education. We are indeed proud of you”.