Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has said that Nigeria’s higher education sector was overburdened by population growth.
He suggested the establishment of more tertiary institutions across the country to cope with the country’s growing population.
He stated this at a public hearing on a bill to establish Modibbo Adama University Yola, held at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja, on Thursday.
The bill passed second reading in the Senate on November 13.
The bill seeks to convert the Modibbo Adama University of Technology (MAUTech) Yola, a mono-disciplinary institute to a multi-disciplinary and engaging institution of higher learning.
Abubakar said the higher education sector was also overburdened by a significant youth bulge.
“More than 60 percent of the country’s population is under the age of 24 years; almost one in four Sub-Saharan people reside in Nigeria, making it Africa’s most populous country.
“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,’’ Atiku said.
The former vice-president said with such projections, Nigeria’s exponential population growth was exerting immense pressure on the country’s resources and overstretching public services and infrastructure.
Abubakar further explained that records from Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) indicated a wide disparity between the number of applications and the actual number of successful admission in the nation’s tertiary institutions.
He said that converting MAUTech Yola to a conventional university would expand the chance of qualified candidates to get placement beyond the limited confines of engineering and sciences.
“The conversion of the university to a conventional university 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, among others.
“This indeed is the surest way to accelerate access, quality, relevance and equity for our people in Adamawa.
“I formally join fellow compatriots in the advocacy for the conversion of the university from a specialised entity to a conventional one,” Abubakar said. (NAN)