The Chairman, Federal Civil Service Commission (FCSC), Abuja, Prof. Tunji Olaopa, on Wednesday, described as criminal the National Universities Commission’s acts of licensing so many universities when the existing ones lack significant funding arrangement.
He also lamented the proliferation of universities in the country, describing it as a disturbing phenomenon.
Olaopa stated this while delivering the 16th convocation lecture of Lead City University, Ibadan, on Wednesday.
While delivering the lecture, entitled, ‘The Renewed Hope Agenda and the Imperative of Repositioning Nigerian Universities,’ Olaopa said government enters into the policy-making processes without the solid hand that could have been made possible by intellectual and empirical inputs to solidify action research and policy intelligence.
He noted that the research outputs of universities and other tertiary institutions are now becoming increasingly sterile as they have become decorative and mere formalities.
“Gone were the days when government policy decisions were fortified by an active town and gown engagements; when the likes of the late Dr. Pius Okigbo and Prof. Ojetunji Aboyade would deploy sound econometric analysis that the likes of Chief Simeon Adebo, Allison Ayida, et al, could count upon in formulating Nigeria’s development planning.
“A further consequence is that the tertiary institutions and their connection with human capital development have become critically undermined as a result of incoherent education policies.
“Higher education has been dislodged from its preeminent status as the core space for molding and preparing the best and the brightest that would constitute the manpower force Nigeria needs to keep marching into economic and industrial prominence,” he said.
He noted that the proliferation of universities, public or private, is unchecked because it has been politicised as is the usual practice with everything significant in Nigerian life.
“And this ensures that some of these institutions are not sufficiently standard and functional to meet the need for which they were established. Most private universities are established to service the modus operandi of anything private—commercial agenda and profit.
“To this extent, the Nigerian education landscape is not far from the global education development. However, licensing so many universities, under the political and politicising imperative, when the existing one do not have any firm regulatory oversight or significant funding arrangement is just criminal,” he said.
Olaopa also identified intractable issue of education financing in Nigeria, lack of full autonomy for public universities and upgrade of universities’ Governing Council as employer, as well as adversarial model of industrial action that locks ASUU into a degrading and unproductive conflict with university managements and with the government as some of the issues affecting education and hindering development of the country.