By Abimbola Ogunnaike
Venite University, Iloro-Ekiti, Ekiti State; Shanahan University Onitsha, Anambra State, The Duke Medical University, Calabar; and 34 other new private universities have received their operating licences from the National University Commission (NUC) in Abuja.
Speaking at the ceremony, which had the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress(APC)Abdullahi Adamu in attendance, the Permanent Secretary, David Adejo, said with the new provisional approval, the number of private universities in the country is now 147.
According to him, the approval was given to the universities in order to operate for the first three years of operation, adding that it was intended to create room for effective mentoring and qualitative growth within the next three years.
Adejo said that during the monitoring period, the new universities would be affiliated to older generation universities for academic and administrative mentoring to be moderated by NUC.
“This is part of NUC‘s initiative for early-warning signals to detect compromises in quality for the application of corrective and remedial measures to redress such situations.
“Substantive licences will be issued to well-managed institutions after the three years of probation following their satisfactory performance and growth, within guidelines stipulated by the Commission,” said.
Adejo justified the commission’s position in the increment of the number of universities in the country, saying the country’s bloated 200 million population warranted the development.
The top civil servant noted that private universities had contributed to the opening up of admission space for the swelling population of candidates seeking university education in the country.
He observed that the argument in some quarters that private universities had become too many in Nigeria was not plausible, noting that comparative figures of universities in other countries show that Nigeria needs more universities.
“Government is also well aware that countries that are consistently well-ranked in Human Development indices have, in recognition of the important role of Universities in human capital development, maintained a respectable number of Universities relative to their population.
“In relation to Nigeria’s population of over 200 million, the current 264 Universities is quite low when compared to those of other economies’ such as, Korea, Indonesia among others,” he said.
He assured that government would continue to encourage NUC to keep strengthening its quality assurance mechanism so that as the number increases, quality and relevance to national needs are not compromised.
On his part, the Executive Secretary of NUC, Abubakar Rasheed, said the Nigerian University system has experienced a rapid expansion over the last two decades from less than 40 in 1996 to 264 presently.
He noted that in processing the 37 new universities for licensing, the commission took adequate care to ensure the currency and relevance of their proposed academic programmes in addressing the challenges of contemporary society.
Rasheed disclosed that the NUC has also developed a code of governance for private universities, which is expected to address the identified governance challenges bedeviling many private universities.
NUC boss, who warned the proprietors against breach of the conditions for the approval, said any unwholesome practice or operation outside the provisions of NUC guidelines is unacceptable and will attract appropriate sanctions.
The universities are: Azman University, Kano, Kano State; El-Amin University, Minna, Niger State; Rayhaan University, Kebbi; Muhammad Kamalud University, Kwara; Sam Maris University, Ondo; Aletheia University, Ago-Iwoye Ogun State; and Lux Mundi University Umuahia, Abia State.
Others are: Maduka University, Ekwegbe, Enugu State; PeaceLand University, Enugu State; Amadeus University, Amizi, Abia State; and Vision University, Ikogbo, Ogun State
Also granted provisional approval are: Huda University, Gusau, Zamafara State; Franco British International University, Kaduna State; Canadian University of Nigeria, Abuja; Miva Open University, Abuja FCT; and Gerar University of Medical Science Imope Ijebu, Ogun State.
British Canadian University, Obufu Cross River State; Hensard University, Toru-Orua, Sagbama, Bayelsa State; Phoenix University, Agwada, Nasarawa State; Wigwe University, Isiokpo Rivers State; and Hillside University of Science and Technology, Okemisi, Ekiti State.
Also given licences are: the University on the Niger, Umunya, Anambra state, Elrazi Medical University Yargaya University, Kano State, Venite University, Iloro-Ekiti, Ekiti State; Shanahan University Onitsha, Anambra State; The Duke Medical University, Calabar, Cross River State, Mercy Medical University, Iwo, Ogun State, Cosmopolitan University Abuja and Iconic Open University, Sokoto State.
Others include, West Midlands Open University, Ibadan, Oyo State, Amaj University, Kwali, Abuja, Prime University, Kuje, FCT Abuja, College of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Kaduna State, Jewel University, Gombe state, Nigerian University of Technology and Management, Apapa, Lagos State, Al-Muhibbah Open University, Abuja and Al-Bayan University, Ankpa, Kogi State.