Many of the challenges plaguing Nigerian public universities, which have contributed to the lowering standards of tertiary education in the country, have been blamed on the greed and inability of governing councils/principal officers of many of the schools to get their priorities straight.
These challenges which have remained over the years include overcrowding in hostels and lecture rooms, inadequate and dilapidated infrastructure, outdated and broken down equipment, lack of basic amenities, inadequate, under-trained and overworked teaching staff, collapse of academic culture and archaic libraries.
The councils of some of the schools are more interested in awarding new contracts instead of completing abandoned projects or standardizing existing facilities, and prefer to expend hundreds of millions in mundane administration cost.
This indictment is contained in the report of the Committee on NEEDS Assessment of Public Universities in the country which was presented to the National Economic Council early this month by the Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa'I.
The report acknowledged the well known challenge of limited resources for the universities, but added that the quality of leadership and governance and the prioritization of resource allocation are more real problems.
The report accused some of the universities as not getting their priorities straight by spending millions to erect super-gates when their Libraries are still at foundation level, spending millions to purchase exotic vehicles for university officers even though they lack basic classroom furnishings and spending hundreds of millions in wall-fencing and in-fencing when students accommodation is inadequate and in tatters.