Federal Executive Council (FEC) in its first session for 2013 on Wednesday, January 9, approved the setting up of three new federal universities.
The new universities will be sited in Gashua (Yobe); Birnin Kebbi (Kebbi) and Gusau (Zamfara), thus fulfilling government’s policy since 2012 to put a federal university in every state in the country.
Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, and his Education counterpart, Professor Ruqayyatu Rufa’i, announced this at the end of the FEC meeting, chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan at State House, Abuja.
FEC also endorsed a new tourism brand identity which seeks to give priority attention to exploiting Nigeria’s tourism potentials presented by the Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Mr Edem Duke.
Mr Maku noted that only 10 per cent school leavers get admission into higher institutions nationwide, hence the creation of more universities was imperative.
Prof Rufa’i added that about 1.3 million school leavers seek entrance to higher institutions every year in the country, yet not up to 200,000 spaces are available in existing institutions.
She explained that eight out of the nine federal universities, approved in 2012, have taken off and even matriculated students, except the one in Otuoke, Bayelsa State, which takes off fully next month after delay caused by last year’s floods.
The minister disclosed that skeletal services are to start as soon as possible in the new universities and that academic work should start by 2014/2015 academic year.
The minister said that the establishment of the new universities complements efforts being made by the Federal Government towards tackling educational challenges at all tiers in the country, from Almajiri schools to post primary institutions.
Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Ngama, also told newsmen that transformation efforts of President Goodluck Jonathan has secured Nigeria a slot among 16 developing nations, to be allotted more shares in the World Bank, thus giving the country louder voice and more influence in the global financial institution.
The 16 countries, including Nigeria, were shortlisted from among 118 that were considered based on size and strength of their economies, impact on world economy, and expected growth in GDP. South Africa is the only African country selected.
According to Ngama, such recognition represents a “Certificate of Good Health” for Nigerian economy, and an affirmation that the Jonathan administration has lifted Nigeria in world economy.