30 January 2013

Nigeria: New Universities - Wike Expresses Concern Over Delay in Provisions of Infrastructure

The Minister of State for Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, on Wednesday expressed concern over the delay in the provision of infrastructure at the sites of the nine newly approved universities.

Wike made his feelings known at a meeting with vice-chancellors, procurement officials, contractors, consultants of the new universities, the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TetFund).

He said the report his ministry was getting was not satisfactory, adding that in spite of the fact that money was provided since last year for the take-off of the universities nothing had been done.

"So, I want to know what the problems are, now that the contractors are here.

"Why is it that for the past one year that this contract was approved and award letters given out, reports reaching me say nothing is happening at most of the university sites.

"Some contractors have complained that up till now they cannot get full details of the universities' designs, while some made various complaints.

"So, I want to find out if the fault is from the universities, or the ministry, the NUC, or the consultants that is why we have called for this meeting."

Wike wondered why funds made available in the past one year could not be utilised.

He said Nigerians were eager to see the completion of the new universities, adding that the Federal Government was willing to ensure that they were not just opened, but have the necessary facilities.

The minister said the government was committed to providing the necessary infrastructure to enable the universities to take-off.

Wike, who blamed procurement officials for their lack of commitment to the project, said "I thought that the problem was from the contractors, not knowing that the delay is from the procurement officers".

"Every department must be up and doing; I do not want any situation or any loophole in the execution of this project."

He called on the procurement officers to expedite action in facilitating the release of funds.

Mr Akinbode Agbaoye, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the NUC, confirmed that the commission had released funds to the appropriate authorities for the construction of the universities.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that most of the contractors at the meeting complained of lack of mobilisation to site, among others.

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