Abuja — The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last general elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has expressed concern over the alleged diversion of funds meant for the provision of compulsory primary and secondary education by benefiting states.
Atiku, spoke Thursday in Abuja at a one-day public hearing on the Modibbo Adama University Yola, Adamawa State, (Establishment etc), Bill 2019 and the University of Agriculture and Technology Funtua, Katsina State, (Establishment, etc), Bill 2019, organized by the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND, at the National Assembly, Abuja.
He called on the National Assembly to amend the relevant laws to ensure that states found to have misappropriated such funds are penalized by sending the money directly to institutions concerned.
The former Vice President said: "When we were in office, we passed the compulsory education from primary to secondary school law. We also imposed taxation on education.
"I would appeal to you, members of the National Assembly, to look at that law again because there is a disconnect in the sense that monies or funds being given to states to develop education are being diverted.
"There is need for you to look at the law so that you can amend a section that if a particular state refuses to deploy all the resources sent to it for education, it is penalized by making sure that government at the federal level sends it directly to universities. This is one law I will appeal to you to take and look at for review again," he said. While expressing his support for the conversion of MAUTECH to a conventional University, Atiku said this move would expand the chance of qualified candidates to get placement beyond the limited confines of engineering and science courses.
His words: "It is in the overall national interest that you favourably consider the conversion of Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola to a conventional University (Modibbo Adama University, Yola) which in addition to courses in Science and Technology will have the mandate to run courses in Medicine, Pharmacy, Law, the Arts and Social and Management Sciences etc.
"This indeed is the surest way to accelerate access, quality, relevance and equity for our people in Adamawa State, the Northeast and indeed Nigeria.
"It is equally part of a right step toward rebuilding a broken people. We lose nothing and gain everything if we just get this done."
Atiku added the higher education sector in the country has been overburdened by a significant youth bulge.
"At the center of this pressure is the nation's education sector. More profound, is the access gap that characterises the higher education sector in the country," Atiku said.
Earlier while declaring the public hearing open, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, stressed that the institutions were central to the growth and development of the much needed workforce in the country.
Lawan who was represented by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, said the institution would also be useful to the proposed catchment areas of Adamawa.