A legal luminary and Pro Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, critised the establishment of new universities, saying the economic realities in the country do not favour the idea.
The former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) also lamented that educational development in the country had been affected by poor funding. Olanipekun stated this while delivering the first distinguished lecture of Elizade University, Ilara-Mokin, in Ifedore Local Government Area of Ondo State.
Speaking on the topic: “Forging a Synergy Between Public and Private Universities For The Attainment of National Development”, Olanipekun said the federal and state governments in the country had not been able to properly fund the already established universities to achieve the purpose for which they were set up.
He also noted that many of the public universities being established lately were set up to score cheap political points and not that they were needed in the states and communities where they were established.
He said, “public office holders now establish universities at random to secure cheap political points, it is illogical and cannot work.”
According to him, the latest world ranking of universities showed that Nigeria occupied a dismal position in terms of budgetary allocation to education, noting that N426 billion, which is 8.7 per cent of the N4.9 trillion of the 2013 budget was allocated to education with a large chuck used for the settlement of overhead.
“From the foregoing analysis, it is obvious that funding and administration of universities in Nigeria are dysfunctional. The state of the Nigerian university system is not encouraging, there is inadequate investment in research and development and innovations,” he said.
He, however, noted that the situation had made it necessary for public and private universities in the country to collaborate to achieve academic excellence.
Olanipekun added that the universities could collaborate in the areas of staff/personnel, research, capacity building, quality control, resource sharing and ICT. He also suggested that universities should be encouraged to merge.
He said, “therefore, in the interest of the nation and the universities themselves, there is a compelling need for collaboration. Our universities, both public and private, must collaborate to ensure academic continuum rather than unleashing on us an academic conundrum.”
The founder of the university, Chief Michael Ade Ojo, urged the National Universities Commission (NUC) to relax its regulations on private universities to enable them deliver on the aim of their establishment.
He said the commission should allow te private universities to develop at their pace, saying it would be wrong to expect public and private universities to develop at the same level.
The chairman of the occasion and Ondo State governor, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, commended the vision of the founder of the university. He however said the state government would be ready to assist and support the development of the university.