More than seven months after the federal government promised that all nine new federal universities would commence academic work, many of them are still struggling to provide the needed facilities for take-off
The universities established by the government in the last quarter of 2010 are located in Lokoja (Kogi State), Otuoke (Bayelsa State), Dutse (Jigawa State), Dutsin-Ma (Katsina State), Kashere (Gombe State), Lafia (Nasarawa State), Wukari (Taraba State), Oye-Ekiti (Ekiti State) and Ndufu-Alike in Ikwo Local Government Area (Ebonyi).
The Federal University Lokoja in Kogi was initially scheduled to take off in February but was later shifted to April. But even that date did not materialize due to lack of facilities to accommodate the 300 students it has offered admission.
Now, the authorities say the university would commence academic work in September. Even that may not be possible with what our reporter saw at the former Government Secondary School which is now accommodating the university.
Some people have their private houses within the premises which poses a serious security threat to the university.
The Registrar, Habiba Adeiza said: “We had to remodel the old secondary school structures because they did not befit a university. We have just finished constructing classrooms and we are about awarding the second phase of construction of hostel and library which is very essential for learning. So we could not have brought in students without these facilities.
We have already conducted interview for academic staff and will soon conduct another interview for non-academic staff. We would hopefully be ready before September.”
On the issue of encroachment, Senior Adviser to the governor on Media and Strategy, Jacob Edi said the governor has directed that the people be immediately relocated and compensated.
“The governor has given a clear directive so if there is anything otherwise, it is against the directive of the government. We would give every protection to the institution,” he said.
Government had said they would resume in September 2011 and were each given a take-off grant of N1.5 billion. But some of the universities which had already offered admissions to students, kept postponing their resumption dates.
Some were delayed by the politics of where they should be best located while others grappled with little or no infrastructure to kick off with.
Last month, the Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa’i, who toured most of the varsities, said resumption had been postponed until government was satisfied they were prepared for take-off.
Ruqayyatu again made a promise that all the universities would take-off not later than June.
The Federal University in President Goodluck Jonathan’s home town of Otuoke in Bayelsa State, is not resuming till September even though the host community has raised N3 billion to support the building of infrastructures.
Findings show that the university, which occupies 200 hectares in the expanse of the small village located in Ogbia Local Government, has already offered provisional admission to 181 students in the recent Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME).
The university is to resume academic work with the faculties of Humanities and Social Science which include Engineering and Technology.
At the site, buildings to accommodate students and staff, a sickbay, cafeteria and female hostel are in place.
But the university is grappling with challenges in the areas of security, portable water supply and electricity.