Data obtained from the National Universities Commission on Friday revealed that a total of 33 private universities were approved by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari within 16 months.
The period under review is January 2021 and April 2022.
While 21 of the private universities were approved in 2021; 12 were approved during the present strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
Prior to the establishment of the 33 universities, the total number of universities in Nigeria stood at 186 comprising 49 federal universities; 59 state universities and 78 private universities.
Private universities established in 2022 include Pen Resource University, Gombe, Gombe state; Al-Ansar University, Maiduguri, Borno state; Margaret Lawrence I -University, Delta state; Khalifa Ishaku Rabiu University, Kano; Sports University Idumuje Ugboko, Delta state; Bala Ahmed University, Kano; Saisa University of Medical Sciences and Technology, Sokoto state; Nigerian-British University Hasa, Abia state ; Peter University Acina-Onene, Anambra state; Newgate University, Minna, Niger state ; European University of Nigeria in Duboyi, Abuja and North-West University, Sokoto.
Some of the private universities approved in 2021 include Opfaith University, Mkpatak, Akwa Ibom; Thomas Adewumi University, Oko-Irese, Kwara; Maranatha University, Mgbidi, Imo; Ave Maria University, Piyanko, Nasarawa,;Al-Istiqama University, Sumaila, Kano.; Mudiame University, Irrua, Edo; Havilla University, Nde-Ikom, Cross River; and Claretian University of Nigeria, Nekede, Imo.
Others are NOK University, Kachia, Kaduna; Karl-Kumm University, Vom, Plateau.; James Hope University, Lagos; Maryam Abacha American University of Nigeria, Kano; Capital City University, Kano; Ahman Pategi University, Kwara; University of Offa, Kwara; Mewar University, Masaka, Nasarawa; Edusoko University, Bida, Niger; Philomath University, Kuje, Abuja and Khadija University, Majia, Jigawa ,among others.
Speaking in an interview with the Punch correspondent, the Programme Director, Reform Education Nigeria, Ayodamola Oluwatoyin noted that while private universities have their benefits; they shouldn’t take the place of public universities.
“The failure of the government to efficiently manage the public university system gave rise to the birth of private universities in Nigeria. While one cannot fail to admit the importance of private universities, it is very important to note that not everyone in Nigeria can even afford payment of fees in public institutions, not to talk of private fees who charge exorbitant fees.
“However, the government should ensure that sanity is returned to the administration of our public institutions. For instance, ASUU has been on strike for months now and nothing has been done.”h
Meanwhile, the strike by ASUU which started on Monday, February 14, 2022 entered its 180th day on Saturday, making it the second longest strike since return to democracy in 1999. The longest strike ever was in 2020 under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.