Tony Osauzo, Benin
A former Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Universities Commission, Prof. Munzali Jibril, has disclosed that late Gen Sani Abacha believed that the Nigerian private sector was not responsible enough to be entrusted with the delicate task of owning and running universities.
Delivering a lecture to mark the 20th-anniversary celebration of Igbinedion University (IOU), Okada, Edo State, Prof. Jibril revealed how Abacha gave a verbal directive in 1996 for action to be suspended on the processing of applications for private universities.
According to him, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, the Esama of Benin kingdom, went on to work with Gen Abdulasakami Abubakar to plead that the applications for the establishment of private universities be brought out of the freezer, adding that Gen Abubakar was favourably disposed to the processing of the applications.
Professor Jubril who identified high-level poverty and the middle-class lack of capacity to afford private universities’ fees as the cause of shortcomings of private universities noted that many private universities in the country neglected staff development and welfare as they only provide staffing for accreditation.