Fred Itua, Abuja
Former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, yesterday, said Nigerians were spending over $1 billion annually on foreign education.
He also decried the alleged diversion of funds meant for the provision of compulsory primary and secondary education by benefiting states.
Atiku spoke 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, organised by the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND at the National Assembly.
The 2019 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who was making his first major public appearances since he lost to President Muhammadu Buhari, called on the National Assembly to amend the relevant laws to ensure states found to have misappropriated such funds are penalised by sending the money directly to institutions concerned.
Atiku 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 penalised 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.”
Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mohammed Bello, Vice Chancellor of the Modibbo Adama University of Technology (MAUTECH), Prof. Abdullahi Liman Tukur, were among those who backed the proposed conversion of MAUTECH to a conventional university.
Other stakeholders who supported the proposal included the Lamido Adamawa Muhammadu Barkindo Aliyu Musdafa, represented by Galadinma Adamawa, Mustapha Aliyu and ex-Minister of Education, Dauda Birma and ex-minister, Aliyu Idi Hong, among others.
Atiku said converting MAUTECH to conventional university would expand the chance of qualified candidates to get placement beyond the limited confines of engineering and sciences.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, while declaring the public hearing open, said the institutions were central to the growth and development of the much needed workforce in the country.
Represented by Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, Lawan said the institution would also be useful to the proposed catchment areas of Adamawa.