Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues
October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
The Problems of Funding and Utilisation in Tertiary Institutions
culled from THE INDEPENDENT, November 1, 2004
Mallam Nasir Bello, the Liaison cum linkages officer of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, was caught recently lamenting how the Nigerian university system, once well respected around the globe and envied by others in Africa, had over the last decades, been reduced to a shadow of its former self. According to him, Nigerian universities, like other public service, “have been practically decimated by decades of economic mismanagement and military interventions.”
The ABU liaison officer, who presented a paper on “Issues in Fundraising campaigns for Nigerian Universities” at a workshop on “Funding of University Education in Nigeria,” organised by the Conference of Alumni Associations of Nigerian Universities (CAANU) in Abuja, said it is now left for the present generation of university administrators and professors to rebuild their capacity and reputation by ensuring that the universities return to the lost glory.
The problem of funding in the system especially those tertiary institutions owned by the Federal Government has in recent times been identified by many as the major cause of the falling standard of tertiary education in the country, he noted. It has also been cited as one of the reasons for the restiveness by students and endless strikes by the academic and non-academic staff of institutions of higher learning.
Just recently, the presidential visitation panel to the 61 federal tertiary institutions in the country, submitted its report to government, in which it identified, “lack of funds, unfulfilled promises by the Federal Government, absence of research due to lack of proper funding ”, as some of the factors that had contributed to the tension and attendant crises on the campuses. Indeed, the chairman of the visitation panel to the ABU, Senator Alex Usman Kadiri, who presented the report, stated categorically that the government had not funded the tertiary institutions properly. “As a consequence, the universities are in total neglect,” he lamented.
Speaking on “The emerging role of development/alumni relations officers as university fund raisers and development agents” at the recent CAANU Workshop, Professor. A. R. Anao, visiting Professor of accounting at the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, noted that the call on government to increase the level of funding of Nigerian public universities had progressively become more strident in recent years.
"These days, it is not just the solitary voice of the university unions, which understandably make a singsong of it, but even senior university officials themselves, who, erstwhile, for reasons of tact and due deference or decorum as public servants, would not want to be publicly quoted on the issue, have joined the chorus," he
It is against these backdrop that the recent directive by Education Minister, Professor. Fabian Osuji to principal officers of federal universities, polytechnics and colleges of education on the issue of utilization of fiscal provisions, can be appreciated.
The minister who was visibly angry about the inability of some heads of tertiary institutions to utilize a standardised process to access available funds provided in the 2004 budget in order to address the crying and clearly identified needs of their institutions, warned that henceforth, government would view seriously the non-utilization of the full capital allocations by any institution.
He noted that in recent times, the Federal Government had made substantial provisions for the funding of the nation's universities, polytechnics and colleges of education. For instant, in the 2004 appropriation, a total sum of N93.8 billion was appropriated to Education and of this amount, N50.96 billion, N12.305 billion and N8.086 billion were allocated to the universities, polytechnics and colleges of education systems, respectively.
"This is an implicit show of the commitment of the Federal Government to qualitative education for our youths and to the future of our nation," Osuji said.
Of the above allocations, the minister continued N12.283 billion, N1.825 billion and N1.615 billion were respectively allocated to federal universities, polytechnics and colleges of education for the completion of on-going capital projects which were clearly identified and specifically funded in the budget.
If the figures, as released by the minister have actually been released to the tertiary institutions, then it would seem that the present administration has kept faith with the full release of due funds to date.
It would however appear that while the funds were made available, the heads of the tertiary institutions had been confronted with the problem of "due process," which has reportedly made it difficult for many ministries and other agencies of government to receive funds allocated to them for their activities. For capital projects, Osuji said the modalities for the utilization of the funds had been provided "to ensure full value for money." According to him, all capital utilizations were to go through "due process" and the Ministry of Education and the coordinating agencies - National Universities Commission (NUC), National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) in consultation with the Budget Monitoring, Price Intelligence Unit (BMPIU) or Due Process in the Presidency, conducted a series of briefings for the principal officers of all institutions of higher learning to acquaint them with the process.
Findings from the Ministry of Education indicate that while some institutions would appear to have mastered the process and have effectively utilized it to gain approval for the release of allocated funds, some have not taken advantage of the facilitative measures.
It was in realisation of the fact that the funds allocated to these institutions in the 2004 budget would soon lapse that the minister called for a review of the process of accessing the funds and to ascertain what hindrances might exist in the processing of projects by institutions and to set a target for the full utilisation of the budgeted funds.
At the meeting, the minister warned that heads of institutions that failed to utilise funds allocated for capital projects must bear full responsibility for such failure. "For two years, our institutions received no capital funds; it will amount to sheer ineptitude, gross insensitivity and a display of total lack of executive capacity on the part of the leadership of any institution not to fully utilize the generous provisions by government to improve facilities in his/her institution," he declared.
He made it clear the heads of institutions who failed to follow clearly defined government policy and process in this matter would be sanctioned appropriately.
The minister explained that for the higher educational institutions, much of the capital provisions in 2004 was to enable them complete abandoned projects that littered and disfigure their campuses or rehabilitate dilapidating ones.
"It will be totally inexcusable to fail to deploy these resources for the purpose," said the minister.
But besides the huge allocations to them, the minister told each of the tertiary institutions to design and execute projects that would increase their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to meet other critical needs. "In this regard, all institutions must strive to achieve at least 25% of budgeted funds as internally generated revenue in 2005physical year," he directed.
President Olusegun Obasanjo last week proposed six strategies for reforming the funding of university education in the country, saying that the total dependence on the government for funding was not sustainable. These include
Giving greater autonomy to the universities as provided for in the university autonomy act;
Diversification of funding, particularly the attraction of private sector funding, and consideration of more appropriate pricing of facilities and services (including hostel accommodation);
Updating and restructuring the curricula to meet the demands of the national economy in the 21st century;
Ensuring effective monitoring of the public and private universities to ensure strict adherence to stipulated minimum standards;
Developing innovative approaches to ensure continuing re-tooling and capacity-building of university teachers in order to operate at the cutting edge of their disciplines and;
Mass mobilization and value re-orientation among students to emphasize hard work, discipline, and selfless service.
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This page was last updated on 10/27/07.