Proposed Universities: Between Ilaro And Ipokia - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE

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Saturday, May 1, 2021

Proposed Universities: Between Ilaro And Ipokia


     •Aerial view of Fed Poly Ilaro



By: Kayode Odunaro 

There is no doubt that there is dearth of educational opportunities for our teeming youth population at the level of university education. On a regular basis, only about 30 percent of millions of youths seeking admissions into universities are admitted in to about 170 private and public universities across the nation. By some estimates from National University Commission, the nation still needs well over additional 300 universities to begin to address the challenge of admission spaces for qualified students. The lack of spaces is brought into bold relief when one realizes that USA with similar demographic statistic have about 5000 universities for its population and foreigners. The City of London alone have 40 higher institutions without counting several foreign universities with branches in London. 

This situation of scarcity of available spaces and the love for educational advancement has led many legislators at the federal level to include education in their legislative agenda with a drive to enact laws for new institutions as well as expansion and upgrade of existing ones to open opportunities for our teeming population to access university education. One of such legislators is Senator Solomon Adeola, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Finance, who so far have sponsored three education advancement bills in the 9th Senate among other bills. The bills are: “A Bill for an Act to Provide for the Establishment of Federal University of Technology, Yaba(SB.85)”, “A Bill for an Act to Provide for the Establishment of Federal University of Technology, Ilaro (SB.84)”, and “A Bill for an Act to Provide for the Establishment of Nigeria French Language Village, Badagry(SB.483). 

It is worthy of note that these proposed laws are not calling for the establishment of brand-new universities or similar but are for upgrade of existing institutions namely the over 70 years old institution of Yaba College of Technology and the 42 years old Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, as well as legislative backing for an inter-university centre for French language studies that had been in existence since 1980s without an enabling law backing. Furthermore, the attempts to get these legislations passed into laws did not start with the current 9th National Assembly as they were all introduced in the 8th National Assembly under Senator Bukola Saraki’s tenure as Chairman. YabaTech and the French Language bills were successfully passed by the Senate but could not proceed for concurrence and assent to give them effect. The Bill for Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro was read for the first time on the floor of the Senate on 6th April, 2017 but could not proceed further till the end of the 8th Senate. On the merit of the case, Senator Adeola reintroduced the bill on 15th October 2019 and this time it passed first reading and Second reading and a public hearing was successfully held for the three bills on 22nd April, 2021 and all things being equal, these educational legislations will be passed by the Senate once its Committee of Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND present their report at plenary. 

It is regrettably sad and shameful however that some individuals are now importing an unnecessary base local politics where there should be none into the issue of upgrade of existing Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro into a University of technology. Not too long ago towards the end of the Senator Ibikunle Amosun led administration in Ogun State, the State Government decided to move the MKO Abiola Polytechnic(MAPOLY), Abeokuta to Ipokia community in Ogun West Senatorial District where incidentally Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro is located. The plan was to turn the facility of MAPOLY in Abeokuta into a university. The government actually started putting up facilities for the take-off of the Ipokia Polytechnic but since this was a project at the twilight of an 8-year administration the whole enterprise got enmeshed in controversies of resistance by lecturers and students resisting relocation.  

In the midst of the controversy and resistance to state government policy, stakeholders and the people of Yewaland came out with the position that what they wanted is a University at Ipokia and not a relocated polytechnic. In the interim students of the MAPOLY were in limbo. It took the new administration of Prince Dapo Abiodun to revert back to status quo on the issue to allow MAPOLY students return back to their disrupted studies while the fate of Ipokia Polytechnic hangs in balance on the new Government professed inability to fund it at present. At all event the educational initiative at Ipokia was a State Government initiative which one concede is highly merited for the Ogun West Senatorial District as the only district in Ogun without a state funded or federal owned university. 

In the midst of this circumstance, Hon. Kola Lawal, representing Egbado South and Ipokia Federal Constituency of Ogun State in the House of Representatives proposed a bill for the establishment of a university in Ipokia. If passed into law, this proposed university will start as a federal government owned and funded university and I supposed it will be located on the skeletal structure of the now controversial Ipokia Polytechnic/ requested university established by the Ogun State Government. This, on the face of it is indeed a good move in achieving the aspiration of the people of Yewaland and indeed Ogun West Senatorial District. However, what is in doubt is the realizability of the move under the circumstances assuming the bill championing it sail through all the legislative process to get the assent of the President. In the first place, the new proposed university will have to get the buy in of the state government if it is planned to cash in on the land and structures already established by the state government. As stated, the state government is presently at a cross road on the matter and I am not aware of consultation to assure that the state government structure will be handed over to the Federal Government if requested. Beyond that is the issue of funding a new university with not only structures to merit National University Commission(NUC) accreditation of its programmes but the issue of requisite personnel for the massive organization that a university is. 

It was therefore shocking and pathetic to hear and read some otherwise enlightened individuals seeing the proposed upgrade of existing Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro to a university of technology as being mutually exclusive to the establishment of a new state university at Ipokia or indeed a new federal university at Ipokia. What a specious reasoning that is. More like reasoning not back by sufficient knowledge of the case or more worrisome playing politics or playing to the gallery with the issue of educational development. 

As narrated above what the bill on Federal University of Technology Ilaro seeks is to pluck a low hanging fruit of building on structures that had been in the making for over 40 years. A federal government short of fund will be enamoured to a new university that have all the structures and personnel already in its employ and needing only fractional budgetary increase to its existing budget heads to get it running as a university. While one supports the agitation for a university in Ipokia as agreed by Ogun West stakeholders from the state government following the controversy generated by the still birthed Ipokia Polytechnic or indeed a federal university at a time that the federal government can fund it, it is nevertheless reasonable to assiduously work towards upgrading an existing and functional institution. For the umpteenth time, let it be stated that Nigeria still need hundreds of universities in consideration of our population and the dearth of admission spaces for qualified candidates yearly. So eventual establishment of a state or federal university in Ipokia is not contradictory or superfluous to the existence of a Federal University of Technology in Ilaro that is built on an already existing and funded federal polytechnic. 

It is therefore playing cheap politics to situate or insinuate a rivalry between the agitation to upgrade existing Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, an agitation that dates back on record to over 5 years with active support by Professor Emeritus, Professor Anthony Asiwaju, the Asiwaju of Yewaland as stated in his 2019 Convocation Lecture at the institution and a supporting memo to the National Assembly, with a legislative Russian Roulette for a brand-new university of Ipokia. Both universities in due course in their own time can co-exist but one is indeed more realizable at the shortest possible time for any reasonable person given the financial outlay the venture will entails. So, let’s end the rivalry debate between Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro upgrade to a university and the proposal for a new university of Ipokia.   

 


OPINION


PROPOSED UNIVERSITIES: BETWEEN ILARO AND IPOKIA 


By: Kayode Odunaro 


There is no doubt that there is dearth of educational opportunities for our teeming youth population at the level of university education. On a regular basis, only about 30 percent of millions of youths seeking admissions into universities are admitted in to about 170 private and public universities across the nation. By some estimates from National University Commission, the nation still needs well over additional 300 universities to begin to address the challenge of admission spaces for qualified students. The lack of spaces is brought into bold relief when one realizes that USA with similar demographic statistic have about 5000 universities for its population and foreigners. The City of London alone have 40 higher institutions without counting several foreign universities with branches in London. 


This situation of scarcity of available spaces and the love for educational advancement has led many legislators at the federal level to include education in their legislative agenda with a drive to enact laws for new institutions as well as expansion and upgrade of existing ones to open opportunities for our teeming population to access university education. One of such legislators is Senator Solomon Adeola, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Finance, who so far have sponsored three education advancement bills in the 9th Senate among other bills. The bills are: “A Bill for an Act to Provide for the Establishment of Federal University of Technology, Yaba(SB.85)”, “A Bill for an Act to Provide for the Establishment of Federal University of Technology, Ilaro (SB.84)”, and “A Bill for an Act to Provide for the Establishment of Nigeria French Language Village, Badagry(SB.483). 


It is worthy of note that these proposed laws are not calling for the establishment of brand-new universities or similar but are for upgrade of existing institutions namely the over 70 years old institution of Yaba College of Technology and the 42 years old Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, as well as legislative backing for an inter-university centre for French language studies that had been in existence since 1980s without an enabling law backing. Furthermore, the attempts to get these legislations passed into laws did not start with the current 9th National Assembly as they were all introduced in the 8th National Assembly under Senator Bukola Saraki’s tenure as Chairman. YabaTech and the French Language bills were successfully passed by the Senate but could not proceed for concurrence and assent to give them effect. The Bill for Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro was read for the first time on the floor of the Senate on 6th April, 2017 but could not proceed further till the end of the 8th Senate. On the merit of the case, Senator Adeola reintroduced the bill on 15th October 2019 and this time it passed first reading and Second reading and a public hearing was successfully held for the three bills on 22nd April, 2021 and all things being equal, these educational legislations will be passed by the Senate once its Committee of Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND present their report at plenary. 


It is regrettably sad and shameful however that some individuals are now importing an unnecessary base local politics where there should be none into the issue of upgrade of existing Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro into a University of technology. Not too long ago towards the end of the Senator Ibikunle Amosun led administration in Ogun State, the State Government decided to move the MKO Abiola Polytechnic(MAPOLY), Abeokuta to Ipokia community in Ogun West Senatorial District where incidentally Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro is located. The plan was to turn the facility of MAPOLY in Abeokuta into a university. The government actually started putting up facilities for the take-off of the Ipokia Polytechnic but since this was a project at the twilight of an 8-year administration the whole enterprise got enmeshed in controversies of resistance by lecturers and students resisting relocation.  


In the midst of the controversy and resistance to state government policy, stakeholders and the people of Yewaland came out with the position that what they wanted is a University at Ipokia and not a relocated polytechnic. In the interim students of the MAPOLY were in limbo. It took the new administration of Prince Dapo Abiodun to revert back to status quo on the issue to allow MAPOLY students return back to their disrupted studies while the fate of Ipokia Polytechnic hangs in balance on the new Government professed inability to fund it at present. At all event the educational initiative at Ipokia was a State Government initiative which one concede is highly merited for the Ogun West Senatorial District as the only district in Ogun without a state funded or federal owned university. 


In the midst of this circumstance, Hon. Kola Lawal, representing Egbado South and Ipokia Federal Constituency of Ogun State in the House of Representatives proposed a bill for the establishment of a university in Ipokia. If passed into law, this proposed university will start as a federal government owned and funded university and I supposed it will be located on the skeletal structure of the now controversial Ipokia Polytechnic/ requested university established by the Ogun State Government. This, on the face of it is indeed a good move in achieving the aspiration of the people of Yewaland and indeed Ogun West Senatorial District. However, what is in doubt is the realizability of the move under the circumstances assuming the bill championing it sail through all the legislative process to get the assent of the President. In the first place, the new proposed university will have to get the buy in of the state government if it is planned to cash in on the land and structures already established by the state government. As stated, the state government is presently at a cross road on the matter and I am not aware of consultation to assure that the state government structure will be handed over to the Federal Government if requested. Beyond that is the issue of funding a new university with not only structures to merit National University Commission(NUC) accreditation of its programmes but the issue of requisite personnel for the massive organization that a university is. 


It was therefore shocking and pathetic to hear and read some otherwise enlightened individuals seeing the proposed upgrade of existing Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro to a university of technology as being mutually exclusive to the establishment of a new state university at Ipokia or indeed a new federal university at Ipokia. What a specious reasoning that is. More like reasoning not back by sufficient knowledge of the case or more worrisome playing politics or playing to the gallery with the issue of educational development. 


As narrated above what the bill on Federal University of Technology Ilaro seeks is to pluck a low hanging fruit of building on structures that had been in the making for over 40 years. A federal government short of fund will be enamoured to a new university that have all the structures and personnel already in its employ and needing only fractional budgetary increase to its existing budget heads to get it running as a university. While one supports the agitation for a university in Ipokia as agreed by Ogun West stakeholders from the state government following the controversy generated by the still birthed Ipokia Polytechnic or indeed a federal university at a time that the federal government can fund it, it is nevertheless reasonable to assiduously work towards upgrading an existing and functional institution. For the umpteenth time, let it be stated that Nigeria still need hundreds of universities in consideration of our population and the dearth of admission spaces for qualified candidates yearly. So eventual establishment of a state or federal university in Ipokia is not contradictory or superfluous to the existence of a Federal University of Technology in Ilaro that is built on an already existing and funded federal polytechnic. 


It is therefore playing cheap politics to situate or insinuate a rivalry between the agitation to upgrade existing Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, an agitation that dates back on record to over 5 years with active support by Professor Emeritus, Professor Anthony Asiwaju, the Asiwaju of Yewaland as stated in his 2019 Convocation Lecture at the institution and a supporting memo to the National Assembly, with a legislative Russian Roulette for a brand-new university of Ipokia. Both universities in due course in their own time can co-exist but one is indeed more realizable at the shortest possible time for any reasonable person given the financial outlay the venture will entails. So, let’s end the rivalry debate between Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro upgrade to a university and the proposal for a new university of Ipokia.   


Chief Kayode Odunaro is Baaroyin of Imala-Yewa, Ogun State.  


 





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