The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has described the proposed plan of first lady, Aisha Buhari, to establish a private university as a disaster to the country’s educational system and a joke taken too far.
The chairman of the University of Ibadan chapter of ASUU, Prof. Deji Omole, said this on Tuesday, while reacting to a statement credited to Mrs Buhari, that plans are under way to establish a university which will he named after her husband, President Muhammadu Buhari.
Mrs Buhari had on Saturday, during a town hall meeting in Yola, the Adamawa State capital, revealed her plan to establish a private university to be known as “Muhammadu Buhari University.”
According to Omole, the plan to establish such university has confirmed why Buhari has continued to reduce budgetary allocation to education since he assumed office in 2015.
Prof. Omole said that the leadership of the country should immortalise President Buhari by revitalising public funded education.
His words: “When I also heard about the proposed private university to be named after Mr President, I just looked at it as a joke taken too far.
“If we have a president in a country that has simply refused to fund public education and all we get from the family of the first lady is to establish a private university in collaboration with some foreigners, I think it is a disaster for this country and for a sitting president.
“The implication is that Nigerians should know that this leadership does not believe in public funded education.
“Nigerians should support the struggle for the government to take education as a core investment upon which this country will be liberated. It is not the children of the rich that will solve the problems of Nigeria but the children of the poor and the tool they need is quality education.”
A former National Treasurer of ASUU, Prof. Ademola Aremu, condemned the trend where top public officials establish universities while still in office.
He said: “I don’t think that she is serious. We already have proliferation of universities and they are not taken care of. Since they are policy makers, they will now formulate policies that will ground public universities aground for their interest to thrive.
“I thought we have actually left that era. I could remember that Obasanjo established Bells and we condemned it.
“Atiku established his own as former vice president. If you have private interest, you should not hold public office. If you have interest in anything private thing, I think it is proper to actually leave the public space for those who want to eager to serve the masses. How many people can afford the existing private universities in the country?
“If you want to help education, then increase the capacity of the existing ones. When you are holding a public office, don’t establish a private concern.
“She should wait until Buhari is completely out of office before thinking of bringing a private university in whatever name.”