Prof. Peter Okebukola, former Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), on Thursday called on Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), to have provision for private universities in its realm of intervention.
Okebukola, who made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, said the call was necessary because the money TETFUND is using is generated from both the public and private institutions.
“The graduates produced in both private and public institutions are commodities for the nation and are going to work everywhere.
“We have to be equitable and by this, it implies that a graduate from a public university being supported by TETFUND would be deployed to the Nigeria economy.
“And another graduate from a private university not supported by TETFUND would also be deployed to the Nigeria economy, then there is no equity, ” he said.
According to Okebukola, steps should be taken to amend TETFUND law to make some provision to support private universities and their capital development.
“It is not new, if you went back between 1921 and 1966, Nigeria Government was providing grants in aid to support private schools.
“Government will give you money to support your development with the understanding that the graduates produced will be available to the entire Nigeria citizenry,” he added.
He , therefore, urged the government to revisit its philosophy of grants in aid to private university.
He mentioned Harvard University in USA established 381 years ago among other foreign institutions which enjoyed such financial supports from the public and private institution.
“At the start of Harvard University, they had support from the public and private through endowment and several instruments until the university is able to stand firmly on its own.
“Today, one year budget of Harvard, is more than the combined budget of the 153 Universities in Nigeria, it means just as a child is helped while growing, so should private institution be helped.
“When the Child is matured, then you can gradually phase-off the help,” he said.
The former NUC boss, however advised TETFUND not to allocate blanket money to the institutions, but rather apply a formula on the basis of their performance driven.