Azman University, Kano, Kano State; El-Amin University, Minna, Niger State and 35 other new private universities have received their operating licences from the National University Commission (NUC) in Abuja.
Daily Trust reports that El-Amin University has, as its proprietor, El-Amin Nigeria Limited, and has its Chairman of Trustees as General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (Rtd).
In the same vein, Azman University has its proprietor as Azman Group of Companies Limited and Barr. Ado Muhammad Ma’aji as the Chairman Board of Trustees.
Azman, the company that has been in the oil business for sometime, floated an airline recently before acquiring new licence to venture in the education sector.
Speaking at the well-attended ceremony, which had the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Abdullahi Adamu in attendance, the Permanent Secretary, David Adejo, said with the new provisional approval, the number of private universities is now 147.
According to him, the approval was given to the universities in order to operate for the first years of operation, adding that it was intended to create room for effective mentoring and qualitative growth within the next three years.
He said during the monitoring period, the new universities would be affiliated to older generation universities for academic and administrative mentoring to be moderated by NUC.
“This is part of NUC‘s initiative for early-warning signals to detect compromises in quality for the application of corrective and remedial measures to redress such situations.
“Substantive licences will be issued to well-managed institutions after the three years of probation following their satisfactory performance and growth, within guidelines stipulated by the Commission,” said.
Adejo justified the commission’s position in the increment of the number of universities in the country, saying the country’s bloated 200 million population warranted the development.
The top civil servant noted that private universities had contributed to the opening up of admission space for the swelling population of candidates seeking university education in the country.
He observed that the argument in some quarters that private universities had become too many in Nigeria was not plausible, noting that comparative figures of universities in other countries show that Nigeria needs more universities.
“Government is also well aware that countries that are consistently well-ranked in Human Development indices have, in recognition of the important role of Universities in human capital development, maintained a respectable number of Universities relative to their population.
“In relation to Nigeria’s population of over 200 million, the current 264 Universities is quite low when compared to those of other economies’ such as, Korea, Indonesian among others,” he said.
He assured that government would continue to encourage NUC to keep strengthening its quality assurance mechanism so that as the number increases, quality and relevance to national needs are not compromised.
On his part, the Executive Secretary of NUC, Abubakar Rasheed, said the Nigerian University system has experienced a rapid expansion over the last two decades from less than 40 in 1996 to 264 presently.
He noted that in processing the 37 new universities for licensing, the commission took adequate care to ensure the currency and relevance of their proposed academic programmes in addressing the challenges of contemporary society.
Rasheed disclosed that the NUC has also developed a code of governance for private universities, which is expected to address the identified governance challenges bedeviling many private universities.
He warned the proprietors against breach of the conditions for the approval.
“Any unwholesome practice or operation outside the provisions of NUC guidelines is unacceptable and will attract appropriate sanctions,” he said.
The universities are – Rayhaan University, Kebbi; Muhammad Kamalud University Kwara; Sam Maris University, Ondo; Aletheia University, Ago-Iwpye Ogun State; and Lux Mundi University Umuahia, Abia State.
Others are – Maduka University, Ekwegbe, Enugu State; PeaceLand University, Enugu State; Amadeus University, Amizi, Abia State; Vision University, Ikogbo, Ogun State; and Azman University, Kano State.
Also granted provisional approval are – Huda University, Gusau, Zamafara State; Franco British International University, Kaduna State; Canadian University of Nigeria, Abuja; Miva Open University, Abuja FCT; and Gerar University of Medical Science Imope Ijebu, Ogun State.
British Canadian University, Obufu Cross River State; Hensard University, Toru-Orua, Sagbama, Bayelsa State; Phoenix University, Agwada, Nasarawa State; Wigwe University, Isiokpo Rivers State; and Hillside University of Science and Technology, Okemisi, Ekiti State.
Also are the University on the Niger, Umunya, Anambra state, Elrazi Medical University Yargaya University, Kano State, Venite University, Iloro-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Shanahan University Onitsha, Anambra State, The Duke Medical University, Calabar, Cross River State, Mercy Medical University, Iwo, Ogun State, Cosmopolitan University Abuja and Iconic Open University, Sokoto State.
Others include, West Midlands Open University, Ibadan, Oyo State, Amaj University, Kwali, Abuja, Prime University, Kuje, FCT Abuja, College of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Kaduna State, Jewel University, Gombe state, Nigerian University of Technology and Management, Apapa, Lagos State, Al-Muhibbah Open University, Abuja and Al-Bayan University, Ankpa, Kogi State.