A former Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Universities Commission, Prof. Munzali Jibril, on Friday said late General Sani Abacha believed that the Nigerian private sector was not responsible enough to be entrusted with the delicate task of owning and running universities.
Prof. Jibril said Abacha gave a verbal directive in 1996 for action to be suspended on the processing of applications for private universities.
Jibril spoke while delivering lecture at the Igbinedion University, Okada to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the institution.
He said Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, the Esama of Bénin Kingdom went on to work on General Abdulasakami Abubakar to plead that the applications for the establishment of private universities be brought out of the freezer.
Prof. Jibril stated that General Abubakar was favourably disposed to the processing of the applications.
He, however, said high level poverty and the middle-class lack of capacity to afford private universities’ fees was the cause of shortcomings of private universities.
Jibril said many privates universities in the country neglected staff development and welfare as they only provide staffing for accreditation.
The former NUC scribe called on private universities to reduce their fees saying that the successful private universities of the future would not be for profit.
General Abubakar praised Chief Igbinedion for relentlessly pursuing the licence for private universities for nine years.
Chief Igbinedion said his vision for establishing the university was to bequeath to future generation university education of international standard where academic calendar is run without interruption.
Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Lawrence Ezemonye, said the institution has championed educational revolution in higher education in the country.