The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2023 elections, Atiku Abubakar, on Monday said he would hand over Federal Government-owned universities to state governments.
Atiku spoke as a panelist at the opening ceremony of the 2022 Nigerian Bar Association’s Annual General Conference held at the Eko Hotel and Suites in Lagos.
At the conference with the theme ‘Bold Transitions’, which began on Monday and scheduled to end on August 26, the former Vice President said the Federal Government does not have infinite resources.
He said, “The only way is to make sure that you make conducive environment available to both foreign and local investors to participate in our country, whether it is infrastructure, whether it is education, whether it is power.
“I had an argument with a university professor from Federal University, Lokoja. He said he read in my policy document that I intended to devolve, in other words, to return education to the states. How dare do I do that?
“I said, ‘Mr Professor, do you realise that the first set of our universities belong to the regional governments?’ He said, ‘Yes’. I said who are the successors of the regional government? He said the states.
“I said the children you send to America, to England, who own those universities? Mostly the private sector. So, why is it that you think we cannot do it here? We don’t have the money.”
The position of the 75-year-old Adamawa-born politician on Nigerian universities concerns is coming as the Academic Staff Union of Universities has been on strike since February 14 over improved welfare, revitalisation of public universities and academic autonomy among other demands.