…as bill scales Second Reading
Members of the House of Representatives have expressed overwhelming support for the Bill which seeks to establish a Federal University of Agriculture, Igboora, Oyo State.
The private member bill sponsored by Hon, Ajibola Muraina, member representing Ibarapa Central/Ibarapa North Federal Constituency, seeks to make comprehensive provisions for its due management and administration; and provide for other related.
In his lead debate, Muraina who underscored the need for the establishment of more University of Agriculture as part of the ongoing efforts aimed at diversifying the nation’s economy through the development of agricultural sector, observed that “there are three Federal Universities of Agriculture in Nigeria sited in Abeokuta, Ogun State; Makurdi, Benue State; and Umudike, Abia State.
According to him, ‘the essence of establishing these Universities is to create world Class Universities which shall be dedicated to the study of Agricultural Sciences and Technology. This includes the cultivation of renewable raw materials and reproduction of food for humans and animals. The goal is to produce food efficiently and in an environmentally friendly way.”
“The objectives of the bill, include: provide legal framework for the establishment of a Federal University of Agriculture, Igboora, Oyo State with a view to confer the status and distinct legal identity on the institution, guarantees perpetual succession of the institution, enable the institution to sue and be sued, defines the administrative structure of the institution and regulates the internal activities of the institution. This will also enable the institution enjoy budgetary allocation from the annual appropriation Act.”
A former chairman, House Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Muraina proposed Igboora Town for the localisation of the University.
He also observed that the proposed “University will have first class facilities and recruit Personnel to meet the standards prescribed by the National University Commission. This include and admitting students from all over the country. This would enhance the opportunity of the indigenes to get better paid jobs.
“This shall impact positively on the social and economic activities of the town. Nigeria, as of now has three Federal Universities of Agriculture, but the Federal Government has plans to establish more.
“The establishment of the Federal University in the town of Igboora, Ibarapa Central Local Government Area, Oyo State, is a big step towards realising this plans and it shall give the indigenes of the town a sense of belonging in the country.
“As of now, there is no federal presence in Igboora town,” he noted.
He also expressed optimism that the establishment of the University will expand the space for admission to tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
“A country with population of over 201 million citizens, over 60% of which is the youth, three Federal Universities of Agriculture are grossly inadequate for the ever-growing demands of the youth for tertiary education.
“In the past 10 years, about 1.6 million secondary school graduates applied for admission in tertiary institutions in Nigeria annually. However, less than 100,000 are admitted yearly,” he observed.
Hon. Muraina also stressed that the establishment of the Institution would enhance the economic capacity of the country.
He said, “In 2020, about 24% of the Gross Domestic Product of Nigeria was generated by Agricultural Sector. Besides 80% of the Nigeria populace rely on the agricultural sector for their means of livelihood. That means the agricultural sector is very critical component of the Nigeria economy any investment that is targeted at enhancing agricultural production is money well spent.
“This university of Agriculture will afford more Nigerians the opportunity of acquiring specialised knowledge and skills in Agricultural Science and Technologies.
“Based on empirical evidence, the more educated the citizens of a Country are, the better the chances of that country to transform from an underdeveloped nation to a developed nation, or from a poor nation to a wealthy one. This is more so for Nigeria.”
According to him, the proposed Federal University of Agriculture when operational will carry out research on science and technology in the Agricultural sector.
“Over 80% of Nigerians depends on the agricultural sector for its livelihood. However, they practise subsistence farming and trading.
“They rely on crude farming tools and poor yielding seedlings, they are also at the mercy of the weather, etc. All these challenges encountered by farmers in Nigeria can be overcome through scientific research and the adoption of modern technology.
“The establishment of this institution would be relevant in carrying out research on how to improve the seedlings, the tools and the techniques or practices of farming in the rural areas with a view to improving the capacity of the farmers. This obviously will impact on the economic wellbeing of individual farmers and the nation at large.
“Nigeria imports more than half of its foods consumption. It also imports several agricultural produce as raw materials for its industries. Besides, due to the limited admission spaces in our tertiary institutions, a lot of Nigerians who are qualified for admission are denied admission, consequently, those whose parents could afford it, are compelled to seek for admission in academic institutions outside Nigeria.
“The tuition fees in most cases are valued in foreign currency. These drain the scarce foreign exchange in the country which results into the devaluation of the Naira.
The establishment of this University is a big step to curtail this waste of our foreign exchange, Hon. Muraina stressed.
Following the overwhelming support enjoyed by the bill, the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila referred the bill to the House Committee on Agriculture for further legislative action.