Reps urge FG to release take-off grants for universities

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By EricJames Ochigbo/ Femi Ogunshola

Abuja, Sept. 29, 2020 The House of Representatives has urged the Federal Government to release take-off grants meant for universities across the country.

This was sequel to a unanimous adoption of a motion by Rep. Unyime Idem (PDP-Uyo), at the plenary on Tuesday.

Moving the motion earlier, Idem said that there were some Federal universities in the country that had yet to receive the traditional take-off grants decades after establishment and commencement of academic activities.

He explained that the take-off grants were seed funds provided by the Federal Government to assist new universities to prepare grounds for take-off of academic and other activities.

”This is to support training and equipment that facilitate preparedness, or pay the salaries of pioneer workers, assist in the provision of requisite technology, books and other crucial materials needed to run the school at the early stage, as well as professional development for teachers.

”When the affected universities both second and third generation were established, they had to commence academic activities from existing secondary, technical schools or State universities, as the case may be.

”The take-off grant aims at assisting the new schools to improve their facilities, rebuilding or renovating old and dilapidated structures, or adding additional structures to serve the needs of a growing population.

”A classic example of a university yet to receive take-off grant is the University of Uyo in Akwa Ibom State, formerly known as the University of Cross River State (UNICROSS).

“It is a third-generation university, established on Oct. 1, 1991.

”It commenced academic activities without the traditional take-off grant, but had to grapple with its lean resources to manage its affairs.

”Owing to the peculiarity of the town-campus surrounding, the university could not develop beyond what it is today, because of ravine,” he said.

Idem said that it took the intervention of the then State Government to acquire and donate the Annex campus to help the young university to expand.

The university later got its permanent site on the outskirt of the state capital, where it presently occupies.

According to him, it is now 29 years after the Federal Government took over the university, in the then Cross River State and renaming it as University of Uyo, yet the traditional take-off grant has not been released to the institution.

He said that the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umuahia, University of Jos, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka in Anambra had yet to receive take-off grants decades after being established, thereby hampering their development.

According to him, efforts made by successive administrations to get the Federal Government through the National Universities Commission (NUC), to address the issue have not yielded positive results.

Idem said that other universities created before and after the universities had enjoyed the privilege of receiving take-off grants, ranging from N2 billion to N5 billion.

”In November 2017, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, graciously approved N6 billion, as take-off grant for the Maritime University Okerenkuku, Delta State.

”Also, Mr President in August 2018 approved N2 billion as take-off grant for the Nigeria Army University Biu, as has been the tradition.

”The release of the take-off grant to the universities will help the affected citadels of learning a great deal to surmount some of their present challenges and achieve the dreams of the founding fathers.

“It will help to provide conducive learning and teaching environment for both staff members and students and contribute to the development of middle-level manpower and scholarship,” he said.

In his ruling, the Speaker of of the House, Rep. Femi Gbajabimila, mandated the House Committee on Education to take stock of affected universities and liaise with the relevant Federal Government agencies to ensure compliance.

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