The Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Sonny Echono, listed reasons for the continuous establishment of universities despite opposition from members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Echono who gave the reason in a chat with newsmen at the weekend during the second anniversary of the Federal University of Health Science, Otukpo, Benue State.
Echono who recently retired as a permanent secretary before his appointment said that the establishment of more universities was in response to demand.
He said: “If you want to address a problem, address it from the root by mere stopping establishment of new institutions because you want concentration on existing universities while it sounds as a good idea you have forgotten the other problems that millions of Nigerians are being born and millions are applying for admission and places are few.
“Then more and more will be denied access to education so what are you going to do you are going to have many illiterates. So what are you going to do we must balance it and must continue to establish new universities in response to the demand.
“That is why if you notice in the last few years we are only establishing specialised institutions of human needs.
On the salary of University lecturers, Echono described as shameful the take home of Nigerian lecturers.
“On salary to lecturer, I feel ashamed because I have the privilege to represent Nigeria at a global conference where former presidents and prime ministers were in attendance. I was asked if it was true that a professor after 20 years still earn less than a thousand dollar a month I couldn’t answer that question I only said that we are doing something about it.”
The Executive Secretary of TETfund, however, said that 65,000 scholars had benefitted from the staff development of varsity lecturers.
He said: “We also undertake staff development, to help scholars who were employed to undertake higher qualifications, so we sponsored them for Masters, PhD and even post-doctoral program we have trained more than 65,000 scholars as at last year.
“We have students at home and abroad and our current impetus is to focus on our first-generation universities and specialised universities,” Echono said.