With over 9.4 million people, according to the 2006 census figures, Kano is the most populous state in the country. Yet, access to tertiary education has always been a challenge for its teeming youth. Year in year out, hundreds of secondary schools across the state churn out thousands of students eligible for university education, alas only a fraction of this huge number get to see the four walls of university lecture halls. Why?
Up until last year, overwhelming number of such students could only be accommodated by Bayero University and Kano state University of Science and Technology, Wudil, established by Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso during his first term in office between 1999 and 2003. However, the vice chancellor of Bayero University had told Governor Kwankwaso that of over 50,000 that apply to the university, it could only admit about 5,000. The bottom line is, the overwhelming percentage of the 45,000 students are from Kano state. At a time when youth restiveness is gaining ground, to say these rejected admission seekers are a time bomb is to belabour the point.
I was with a friend last week Tuesday when I saw a newspaper advertorial, placed by the Kano State government, calling for private partnership for the establishment of a conventional university and a medical one. I spent a few minutes reading, or more appropriately, pondering over the content of the advert. And my friend, perhaps seeing the keenness with which I looked at the page, interjected. He asked if I thought additional degree-milling institutions, as he called them, are desirable in present day Kano State. I have heard similar question as my friend’s since the first move by Governor Kwankwaso, upon his return, to set up additional university in Kano which he successfully started and named Northwest University, Kano.
The concern of my friend and his co-travellers is not something that one can easily wave away especially knowing well the manner state governors complain of inadequate fund to run the machinery of governance. Close home, the previous administration is an apt example of such trend. As a government that personified ineptitude, they spent eight years squandering people’s common vault on seeking political patronage and obscurantist ‘human development’ projects that ended up developing nepotism and perpetuating gargantuan corruption.
In contrast, in Kwankwaso we see strict financial discipline that is unmatched in recent history. Thus, by sharking off the culture of profligacy and closing in all avenues of ‘authority stealing’, government’s coffers is now brimming with enough money to do all the things that we were told could not be done by government. At a point, during those uneventful years, common government duties of payment of salaries and pension benefits became something of a Herculean task. However, with minimal expenses on dispensable projects and government programmes, Kwankwaso has made things that we could only dream of three years not only possibilities but realities.
To answer my inquisitive friend, I first reminded him that the two new universities being considered are going to be under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement. Thus, the state government is not the one to sponsor the universities and convolute its payroll by employing additional staff.
The PPP arrangement would see the government contributing physical structures to support any private investor willing to finance the running of the proposed institutions, including staffing. Government’s role is basically to provide enabling environment for the operation of additional universities that would benefit the teeming admission seekers from the state.
Kwankwaso’s ultimate aim in this venture is to close a gaping void in access to education. While realizing that the government cannot shoulder all the responsibility of catering for the need of thousands of students who are thirsty for university education, the government evolved the idea of this noble partnership in providing tertiary education.
The governor had recently paid a visit to the world renowned Gulf Medical University in Dubai where he discussed the possibility of the university partnering with the state government to establish a private medical university in Kano to be fashioned after the one in Dubai. The governor tabled before the university management the option of using any of the three new hospital facilities in Kano for the purpose. The proposed sites are the Centre for the Control of Infectious Diseases located at Kwananr Dawaki and constructed by Pfizer Inc, the Paediatric Hospital along Zoo Road and the general hospital at Giginyu.
Meanwhile, for the conventional private university, the government is looking at the possibility of using the magnificent Ado Bayero House, located in the heart of the metropolis. Already, the newly established Northwest University is using part of the building as a temporary site, pending the completion of the permanent site at Kofar Kabuga, which is going on a healthy pace.
It is a known fact that in comparison of its huge population size, the number of Kano indigenes that get admitted into the university per annum is not anything to write home about. Many qualified students cool their feet at home not because they don’t have requirement or cannot afford the fares but because there are simply no space to accommodate them. This initiative would therefore go a long way in ameliorating this dangerous trend. If ideal mind is called a devil’s workshop then ideal mind of a young person is more fertile a workshop than that of an elderly person. Therefore, getting the young people engaged through academic pursuits is not only commendable but something that all well meaning citizens of Kano should encourage.
With the success story of the Northwest University, which has already admitted its first set of students for various degree courses and employed hundreds of job seekers from Kano and beyond, establishing two additional universities will further strengthen this drive of educational empowerment.
Lawi wrote from Kano.
Get more trends like this
Subscribe to our mailing list and get latest Nigeria trends in your inbox.