Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, the President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), emphasized that the Federal Government has a constitutional obligation to provide funding for public universities. He made this statement in response to a report in which Prof. Tahir Mamman, the Minister of Education, suggested that the government would grant universities full autonomy to explore alternative sources of financing.
Osodeke pointed out that according to Section 18 of the Constitution, it is explicitly stated that “university, primary, and secondary education are free.” He maintained that there is no way the Federal Government can completely withdraw funding from public universities.
While Osodeke was cautious about speculating on the government’s intentions, he noted that if universities are allowed to operate without interference from bureaucrats, funding would be less of a concern. He acknowledged that the only challenge is that this provision is not legally enforceable.
Furthermore, Osodeke highlighted that if Nigeria allocates a higher percentage of its budget to education, similar to what European countries do, universities would have sufficient funds to carry out their activities. He expressed his belief that adhering to the autonomy granted in 2003, and allowing universities to operate according to the law, could lead to a more effective higher education system in Nigeria.