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– Bishop Francis Wale Oke’s lecture on ‘The Role of Faith Based Universities in National Transformation: Archbishop B.A. Idahosa, God’s Vessel of Transformation’ at the 1st Memorial Lecture of Archbishop Benson Idahosa, Benson Idahosa University. Part 1

It should be noted that Private Universities were established to be citadels of learning and development.

Section 3 Subsection 53 of the National Policy for Education 2014 outlines the aims of Higher Education:

1. Contribution to national development through high level manpower training.
2. Development of the intellectual capability of individuals to understand and appreciate their local and external environment.
3. Acquisition of both physical and intellectual skills which enables the individual to be a self reliant and useful member of the society.
4. Promotion and encouragement of scholarship and community services.
5. For national unity and the promotion of peaceful coexistence.

Section 8, Subsection 60 of the document also states that Higher Education in Nigeria should pursue these goals through the following: teaching and learning, research and development, international cooperation, dedicated service to the community through extramural and consultancy services.

In 2019 there were over 6,232 programmes across the entire Nigerian universities with staff strength of 75,584 all in a bid to pursue the goal stated above. However the greatest change has been in the explosion of student population and the number of aspirants seeking university education.

The total student enrollment in all Universities in Nigeria grew from just over 2000 in 1972 to over 2.1 million in 2019. Over 2 million candidates register to take the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) yearly in Nigeria.

Now, let’s look at the emergence of Private Universities in Nigeria.

The inability of the Federal and State Governments to cater for the increasing education demand precipitated the establishment of more Tertiary Institutions by Private Organizations and Faith-based organizations. Today there are 170 Universities in Nigeria recognized by the Federal Government and out of this 170, 79 are private universities and of this 79, there are 39 which are Christian Faith-based that have been licensed, with 15 awaiting their license as at January 2020. In other words the Christian faith-based universities are 49.4 per cent of the private universities and 23 per cent of the total number of universities in Nigeria. That is almost one quarter, so the Church is making progress. Please give the Lord a big hand for that.

According to Osagie 2009, the idea of private universities was first noted in the 60’s and 70’s. It was dropped due to Government’s intolerance and lack of funds.

The 1979 Constitution put Higher Education on the concurrent list and in the 2nd Republic some State Governments took advantage of that provision to float their State Universities.

The States that were forerunners in this regard were Imo, Bendel and Lagos States. Because of the democratic government in place and their attendant err of the regulation and the rules regarding the establishment of Higher Institutions, a new but strange phenomena emerged (Oladipo 1991).

Some private individuals made bold steps to float private universities.

The first and most famous of these new efforts was the Imo Technical University founded by Dr. Nnanna Okego. Within six months of the ruling of the Supreme Court that legislated the establishment of Private Universities, 26 Private Universities were proposed in the country.

The Role of Faith Based Universities in Nigeria

The aim and objectives of non-government owned universities are to transform the nation educationally, socially, economically and culturally as well as to develop the nation in a sustainable manner.

On November 7th 2003, the Chancellor of Madonna University Very Rev. Fr. (Prof.) E.M.P Edeh reiterated the above when he claimed that Private Universities need to establish great excellence in education as their counterparts In Europe and America.


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