The Federal Government on Thursday presented provisional licences to 20 new universities approved at the Federal Executive Council meeting on February 3.
Malam Adamu Adamu, the Minister of Education, while handing over the licences to the universities in Abuja, charged operators to abide by laid down standards for establishing the universities.
The Minister, who was represented by the Minister of State, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, said the approval of the establishment of the universities was a testimony to the continued partnership of the Federal Government with the private sector.
He said with the additional 20 universities, the country now has 99 private universities.
He said there was the need for the establishment of more universities to cater for the challenge of admission into universities by the huge population of prospective students.
He therefore advised proprietors of the universities to sustain funding toward improved infrastructure and equipment for teaching.
Earlier, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, said the approval was a landmark achievement for Nigerian universities.
Rasheed said the commission appreciated the roles of private universities in the provision of quality university education.
He commended the minister for deploying his goodwill to convince the FEC to approve the universities.
Rasheed said the Nigerian university system had experienced a rapid expansion over the last two decades from less than 40 universities in 1996 to as many as 197 today.
According to him, out of this number, 99, representing roughly 50 per cent, are private universities.
He however warned that the commission would not tolerate any unwholesome practices outside the commission’s guideline from the proprietors of the approved universities.
He said: “The NUC is well aware of the need for the nation’s universities to sustain the quality of their programmes along with the quantitative expansion.
“This is the reason why today’s event is coming a little over three years after licences were issued to the last four private universities that came on board in 2019.
“Consequently, in processing today’s 20 universities for licencing, NUC took adequate care to ensure the currency and relevance of their proposed academic programmes in addressing the challenges of contemporary society.”
A proprietor, Dr. Jim Ovia of James Hope University, Lekki, Lagos, assured that the owners of the universities would commit to abiding by the rules and regulations of establishing the universities.
Ovia said the establishment of the new universities had enabled the creation of education platform to mentor the youths.
Also, Dr. Yahaya Abubakar, the Chairman, Board of Trustees, Edusoko University, Bida, Niger State, thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for his determination to develop the education in the country.
Abubakar also commended the minister for improving education sector through the new universities.
He promised to follow the laid down rules and regulations of the universities to promote and ensure qualitative education in the universities.
The universities are Top Faith University, Mkpatak, Akwa Ibom; Thomas Adewumi University, Oke-Irese, Kwara; ANAN University, Kwall, and Karl-Kumm University, Vom, Plateau; Claretian University, Nekede; and Maranatha University, Mgbidi, both in Imo.
Others include Philomath University, Kuje, Abuja; Khadijat University, Majia, Jigawa; Edusoko University, Bida, Niger; Mudiame University, Irrua, Edo; and University of Offa, Kwara.
Also in the list are Mewar University, Masaka, Nasarawa State; Havilla University, Nde-Ikom, Cross River State; NOK University, Kachia, Kaduna State; Ave Maria University, Nasarawa State; Ahman Pategi University, Kwara; and James Hope University, Lekki, Lagos State.
Others are Al-Istiqama University, Sumaila, Kano State, Capital City University, Kano State and Maryam Abacha American University of Nigeria, Kano State.