Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has said that Nigeria’s higher education sector was overburdened by population growth.
Speaking at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja on Thursday during a public hearing on a bill to establish Modibbo Adama University Yola, Atiku said the creation of more tertiary institutions would fit with the country’s growing population.
The bill passed second reading in the Senate on November 13.
The bill seeks to convert Modibbo Adama University of Technology (MAUTech) Yola, a mono-disciplinary institute, to a multi-disciplinary and engaging institution of higher learning.
Atiku said that the higher education sector was also overburdened by a significant youth bulge.
“More than 60 per cent of the country’s population is under the age of 24 years; almost one in four Sub-Saharan people reside in Nigeria, making it Africa’s most populous country,” he said.
“From an estimated 42.5 million people at the time of independence in 1960, Nigeria’s population has more than quadrupled to 186,988 million people in 2016 (UN projection).
“The United Nations anticipates that Nigeria will become the third-largest country in the world by 2050 with 399 million people.”
The former presidential candidate said that with such projections, Nigeria’s exponential population growth was exerting immense pressure on the country’s resources and overstretching public services and infrastructure.
Atiku also appealed to the lawmakers to review the law on compulsory basic free education, alleging that the funds given to states to develop education were being diverted.