Members of the House of Representatives have expressed different views on the propriety or otherwise of establishment of the Army University in Biu, Borno State.
Leading debate on a Bill seeking a legal backing for the institution, Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa, enjoined his colleagues to support its second reading, as the university was to address some unique challenges of the north east region of the country, following the prolonged presence of insurgency.
However, Hon. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, in his contribution opposed the passage, insisting that Bills should rather seek to cure or perfect a noted lacuna. “There is the Command and Staff College in Jaji, and we have the NDA (Nigeria Defence Academy), why establish an army university when we are complaining of lean resources. Can’t we upgrade the existing institutions if need be?,” he said.
According to him, creating the university was rather duplicity in the midst of lean resources. “This is not urgent, let’s not be judgmental or political about this. We instead need more polytechnics, so on that note, let’s say no to this for once,” he submitted.
Speaking in a similar vein, leader of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Caucus in the House, Hon. Kingsley Chinda, noted that he was not saying no to Bill because soldiers do not need training, but that there was no lack of institutions to train them. “The question is, how well are the existing institutions funded? Can we really run the university if established?” he queried, adding that the move would open a floodgate for other agencies to seek creation of similar institutions.
In his opinion, Hon. AlMustapha Aliyu, argued that the NDA and staff college in Jaji were purely for military personnel, and not a conventional university like the Bill was seeking.
Munir Babba also drew attention of the House to the fact that the said institution was already operational, with a lot of money already sunk into infrastructure, appealing to his colleagues to pass the Bill, even though their concerns were genuine.
Chairman of the Committee on Tertiary Education, Aminu Suleiman, also lamented the practice of using executive fiat to establish such institutions before approaching the parliament for law on its establishment, urging the leadership of the House to do something about such.
Usman Jaha while appealing for understanding of his colleagues said the university was complementing the University of Maiduguri in terms of intake of students, pointing out that with its existence, the objective of Boko Haram against western education will also be defeated.
Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila commended members after the Bill was given a second reading nod through voice votes. “I am glad that even those who spoke against the Bill have been persuaded,” he said.