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Tinubu campaigns in Abuja, promises to grant full autonomy to universities

Mr Tinubu said young people are angry because of the lack of jobs, poor development, and frequent shutdown of tertiary institutions in the country.

The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, has promised to grant federal universities full autonomy to operate independently.

Mr Tinubu made the promise on Saturday during a presidential campaign rally at the Eagle Square in Abuja.

In his address, Mr Tinubu said young people are angry because of the lack of jobs, poor development, and frequent shutdown of tertiary institutions in the country.

To tackle the problem of the shutting down of universities by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Mr Tinubu said he will grant the schools autonomy and implement his student loan scheme as promised in his manifesto.

“We are ready to make those changes and be more creative in a way that you definitely will enjoy your tomorrow.

“University will be autonomous, you have to be able to do your course, take student loan if necessary, finish a four years course in four years, be a scientist and a discoverer. Be a great researcher and builder. Get education and not dereliction. We are grateful that you have voted us to power. We will serve you and continue to serve you,” he said.

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Administrative autonomy for universities is one of the major demands of the lecturers, and is contained in the 2009 agreement between the ASUU and the federal government, which successive administrations have failed to implement.

Last year, government-owned universities were shut down for over eight months due the failure of the government to implement the agreement. The lecturers were forced to resume academic activities after the ruling of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.

Although, federal government-owned universities are autonomous by virtue of the universities autonomous Act of 2003, which granted the governing councils the powers to make decision for the schools, the federal government continues to fund them and play key roles in the administration of the universities.

ASUU has consistently maintained that government must continue to fund universities as it opposes the increment of school fees.

Mr Tinubu had in his manifesto promised to introduce student loans so that schools can charge cost-reflective fees.

“We will institute a pilot student loan regime like the program established by the Lagos and Kaduna State Governments. This will expand access to education to all Nigerians regardless of their backgrounds. At the same time, this will give institutions the ability to charge more cost-reflective tuition fees,” the manifesto reads.

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