For 21 of the 22 Universities (excluding University of Abuja) whose budget allocations were recently published by educational civic tech, eduplana Nigeria, the total increase in their allocations amounted to 1.37 billion, at an average of +0.065 billion naira, i.e. N65 million per University.
The University of Abuja was an outlier, having, by far, the highest allocation increase of N1.59 billion, more than the total increment for the other 21 Universities combined.
Among Nigeria’s top five Universities, according to the NUC rankings of 2016, the University of Benin (3rd rank) received a N490 million increase in its allocation, while the average increase in allocation for University of Ibadan (1st rank), University of Lagos (2nd rank) and Obafemi Awolowo University (4th rank) was N26 million. Ahmadu Bello University’s allocation increased by N130 million.
The University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), the premier tertiary institution in South Eastern Nigeria, had a lowered allocation by N190 million. On the other hand, the University of Maiduguri was boosted by an increase in allocation by N500 million, while the University of Calabar got N140 million naira more.
For three of the four Federal Universities of Agriculture (except Ishiagu), the average allocation depreciated by N110 million, largely due to the cut to the allocation to the University of Agriculture Makurdi by N170 million. The Universities in Umudike and Abeokuta gained N30 million each from their 2016 allocations.
As for the nation’s Universities of Technology, there was no reduction in allocation, with increases ranging from N30 million for Akure and Minna, to N60 million for Owerri. Yola and Bauchi received forty and fifty million naira increases respectively.
Overall, of those whose allocations were not reduced, the least increase was by N20 million from 2016.
First Generation Universities continue to receive double figures, ranging from N13 billion and N12 billion for the likes of UI and UNN, to N14 billion for Ahmadu Bello Univeristy (ABU). Others like the University of Uyo and Ilorin are around the N7 billion mark. No University of Agriculture or Technology receives up to N 7 Billion in total allocation.
By many commentaries, the financial demands made by the Academic Staff Union of Universities and the other reasons for their one-month strike action were unreasonable. Yet, it may be possible to see reason in their action when the amounts received by the nation’s Universities are compared with other nations who have and are still building their strong economies on the back of formidable investments in education. The 2017 budget for education in Nigeria is about N465 billion short, judging by the UNESCO standard that requires that countries allocate 26% of their annual budgets for education. Not many countries in Africa are leaving up to that, but Ghana is at 23.1%, and even Benin Republic’s 15.5% and Liberia’s 12.1% are way better than the meager 6.4% of Nigeria.
According to fin24, South Africa spent R213.7bn – about N6 trillion – on basic education in the 12 months ended March 2015. That was about 15% of their total budget, “and the allocation is projected to rise an average of 7.4% annually over the next three fiscal years, according to the National Treasury”. It is no surprise then that SA schools rank first, second and third on the 2016 Times Higher Education list of top African Universities. University of Ibadan, Nigeria’s best ranked, comes a distant 14th, behind three more SA Universities, and others from Egypt, Morocco, Uganda, Kenya and Ghana.
How exactly does Nigeria hope to remain Africa’s strongest economy in the long term without competing educationally?