Top military officers have described the establishment of the new military universities in the North and in the hometowns of the respective service chiefs as the height of nepotism and abuse of taxpayers’ funds.
The officers, who spoke to Saturday PUNCH on condition of anonymity, had reacted to the the decision of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, to situate the Nigerian Army University and Nigerian Air Force University in their respective hometowns.
The army university was established in 2018 in Biu, Borno State, where Buratai hails from, while the proposed air force university will be located in Bauchi, where Abubakar is from.
The army university has already been approved by the National Universities Commission and the Federal Executive Council gave its approval for a N2bn take-off grant for the university which would be accessed from Tertiary Education Trust Fund.
But less than a year later, the chief of air staff has decided to follow Buratai’s unworthy example.
A brigadier general, who spoke to the Punch on condition of anonymity, said, “What the service chiefs are doing is nothing but a waste of taxpayers’ money. It is even worse that the Federal Government is allowing them to do this at a time when we need to curb waste.
“It’s even worse that our troops fighting insecurity are told there is not enough money for equipment but there is money for new military universities.
“The service chiefs have been in office for over four years and have turned themselves into politicians, taking projects to their hometowns like constituency projects.”
An air commodore, who also did not want his name in print, said there was already an Air Force Institute of Technology in Kaduna which was approved by the NUC.
Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), told the newspaper that the establishment of universities in the hometowns of service chiefs is an abuse of office, noting that it is unfortunate that service chiefs were taking actions in contravention of the federal character principle.
He said, “The Nigerian Defence Academy already exists and it awards certificates. The same NDA is not well funded and yet the military is establishing new universities in the hometowns of service chiefs.
“Interestingly, NDA, the army university and the new air force university and other institutions are mostly concentrated in the North. This is against the federal character principle.”
Both the Director of Information, NAF, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola and the Spokesman for the Nigerian Army, Col Sagir Musa, are yet to call back with a response as they promised as of the time of filing this report.