The move by a former Senate President, David Mark, to secure a new federal university for his senatorial district progressed on Wednesday as the Senate passed for second reading a bill to establish the Federal University of Health Science in Otukpo, Benue State.
The bill, sponsored by Mr. Mark, first appeared at the floor of the Senate on November 22, 2016.
It is not clear why Mr. Mark did not propose such bill while he was senate president under the PDP administration even when new federal universities were created by the then Goodluck Jonathan government. It is also not clear if the Muhammadu Buhari administration will approve such if passed by the parliament as the government continues to complain of reduced government revenue compared to the past administration.
Many of the existing federal universities including the one in Benue have also complained of inadequate funding for personnel, infrastructure and research often leading to strikes by university staff.
Speaking on the bill, Mr. Mark said the institution will be equipped to engage in specialised training of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other medical health practitioners to cushion the current admission deficit in the sector.
“The emphasis in the world now is to keep specialised institutions. At the moment, the World Health Organisation, WHO, requirement is one doctor to 500 people but our own (in Nigeria) is one doctor to 6,000 people.
“We have a total of 35, 000 doctors now. So, if we go by the traditional way of training doctors in our institutions, we are going to take a 100 years. That is assuming that no doctor dies from now and that none of those who graduate leaves the country. At the moment, the traditional institutions can only take 3, 000 out of nearly 160, 000 who apply every year.’’
Supporting the bill, Barnabas Gemade, Benue-APC, said establishment of the hospital will fill the void of ‘‘federal government presence that is somewhat lacking in Benue.”
James Manager, Delta-PDP, while speaking in favour of the bill called for provisions to be made for the institution in the 2018 budget.
“The bill is one way the Buhari administration will provide opportunities for training health personnel. I support the passage of this bill and move that we make provisions in the 2018 budget for the institution to take off in high manner,” he said.
The lawmakers referred the bill to the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institution and TETFUND to report back in four weeks.