A high-powered National Advisory Committee (NAC) on Universities of Technology, has been constituted by the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC) Prof. Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, mni, MFR, FNAL, to checkmate the incoherent manners through which these specialised universities had been operating as well as advise government on need for technical inputs of experts so that it could be circumspect in the ad-hoc ways new ones emerge by streamlining the process. 

Inaugurating the Committee, last Wednesday, on behalf of the Executive Secretary, the Deputy Executive Secretary (DES), Administration, Mr. Chris Maiyaki, congratulated the members that he said were carefully chosen based on their wealth of experience, describing their appointments as well-deserving, being academics with great antecedents. \

Mr. Maiyaki stated that the executive secretary had desired to perform the function himself but could not due to other pressing national duties, but requested him to undertake the task in order to enable the committee begin its assignment which the management of the NUC regards as top priority. He recalled that Universities of Technologies were established with the mandate to promote the development of science and technology in Nigeria and also meant to serve as catalyst for building research that would help the effective utilisation of natural resources for economic development.

He further explained that they were meant to aid in the development of human resources around the specific areas of science and technology; identify the technological challenges of the nation and proffer solutions that would address the specific needs, which he alluded, led to the emergence of other specialized ones like the Maritime University, Okerenkoko, and Federal University of Petroleum Resources FUPRE, Effurun, both, in Delta State.

The Executive Secretary, however, lamented that most of these universities were seen to be losing focus on their original mandate and relevance, noting that the NUC had observed that the adequacy and spread of specialised institutions might have contributed to government reacting to the cries of political pressures from the multiplicity of stakeholders to establish even more recently.

He stated that there was no doubt that universities of technologies would continue to play pivotal roles  in the country’s quest for technological innovations and breakthroughs, recalling that the earlier generations of federal universities of technology were created in the 1980’s for this purpose located in Bauchi, Owerri, Yola and Akure. He added that state universities had followed suit to recognise these roles with a few others like the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), Port Harcourt and Olusegun Agagu (Ondo) University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa. He said no doubt that the clamour for universities of technology would continue to grow overtime but that the nation needed to pause and take stock of how existing ones had fulfilled their mandate.

He explained that this constituted the rallying point for which NUC thought it wise to come up with the decision to set up an expert team to critically analyse if the existing ones had justified their utilitarian values as the Commission had felt much of this clamour of why they were diluting their purposes as specified in the appointment letters of the committee members.  He specified  that NUC had been inundated with letters by some in recent times to start Medicine while others had even began  programmes in History and English which differs from their mandates.

He enumerated the Committee’s Terms of Reference to include to: 

•           Interface with the relevant stakeholders to ensure the smooth operations of the universities of technologies;

•           Evaluate the impact of the existing universities of technologies vis-a vis their missions, visions and goals since inceptions and thereof  advise the government as appropriate;

•           Determine the organisational structures, the mission and the vision statements which encapsulates the existing universities of technology;      

•           Establish reasons why some universities of technologies are deviating from their main focus and mandates;  

•           Advise government on the appropriate siting of new universities of technologies, by determining how they were spread across the geo-political regions;

•           Determine the quality framework upon which new universities of technology should operate whether on auto-pilot so as to work on a systematic manner;

•           Perform advisory role of preparing a budgetary costs for the existing universities of technologies and identify infrastructural requirements, human and material resources and take-off grants for new ones; and

•           Advise government on any other matters ancillary to help in running the existing and new universities of technologies.

The Executive Secretary expressed confidence that the committee would do a good job and directed them to submit their reports in the next eight next weeks, commencing from their date of inauguration.

Responding, the Chairman of the Committee and former Vice-Chancellor, University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Joseph Ajienka thanked the Honourable Minister of Education, Mal. Adamu Adamu and Executive Secretary for the innovative steps taken to salvage the universities of technologies in Nigeria. He expressed appreciation for their choice, acknowledging that the team constituted of eminent scholars and for the confidence reposed on them. He noted that they accepted the responsibilities with a lot of vigour and assured that they would do their best to deliver on their mandate by providing useful advice to government. 

He stated that there existed global role models in running universities of technologies such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Indian Institute of Technology which were good models that had not deviated from their mandates.

He regretted that in Nigeria, the case was different and requested for any document in the past that related with the review of mandates and performance of these universities of technology in Nigeria, to help it towards meeting the deadline. He said the team would look at the global models and try as much as possible to tap into it and advice government appropriately. 

Delivering a vote of thanks, NUC Director, Accreditation, Dr. Mrs. Mariam Sali thanked the Executive Secretary for setting up the committee which she observed was long overdue, saying that it would help  address and streamline the  him that they would not disappoint in the assignment given to them.

Others in the committee included: Former Vice-Chancellors of the Universities of Ibadan and Bayero University Kano (BUK), Profs. Abel Idowu Olayinka and Muhammad Yahuza Bello; Immediate past Vice-Chancellor, Federal University Wukari, Prof Abubakar Kundiri; a former Dean, Faculty of Science, University of Port-Harcourt, Prof. Mrs. Ongoebi Maurreen Etebu. Also in the Committee are University Dons, Profs. Engineer Danladi S. Matawal; Mala Mohammed Daura; NUC’s Director of Academic Planning (DAP), Dr. Noel Saliu; as well as the Director of Universities, Federal Ministry of Education. 

The NUC Deputy Director Institutional Accreditation in the Directorate of Accreditation, Engr. Abraham Chindusu is to serve as the Secretary to the Committee, assisted by a Staff of the Directorate of Academic Planning, Mr. Yahaya M Maituare.

At the event were Directors of: Finance and Accounts (DFA), Mr. Sam Onazi; Establishment of Private Universities (DEPU), Mrs. Constance Goddy-Nnadi; Human Resources, Mr. Boniface Odum; Students, DoS, Mr. Sunday Essien; Executive Secretary’s Office (DESO), Mr. John Mairafi. Others were the Acting Directors of Research, Innovations and Information Technology DRIIT, Mal. Farouk Lawan; Inspection and Monitoring, Mrs. Lydia Imorua; While the Director of Skills Development and Entrepreneurship, Mr. Ashafa Ladan was represented by Deputy Director, Entrepreneurship Development, Mrs. Victoria Akuma.

Also at the meeting were Deputy Directors of; General Services in the Directorate of Human Resources, Mal. Kabiru Abdullahi; Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Project Officer, SPESE Special Projects Directorate, Mr. Mike Obiefuna; Research and Innovations in (DRIIT), Mr. Obinna Wachuku; Private Universities in the Directorate of Inspection and Monitoring.