A high-powered Steering Committee on National Universities Commission NUC@60 and Nigerian Universities Research and Development Fair (NURESDEF, has been constituted  by the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC) Prof. Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, mni, MFR, FNAL, saddled with the responsibilities of drawing up modalities for the successful hosting of the twin-events. 

The Steering Committee on NURESDEF is headed by the Former Vice-Chancellor, University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), Prof. Joseph A. Ajienka, while the Chairman, Steering Committee on NUC @ 60 Anniversary Celebration is the Deputy Executive Secretary (DES), Mr. Chris J. Maiyaki.

Inaugurating the Committees, last Friday, 18th August, 2022, the Executive Secretary congratulated the members and charged them to ensure that the programme which would run simultaneously were carried out successfully, noting that he had no doubt about their potentials to deliver based on their record of achievements.

Harping more on the NURESDEF, Prof Rasheed charged the Committee to ensure that all the universities with Centres of Excellence (CoEx) participate at the Fair whether African or World Bank sponsored and that research projects should be on full display.

He also told them to make sure that the Nigerian Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG) must be invited to be part of the fair.

He further stated that the fair should be named NUC/TETFund NURESDEF. The trade fair is being organised by the two collaborating partners aimed at showcasing a robust event.

The NUC Scribe stressed that it was high time the public Universities sat up and re-invent university researches and academic activities to forestall a replication of the failure witnessed in the public primary and secondary schools. He stated that change was inevitable as Nigeria could not afford to continue to do things the same way. He particularly appealed to the government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to do something about the education sector so that incessant academic strikes become a thing of the past.

On the idea of lecturers embarking on their sabbatical in the industry in area related to their courses, the Executive Secretary supported the idea saying it will help them use the experience garnered to empower their students when they return back to the classrooms.

He argued that Universities are relevant to any economy, bemoaning that it is only in Nigeria that the government and industries do not believe that academicians are important in the engineering process. He submitted that one cannot underestimate the relevance of knowledge to the economy of a country.

Prof. Rasheed further expressed dismay that the managers of Nigeria’s economy do not believe that the universities should have a say in the economy of the country, stressing that as far as they were concerned the universities were liabilities and having the notion that spending money on universities was like throwing away money.

He said that government is tired of spending money on universities while ASUU keep on going on strike at the slightest challenges, citing it as the more reason academicians do not command respect anymore even among government officials.

He, however noted that on the positive side, the Commission had produced a proper guideline on Transnational Education (TNE), thereby opening up the education space to the world countries to come and set up universities in Nigeria. He disclosed that the ranking committee led by Prof. Peter Okebukola will travel to the United States of America to make a case for Nigerian universities.

At an interactive session with the committees, the Chair on NURESDEF), Prof. Ajienka briefed the Executive Secretary on the planned activities of the Fair slated to take place at the later part of the year.

He noted that the committee which comprised mostly of Vice Chancellors would re-invent NURESDEF and enlighten Universities, in the country on the Fair’s line of activities. 

He explain that the committee had drawn up plans to make sure that the fair which they planned to organize sometime in November/ December turned out to be a successful one.

He highlighted that the committee had planned to execute the following tasks:

· Organize a sensitization workshop;

·   Raise funds for their activities;

· Identify people to invite to deliver keynote address; 

· Engage panel discussant especially people in government and private sectors; 

·  Setting up sub-committees and choosing a venue for the research fair/ conference.

Prof. Ajienka told the Executive Secretary that the committee agreed that the theme of the conference should be about Triple Helix.

He also stated that they had concluded plans on: budget proposal, letters to stakeholders, appeal for sponsorship and the expected invitees. He assured the Executive Secretary that by the end of September they would be ready.

In his remarks, Chief Economic Adviser to the President of Nigeria, Prof. Doyin Salami, agreed that universities contribute to the development of a country, arguing that the dynamics of universities across the world was changing.

He hinted that in the next 10 or 15 years, there will be more dramatic change but expressed the fear that the Nigerian University System was not prepared for it.

Prof. Salami said that the university environment as it is presently doesn’t really bond well, lamenting that the academic community is also not playing the role it should play in the development of the country. He stated that serious reformation is needed in the country’s Ivory Tower over the next 5 years.

He stressed that this is the time to start thinking out of the box, explaining that henceforth University budgets should have key performance indicators.  He said the NUS needed a little twig here and there to come up the ladder and be among the best.

He went down the memory lane to recall how Nigerian universities in the 60s and 70s were doing well but had today waned despite the increase in the establishment of universities of science and technology.

He noted that in the global arena the world is moving, while knowledge is not encompassed anymore by borders as key players in knowledge production has now become globalised. He said that the tripod on which everything stand are; knowledge creation which is research, knowledge dissemination and knowledge application.

He said that the Academia had let the system down by not projecting themselves as a source of solution to the nation’s problem. He believed that the universities should be able to solve its own problem by being practically useful if not they will be waived aside.

Meanwhile others in the NURESDEF team include: representative of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Mr. Tope Toogun; Director Executive Secretary’s Office (DESO), Mr. John Mairafi; Acting Director, Research Innovations and Information Technology (DRIIT), Mal.Lawan Faruk; former NUC Director of DRIIT, Prof Valentine Ekechukwu; Vice Chancellor, Chrisland University, Prof Chinedum Babalola; former Vice-Chancellor, Bayero University Kano (BUK), Prof. Yahuza Bello; Vice-Chancellor,  Federal University, Gashua, Prof. Maimuna Waziri; Vice-Chancellor, University of Jos, Prof. Tanko Ishaya and NUC Visiting Prof., Prof. Fatima Batul Mukhtar.