The newly established Department of Socio-Economic and Infrastructural Development,  Federal Character Commission (FCC), led by the Director, Mr. Dipo Akinsola, last Thursday, visited the National Universities Commission (NUC) on sensitisation and advocacy visit bordering on its mandate, as specified in paragraph 8 (1) b of Section C, third schedule of Nigeria’s Constitution.

Briefing the Executive Secretary, Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, mni, MFR, FNAL, Mr. Akinsola highlighted that the FCC since the last 22 years had been carrying its first mandate of ensuring fair and equitable distribution of manpower among the 36 states and FCT.

He recalled that only last year, the President gave legal backing to its second mandate, that borders on equitable and fair distribution of amenities and facilities across the country, through this approval.

The Director noted that most Nigerians were aware of the Commission’s first mandate that covered the enforcement of compliance on employment, while not being conversant with its responsibility to work out formulae in areas of infrastructural facilities distribution. The Department, he said, only took off effectively four weeks ago. According to him, this lacuna led to the decision of the new Directorate to embark on advocacy to all of its identified stakeholders. NUC, he said, was critical and one of the biggest partners that it was willing to work with, as the universities was under its purview.

Mr. Akinsola said the FCC was aware that the universities through the NUC offer social services, in terms of recruitment of staff, admission of students, municipal services and distribution of capital projects in the institutions.

He argued that the FCC intended to partner with NUC by getting involved in the areas of admission procedure for placement of students in the universities as well as securing the fair and equitable distribution of amenities to these universities based on its mandate.

Responding, the Executive Secretary, represented by the Director, Research, Innovation and Communication Technology (DRICT), Dr. Suleiman Ramon-Yusuf, acknowledged the visitors for finding time to sensitise the NUC on its line of duty, especially as it borders on enforcement of equitable distribution of social services to the citizens.

He observed that Government was going beyond the issue of recruitment to ensuring that facilities were evenly distributed, explaining that this was exemplified by government giving all states ample opportunity to have federal universities in their domain.

Professor Rasheed stressed that justice and equity would guarantee sustainable economic development as long as the FCC applied the right mechanisms. He argued that projects must not only be based on needs, but even spread. He assured the team that NUC doors were always opened, advocating that Nigerian people should demand value for money on every project.

While urging the FCC to ensure equity and fairness in the discharge of its functions, Professor Rasheed observed that there seemed to be information gap on the part of the FCC’s new Directorate, as it failed to realise that NUC with its present status does not meddle into admission of students in the universities.

The executive secretary, therefore, informed the delegation that the University Autonomy Act, make it mandatory for universities to run as semi-autonomous institutions.

Harping on the request for inclusion in the admission process for students in the Nigerian University System (NUS), the NUC scribe advised the FCC to banish such idea, insisting that it would not fly. The universities, he stated, had a stakeholder’s forum where decisions on University Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) cut-off marks were decided for the national level, while universities also have some peculiarities that guided them such as Merit, Catchment Areas and programme quota, among others.

According to him, except the FCC draw a distinction between its mandate and anticipated limit of operations, with regards to the universities, it might thread on the wrong path.  On this premise, he advised FCC to educate itself more about the criteria for admission of students so as to be well-informed of what it could do.

The Director was accompanied by the Head of Education Sector, Mr. Alade James Murayo; Head, Transport Sector, Mr. Garba Ibrahim; Members of Education Sector, Mr. Obi Chukwueke and Omogbemhe Elizabeth Odufa; Head, Agric Sector,  Mr. Ibrahim Musa Karim; Assistant Head Education Sector, Mr. Uche Chigozie and Head, Information and Communication Technology, Mr. Ahmed Abdulrahaman.

At the meeting were the Directors of Accreditation, Dr. Noel Saliu; Open and Distance Education (DODE), Dr. Olamide Esther Adesina; International Cooperation and Liaison Services (DICLS), Executive Secretary’s Office (DESO), Mr. Chris Maiyaki; Inspection and Monitoring (DIM), Mr. Boniface Odum and Students Support Services (DSSS), Dr. Mrs. Maryam Sali.

The Deputy Directors of Legal Services and Corporate Services, in the Executive Secretary’s Office, Barrister Moses Awe and Mr. John Mairafi, respectively, were present at the meeting.