The Acting Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Mr. Chris J. Maiyaki, last week Friday, received a high- powered delegation of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Federal University of Transportation (FUT) Daura, Katsina State.
The team came to the Commission to submit the statutory documents, which included the Academic Brief, Physical Master Plan and the University Law, in fulfilment of the requirements for the establishment of Universities in Nigeria.
Welcoming the delegation, Mr. Mayaki said, NUC, has being a Maternity ward, where the birth of new Universities was always celebrated, it act as a catalyst in bridging the existing gap due to the challenges of access.
He extended his warm regards to the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Alh. Saidu Alkali, especially for seeking advice from NUC, on where the University should be domiciled as well as other critical academic matters.
The Ag. Executive Secretary said, only NUC has the powers by law, to lay down minimum academic standards, regulate and monitor compliance of standard by all universities in Nigeria, irrespective of their proprietorship, with a view to achieving stable academic calendar, as well as uninterrupted university activities.
The Acting Executive Secretary said that the Ministry of Transportation was not mandated by law to oversee education matters, as only NUC was empowered with the mandate to regulate University education in Nigeria, stressing the need for the University of Transportation to be left in the ambit of the Ministry of Education.
He said the University of Agriculture now knew better as regards the issues of funding, co-ordination and international development as well as partnerships, including the overlapping nature of the activities of the FME.
He said NUC would continue to partner with Ministry of Transportation, to ensure that the University become well nurtured and supported to be a centre of excellence of global recognition.
Mr. Mayaki gave a rundown of the evolution of the Commission, which was established in 1962, as an advisory Unit in the cabinet office, which later metamorphosed into a full -fledged Parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Education.
He highlighted on the emergence of University education in the Country, beginning with University of Ibadan as University College, London 1948, to the establishment of the first indigenous University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) among others in 1962, and the University of Benin (UNIBEN), which was established in 1970, all these were regarded as the First Generation Universities.
The Second Generation Universities he stated, seven of them were established between 1975-1980, while more Universities had evolved overtime. Among them include the emergence of private universities, leading to a total of 262, with 52 Federal, 63 states and 147 private universities, respectively.
He said since 1988, the law that kick-started accreditation was put in place, which strengthened the Commission’s role of the co-ordination of the orderly development of the university system in the country.
He informed the team that NUC has the mandate to lay down minimum academic standards, conduct resource verification visits, as well as advise the Government on the establishment of private universities, among other mandates.
Mr. Mayaki commended the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the University, comprising of Academia, Technocrats and Civil Servants, for proper running of the affairs of the Institution.
He advised them to always revert back to the Commission for proper guidance, in order for the University to commence its activities on a sound footing for global competitiveness.
In his presentation, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Umar Adam said, the idea of establishing the University was conceived by the Federal Governement of Nigeria vis-a-vis renegotiation of the construction of the Railway from Lagos-Kano in 2018, looking at the huge infrastructure of about 10 billion US dollars, not only on railway, but also on Water, Roads and Aviation.
Professor Adam explained that the idea was conceived in order for the country to build capacity, knowledge and technical know-how, noting however that it was unfortunate that the NUC and Ministry of Education were not involved at the beginning of the process.
He added that recently when the IMC was constituted by the immediate past Minister of Transport, Alh. Muazu Sambo, he was appointed the Chairman of the Committee .
The Vice-Chancellor explained further that the Committee deemed it fit to put together the statutory requirements; the Academic Brief, Physical Master Plan and the University Law, before approaching the NUC, as without the documents, the establishment of a university would remain without fruition.
As the Committee opened a channel of communication with NUC, within a period of five months, the Committee was glad to have presented the gazetted statutory documents for the establishment of the Federal University of Transportation, Daura, Katsina State.
He informed the NUC management that the Law was passed by the Senate in April 2022, and concurrently by the House of Representatives in November 2022, respectively.
He added that in 2023, the immediate past Federal Executive Council (FEC) passed it to Law, stressing that they had come to the Commission with the gazetted copy, the Academic Brief, Physical Master Plan, and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), as well as the general Soil Investigation Report, to enable the University take-off, in the 2023/2024 academic session.
While submitting a request for the NUC to conduct a resource verification visit to the University; he informed the meeting that all the recommendations and advice were taken into recognition before their visit.
Responding, the Acting Executive Secretary, thanked the Vice-Chancellor for the briefing which, he said, was very insightful, saying that the Commission would use this opportunity to reconfirm its commitment to the smooth take-off of the University.
He said: “for us it is a win-win situation because it will add to our tally as the specialized university that has huge potentials.”
He expressed confidence in the personality of the Vice-Chancellor and hoped to work together amicably to uphold the sanctity of quality in the system, saying that quality was the only capital and resource that would determine reputation of a university.
The NUC scribe said the relevant arms of NUC would look into the documents and that if there were any missing elements, the attention of the university would be drawn for adjustment. He said, with the establishment of the University, Daura community would witness array of developments.
Lending his voice, a community leader from Daura, Alh. Nura Kakira said, it was a thing of joy for the community to finally witness NUC’s support for the establishment of the University.
He lamented that it was regrettable that NUC was not consulted at the beginning, noted that, “it is not too late.” He said the community is peaceful and ready to host the University and asked for continued support and mentoring from the NUC.
In his remarks, the Deputy Executive Secretary (Academics), Dr. Noel Biodun Saliu stated that any time the Commission increased the frontiers of education it calls for celebration as it was meant to expand access in NUS.
He said, the University was unique as it focused on transportation, which according to him, covered the Land, Water and Air.
Also, speaking, a member of the IMC and NUC Visiting Professor Hafiz Abubakar thanked members of the committee for working assiduously for the smooth take-off of the University.
He also decried the notion that the University be domiciled in the Ministry of Transportation because there were specific roles the NUC played being the sole agency empowered by law to oversee the affairs of the NUS.
He advised that the culture of civil-service and the culture of the university system was different and should be separated and treated accordinly.
At the meeting were the NUC Directors of Human Resources (DHR), Mr. Boniface Odum; Executive Secretary’s Office (DESO),Mr. John Ahmadu Mairafi; Ag. Directors of Public Affairs (DPA), Alh. Haruna Lawal Ajo; Academic Planning (DAP), Mr. Abubakar Mohammed Girei; Skills Development and Entrepreneurship (DSDE), Mal. Ashafa Ladan; as well as Research Innovation and Information Technology (DRIIT), Mal. Lawal Mohammed Faruk.