The Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, mni, MFR, FNAL, has told the delegation from the West African Postgraduate College of Medical Laboratory Science, (WAPCMLS) that NUC shall not encourage fellowship of any professional bodies or organization as a substitute for a PhD. 

Professor Rasheed said this while receiving the WAPCMLS led by its President, Professor Nafiu Amidu, in his office last Wednesday.

The Executive Secretary said that while fellowship was the highest professional qualifications for professional in any non-academic organization, PhD was the highest academic degree in the university system anywhere in the world, adding that there was no basis for argument over superiority of PhD over professional fellowship, stressing that such argument tantamount to a waste of time.

The NUC Scribe explained further that Medical Scientists should endeavor to have a PhD being the highest academic qualification in the university, while PhD is not required for the non-academic staff for their carrier progression, likewise those who practice in the hospitals, laboratories, among others and that they could aid themselves with professional programmes or fellowship.

He stated that “having a fellowship is good but if you want to engage in teaching and research in the university system, you must not downplay pursuit of a PhD, you cannot even compare your research in doing PhD with your professional or fellowship experiences”.

Professor Rasheed commended the delegates for availing themselves the opportunity to have a first-hand information from the commission on the contending issues surrounding the superiority of PhD over Fellowship and vice versa, saying the difference had been made clear to them during the meeting.

He said that most of the new knowledge in the Medical fields is attributed to Medical Scientists, noting that a typical example of such is the Covid-19 pandemic, which the leaders worldwide relied significantly on the laboratory scientists for possible cure.

In his presentation, the President of WAPCMLS, Professor Nafiu Amidu, who came from the university of Ghana, said that the visit was apt as the world was grappling with the challenges posed by the covid-19 pandemic, an infectious disease which had disrupted human and socio-economic systems and wreaked havoc on human life and livelihood, noting that the pandemic disease outbreak had exposed the weaknesses and gaps in the health manpower capacity and infrastructure in the African countries.

Professor Amidu stated that the centrality and crucial role of medical laboratory testing in the prompt detection, accurate diagnosis, treatment, surveillance, prevention and control of many communicable and noncommunicable diseases was well known.

He stated that it was I pursuit of the need to build and strengthen medical laboratory capacity in the African region that the 2008 Maputo Declaration on Strengthening of Laboratory system in developing countries was made and in keeping with the declaration, the West African Health Organization (WAHO) IN 2013 approved the establishment of the West African Postgraduate College of Medical Laboratory Science for the training of specialist medical laboratory scientists in the ECOWAS countries.

The WAPCMLS President told the executive secretary that the delegation, in recognition of the dominant role of the commission, as the regulator of the university education in Nigeria, had come to seek its collaboration in changing the narrative of weak laboratory, human capacity and the ravages of diseases in West Africa through the training of high caliber of specialists who could find solutions to the many health challenges faced by the region through relevant research training and activities.

He sought on behalf of the college, the commission’s support to foster collaborations with willing universities in Nigeria for candidates enrolled in the college Fellowship training programme, who desired to pursue their PhD studies concurrently in the universities.

Members of the delegation extended gratitude to the Executive Secretary for his quality leadership styles which according to them had culminated into the transformation of the Nigerian University System (NUS) within a short period of time. They expressed satisfaction with the wise counsel and advise given to the delegation by Professor Rasheed especially on the viability of PhD and its excellence in engagement in the university system.

Some members of the delegation also shared their experiences on the relevance of PhD in teaching and research in the University, noting that they had seen in some universities whereby people without PhD were scaled down and edged out from becoming Vice-Chancellors.

Other members present included the Registrar, Dr. G.C Okara; National President, AWICSI, Professor James Damen; Chairman Board of MLSCN, Prof. Muhammad Y. Gwarzo; Registrar/CEO MLSN, Dr. Tosan Erhabor; Chairman Nigeria Chapter WAPCMLS, Professor M.F. Useh; Deputy Provost, CHS, UNIZIK, Prof. Nneka Agbakoba; Acting Vice-Chancellor, Madonna University, Professor I.N. Nnatuanya as well as Dean FBMS, Unilag, Professor Shehu Abubakar Akuyam.

The NUC Team included Deputy Executive Secretary, Administration, MR. C.J. Maiyaki; Directors of Establishment of Private Universities, Mrs. Constance Goddy-Nnadi; Public Affairs, Mal. Ibrahim Usman Yakasai and Human Resource, Mr. B.C. Odum. Others were Deputy Directors, Corporate Services and Information, Mrs. Edor Uffiong.