The Conference was declared open by the Acting Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education (FME), Mrs. Hindatu Umar Abdullahi, who, in her remarks, noted that there was no better driver of the affairs of Nigeria than the participants at the Conference. She observed that the Conference was a significant step to charting a course for the development of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in the Nigerian University System (NUS), adding that the over objective of the Conference was to ensure that Nigerian universities provided the needed manpower to drive the development of the nation’s economy.
Mrs. Abdullahi appreciated the efforts of the National Universities Commission (NUC), American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola, and other stakeholders for organising the event. She commended the Commission for providing leadership by partnering with relevant stakeholders to train and retrain staff of the NUS on the need to effectively deploy ICT in the university system. This collaboration, she noted, would take Nigerian universities to an enviable position and make the institutions globally competitive.
Earlier, in his welcome address, the Executive Secretary of the NUC, Professor Julius A. Okojie, OON, observed that the major challenges of the NUS have been in the areas of access and quality, adding that the nation had 1.8 million students at the secondary level who sat for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) out of which about 500,000 could be absorbed into the NUS. He informed participants that the Conference was organised because the Commission and its partners realised the need for the university system to utilise alternative models to expand access to education while assuring quality at the same time. The Executive Secretary highlighted some of the efforts of the NUC designed to improve the use of ICT in the university system, such as the establishment of the National Universities Network (NUNET), the Nigerian Research and Education Network (NgREN) and the Virtual Library.
The NUC Scribe informed the Conference that the Federal Government of Nigeria had increased funding to universities through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) to enable the institutions resolve some of the challenges of infrastructure and cope with increased students’ enrolment. He noted that, with too many new structures now available in Nigerian universities, there was the need for institutions to utilise ICT to further drive the system. The Scribe lamented that some academic staff in the NUS still lacked interest in the use of ICT, just as some of them lacked basic gadgets such as laptops and PCs. He advocated the use of social media and other e-platforms in teaching and interacting with larger classes. Professor Okojie expressed gratitude to all participants for attending the Conference, while wishing them a fruitful deliberation.