The Honourable Minister of Education (HME), Malam Adamu Adamu has disclosed that the federal government has constituted visitation panels that would soon be visiting all Federal Universities to audit their activities in the last few years. Inaugurating the governing councils of the 13 most recent Federal Universities including the new Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo, Benue State, the Minister told the councils to effectively cooperate with the visitation panels, adding “we hope that together we can enthrone a culture of probity and academic excellence in our tertiary institutions.”
The other 12 Federal Universities included: Lokoja, Kogi State; Lafia, Nasarawa State; Kashere, Gombe State; Wukari, Taraba State; Dustin-Ma, Katsina State; Ndufu-Alike, Ebonyi State; Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State; Otuoke, Bayelsa State; Birnin-Kebbi, Kebbi State; Gusau, Zamfara State and Gashua, Yobe State.
At the Inauguration which took place at the NUC Auditorium, the Minister charged the Chairmen and members of the various councils to foster harmonious relationships while carrying out their duties in the next four years. He urged them to respect the rule of law in the discharge of their duties while also respecting the rules of federal character in the appointment of staff in the universities. Mal Adamu also tasked the governing councils to block loopholes and come up with creative ideas that would shore up the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of their universities.
According to him, the major areas of challenge were inadequate funding as well as judicious use of available resources. “So let me advise you to come up with new creative ways to improve funding in your institutions. You will have to block the loopholes where the IGR slides away,” he said.
The Minister added that the effort of the government was to improve Nigerian universities in the next four years, hence the appointment of tested and proven officers and personalities. In this regard, he explained that the action was a measure of stability and continuity in the Nigerian Universities. “It is gratifying that the council was made up of eminent and well respected Nigerians who have been tested and have contributed in various ways to the growth, development and uplifting of the Nigerian University System (NUS).”
He informed the new council members that it was on their shoulders that the efforts of the government to improve the quality of output in tertiary institutions lay, in the next four years of their tenure. He said, “It is our expectation that you will ensure good management, growth and development of these institutions without recourse to interference in their day-to-day running of the university.” Mal. Adamu added that the “Governing councils should at all times be abreast of current Laws, Government Policies, Whitepapers, Circulars, Gazettes and other relevant documents that would help in taking the right decisions at all times.”
“You must ensure effective guidance and oversight on broad policy issues, adopting best practices, monitoring institutional projects and getting more funding outside government to improve the facilities and infrastructure in our universities which shall be the hallmark of an outstanding Council,” he stated. The Minister demonstrated optimism that they would bring their wealth of experience, adherence and respect for the rule of law and due process to bear, in the discharge of their responsibilities, reiterating that it was on this premise that the President approved their appointments.
In his opening remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Architect Sonny Echono, in his remarks, noted that despite the current challenges faced by the country, the councils of the 13 universities were being inaugurated while commending the Minister for providing the leadership that made it possible to take place. He said it was also a testimony of the commitment of the Minister to the enthronement of effective leadership and accountability in the NUS. He told the appointees that it was also an expression of the confidence that was reposed on them by the President, who had approved their appointments based on the Ministry’s recommendations and expressed optimism that they would justify same by working to improve on the output of quality graduates in the system in the coming years.
In a welcome address, the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, mni, MFR, FNAL, said the inauguration of the council members marks the beginning of a new phase in the introduction of the first specialized Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo and the other 12 varsities. Prof. Rasheed said the NUC was also inspired by its Ministerial Strategic Plan of 2018-2022, and had been committed to the task of revitalizing Nigeria’s university education. He highlighted some of the steps in the document to include immediate fostering of skills development and entrepreneurship, curriculum re-engineering, addressing inadequacies in facilities as well as promoting ICT driven universities through enhanced digital delivery, Open, Distance Education and E-learning. He also tasked the Council members to understand that the challenges before them were enormous and legendary. The NUC Scribe appealed to them to strive to support the collective efforts of government towards repositioning the universities to enable the institutions drive Nigeria’s inevitable transition to knowledge based economy.
Responding on behalf of other Council Chairmen, the Chair of Federal University Birnin-Kebbi, Kebbi State, Professor Funmilayo Togonu-Bickersteth, said the council members look forward to cooperation form the Minister and NUC, especially in the provision of useful information. She pledged the best of the council members towards the advancement of the nation and mankind.