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Collective effort needed to change fortunes of Nigerian universities


From Fred Ezeh, Abuja

The federal government has charged vice chancellors of Nigerian universities to support its efforts in making significant changes in the fortunes of the institutions, making them centres of globally-recognised research and development.

Minister of Education Mallam Adamu Adamu, who was represented by the Minister of State for Education, Goodluck Nanah Opiah, made the appeal in Abuja, on Monday, during the opening session of a retreat organised by the National Universities Commission (NUC) for vice chancellors.

Adamu reiterated the key roles of Vice Chancellors of Universities and Directors of Inter-University Centres in the development of the Nigerian University System and also ensuring that the mandates of their respective institutions are fulfilled.

“It’s crucial to build resilient and stable systems that functions at the optimal capacity, and as part of this all-important retreat, it’s imperative that we continually reshape our understanding of what is right or wrong in administration, as well as the consequences of falling short of expectations,” he stated.

He said that insecurity and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic added a new dimension to the myriad of challenges faced by the ivory towers in recent times, stating that the challenges had traversed dwindling funding, inadequate and dilapidated infrastructure and facilities, and the pressures from the activities of university-based unions with its resultant effect on academic stability.

He challenged the university managers to ensure transparency and accountability in the application of resources, creative mobilisation of alternative sources of funding, enhanced access to university education, and the production of graduates with relevant 21st-century skills, expertise and competencies to meet the need of the contemporary world of work.

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“Administration is a distinct responsibility in every university, which is clearly defined by the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amendment) Act 2003 in clear and unambiguous terms. It is the responsibility of VCs to manage the day-to-day administration of the university,” he added.

“Nevertheless, it is also practical and advisable to work with University Councils, where constituted, towards the actualisation of given mandates, in the interest of the institutions. Given the high premium placed by the current administration on quality education, it is crucial that we all join hands with the government in its continuous effort to change the fortunes of Nigerian universities and place them on equal footing with global standards.”

He commended the management of NUC for the various initiatives aimed at repositioning the university system for effective service delivery and global competitiveness. “Together we can make a huge difference in the collective effort to find organic and long-term solutions to the challenges facing our university system,” he assured.

Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of NUC, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, in his remarks, urged the Vice Chancellors to assist the government end periodic strikes by ASUU, describing it as a major setback for the university system.

He described university education as fundamental to the success of any economy, and nations all over the world explore teaching, research and community service to the developing of technical resources for the development of aspirations and goals.

He stressed the need to put in place measures, identify challenges and come up with solutions to reposition the university system, stressing that the retreat borders on an area of threat and uncertainty in public universities due to the unfortunate ASUU strike that has crippled the academic calendar for nearly six months

“As VCs, we have a deep understanding of the negative consequences of the prolonged closure of universities. We, equally, know what it means in terms of operation as an economy, and we also know what this strike means in terms of our institutions’ reputation. But more importantly, we know what it means in terms of the future of the youths,” he said.

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