A former Executive Secretary and Chairman NUC Strategic Advisory Committee (STRADVCOM) Prof. Peter Okebukola and another member of the Committee, Prof. Attahiru Jega, were among distinguished Nigerians, who were last week inaugurated into the governing councils of 19 federal universities and four Inter- University Centres (IUCs), at the Commission’s Idris Abdulkadir Auditorium, Abuja.
While Prof. Peter Okebukola retains his place as Chair of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Prof. Attahiru Jega, is the head of the University of Jos.
Other Chairmen of the Governing Councils include; Dr. Sunny Kuku, University of Benin; High Chief Ikechi Emenike, University of Nigeria Nsukka; Mallam Adamu Fikar, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; Professor Anthony Dozie Anwuka, Federal University of Petroleum Resources; Senator Udo Udoma, Bayero University Kano; Balama Manu, University of Maiduguri; Prof. Ahmed Modibbo, University of Abuja; General Martin Luther Agwai (Rtd), University of Calabar; Barrister Njideka Nwachukwu, University of Uyo; Others were: Ambassador Godknows Igali, Federal University of Technology Akure; Prof. Olu Obafemi, Federal University of Technology, Minna; Bukar Goni Aji, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University; Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu, Modibbo Adama University, Yola; Prof. Suleiman Kuranga, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka; Senator Ibrahim Ida, Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto; Mallam Hamidu Yazi, University of Ilorin, and Prof Abba, Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo, Benue State.
Those of the four IUCs were; Prof. Francis Egbokhare, National Institute of Nigerian Languages (NINLAN) Aba; Prof. James Oguntuase, National Mathematical Centre, Abuja; Prof. Jiga Jumar, National Arabic Village, Ngala, and Prof. Remi Sonaiya, for the Nigeria French Language Village, Badagry.
Inaugurating the Council, the Honourable Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, noted that men of noble character, vision and integrity were appointed to enable the university gain from their wealth of experiences during their tenure.
He said: “Looking at the composition of these men, you will notice that they are people who had made their marks in various fields of human endeavour.
“It is our utmost desire that you would all bring in new ideas and new vision that would spur the nation’s universities into meeting their mandates in this 21st century era.” He added.
The Minister, who urged the new councils to come up with ideas that would shore up the internally generated revenue of universities, warned that President Muhammadu Buhari would not hesitate to dismiss any council found to be corrupt or incompetent.
He noted that the reconstitution of the Governing Councils came at a propitious time, in view of the fact that Government recently constituted Visitation Panels to all Federal Universities.
He added that Panels have recently rounded off their assignments and would soon submit their Reports as required in two separate volumes, covering the periods: January 2011-December 2015, and January 2016-Decemnebr 2020, respectively.
In accordance with the Panels’ Terms of Reference, each report would contain a scrutiny of the state of affairs of the University during the periods under review; its achievements and the challenges being faced; working environment (including relationships between Council and Management; how the University relates with its host communities, as well as with national and international bodies, among others.
He said that as soon as the Visitation Reports were received, Government would study them and issue White Papers, the recommendations of which would guide Councils and Management on how to improve their systems and services by taking necessary steps to address the lapses and weaknesses identified by the Visitation Panels.
He thanked President Muhammad Buhari, GCFR, for his love for education by ensuring the selection and appointment of men who were trustworthy into the board of the universities and inter- university centers, reminding them that they were appointed due to their experiences and achievements in life and contributions to the development of education in Nigeria.
The Minister however, warned the governing council of each of the universities to exercise caution in the discharge of their duties to avoid conflict with the management of their institutions, stressing that they should as Chairmen and Council members know the limit of their powers by ensuring that they do not interfere unnecessarily in the affairs of their universities day-to-day management.
He drew the attention of the council to the provisions of the Public Procurement Act and ensure they were guided by the Universities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 1993 and its various amendments (of 2003 and 2012).
According to him, “You should, in particular….adhere strictly, for example to Section 2AAA of the 2003 Amendment Act which stipulates that, “The Governing Council of a university shall be free in the discharge of its functions and exercise of its responsibilities for the good management, growth and development of the University.”
“Section 3 (4) of the same 2003 Amendment reposes on Council the power to appoint the Vice-Chancellor of the University. I urge you to exercise this power with utmost sense of responsibility and in the best interest of your universities,” Adamu said.
He called on the Vice Chancellors to work closely with their Chairmen and governing councils so as to deliver the best for their institutions. He thanked the Council members for accepting to serve the nation at this time and urged them to do a thorough job and send their recommendations to government from time to time.
In a brief remark, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Architect Sonny Echono, thanked Mr. President for approving the membership of the Governing Councils some few weeks ago. He tasked the Councils to work hard in order to enhance and improve the quality of education as it remained the fundamental bedrock in which the society was built and to justify the confidence reposed on them.
Earlier in a welcome address, the Executive Secretary of NUC, Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed thanked the previous councils for giving their best and for the their accomplishments and charged the new governing councils to take the nation’s institutions to greater heights.
He particularly urged the new Pro-chancellors to work together with NUC so as to move the universities forward. He told the audience that despite the covid-19 pandemic, the Commission still and would continue to carry out its mandate, noting that currently, academics and captains of industries were working in synergy to review the curriculum.
He stated that NUC was all about quality assurance and had been interested in fostering skills and development of entrepreneurship in order to prepare graduates for the future. He argued that the role of the new governing council was critical in driving Nigeria’s education system to a knowledge-based economy.
In his words, “We have reviewed key aspects of our quality assurance mechanisms. Strove to address the inadequacies in teaching, learning and research facilities on our campuses whilst also fostering skills development and entrepreneurship in a bid to prepare our graduates for life after tertiary education,” Professor Raheed added.
Responding on behalf of the Chairmen of Governing Councils, the Chair of Bayero University Kano, Senator Udo Udoma said the Council Chairmen would strictly adhere to laws establishing the universities. He further pledged the commitment of the Governing Councils to work hard and ensure that quality of education was enhanced and improved in Nigeria.
At the event were the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige; Director of Tertiary Education, Hajiya Rakiya Iiyasu; members of National Assembly; Directors of ministries; Chief executives of Parastatals, Vice chancellors and Government functionaries as well as some Directors of the NUC.