The Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Julius Okojie, yesterday called on state universities to constitute their governing councils without further delay. He warned that the NUC would shut down institutions that failed to comply. He spoke during the inauguration of the governing councils of 21 federal universities in Abuja including the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief,
The Sun Publishing Limited who took the oath with four others for the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria board. The Chairman of the council is Mohammed Dewu. Prof. Okojie noted that “ the importance and duty of the governing council of the university is enormous that no institution operates without it. The council tempers the excesses of the internal management of the university and makes sure the governors and state governments don’t manage the schools with impunity.
We have therefore given them time within which to constitute the councils in places they don’t currently exist”. Earlier, Education Minister, Prof. Ruqayyatu Rufa’i while inaugurating the governing councils, charged the members to see their appointments as call to service.
The minister said given the enormous challenges facing the education sector which include inadequate human resources and physical infrastructure, unstable academic calendar, general insecurity, examination malpractice and decline in academic standard, inadequate space for youths seeking admissions into tertiary, poor management of fund and human resources, the board members should bring in their experience to improve the quality of tertiary education in the country.
She lamented that funding remains the major problem facing tertiary education, and charged the councils to introduce ideas that will improve revenue generation outside government allocation. Prof. Rufa’i urged the new council members to enlist the support of philanthropists, the private sector and other individuals for additional funding of their institutions.
However, in their bid to search for fund, the minister warned them not to be lured into turning the award of honorary degrees or fellows, to chieftaincy title affairs to sustain the sanctity and integrity of the institutions. She also noted that while solicitation for funding is paramount, the councils should also not play down the need for prudence in the management of the available fund in the universities.
The minister listed some of the critical areas that would require the urgent attention of the board members to include the appointment of only two deputy vice chancellors instead of three, which, she says, is alien and violates the status establishing universities. Prof. Rufa’i also charged them to respect the principle of federal character in the appointment of staff, admission of students and stand against the creation of bogus political portfolios for aides in the office of the vice chancellors, creation of unnecessary directorates by some VCs in their attempt to find jobs for their ‘boys’ and borrowing from custodial funds.
She said the issue of streamlining of educational programme, appointment of principal officers, among other critical areas, must occupy the time and energy of the council members. Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, Comrade Uche Chukwumerije, has cautioned that the plan by the Federal Government to scrap NECO and UTME should be handled with utmost caution. He gave the advice yesterday at the inauguration of the governing councils.
He asked that rather than rush into such conclusion that might cause more problem if not properly executed, the government should take more time, view the matter with wider insight so as not to rush into bad weather. He said: “If a doctor takes a hasty step in curing an ailment, he might end up creating a worse problem. So I want to advise that the issue we have on our hands won’t be the same and we should view the perspectives of the intention very well before we conclude on what to do.”