Minister of Education in Nigeria, Professor Mamman Tahir, has urged universities in the country, as the intellectual powerhouse, to establish suitable engagement with the industrial sector as partners to move the country from import-dependent to an industrialized and manufacturing hub. The professor made the call at the opening ceremony of the 60th-year celebration of the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVCNU) being held in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. He said that the foundation of industrialization of most countries rests in research activities.
According to him, this is why governments in developed countries place a large emphasis on domestic and imported intellectuals. He urged the university community to ensure contributions are made to research and innovations that exploit the myriads of opportunities which abound in the natural resources of the country as well as placement of Nigerian varsities in the comity of nations that use science and technology as vehicles for solving its problems. These include in the areas of power, youth unemployment, engineering and allied sciences; medicine, pharmaceutical products and other health sciences; agriculture and agro-allied products.
Steps are being taken to power campuses of various institutions.
In his words, “Your laboratories and scientists should be fully busy harnessing the country’s natural resources along these and many more.” He further said that the expectation from the institutions is their internal management that assures transparency and integrity consultations with appropriate stakeholders such as staff and students, alumni and special interest groups/persons to enhance peace. He said that the institutions are also expected to tap into, explore and exploit other sources as is the convention globally to support government funding.
He emphasized that such sources include alumni, commissioned research, consultancy and other specialized services such as medical, legal and business. Also, he hinted that steps are being taken to power tertiary institutions through gas-powered facilities using the PPP window provided by the government, adding that the scheme is intended to start with 18 varsities in the first instance. “The shortlisted universities will be contacted at the appropriate stage of the project,” he said, adding that the centrality of the power to service delivery, research and cost savings cannot be over-emphasized.
Important issues were discussed at the intellectual gathering.
Additionally, the professor commended the efforts of the Vice Chancellors and the university system for the vast mileage achieved in the university system which prides itself with a large population of 269 in both public and private varsities. Meanwhile, the Chairman of CVCNU, Professor Lilian Salami, said that the event brought together resource persons and other stakeholders driving the educational system to listen, appraise gains, value addition to the ecosystem, challenges and discuss other ways forward.
She said that some of the issues that they discussed include gains, the value that they have added to the ecosystem and the challenges that they faced. She said that when dealing with this group of persons it is expected that the trajectory will change and that they will go back and look at those challenges. “This is why the gathering is not only to celebrate but to think, to rejig and then to re-engineer the system so that we have a better future, a better tomorrow, better posterity,” she said. She explained that despite challenges, the Nigerian University system does not compromise quality being the reason why the country’ graduates finish on top outside the shores of the country.
There are more improvements to be made in the system.
On his part, the secretary-general of CVCNU, Prof. Yakubu Ochefu, said that in the spirit of the 60th-year celebration, the group was opening doors for ideas, conventions and new developments on how to improve the system. He said that while they have made a lot of improvement in the university system, there is room for more improvement. She said that now that their doors have opened, stakeholders can look at the group and say that they can support the system. “It’s not the Federal Government, states and private actors alone who have decided to invest in the university system,” she remarked.