Why FG should fund state var­si­ties – VC Pro­fes­sor Mo­hammed Akaro Main­oma

Is the Ag. Vice Chan­cel­lor of the Nasarawa State Univer­sity, Keffi (NSUK) who in this in­ter­view in Abuja speaks on au­ton­omy, dis­par­ity be­tween states and federal uni­ver­si­ties and his plans for the young univer­sity. Ex­cerpts:

Daily Trust - - EDUCATION - By Habibu Umar Aminu Pro­fes­sor Mo­hammed Akaro Main­oma

Do you think grant­ing au­ton­omy to uni­ver­si­ties can lead to bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion?

What au­ton­omy means is that or­gans of the univer­sity are al­lowed to op­er­ate as the law pro­vides. It is not a favour to the uni­ver­si­ties. On mat­ters of ad­mis­sion, ex­am­i­na­tion, re­search, man­age­ment of fi­nances, the uni­ver­si­ties ad­min­is­tra­tion should not have any in­flu­ence from out­side. Do­ing other­wise will af­fect the qual­ity of stu­dents, the sanc­tity of ex­am­i­na­tion and abil­ity to con­duct re­search. In­deed, the ad­min­is­tra­tors of the univer­sity will be­come bootlick­ers of govern­ment agents with­out au­ton­omy. This def­i­nitely will not au­gur well for the sys­tem. We must not un­der­stand au­ton­omy from the point of view of fi­nance. The hin­drance to that is the fact that govern­ment said there should be free tu­ition on the part of the stu­dents. Govern­ment, there­fore, should pay on be­half of the stu­dents - fund­ing the univer­sity is a ne­ces­sity. The er­ro­neous be­lief that he who pays the piper must dic­tate the tune does not ap­ply here. They are pay­ing for ser­vices that are heav­ily sub­sidised by the univer­sity ad­min­is­tra­tion. So, au­ton­omy is re­ally es­sen­tial if the uni­ver­si­ties are ex­pected to deliver on the man­dates

of de­vel­op­ing young minds and carry out ad­vanced re­search to ad­vance so­ci­ety.

Re­cently, the federal govern­ment threat­ened to stop as­sist­ing state uni­ver­si­ties in view of the in­creas­ing costs, does this por­tend good omen

for ed­u­ca­tion in the coun­try?

This is a nat­u­ral con­se­quence of the struc­ture of gov­er­nance. The Federal Govern­ment has the bulk of these re­sources and ed­u­ca­tion is on the con­cur­rent list. It is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of state and federal govern­ment. Strictly speak­ing, it is not an is­sue of as­sis­tance. It is a re­spon­si­bil­ity. So the federal govern­ment can­not aban­don its re­spon­si­bil­ity. The prod­ucts of the states’ uni­ver­si­ties also work for the federal govern­ment. In­deed, they are more in num­ber in federal govern­ment es­tab­lish­ments. A new ar­range­ment can be put in place how­ever, where states shall be ac­corded more rev­enue and the federal govern­ment can hands off all uni­ver­si­ties, in­clud­ing the ones that are to­day called the federal uni­ver­si­ties. The states can han­dle them bet­ter. Most of the federal uni­ver­si­ties to­day op­er­ate like the states’ uni­ver­si­ties but funded by the federal govern­ment, while some state uni­ver­si­ties are more federal in char­ac­ter but funded by states.

The shar­ing for­mula of the re­cently re­leased 200 bil­lion naira univer­sity de­vel­op­ment fund is 80/20, in favour of the federal uni­ver­si­ties. Is this fair?

Well, you can kindly re­call that the in­ter­ven­tion of the federal govern­ment was as a re­sult of as­sess­ment of needs of the uni­ver­si­ties. Or­di­nar­ily, one would have said if the as­sess­ment were ob­jec­tive, it does not mat­ter who gets what. The source of the fund is, how­ever, crit­i­cal if there is dis­crim­i­na­tion. If federal govern­ment is pro­vid­ing the funds, you will not see any­thing wrong if less is given to state uni­ver­si­ties. But I am not sure if there is dis­crim­i­na­tion on the ba­sis of sta­tus of the univer­sity. The truth is that there are federal uni­ver­si­ties that got less than oth­ers, even less than some state uni­ver­si­ties. There are federal uni­ver­si­ties that did not

get any­thing.

You were a for­mer Deputy Vice Chan­cel­lor and now the Act­ing VC, what is your goal now that you are in charge?

My goal now is to re­po­si­tion the in­sti­tu­tion for the pro­vi­sion of qual­ity teach­ing, re­search and pub­li­ca­tions. I shall also lay em­pha­sis on the im­me­di­ate en­vi­ron­ment as part of our cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. But for us to do this, we must im­prove on the wel­fare of both staff and stu­dents, we must in­sti­tu­tion­alise aca­demic cul­ture so as to bring about de­vel­op­ment and op­er­ate as a vi­able univer­sity. We in­tend to achieve this through pub­lic pri­vate part­ner­ship and pub­lic lec­tures. Do­ing so, we be­lieve, will bring the univer­sity closer to the people and en­cour­age par­tic­i­pa­tion. We shall also fo­cus on re­search so that we can be­come a ref­er­ence point in­ter­na­tion­ally. Fi­nally, dis­ci­pline of both stu­dents and staff shall be im­proved. We shall not com­pro­mise on qual­ity and stan­dard in the in­sti­tu­tion. We in­tend to link up with in­sti­tu­tions for cross-car­pet­ing of ideas and knowl­edge for de­vel­op­ment of teach­ing and learn­ing, we shall fund a lot of re­searches for both staff and stu­dents. We are al­ready on this. Only last week, for­mer vice pres­i­dent Atiku Abubakar do­nated 25 mil­lion naira to start a cen­tre for con­flict res­o­lu­tion and other is­sues bor­der­ing that. So, you see we are on a right foot­ing.

In­se­cu­rity, in­ad­e­quate in­fra­struc­tures and in­dis­ci­pline by both teach­ers and stu­dents are on the in­crease across our higher in­sti­tu­tions, what are you do­ing to check them?

Well, on these is­sues, there must be co­op­er­a­tion and enough sen­si­ti­sa­tion and this we are do­ing. The co­op­er­a­tion from all is para­mount in our de­sire to achieve the goals that we have set for our­selves. We are all im­por­tant in this project; we must make sac­ri­fices to make our dear in­sti­tu­tion greater. We have a se­cu­rity net­work that is very im­por­tant and ef­fi­cient, cultism and way­ward be­hav­iours from both staff and stu­dents are not al­lowed to ex­ist. Even though we are a young in­sti­tu­tion, but we are proud of our achieve­ments so far. Our prod­ucts are all over and mak­ing us proud by the day. They make sure they also con­trib­ute to the growth of their alma mater. Only re­cently we met with them and they as­sured us of their readi­ness to in­ter­vene in crit­i­cal ar­eas when called upon to do so.

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