From ABUBAKAR IMAM, Sokoto
SECRETARY to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim yesterday observed that the way universities are being localized in the country was sending a wrong signal to potential investors in the system.
“A dangerous dimension is emerging in our universities. There was a violent riot in Minna recently over the appointment of vice chancellor. The rioters were demanding that an indigene must be appointed. This is a dangerous thing that must be changed.
“Let me emphasize that the more we localize our universities, the more damaging we are doing to our university system. If we localize our universities, who would come to invest? We have to be universals not locals,” he said.
Anyim who was delivering a pre-convocation lecture of the Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto with the theme “University Education in Nigeria: Challenges and Prospect” also observed that the time has come for the managers of our institutions to come to terms with the reality of governing a university.
“One area where the failure of management is more glaring in our universities is the management of existing facilities. The rate of decay and dilapidation of facilities is worrisome. Yet in some cases it requires little amount to fix the facilities.
“Leaking roofs or cracked walls that will cost only a small amount of money to effect repairs are allowed to decay until they become huge contracts,” he lamented.
He advised universities to demonstrate greater capacity to complement statutory sources of funding for the attainment of core objectives, saying that, there were oppurtunities that universities could utilize to improve their revenue base that would in the long run reduce their absolute dependence on statutory sources “but this is not without certain conditions, the most important of which is transparency and accountability.”
He reiterated that both ASUU and government were committed to the 2009 agreement which sought among others the establishment of a broad-based Budget Monitoring Committee in all universities to ensure funds were applied to the right priorities and projects implementation strictly monitored.
He urged the federal universities which have not established the committee to do it in earnest.
On students’ accommodation, he said that government and the universities must make concerted investment while incentivizing private sector participation.
One way of doing so, he said, was for government to provide the universities and the private sector some catalytic funds at low interest rates to upgrade on-campus hostels and construct new facilities.
He also tasked universities to dedicate a percentage of their internally generated revenue to the provision of students’ hostels.
The SGF also revealed that government would continue to work towards expanding access for all Nigerians to higher education.
From ABUBAKAR IMAM, Sokoto