BY DAYO ADESULU
The Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Julius Okojie, has tasked members of the National Project Performance and Review Committee (NPPRC) of the African Centres of Excellence (ACE) project, to be objective and thorough in the discharge of their assignment.
He gave the charge while inaugurating the committee at the NUC Secretariat, Abuja. Professor Okojie reminded them that they were ‘ambassadors of the Commission’, with the responsibilities to create awareness on the relevance of the ACE project and assist interested universities in formulating award-winning proposals.
The Executive Secretary expressed pleasure with the composition of the Committee, acknowledging that it was made up of respectable academics who had contributed in various ways to growing, developing and uplifting the Nigerian University System (NUS). He appealed to them to bring their wealth of experience to bear, to ensure that whatever peer review mechanism they came up with, would enable the system to regain its lost glory.
Professor Okojie observed the deficiencies in the NUS, which he linked to indiscipline and mismanagement of the universities, adding that these anomalies required the collective action of all well-meaning academics to tackle. He decried the level of corruption in the universities and tasked the Committee to be critical, above board and transparent, to justify the confidence reposed on them.
He lamented that mentorship and mentoring, which used to be the hallmark of academics, had disappeared with the new breed of lecturers unwilling to mentor those behind them, insisting that there was no pride in bearing the toga of a Professor, when as an academic, one failed to replicate himself in supervising PhD projects.
The NUC scribe said that the Nigerian Research and Education Network (NgREN) initiative, had not witnessed much progress due to distortions caused by the striking academics in the universities.
The universities were currently at crossroads and must determine the kind of academics they intended to produce for the next generation of Nigerians. The Vice-Chancellors, he added, had their own share of the blame, with some of them exhibiting lack of knowledge of the activities going on in the system, including awareness of the ACE Project.
Professor Okojie condemned the lack of exposure of academics to the outside world, saying that it had contributed to stalling productivity in the system.