The immediate-past Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Prof. Julius Okojie ,Wednesday , said the commission supported the scrapping of post Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) to protect the students from being swindled.
Okojie however, said despite the scrapping of the post UTME, the Senate of each institution has the autonomy and authority to determine who to admit and when to admit
The former NUC boss stated this at a welcome reception organised for him by the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) to welcome him back to the institution after ten years of service at the NUC.
Okojie who was also a former Vice Chancellor of the University had left the institution 15 years ago and became Vice Chancellor, Bells University of Technology, Ota before he was appointed by Federal Government as Executive Secretary of NUC.
There had been mixed reactions over the scrapping of post UTME by the Federal Government.
While defending the decision of the Federal Government on the scrapping, Okojie said the decision was taken to stop the cumbersome process of admission into the university.
He said, “the post UTME has come in different manners. It can come in interview form, it can be screening. But in all, the Senate reserves the authority. The autonomy of the Senate is always there, they can decide when to admit, how to admit and who to admit.”
He added, “What government is saying is that there shouldn’t be too much divergent to the extent that we are swindling the students, ordinarily we should leave the universities to handle their issues”.
While speaking on the recent crisis erupted over the appointment of Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, Okojie also justified the appointment of the Acting Vice Chancellor of the institution, saying the NUC got the Senate of the school to act on the issue because they had the autonomy to do so.
He said, “One of the major challenges I faced at the NUC was the appointment of the Vice Chancellor of Ife, when it came though, I had to use my God given wisdom and the knowledge of the system to resolve the issue.
“The autonomy of the NUC was on trial and we needed the Senate to regulate the steps of appointment. Yes, they make laws but they also regulate the law and they can always change what the laws they had made, so we got the Senate to act on this occasion to choose an acting Vice Chancellor but there were issues on that, some people were asking what was the essence of the NUC’s autonomy, why are we asking the President to direct the Senate. But there an aspect of the law that gives the Senate the autonomy to decide on that and that is what we did”.
Meanwhile, Okojie has set the record straight, saying he was never sacked by the Federal Government.
Okojie while speaking at the Special Senate meeting held for him by the management of FUNAAB, said he had written the Federal Government through the Minister two and half months before he left office notifying them of his plan to leave office.
He said he had also written the minister of Education a month to his exit, notifying him of his plan to hand over to the most senior officer in the commission.
While claiming that he indeed handed over to the most senior officer in the commission a day before the new person was announced.
Okogie however, attributed his achievements at the NUC to teamwork, saying “I worked with many people, it can not only be my own legacy, our legacy is we have left the university system better than we met it, so it was a collective effort of everybody and not my legacy alone.”
The Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Olusola Oyewole extolled the attributes of Okojie and appreciated him for being a visionary leader.
According to FUNAAB VC, “As a leader , the vision that he has for FUNAAB is still there and we are proud that while he was away he represented us well and he didn’t let us down.”
“Here is a man who is generous to the core, here is a man who will say it the way it is from his mind. Here is a man who will not quarrel with you, but, if you cross him in his own way, he will tell you that he doesn’t like that thing you have done and that is the end of it”.
“In the past ten years he has been able to hold on to the leadership of the university system in this country as the Executive Secretary of the NUC and I believe the grace of God was on his side and he was able to hand over to a successor before he left the place. It is indeed a great honour to have in our midst the first Vice Chancellor to have left this university and be able to come back to our midst,” he added.