By Peter Duru, Makurdi
The outgoing Vice-Chancellor of the Benue State University, BSU, Prof. Moses Kembe, Thursday lamented that the coming of the COVID-19 pandemic created a lot of confusion in the university system.
Prof. Kembe who made the assertion in a valedictory press conference in Makurdi regretted also that the pandemic which compelled the government to close down schools across the country saw him serving for only four active years as Vice-Chancellor instead of five years due to the outbreak.
According to the Vice-Chancellor, “COVID-19 brought a lot of confusion in the university system and that is very regrettable. As Vice-Chancellor I had wanted students to graduate as scheduled. I had wanted a very stable academic year so that the students would graduate as and when due.
“The present session was supposed to end in March and students were in their exams and had not finished the exams when the problem started and everything was suspended. That gave me a lot of headaches.
“But what you cannot change you certainly cannot change, you just take it. I am leaving office in a few days time as Vice-Chancellor after completing my five years in office but in the actual sense, I did only four years.
“We lost one year due to the closure of schools and it actually created a lot of drawbacks for us in the university system because we had lots we had slatted to accomplish in the last one year but the coming of the pandemic would not allow us to achieve them. I regret the one year we lost,” He said.
Despite the set back created by COVID-19, Prof. Kembe stressed that his tenure in the institution as the 5th Vice-Chancellor was eventful and filled with various accomplishments.
He said his tenure witnessed the expansion of the university’s carrying capacity from 4,655 to 7,134 students. “We also developed and strengthened our undergraduate training programme which was 51 at the time I took over, to over 60 today. We also reviewed our postgraduate programmes.”
“Our Staff strength has been increased by 35 per cent. From a strength of 522 when I assumed office we now have a staff strength of close to 700. The teacher/student ratio stood at 1 to 46 at the time I took over but now it is 1 to 37 which is in line with the provisions of the National Universities Commission, NUC.”
Prof. Kembe who reeled out several of his other achievements in the last five years including the construction of a 288-bed space hostel, other infrastructural and ICT developments and lots of others, identified funding as a major challenge of the university.