The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, on Monday in Abuja inaugurated Governing Councils of five federal universities, urging them to respect federal character in the appointment of members of staff.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the universities include University of Ibadan, University of Lagos, University of Port Harcourt, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife and Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko.
Their council chairmen are John Oyegun- University of Ibadan, Sen. Lanre Tejuoso-University of Lagos, Sen. Andrew Uchendu-University of Port Harcourt, Oscar Udoji-Obafemi Awolowo University and Dr Elias Courson-Maritime University.
The minister, who urged the federal universities governing councils and members to ensure fair representation and change the negative narratives in those institutions, advised them to work with the Federal Character Commission to ensure compliance.
Adamu expressed concern that some universities had become “parochial and primordial enclaves and the concept of universalism in education has been jettisoned, especially in matters regarding staff employment.”
The minister, who was represented by Permanent Secretary, in the ministry, Mr Sony Echono, urged the councils to tackle other challenges affecting smooth running of universities.
“One of the challenges which Governing Councils should tackle in the course of their tenure is the appointment of Principal Officers.
“The councils must ensure that proper attention and priority is accorded to relevant university laws and government guidelines in the process of such appointments.
“Governing councils must ensure that transparency, probity and due process are followed in the selection and appointment processes to ensure the emergence of the best candidates for these positions,” he said.
He urged the councils to encourage responsive and responsible unionism in their respective institutions to ensure stability and smooth running of the academic programmes.
“You should effectively co-operate with the visitation panels that have just been sent to your universities.
“The primary aim of the visitation panels is to examine the challenges confronting each university and make appropriate recommendations for dealing with them,” he said.
The minister asked them to shun conflicts, saying, clash of interests, values, actions or directions often led to conflicts between managements and governing councils of tertiary institutions.
He warned that the ministry would not hesitate in recommending dissolution of any governing council involved in “persistent, unwarranted or self-inflicted crises.”
He further harped on the need to ensure proper management of funds among others, to revamp tertiary institutions in the country.
In his address of welcome, the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, expressed satisfaction with the constitution of the councils in view of the crisis witnessed in some institutions.
He said, “NUC has been fully acquainted with the circumstances leading to the dissolution of the governing councils of the universities of Lagos, Port Harcourt and Ibadan.
He said the NUC had been committed to the task of rapid revitalisation of university education through curriculum re-engineering, review of accreditation, research and postgraduate development, empowering women among others.
Kashim Ibrahim-Imam, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), assured that TETFund would support universities to carry out their mandate by providing the needed support.
He said, “We are ready to impact on every aspect of tertiary education.”
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for placing premium on education.
Responding on behalf of other governing council chairmen, Oyegun assured of their readiness to set the schools on the path of excellence.
“It is a challenge to us to hear that the president chose competent and notable hands to drive this process.
“Since he considers us fit we promise to be part of the reinvigoration of tertiary institutions in the country.
“We are going into this committed and to build on what we have met and correct any errors that might have been inflicted on the system,” he said.
He pledged that chairmen would work to change the negative narratives in various universities appointed them to.