Nigeria inaugurates first universities visitation panels in a decade

Adamu Adamu, Nigerian Education Minister

The Federal Government of Nigeria has inaugurated a visitation panels for 38 Federal universities and four inter-university centres.

This is the first time such would occur in a decade as against the statutory conduct of such exercise every five years.

At the brief ceremony in Abuja, Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu said government was by the inauguration laying a solid foundation for the restoration of the highest ideals of the University system in Nigeria, which would be marked by the uninterrupted academic calendar, quality teaching and learning infrastructure and enrolment of foreign students among others.

He said President Muhammadu Buhari approved the constitution of the visitation panels following agitation by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and staff unions about governance deficit in the institutions’ coupled by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Commission (ICPC) report of high-level unwholesome practices in some universities.

He described as unacceptable, the ICPC report and tasked members of the panels to the institutions to do a thorough job.

At the University of Ibadan (UI), a former Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, was appointed to head a seven-man panel.

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Also, a retired Nigerian army officer who served as Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of Army Staff, General Martin Luther Agwai, heads the panel to the University of Lagos among other panellists.

Adamu who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Arc. Sonny Echono, said the inauguration of the panels, was part of efforts by the Federal Government to reposition the university system in the country.

He noted that the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guiding the establishment of federal universities and inter-university centres in the country require that from time to time, stock taking on the activities of those institutions be carried out by panels of knowledgeable individuals for the purposes of improving their efficiency and effectiveness.

According to him, the main objective of the visitations, therefore, is to appraise the performance of the institutions, in terms of the leadership qualities of the Vice-Chancellors, Principal Officers and the Governing Councils to ascertain the extent to which they have fulfilled their mandate for public good during the period under review.

“This explains why the exercise also looks closely into financial management, administration and the overall conditions for teaching, learning and research in the affected institutions.

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“As provided for in the laws setting up all public universities in the country, visitations are conducted every five years. The last of such exercises was carried out in early 2011, covering the period 2004-2010.

“In effect, the current exercise will cover a 10 year period, and all panels to be inaugurated shortly are expected to present two separate five-year reports; 2011-2015 and 2016-2020,” he said.

The panels among other things are expected to look into the financial management of each institution including statutory allocations and internally generated revenue over the recommended period and determine whether it was in compliance with appropriate regulations

The Minister further urged them to investigate the application of funds, particularly the special grants and loans meant for specific projects in order to determine the status of such projects and their relevance for further funding and examine the adequacy of the staff and staff development programmes of each university.

He gave each panel 60 days to conclude its assignment and submit the report to the Federal Government.

Meanwhile, Jega, who spoke on behalf of other members of the visitation panels pledged their commitment to producing excellent reports that would assist the Federal Government reposition Universities in Nigeria.

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He called on the Federal Government to ensure that the visitation panels are constituted regularly in line with the five-year statutory provision.

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