The Honourable Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola SAN has charged the Vice Chancellors in Nigeria Universities to channel the data in their confines to guide government, the business community and the citizenry on national development. Fashola gave the charge while granting audience to the Association of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, who paid him a courtesy visit today in his office.
The Minister said, “The world is chasing data, collating data, this data is sitting in our Universities, almost every lecturer ask students to write one research paper or the other. We can use this data in a useful form, to inform our government, to inform businessmen, to inform the society”. He added that for instance such information could be used in the analysis of a local government with a view to yielding positive results.
In response to the call for his support by the Vice Chancellors, he said, “In terms of collaborative relationship on infrastructure, you can take my cooperation for granted”. Fashola stated that the Ministry of Works and Housing had intervened in the building of roads in 44 tertiary institutions in the country under this administration but lamented that when people criticize government on the state of roads no University came to inform the public on those interventions.
The Minister who described the University as an investment into the future urged the Vice Chancellors to be discreet in the award of honourary degrees which he described as very important building blocks that should be given to only deserving people and not for those whose achievement is just the occupation of a political office.
He said this would encourage the youth to work harder while charging honourary degree holders to bring their impact to bear in the development of the universities. Fashola also advised them to bring Professors together to write an acceptable version of the Nigerian history that will be taught in schools like it was done in some other climes.
Speaking earlier, Secretary General of the Association and leader of the delegation, Professor Yakubu Aboki Ochefu informed the Minister that the Association which was established in 1962 is a platform for sharing ideas and engaging Nigerians on issues that affect the Nigerian universities. He added that the organization which had the universities of Ibadan, Lagos, Ife, Nsukka and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria at inception now has 174 universities.
Professor Ochefu who praised the Minister for his commitment to road construction and maintenance, expressed gratitude to him for the intervention of his Ministry in the building of internal road in 44 tertiary institutions across Nigeria. He informed Fashola that they were in the Ministry to seek his cooperation in their plan to produce a compendium on the forthcoming celebration of the 60th anniversary of their association in Nigeria, and his support to tackle the problems facing Nigerian universities.
Professor Ochefu said that the group decided to seek partnership with the Minister to share experience in view of the pivotal role he played in the development of Lagos State university when he was the Governor of Lagos State.
Present at the occasion were the Minister of State for Works and Housing, Engr. Abubakar D. Aliyu, [FNSE], the Director overseeing the office of the Permanent Secretary, Engr. Yemi Oguntominiyi and other Directors of the Ministry.