I am singularly delighted with the opportunity of leading a team of Vice-Chancellors from Nigeria to pay a courtesy call on His Excellency Sarafa Tunji Isola, and his team at Nigeria House London. His Excellency not only warmly received our request for the visit but in his desire to ensure that every opportunity to add value to the essence of diplomatic service, he went on to convoke a meeting with the Universities United Kingdom. By so doing, he practically read our minds in terms of why we are in the United Kingdom in the first instance.
As you may be aware, the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities is a 59-year-old organisation. It started with five Vice-Chancellors of the two Federal Universities (Ibadan and Lagos) and three regional Universities (Nsukka, Zaria and Ife). The membership is now 180, with another 20 billed to join before the end of the year. The CVC serves as a platform for assisting Nigerian Universities attain academic, administrative and community relations excellence through cooperation and exchange of ideas of its leadership. It also serves as a Bureau of Information on Nigerian Universities and a forum for collaboration with Government and Non-Governmental organisations, Ministries, Parastatals, Agencies and other National and International Organisations on matters concerning University Education. Our vision is “To be a veritable platform for Nigerian Universities to attain academic excellence through cooperation and exchange of ideas”. Our core value which is “Collaboration and Service”, is at the essence of our visit to Nigeria House today. We came to explore how the High Commission can facilitate our efforts at seeking collaboration in joint research efforts, training, consultancy and how we can enhance institutional links and other services. We know that there is a lot already going on, especially in terms of student admissions, but we desire to explore more opportunities that will be mutually rewarding.
Your Excellency Sir, as you very well know, we are now in a digital age in which data is the ‘crude oil’. According to a recent report by the World Economic Forum, globally, 442 zeta bytes of data is generated daily. Nigeria, with a population above 200 million persons, of which nearly 70 million are connected to the internet, the opportunities in Big Data aggregation, data analytics, and local content data generation are enormous. We believe that Nigerian Universities must play a leading role in research, development and customisation of locally generated and curated data. This will enable us to plug into a local “Data Value Chain” that potentially is worth 100 trillion naira and a global one that is worth even much more.
In December 2019, the CVCNU commissioned a study on portal infrastructure in 155 Nigerian Universities. The outcome showed that while 98% of our Universities have websites and portals, only 50.32% of universities have an Open Education Resources (OER) platform. 58.06% do not have an Online Library Platform, 97.42% do not have an online exam portal, 93.55% do not have a plagiarism checker, and 94.84% do not have an online e-book store. A team from the University of Ilorin also did a survey on Online learning amongst Nigerian University students. The survey showed that over 40% of the 5000 students surveyed have never taken an online lecture. They also identified the cost of bandwidth, cost of devices and inadequate power supply as the significant challenges that mitigates against them going online. Given the importance of online learning, the CVC seeks partnerships and collaborations with global solution providers to mitigate this challenge.
For the meeting with the Universities UK-International that you most graciously facilitated, we plan to discuss the following:
- Collaboration with Nigerian Universities in areas of research, capacity building, and exchange of programmes.
- Promote UUK-I and CVCNU joint projects
- Organise joint conferences, webinars and round tables in areas of common interest or supporting conferences of each other
- Encourage members to take advantage of calls for scholarships and grants through the CVCNU.
- Organise joint workshops (whether online or face to face) to support capacity building for the Nigerian higher education sector.
- Promote the transfer of best practices among various institutions and countries.
- Leverage on the experience of UUK-I in working with Parliament to promote legislation that supports University Education.
- Promote each other’s services across the United Kingdom and within Nigeria that will be mutually beneficial.
Let me conclude by thanking His Excellency Sarafa Tunji Isola for the warm reception and willingness to support our efforts at engaging with international partners in the UK. I thank our strategic partner in this UK Training Mr A. Adedeji and his team for giving us an excellent experience. Our Pro-Chancellors, Members of Council, Vice-Chancellors and Principal officers who braved the odds to travel in these trying times, I say thank you. It is a testimony to your desire to deliver on a most difficult job of managing universities in Nigeria. Mr Paulinus Nwokoro of the High Commission has been excellent in his facilitation of this meeting. I say thank you very much to him.
Thank you all, and good morning.