Minister of Education in Nigeria, Professor Mamman Tahir, has urged Universities in the country being the intellectual powerhouse, to establish suitable engagement with the industrial sector as partners to move the country from import-dependent to an industrialized and manufacturing hub.
He made the call at the opening ceremony of the 60th-year celebration of the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, CVCNU being held in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.
He said the foundation of industrialization of most countries rests in university research activities.
“This is why governments in developed countries place much premium on domestic and imported intellectuals,” said the minister.
He urged the University community to ensure contributions are made to research and innovations that exploit the myriads of opportunities that abound in the natural resources of the country as well as placement of Nigerian universities in the committee of nations as problem solvers.
“Ensure placement of universities in the committee of nations that use science and technology as vehicles for solving its problems in power (energy), youth unemployment, engineering and allied sciences; medicine, pharmaceutical products and other health sciences; agriculture and agro-allied products.
“Your laboratories and scientists should be fully busy harnessing the country’s natural resources along these and many more.”
He said a further expectation from the Universities is the internal management of the universities that assures transparency and integrity consultations with appropriate stakeholders such as staff and students, universities alumni and special interest groups/persons to enhance peace.
According to him, the universities are also expected to tap into, explore and exploit other sources as is the convention globally to support government funding.
“Such sources include alumni, commissioned researches, consultancy & other specialized services such as medical, legal and business,” stressed the minister.
He hinted that steps are being taken to power the universities through gas-powered facilities using the PPP window provided by the government, adding that the scheme is intended to start with 18 universities in the first instance.
“The shortlisted universities will be contacted at the appropriate stage of the project. The centrality of the power to service delivery, research and cost savings cannot be over-emphasized,” he said.
He commends the efforts of the Vice Chancellors and the University system for the vast mileage achieved in the university system which prides itself with a large population of 269 (both public and private universities).
The Chairman of CVCNU, Professor Lilian Salami said the event brought together resource persons and other stakeholders driving the educational system to listen, appraise gains, value addition to the ecosystem, challenges and chat ways forward.
“We talked about gains, the value we have added to the ecosystem and we have also talked about our challenges. So, when you are dealing with this group of persons you expect that the trajectory will change, that they will go back and look at those challenges.
“This is why the gathering is not only to celebrate but to think, to rejig and then to re-engineer the system so that we have a better future, a better tomorrow, better posterity,” she said.
She explained that despite challenges, the Nigerian University system does not compromise quality being the reason why our country’s graduates come top outside the shores.
The Secretary General of CVCNU, Professor Yakubu Ochefu on his part said in the spirit of the 60th-year celebration, the group is opening doors for ideas, conventions and new developments on how to improve the system.
“We have made a lot of improvement in the University system, there is room for more improvement and we believe that now that we have opened our doors, our stakeholders can look at us and say this is how we can support the system.
“It’s not the Federal Government, State and private actors alone who have decided to invest in the University system. It is about all of us because education is for the entire ecosystem. How are Alumni supporting their Alma mata? These are some of the supports we are talking about,” he said.
The CVCNU 60th-year celebration will hold for four days featuring paper presentations, Workshops, Exhibition and Awards with participants from in and outside the country.