The Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVCNU), an association of 221 Federal, State and Private Nigerian Universities over the weekend was hosted by the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Cui Jianchun in Abuja.
The team led by Prof. Yakubu Ochefu, Secretary General of the CVCNU used the occasion to table requests for collaboration, inter-university exchanges and partnerships between Nigerian universities and their counterparts in China.
Ochefu while addressing the ambassador urged him to use his good offices to help the CVCNU to work out modalities for education, cultural and other relevant exchanges with the Chinese university system, especially with its advancement in tech-based education which he argued would be of much assistance to the growth of the Nigerian university system.
He also presented to the Ambassador, the 60th Anniversary programme of Nigerian Universities with the theme “Celebrating Leadership in Nigerian Universities” and several scheduled activities including; A Documentary and Compendium, Anniversary Symposium and award night, the CVCNU Innovation Challenge for Nigerian Universities and a half marathon race.
The Innovation Challenge which was launched last year with 300 participants is designed to engender research and encourage Nigerian University students to be innovative in conceptualizing and developing solutions to a myriad of problems facing the Country which in turn could translate to multi-million -dollar enterprises impacting positively on the economy. It is focused on key sectors of the Nigerian economy such as Agriculture, ICT, Environment and Security.
The university don asked Ambassador Cui to assist create the possibility for exchanges that would enable Nigerian universities to tap into the benefits of the growth and advancement of agriculture, security, ICT, sports, medicine, communication in Chinese university education.
He challenged the chief diplomat that Universities are ready for such collaboration and would want results that will enhance better relationships between the two worlds. He vouched for the readiness of Nigerian universities to lay the right foundation that would facilitate a fruitful mutual relationship.
While introducing CVCNU, Nigerian journalist and Editor-in-Chief of Africa China Economy Magazine, Ikenna Emewu urged Ambassador Cui to, as usual, do his best to link up the Nigerian university system with China. Emewu an alumnus of two Chinese universities stated that the Chinese university system championed, incubated, and facilitated the manpower growth of China in every facet to the top of global acclaim. He urged that such a good relationship will assist in so many positive ways to deepen and better the cordial 52 years of diplomatic ties between Nigeria and China.
He also reminded him that in the agenda of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), education is a key component that has received adequate attention with so many visible results. Emewu, reminded the ambassador how Nigeria, Africa value the quality of Chinese education, hence the pool of African scholars in their universities has grown by over 200 percent in the past decade.
Speaking on behalf of the University Dons, Professors Tanko Ishaya,Vice Chancellor, University of Jos, host of the Nigerian University Games,NUGA 2024, sought the collaboration of the Chinese Government in developing the sporting infrastructure of the University in preparation for the games. Also speaking, Prof Nicolas Etebu,Vice Chancellor,Bayelsa Medical University, sought the partnership of the Peoples Republic of China in developing the teaching, laboratory and clinical facilities of the institution.
In his response, Ambassador Cui expressed his appreciation to them for considering Chinese universities as worthy partners. He assured them that the embassy will create possibilities for partnerships and very likely initiate moves in Nigeria where a possible forum would be hosted in conjunction with the embassy to create a platform for both university systems to meet regularly.
He told the VCs that their requests were so important for the growth of Nigeria and the diplomatic accord between the two countries. He stated that there would never be any meaningful growth or development in Nigeria until the education system is put at its competitive best on the global scale. Cui noted that the requests of the Vice-Chancellors were in conformity with the original agenda he has pursued in the past two years he has been in Nigeria.
The visit was also necessitated by the upcoming World University Games (WUG)that would be hosted in Chengdu, China from July 27 to August 8 2023 which Nigerian universities under the auspices of Nigeria University Games (NUGA) plan to send a contingent of 100 athletes to participate.
The 2023 edition of the event is expected to attract over 10,000 participants from more than 170 countries. Nigeria is expected to compete for honours in seven events, including track and field, swimming, badminton, judo, taekwando, table tennis, and lawn tennis. The hope is that Nigeria will not only participate but will also excel and need the support of Government, public and private sector to participate, Prof Ochefu concluded.
The CVCNU team that visited the embassy also included Professors Olayemi Akinwunmi (Federal University, Lokoja), Georgewill Owunari (University of Port Harcourt), Isaac Itodo (Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University, Makurdi), a representative of the Vice Chancellor of ABU, Ms. Chidiebere Ezeani, NUGA acting Secretary General, Ms. Karen Daor, Communications Officer, CVCNU, Mr. Ono K. Akpe, CEO of Red Sapphire Limited, consultants to the CVCNU and Mr. Stanley Nkwazema media consultant.