President Muhammadu Buhari, has directed that the four Federal Universities of Agriculture in Nigeria be returned to the Federal Ministry of Education for proper supervision and administration.
The four universities are Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State; Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State; Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Benue State (formerly University of Agriculture, Makurdi); and Federal University of Agriculture, Zuru, Kebbi state.
The Presidential directive has brought to an end, the prolonged loggerhead that had existed between the Federal Ministries of Agriculture and Education over supervision of the specialized universities, hence the inauguration of the governing councils of the universities in Abuja, on Thursday.
Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, who inaugurated the governing councils, explained that the rift and misconception resulted in two years delay in the constitution and inauguration of the governing councils of the respective universities.
Adamu who was represented by the Minister of State for Education, Goodluck Opiah, charged the new council members to hit the ground running, and use their wealth of knowledge and experience to take decisions and steps that would herald significant financial and academic growth and development in their respective institutions.
He said: “Your work is already cut out for you in line with the Federal Government’s belief in Agriculture as the solution to myriad of socio-economic problems in Nigeria, and anchored on the fact that a nation cannot assume true status of nationhood if it cannot feed its people.
“This is one of the reasons for the establishment of the Federal Universities of Agriculture. The Government’s vision and drive for advancement in agriculture depends largely on the success achieved in research, science and technology by these Universities.”
He explained that the Governing Councils are established as the highest policy-making bodies in universities and other tertiary institutions. “As members of Governing Councils, you are expected to play your roles with skill and efficiency, provide leadership that will stimulate rapid growth of the universities and make them more competitive and attractive.
“In doing these, you should ensure that the Universities’ master plans, academic briefs and strategic plans are respected and their provisions strictly adhered to. You are expected to set policies, define directions, lends weight and extends support to the management as the latter implements those policies and decisions of the Council.”
He reminded them that part of governing council responsibilities is to review, approve and monitor the University budget and evaluate its performance vis-a-vis the impact of its implementation, and in addition to that, make deliberate efforts to diversify the sources of funding and support for the university.
The Minister encouraged the Council members to ensure smooth running of affairs of the universities at all times through regular consultation with the management of the Universities, and they should be abreast of laws, government policies, white papers, circulars, gazettes, and other relevant documents that would help in decision making.”
He reminded them that their effective governance in the institutions neither entails nor necessitates their interference in the day-to-day running of the Institutions. “You are rather expected to be concerned with policy issues, adopting best practices, monitoring of institution’s projects and attraction of more funding outside regular Government allocation to improve the facilities and infrastructure that will promote teaching, research and learning in the institutions.”