More than a year after their appointment, the Nigerian government on Thursday inaugurated the boards of trustees of four federal agricultural universities.
The five-member board of each institution is appointed by the government for a four-year term.
Relevant institutions include Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Ogun State; Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike; Abia State; Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Benue State, and Federal University of Agriculture, Zuru, Kebbi State.
Sources confirmed that unlike their counterparts at other non-specialist universities, the inauguration of the four councils had been delayed due to controversy over whether they would report to the Ministry of Education or its Agriculture counterpart.
But President Muhammadu Buhari ordered that the institutions be domiciled under the Ministry of Education.
Inaugurating board members at the National Universities Commission (NUC) in Abuja on Thursday, Education Minister Adamu Adamu instructed them to look outward and explore opportunities to attract funding from their respective universities.
He said: “The Council should make deliberate efforts to diversify the sources of funding and support for the university.
“In these difficult economic times and in the government’s desire to increase private sector participation in our higher education institutions, I want to task you with coming up with ideas that will generate more revenue, outside of government allocations.
“To this end, Councils should look outward and seek the support of philanthropic organizations and individuals for additional funding for institutional projects. In addition, the Council can explore other sources of income through endowments.
Represented by Minister of State for Education, Goodluck Opiah, Mr. Adamu noted that the government looks forward to the success of these universities in research, science and technology, to help advance the agriculture.
He said the government is convinced that agriculture is the solution to the country’s myriad socio-economic problems.
“A nation cannot assume its true nationhood if it cannot feed its people and this is one of the reasons for the establishment of the Federal Universities of Agriculture,” Adamu said.
He also warned them against the “erroneous” belief that any senior university official must come from the locality of the institutions, saying all appointments should be based on merit.
“Such ideas, which have watered down the integrity of our institutions of higher learning, are alien and must not be allowed to cloud your decisions, merit must always remain our watchword and guiding principle,” a- he declared.
He also advised council members to refrain from interfering in the day-to-day running of universities as their duties do not involve it.
Noting a distinction between “university governance” and “university management”, Mr Adamu said the lack of respect for this distinction has led to friction between the governing body and other bodies of the university.
According to him, the functions of the board of directors include establishing policies, defining orientations, examining, approving and monitoring the budget of the University and evaluating its performance as well as evaluating the overall impact of its implementation.
He said it is the role of the board to support management in implementing board policies and decisions.
“In order to be relevant and effective institutions, the board should rather concern itself with political issues, adopt best practices, monitor the institutions’ projects and attract more funding outside the regular government allocation to improve facilities and infrastructure that will support teaching, Research and Learning in institutions.
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“To ensure the smooth conduct of business, therefore, boards of trustees should at all times, in consultation with the management of such universities, be aware of applicable laws, government policies, white papers, circulars, gazettes and other relevant documents that will help in decision-making. Let me reiterate that your effective governance does not imply or necessitate the interference of the Boards in the day-to-day running of the institutions.”
The minister also called for industrial peace, saying that progress can only take place in an atmosphere of peace.
“Activities that can disrupt teaching, research, meaningful learning and community service should be avoided,” he said.
The people appointed to the boards of directors of each of the universities are FUNAAB: Umar Ahmed (president), Inuwa Tahir (member), Patrick Omeke (member), Adegboyega Adebajo (member) and Celina Gana (member).
For Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University of Agriculture, Makurdi, are Chidinma Uwajimogu (Chair), Enadeghe SE (Member), Nancy Torhee (Member), Antibas Elnathan (Member) and Adamu Sani (Member).
At Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abubakar Sodangi, Former Senator (President), Leonard Nzadon (Member), Kevin Ojob, Engineer (Member), Aliyu Shungurun (Member) and David Emaniru (Member).
For the Federal University of Agriculture, Zuru, Chinedu Nwajiuba (President), Ahmed Mohammed, Professor, (Member), Hussaini Zimbo (Member), Ayodeji Alonge, (Member) and Podar Yuwan (Member).
Qosim Suleiman is a journalist at Premium Times in partnership with report for the worldwhich combines local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to cover under-reported issues around the world
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