FG inaugurates probe panels to 21 colleges, 25 polytechnics

THE Federal Government on Monday inaugurated visitation panels to probe the activities of 21 Federal Colleges of Education and 25 Federal Polytechnics in the last ten years as part of efforts to restore effective governance in the institutions.

One of the key demands of the striking lecturers of public polytechnics in Nigeria, was for the government to constitute visitation panels to the institutions since the last of such exercise was done in 2012 about 10 years ago.

Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu who inaugurated the panels charged the members to probe the financial management of the institution over the recommended period and determine whether it was in compliance with appropriate regulations;

They are also to investigate the application of funds, particularly the special grants and loans meant for specific projects in order to determine the status of such projects and their relevance for further funding.

The panels were given 60 days to complete the exercise and submit reports to the goverment, which the minister told them should come in two volumes of five years each covering the 10 years.

Adamu, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Arc. Sonny Echono, noted that the various Amendment Acts, (1993), setting up these institutions require that the minister of education as the visitor is empowered to constitute visitation panels to ascertain the extent to which the institutions have fulfilled their mandate during the period under review.

He said: “The visitations are conducted every five years. The last of such visitations were conducted in 2012 but covered the period 2004 – 2010.

“In effect, the current exercise will cover a 10-year period, and presented in two separate five-year reports; 2011-2015 and 2016 – 2020.

“In the current exercise, every panel is made up of seven members who have wide and varied experience in the academic and administrative organisation of tertiary institutions or other institutions in the public and private sectors of the economy.

“Each panel is expected to review the performance of the institutions assigned, in the areas of governance, academic standards, quality assurance, management of finances, and the relationship between management on the one hand, and staff and students on the other; the assessment of the condition of physical infrastructures, as well as instructional facilities,” he said.

The panels are also expected to advise the Federal Government on ways to cut on cost, reduce waste and continue to develop, if necessary, by adaptation, rather than expansion in the face of attenuated resources.

Adamu insisted that there was the need to ensure the little resources made available to the Institutions judiciously utilised.

He said the government was concerned about the quality of the products of tertiary institutions and the academic programmes that are being run, including the neglect of facilities and areas where key instructional materials are not available and how the goverment could provide them.

The minister urged members of the visitation panels to adhere strictly to the terms of reference, saying the visitation exercise was not a witch-hunt or a jamboree for unnecessary and wasteful expenditure while stressing that panellists shall therefore be held responsible for their conduct during the exercise.

Emeritus Professor in the Institute of Education, University of Ibadan, Pai Obanya, spoke on behalf of other chairmen and members of the panels, where he expressed gratitude to the Federal Government for considering them fit for the national assignment.

He pledged the commitment of the panellists to adhere to the terms of reference and dateline while ensuring a report is forwarded that would help the goverment in transforming the institutions.

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