Nigerian varsities semi-autonomous —NUC

THE National Universities Commission (NUC) has said that Nigerian universities run semi-autonomy based on the University Autonomy Act in place.

Executive secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Abubakar Rasheed, said this in Abuja when he received a delegation from the Federal Character Commission (FCC) led by Mr Dipo Akinsola, director of the newly established Department of Socio-Economic and Infrastructural Development at FCC.

Rasheed who was represented by the director, Research, Innovation and Communication Technology, Dr Suleiman Ramon-Yusuf, said the FCC’s visit was a welcome development to sensitise the commission on its line of duty, especially as it borders on enforcement of equitable distribution of social services to the citizens.

He said government has gone beyond the issue of recruitment to ensuring that facilities are evenly distributed, saying that this was exemplified by government giving all states opportunity to have federal universities in their domain.

The NUC chief noted that justice and equity would guarantee sustainable economic development as long as the FCC applies the right mechanisms.

He argued that projects must not only be based on needs, but evenly spread; and that Nigerian people should demand value for money on every project.

While urging the FCC to ensure equity and fairness in the discharge of its functions, Professor Rasheed informed the delegation that NUC with its present status does not meddle into admission of students in the universities.

He noted that the University Autonomy Act makes it mandatory for universities to run as semi-autonomous institutions, explaining that the issue of inclusion as demanded by the team does not fall within the mandate of the commission.

He explained that universities have a stakeholders’ forum where decisions on University Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) cut-off marks are decided for the national level, while universities also have some peculiarities that guide them such as merit, catchment area and programme quota, among others.

According to him, except the FCC draws a distinction between its mandate and anticipated limit of operations, with regard to the universities, it might tread on the wrong path.

The FCC director, Mr Dipo Akinsola, said the visit to NUC on sensitisation and advocacy was in line with its mandate, as specified in paragraph 8 (1) b of Section C, third schedule of Nigeria’s constitution.

He recalled that only last year, the president gave legal backing to its second mandate, which borders on equitable and fair distribution of amenities and facilities across the country, through this approval.

Akinsola said the FCC was aware that the universities through the NUC offer social services in terms of recruitment of staff, admission of students, municipal services and distribution of capital projects in the institutions.

He noted that the FCC intended to partner with NUC by getting involved in the areas of admission procedure for placement of students in the universities as well as securing the fair and equitable distribution of amenities to these universities based on its mandate.