Why Biu deserves Army university —Ndume
The Bill for an Act to establish the Nigerian Army University, Biu, Borno State passed second reading in the Senate. The sponsor and senator representing Borno South senatorial district, Ali Ndume, spoke with newsmen shortly after presenting his lead debate. Senator Ndume, incidentally the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, said there was nothing untoward in the location of the federal institution in the home town of the Chief of Army Staff (CAS), Tukur Buratai. TAIWO AMODU was there.
What makes this university unique and why a special university for the military?
One of the unique features of that university is the fact that yes, we have the Nigerian Defence Academy, Nigeria War College, Nigerian Military School and all that but in those institutions, it is purely for the military; the civilian components isn’t there, or it doesn’t make provisions for those that are in the military and want to enhance their academic career. They only have to go to other conventional universities. So, the Nigerian Army University will provide the blend that is required. That’s why it is the only university for example that will have three deputy vice-chancellors: one is the DVC academics, the administration and that’s what you know in normal conventional university. But this university has DVC military and that will now provide the civilians with the academic atmosphere to learn academically and earn higher degrees. So, you don’t have to be a soldier to be in that university. That’s one.
Secondly, all the universities in this country have now been tailored towards specifics, in the sense that you hardly see somebody from Borno now attending the University of Nsukka because the universities have been compartmentalised into regions, States, catchment areas and all that. But this particular university is for Nigeria, you can come from anywhere and there is no issue of quota system; no issue of religion and all that. So, that makes it a unifying place for all those that are interested in academics, especially with courses related to the military and like I said in the lead debate, it will provide the civilians knowledge of the military and it will also provide the military the academic mixture with the civilians. This is the main reason and like I said, the university is already on ground; academic activities have started, and they have five faculties there and they have 39 courses in place now.
What the National Assembly is trying to do now that it has passed through the second reading is to provide the enabling legal framework that is constitutionally required for every institution like this that is established. That’s why we are fast-tracking it and as you can see, when I presented the lead debate, my colleagues were magnanimous in supporting it overwhelmingly
Why did the Chief of Army Staff pick his town, Biu as the location for the university and senators didn’t see anything wrong with that decision?
You want me to answer that? Well, charity begins at home.
Why? Is it wise to locate a huge national asset in that area now, considering the activities of insurgents?
Are you saying that because we are unfortunate to be facing the callous actions by the insurgents, then the nation should abandon us and say we shouldn’t get anything?If anything, the Nigerian Army University is most appropriately to be located in Biu. In fact, it should be in Sambisa; right inside there! But you know that’s what is killing us. Yes, it is located in Biu, but let me tell you one thing: ever since before the coming of that university, we have been advocating, because I represent Borno South, and if you know the history of Borno, we have several institutions in Borno State, it is only a College of Education that’s located in Biu. Go and look at the history of Borno and the geography of Borno and where the academicians are coming and the crave for education. You will find out that it is mostly in Southern Borno. In fact, left to me, for the requirement of Nigeria and specifically that area, there should be more universities.
Remember last year, the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) confessed that 10 million applicants applied but the whole Nigerian universities could only take two million. So, that means there is more than over seven million Nigerians who couldn’t get admission. Let me tell you to your surprise, that yes, that university has been located in an area where you think there is insecurity, but 80 per cent of the students right now especially from the 1,700 that were admitted this year are from the southern part of the country. Go and check the records.
That means, this insecurity that you are talking about isn’t in the minds of our youths. They are thinking Nigeria. And let me add another one just last week, I met a graduate from the University of Maiduguri, a Yoruba, he is in Lagos and he is rearing cattle in Biu. He will go to northern Borno, where there is war now he will buy those goats that are emaciated and then buy a trailer road and take it to Biu because the environment there is conducive and then there is grass, he will keep and fatten them there for three months then,he will move them to Lagos. So, the ordinary Nigerian, their thinking is far, far outside this your fear and position.
There is this growing trend that you can only get job placement in the Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) only when our federal lawmakers secure slots for you. What is the fate of the ordinary Nigerians?
Honestly, I think that the government should take drastic action to stop it. It is now a known fact that we the members of the National Assembly, particularly the senators are being bamboozled with requests for letter for recommendations for employment. But I feel very bad about that. What of those that don’t have that access? So, it is wrong in Nigeria to be born from a poor house or disadvantaged home? I think that the government should actually criminalise such act. You won’t believe it, one of my daughters went through my friend because I refused. So, he asked my friend and he wrote to an organisation and she was given a job. She came back and she was teasing me saying, ‘look you couldn’t help me but your friend got me a job! I said I would write a petition because you people should be sacked. Why would you just because you are privileged to be the daughter of a senator then they will give you a job? What of the poor man? So, I am totally against that. When we were trying to recruit people into the police, some were demanding that you have to give them something. Of course, you will go out of your way to do that because you are desperate but you know it isn’t right. The government and the National Assembly should try to discourage it. Let people be employed, based on the constitutional provisions on federal character and merit. But that isn’t being done. It is very sad. I feel very bad about it because I am just opportune to come out and be what I am without knowing anybody. Now, there are some people like me but their own barrier is that they don’t know anybody. And I have said it that this country won’t have peace until the son of nobody can become somebody without knowing anybody.