21 February 2013

Nigeria: Governing Councils to Target Extra Funding

Federal government admitted Thursday it couldn't have all its universities depending on government funding. It also said considering ethnic affiliations in the appointment of university principal officers would no longer be an option.

This comes as it constituted governing councils for four federal universities which have run for long without councils.

Education minister Ruqayattu Rufa'i said governing councils running universities should seek more funding from "philanthropy" and "endowment".

The councils should "come up with ideas to [improve the ability of the schools] to generate more revenue outside government financing," she said.

She emphasized that in appointing principal officers to run universities, the councils must favour merit over the ethnic background of candidates.

"The idea that the chief executive should come from the locality is alien to the system. [The appointment of principal officers] should be based on merit," the minister noted.

Senator Uche Chukwumerije, chairman of the Senate committee on education, warned the councils will face "challenges of falling standards, discipline, corruption and the Nigerian factor".

Poor governing quality

He said universities are regularly beset by lack of leadership and poor quality of their governing councils, noting that the new appointments, which include for senators and ministers, showed consideration for quality was "obvious and transparent".

The heads of the governing councils are: Prof Jerry Gana for UNILAG, Senator Bob Dickson Effiong for UNIBEN, Rowland Ndoma Egba for OAU and Anya O Anya for Michael Okpara University.

Councils are free in the discharge of their duties, though they can be dissolved by the visitor any time in the next four years, the minister noted.

The four schools get new councils because their former governing councils "did not serve out their tenure of four years," according to Rufa'i.

But she assured "there will be no interference" from government in the workings of the councils.

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