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Universities are for Knowledge Production not for Baking Bread and Producing Sachet Water – Prof. Attahiru Jega

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Pic.10. From left: Former chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega; former Vice Chancellor of  the University of Ibadan, Prof. Bamiro Olufemi; and former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Prof. Dapo Afolabi, at the Nigeria Higher Education Summit in Abuja on Monday (21/11/16). 8499/21/11/2016/ Deborah Bada/BJO/NAN

Former chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega; former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Bamiro Olufemi; and former Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Prof. Dapo Afolabi, at the Nigeria Higher Education Summit in Abuja on Monday (21/11/16).8499/21/11/2016/ Deborah Bada/BJO/NAN

The former Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, has criticised the trend where universities engage in bread and sachet water production to generate funds.

Jega, who is the Pro-Chancellor, Plateau State University, Bokkos, expressed displeasure over the trend at the opening of the three-day 2016 Nigerian Higher Education Summit on Monday in Abuja.

Organised by the Association/Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (AVCNU/CVC) and TrustAfrica, the summit has “Exploiting Diversity, Differentiation and Quality Assurance in Revitalising the Nigerian Higher Education System” as its theme.

According to Jega, the crisis of funding in Nigerian universities is acute but the primary responsibility of funding universities is that of government.

He said that “putting universities in such a dire situation where they have to be doing things like producing and selling sachet water is sad; frankly, it is not the business of universities”.

“We want young unemployed youths to be involved in such entrepreneurial activities to generate income for themselves and to build businesses.

For a university to become in dire and desperate need for money as to bake bread and produce sachet water is unwholesome and needs to be discouraged.

Government needs to provide sufficient funding to universities,” Jega, a former President of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), said.

The don said universities were in the business of knowledge production and should strive to produce patents or prototypes which they could engage Nigerian industries to manufacture.

He added that the problem was not that government lacked money but for it to re-arrange its priorities so that it recognised the importance of education and provide commensurate funding to universities.

The former INEC boss said there was also the need for the management of Nigerian universities to have an inclusive and transparent process of managing resources.

According to him, it is unhealthy for universities to be struggling to generate funds to carry out their mandates.

He said that for strikes to be avoided, there should be mutual respect between the Federal Government and the unions.

“It is important for government to bend over backwards and it is important for unions to be realistic in their demands in order to find solutions,” he said.

On his part, Professor Michael Faborode, the Secretary-General, AVCNU/CVC, said a lot had been achieved by Nigerian universities despite the numerous challenges.

He said that out of 22 centres of excellence in Africa, 10 were in Nigeria, noting that this was worth celebrating.

“The fight against Ebola virus spread was led by the Centre for Infectious Diseases in Redeemers’ University, Osun State and they have some of their products here to display. Let us bring all these into the fore; it is not all about mourning the Nigerian university system all the time; we need to celebrate the successes,” he added.

 

13 Comments

  1. Marian

    November 22, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    High school nko? This is a common practice in public high schools too. Teachers bring goods to school and will use some of the students to sell to other students. Is it wrong? Yup but they have to feed their families too. Some of them have not been paid in 6 months.
    Some teachers won’t even show up to teach, they send their notes to the class captain who is now responsible for writing it on the board for others to copy.

    Nigeria is just somehow mehn.

    • Fleur

      November 24, 2016 at 3:39 am

      I actually find this comment from the minister bizarre. Why can the university not host a student run water processing plant to give its students first hand entrepreneurial experience with such a vital need everywhere? I can see where the chemistry students learn water treatment through practice, the marketing students sharpen their marketing and branding skills, the environmental students learn about hte practice of assuring safe drinking water, the engineering students learn how to manage a plant in real life, the accounting students gain first hand experience with managing large accounts, and what is more……. the company can actually generate a trust fund to support students who need scholarships and/or it can be used to fund graduate research, build state of the art laboratories, fix school infrastructure, etc. Nigerians, think!! Look at the Stanford model. Universities that are functioning should in this day and age also incubate innovation that can be scaled for social benefit. This is even more critical when the Nigerian government is failing woefully in its duties to the education sector.

  2. Paul Adeyemo

    November 22, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    Spot on Prof. Universities in Nigeria don’t have business of producing pure water and the likes. I also disagree that Govt should fund universities. There are so many things Govt need to find. The infrastructural deficit in Nigeria is mind boggling. University source of funding should be through TUITION. As it is in Nigeria, a student who is undergraduate in UNILAG in the faculty of Engineering paying 50k naira to study civil engineering is not sufficient at all. 50k naira in pounds is less than 100 pounds. How do you expect the Faculty to buy state of the art digital instruments into the workshop. The Engineering workshops of most universities especially the first generation ivory tower (OAU, UI, ABU, UNILAG) are the same materials they had in the 70s. The way out is tuition fee must be increased in Nigeria if we want to face reality, an Engineering student in OAU must pay at least 500k to read any course in that faculty. How can most private nusert/primary schools in Ikeja be more expensive than a university degree from OAU. Primary and secondary school must be free but university education must not be free if we want to compete and we want top quality education. University education must not be for everybody. A lot of people who didn’t go to university are also very successful.

    • gbaskelebo

      November 22, 2016 at 1:48 pm

      I totally disagree on the above the fact that tuition fees are made exorbitant in the private institution in Nigeria does not guarantee knowledge transfer to students or quality research system, international universities in Germany and the Scandinavia countries for instance still run their undergraduate and postgraduate programmes tuition free and still produce research and methods beneficial to the world! on this basis I will say it is not about finance but about a purposeful management with a desired goal. Na today??? abegi second base!!!

    • Ummi

      November 22, 2016 at 2:29 pm

      You know I’ve found it unsustainable for universities to expect 100% funding from the federal government. Its just not sustainable in a country like Nigeria where resources are limited and basic infrastructure is a luxury.

      I studied at a Research intensive government university in Australia and only a tiny fraction of the breakthrough researches that came out of the university were funded by the government. Most funding came from the university receiving grants from the private sector! Oil companies, Mining companies, Health foundations, Manufacturing companies, Pharmaceutical companies, and several other national and international third party donors.

      I remember my research supervisor used to spend 3 months a year in China briefing and justifying his research and how he used his grant to the Chinese Biomedical Engineering Company that sponsors his Bionic Ear Invention.

      The only area where the state/federal government had a sizeable presence was in the Agricultural/Marine Research and Australian Indigenous studies for obvious reasons.

      Nigerian Universities need to start looking towards the private sector. But before they do that, they need to perfect their research ethics and start pitching their ideas to potential investors. They also need to tailor their research to the local needs and relevant areas, not trying to compete with the world, create your own credibility.

      Ummi’s Blog

    • ANGRY ME

      November 23, 2016 at 1:34 am

      #THANK U ummi, you hit the nail on the right spot. Nigerian Universities can excel when we begin to appreciate the importance of becoming grounded in research and not just in theory only, when we acknowledge and develop think tanks, when students begin to seek solutions to real life problems, How did the ivy league schools come about? Most of their fundings come from big corporations and powerful and rich individuals. Our universities are getting worse. I graduated 15 years ago from the same university my dad attended. 40 years ago and the stories of how they passed through school was interesting to hear but I can tell you that my time in the same school was a struggle, ranging from accommodation, lecture halls, mode of teaching, the fear of lecturers to archaic lecture notes etc fast-forward 2016 nothing has changed I visited my Alma Mater and honestly the only changes I see are just physical structures. Things have gotten worse. This is the case with most of the universities in Nigeria #living in past glory.

  3. Gimmehear.com

    November 22, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    I feel everything just falls back to the fact that we Nigerian do not really take sensible decision often

  4. mee

    November 22, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    I agree with him

  5. NG

    November 22, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    Absolutely nothing wrong with pure water and bread making in our universities. Maybe it is not done abroad, I don’t know, but this is Nigeria and our needs must determine our methods.
    Govt cannot fund the universities alone so a balance of sorts must be found between govt funds and other sources.
    Many of these universities run some form of entrepreneurial program. They also provide work experience for students. If the businesses serve these purposes, as centers of business excellence, besides generating funds, no problems. After all I don’t believe it’s the profs (or the Lecturers’ Assistants) baking the bread or bagging the water.

  6. Ummi

    November 22, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    You know I’ve found it unsustainable for universities to expect 100% funding from the federal government. Its just not sustainable in a country like Nigeria where resources are limited and basic infrastructure is a luxury.

    I studied at a Research intensive government university in Australia and only a tiny fraction of the breakthrough researches that came out of the university were funded by the government. Most funding came from the university receiving grants from the private sector! Oil companies, Mining companies, Health foundations, Manufacturing companies, Pharmaceutical companies, and several other national and international third party donors.

    I remember my research supervisor used to spend 3 months a year in China briefing and justifying his research and how he used his grant to the Chinese Biomedical Engineering Company that sponsors his Bionic Ear Invention.

    The only area where the state/federal government had a sizeable presence was in the Agricultural/Marine Research and Australian Indigenous studies for obvious reasons.

    Nigerian Universities need to start looking towards the private sector. But before they do that, they need to perfect their research ethics and start pitching their ideas to potential investors. They also need to tailor their research to the local needs and relevant areas, not trying to compete with the world, create your own credibility.

    Ummi’s Blog

    • Mannie

      November 22, 2016 at 3:31 pm

      What’s the URL for your blog?

  7. tunmi

    November 22, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    Baking and selling bread and producing pure water is also entrepreneurial. I don’t understand.

  8. yemite

    November 22, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Can a professor in chemical engineering in Nigeria institution produce any nuclear or chemical without copy ready made?? when a university lecturer don’t even know how to prepare a pure water without over sabi….am not talking of sachet water ooo. One thing they good at, is to look frown when a student is defending his or her project like monkey.

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