By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The Bill for establishment of Federal University of Agriculture and Technology (FUAT) in Funtua, Katsina State, on Wednesday scaled second reading in the Senate.
Similarly, the bill for establishment of Federal College of Education, Sabon Birni in Sokoto State sponsored by Senator Abdullahi Gobir (APC, Sokoto East) also scaled second reading.
Presenting the bill for the Federal University of Agriculture and Technology, Funtua, Senator Bello Mandiya (APC, Katsina South), sponsor of the bill, said it would support the quest to diversify the nation’s economy and lift agriculture beyond its current subsistence level.
He said, “As it is, most universities in Nigeria execute science based agricultural programmes, but their curricula have not evolved to meet the challenges of government’s agenda in the area of technology driven commercial agriculture and in line with the current global realities.
“The establishment of the university will bridge the curriculum gap and advance government’s long term diversification and growth plan.
“The proposed university would, apart from its primary focus in agriculture, also offer programmes in engineering and area of applied research critical to the nation’s development aspirations.”
Justifying the location of the university in Funtua, Mandiya said it was based not only for local, social and economic reasons but for national strategic consideration.
“Apart from its strategic location and having both the physical characteristics and the support system required for the take-off and operation of the University, the town is largely agrarian with an estimated population of about 622,000 people.
“Funtua served as both host and nucleus for government’s agricultural development programmes and institutions, including the establishment of Funtua Cottonseed Crashing Company in 1972, the Agricultural Intensification Programme of the United Nations in 1974, and the Nigerian Cotton Board in 1977,” he said.
The lawmaker explained that the School of Basic and Remedial Studies, Funtua which is a campus of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, could be used for the immediate takeoff of the university.
He said the SONGHAI Farm, established by the Katsina State Government in Funtua with the sole aim of training youths in modern agriculture would serve as agricultural technology park for the university.
The two bills were later referred to the Senate Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFUND for further legislative work.