From Ahmed Idris Birnin Kebbi
The former Vice-Chancellor, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto; Kaduna State University, Kaduna and Nassarawa State University, Keffi, Professor Aminu Salihu Mikailu has called on the authorities of tertiary institutions in Nigeria to devise alternative means in funding universities across the country.
He made this call, weekend, while delivering a Seminar Paper titled “Funding Options for Sustainable University Education in Nigeria” held at Federal University Birnin-Kebbi, in Birnin-Kebbi, adding that the authorities of universities need to work hard and capable of providing sustainable tertiary education in the country in line with global best practices.
Professor A.S. Mikailu stated further that authorities must identify innovative means especially in entrepreneurship programmes through which they could augment inadequate funding in the tertiary institutions. He enjoined the institutions to also find ways of funding innovative research for senior academics which he believed would be essential in promoting sustainable university education across the country.
“Universities must identity the need for improved funding through innovation, self-reliance and entrepreneurship as necessary tools for their survival in the 21st century. In addition to government grants, they must be allowed to charge appropriate fees, which is the surest way of boosting their IGR,” he said
The University don further highlighted that the problem confronting universities in Nigeria in terms of funding was lack of commitment from Proprietors. He lamented that this was aggravated by the wrong notion of investing in setting up universities as a source for making profit, by Proprietors of private universities. He said there was also difficulties in honouring upward reviews of salaries and allowances agreed by the Federal Government and the labour unions, high cost of funding capital projects, among others.
“University education occupies a central position in the priority list of countries concerned with excelling in technological and socio-economic progress. This is fully captured in Nigeria’s various national policies on education (2004-2013), he added”
He therefore stated that the current picture of education at the University level in Nigeria seems grim largely due to inadequate funding, there is evidence of significant expansion both in enrolment and number of institutions: from one University in 1960 to 40 federal; 44 state and 75 privately owned in 2017. The student enrolment has moved from 360,000 in 2000 to well above one million currently.
He then recommended that launching of endowments, linkages with local and international NGOs, charging appropriate tuition fees at all levels, investments entrepreneurship and creating consultancy services units would be panacea for addressing the issue. He added that effective participation of Managements in negotiations for increased funding, provision of special grants to newly established universities during the first phase of their operations, seeking assistance from local and international donor agencies and other individual philanthropist would be key to provide support and community services for institutions.
The former Vice-Chancellor further stressed the need to link up budgetary allocations with three key missions of universities which are teaching, research and community service. He maintained that a complete review of TSA and GIFMIS guidelines would pave way for greater autonomy of University Councils and Management in accounting and application of funds, adding that there is need for greater cost saving efforts through managerial transparency and adoption of new technologies while also emphasizing on transparency and accountability.
“Both Managements and Councils of universities must continue to seek for greater autonomy so as to be able to source for funds and to effectively plan and control the utilization of financial resources and operate within the needed level of liquidity. However, there it must be emphasized that with greater autonomy, there is need for enhanced display of transparency and accountability,” he explained
In his address, the Vice-Chancellor, Federal University Birnin-Kebbi, Professor Bello Bala Shehu, who expressed appreciation to the guest speaker for the in-depth presentation, was optimistic that the takeaways of the paper would be put into practice by not only the management, but also the entire University community.
Represented by the immediate past Acting Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Dr. Sahabi Maidamma Jabo, the Vice-Chancellor maintained that although the University was battling with megre Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, and overhead, the authorities have put in place far-reaching blueprint to transform the University in no small measure.