Prof. Oyewale Tomori
  • Bemoans government interference in ivory towers
    Paul Obi in Abuja
    Following series of crises bedevilling the Nigerian university system, the President of the Nigerian Academy of Science, Prof. Oyewale Tomori, has accused the National Universities Commission (NUC) of crass negligence and failing to ensure that university autonomy remains sacrosanct in the running of tertiary education in the country.
    He likewise bemoaned the incessant cases of government interference in the running of universities, resulting to haphazard implementation of policies.

Tomori accused the NUC of allowing the federal government and top officials of the administration to meddle in the affairs, particularly, its accreditation activities.

Delivering the pre-convocation lecture of the University of Abuja titled: “Building a New Generation University: Problems and Prospects,” at the weekend in Abuja, Tomori said NUC had failed woefully to keep to its mandate as a regulatory body for university education.

He argued that rather than remain vigilant in promoting values that will ensure university autonomy, the NUC had regrettably become a tool in the hand of the government to derail universities’ laws as witnessed with the sacking of 13 vice chancellors.

Tomori said: “In the recent past, the NUC has become a tool of the government, not a true commission for university education in Nigeria.

“Our NUC has gone along with the government without a whimper. When there are allegations that some of the people who conduct accreditation exercise in the name of NUC, receive brown envelopes and NUC asks are those who give or take the envelopes not your colleagues?, then NUC forgets one thing that the accreditation bears the tag NUC accreditation.

“When it is clear and glaring that many lecturers are hirelings, peddling their certificates to the numerous newly created staff of universities, and when universities hire lecturers for accreditation purposes then you wonder what type of accreditation we are getting in our universities and what NUC is doing about it,” Tomori maintained.

As a way out of the present crisis, Tomori urged the NUC to engage only people with integrity in carrying out university accreditation, stating that, the need for a change of attitude by genuine academicians in Nigeria is very imperative to attaining global standards.

He lamented the reliance on archaic benchmark by the NUC in its accreditation operations, arguing that, “if not reviewed, Nigerian universities would continue to produce unemployable graduates.”
Tomori also stressed that the present curriculum at the universities should be fine toned to be current, “to reflect the needs of society, be relevant and dynamic to ensure effective response to changes in and demands of society by graduates.”

On the recent sack of 13 vice-chancellors, the professor said: “The so-called sack is a demonstration of the high handedness of the minister and a lack of respect for the guiding procedures, rules and regulations for appointment of vice-chancellors.

“We read of the minister saying the government would not go back on this decision. While we see his remarks as a demonstration of arrogance, we are comforted that our president once presented a budget to the National Assembly which led to the sack of some officials in the department of budget.
“Our hope is that the right minister will be sacked and not the vice-chancellors, many of whom had retired before the unfortunate sacking,” Tomori submitted.