The Association of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (AVCNU), have stressed the need for institutions to move from its current level of obscurity in the global peer ranking of universities, to attaining the lofty attributes of world-class universities.
The Secretary-General of the Association, Professor Michael Faborode who made this known, in a statement, listed the attributes of a world class higher education institutions to include; concentration of talents ( quality award winning staff and students, high performing postgraduates, for a good research and innovation base); abundant resources ( funding, knowledge infrastructure-equipment and laboratories, ICT, and municipal facilities/utilities) and, good governance (effective governance organs, observance of the rule of law and ethics, and financial probity).
He said all these must interplay effectively, noting that governance breaths essence into all the efforts of the proprietor and stakeholders of the universities.
According to him, “what autonomy entails is ability of a proprietor not to stultify the governance structures and procedures of a university. When councils are constituted, they must be allowed to do their jobs. Councils that know their job, their mandate and their essence will get the job done with applause, and the institutions would perform and ultimately excel.”
Faborode commended the action of the councils of Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) and Federal University of Technology, Ado-Ekiti (FUTA) in upholding the sacred tenets of the university system, nay its autonomy when suspension orders were clamped down on their Vice Chancellors.
“What the councils of FUNAAB and FUTA have done is to, without any iota of hesitation, halt the descent of the institutions to unbelievable anarchy, signal a new order of proactive engagement, built on deep understanding of what a university should be and hence laid the basis for sustainable peace in contrast to the theater of the absurd and confusion that had engulfed the institutions in the recent past, that seemed to last eternity.
“By their prompt and decisive intervention, they have restored the glory of the Nigerian university system in the comity of global universities. AVCNU salutes their courage in the face of heinous intimidation and primitive blackmail, clothed in the garb of critical radicalism.”
The Minister and his team, the secretary -general said, deserve credit for the way they have responded to the onslaughts, adding, “ not that our universities are totally above board of inquest, but people ought to know that any country, or a people, who despises or degrades their fountain of knowledge, would remain in perpetual ignorance and bondage.”
He affirmed that the Minister of Education was right to have allowed the system to remain in motion despite unnecessary violence that was directed at blackmailing the system into submission.
“It was therefore surprising to AVCNU, that the Honourable Minister would proceed to suspend some VCs just when new councils were being inaugurated for the universities. The resolution of all lingering issues should just have been left in their hands and they would have been admonished to, as a matter of urgency, assume their mandate, like the new French President, and bring their institutions to pursue that which will edify and endear them to the nation.”
Faborode contend that the time has come for us to get Nigerian universities back on track, while pleading with the university unions not to destroy the fabric of the universities, which indeed is their means of livelihood.
“Universities have enough internal organs and systems to regulate their procedures. The greatest challenge before Nigerian universities today is to make themselves relevant to the daily problems, lives, and expectations of Nigerians; solutions to poverty, hunger, poor health care system, a failing economy, and disappearing goodness of life.”