Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
A legal icon and university administrator, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), has called for the arrest and prosecution of those operating unaccredited universities in the country, saying their activities are inimical to academic growth and quality education.
He suggested that degrees in sciences and humanities among other academic areas should be minimum qualification to study medicine and law as obtainable in Britain and other advanced countries.
The legal luminary told the National Universities Commission (NUC) that the best way to discourage illegal universities in Nigeria is by meting out stringent sanctions on operators, describing this as a veritable way to halt certificate racketeering in the country.
Babalola stated this in ABUAD yesterday while playing host to NUC team, which came there on assessment tour and evaluation of the level of compliance to good governance in the institution.
According to Babalola, “Get those operating illegal universities arrested. It is a common knowledge that there are many illegal universities masquerading as real ones. I urge you to recommend to NUC a more drastic action against the proprietors or owners of such institutions. “I attended primary school during the colonial days. If I had attended just ordinary primary school that we have today, I could not have passed London GCE Ordinary and Advanced Levels with which I went to the university. That is why quality education is very crucial.
“Why do we lower our own standard to ordinary school certificate? JAMB must take note of this.”
Commenting on the lopsided admission policy in Nigeria, he said: “Even in admission, 200 should be minimum mark in JAMB to secure admissions to the universities, but the mark had been deducted, and once JAMB allowed this to happen, then it has lowered the standard already. The minimum should not be so ridiculous. I hereby suggest a universal cut off mark, which should not be less than 40 percent of the total mark.”
The school administrator urged the commission to rework the curricular being used in the universities, saying the present ones in operation lack modernity and not in touch with the reality of the 21st century economic growth.
The eminent lawyer urged the NUC to begin a process of ranking universities by itself to prevent fictitious organisations from hijacking the process and rate based on sentiment, thereby damaging the reputations of credible institutions.
In his response, the NUC team leader, Prof. Yekeen Sanusi, said the NUC would continue to strive hard for excellence by enforcing provision for adequate infrastructures and personnel in the universities.
Sanusi added that one of the major challenges across the world is the issue of quality governance, describing it as very important “because it was assumed that once there is good governance, then every other thing will work.
“Good governance changes lives, landscape, experience as well as brings quality, and that is why we are here to learn. We want to say that the universities should be staffed adequately.
“For any university to scale the hurdles of good governance, NUC needs data about equipment, staff and students, because it is the cumulative effects of these that will help the development, expansion and growth of our university.”
Sanusi stated that the infrastructures available in ABUAD gave him the overwhelming impression and conviction that the university is focused on quality.
“I want to recognise the great achievements this university has recorded. What you have done here is not for the university alone, but for Nigeria and Africa-our father land.”
The acting Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Sylvester Ojo, on his own, said: “Apart from the fact that our students have won national and international laurels in Law, Medicine and Engineering, we are the only university that has commercial farm in the federation.”
He said the university was able to achieve such feat because of motivations in terms of prompt payment of salaries, academic sponsorship and scholarships for teachers and students who displayed exemplary brilliance.