By Azu Ogbonnaya
Nigeria is a nation loved by God and blessed with abundant resources. With COVID-19 pandemic, recession and sharp decline in crude oil revenue, federal and state governments have began to look inwards to other sources of revenue to augment the shortfall in monthly federal allocations. The Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (Zaria) holds huge potentials that could turn around the nation’s economy, if fully harnessed, supported and funded. For more than 30 years after its establishment, the institute has remained a treasure waiting to be exploited.
Established in 1986 by Decree No 6 of March 14 (now CAP 116 of the Federal Laws of Nigeria), with head office in Basawa Zaria and branches in 10 states of the federation, NITT’s mandate is to serve as a transport management development and research institute for Nigeria and the West African Sub-region. The institute has all it takes to boost the revenue base of Nigeria: These include modern state-of the-art transport and training facilities, well trained professionals, energetic and hardworking staff and serene environment for both learning and enterprise development, amongst others.
Recently the institute recorded some landmark achievements.
One of them is the establishment of an Intelligence Transport System (ITS) unit in Vienna, Austria to trace the movement of stolen vehicles from Nigeria. The ITS office was established to facilitate tracking of vehicles and promote the image of Nigeria Internationally. Others include the establishment of new departments and affiliation of the institute’s postgraduate programmes to Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria to cater for students who might be unable to come to Zaria because of the distance.
The Institute has equally commenced Distance Learning Programmes (DLP) in Abuja and Lagos. Prior to this development, the institute has been running such programmes on Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement with other training providers in the industry. The flag-off of the Distance Learning Programmes signifies the commitment of the institute at bringing the programmes to the door steps of its clients. With the establishment of the programme, other employees in the transport and logistics industry now have opportunity to take advantage of it to improve their skills by enrolling as the modules are convenient and flexible. Courses under the Distance Learning Programmes include Certificate in Transport and Logistics (CTL), Diploma in Transport and Logistics (DTL) and advanced Professional Diploma in Transport and Logistics (PDTL) .
In line with this mandate, NITT serves as a: (i) Management Training Institute for all aspects of transportation business; (ii) Centre for transfer of technology in all aspects of the transport sector; (iii) Transport Intelligence Centre; and (iv) Data Bank for the collection, collation and analysis of all economic and technological data relating to all aspects of transportation.
To achieve these objectives, a wide range of functions are performed by NITT. These include:
• Provision of courses and training programs for senior and middle cadre managers, technicians and technologies suited for employment in all modes of transport; and
• Provision of courses of instruction leading to the award of: National Diploma, Higher National Diploma, Advanced Certificate and Post Graduate Diploma in Transport (PGDT) with three distinct specialized areas: Transport Management, Transport Planning and Transport Technology;
(c) Carrying out research and consultancy services to both government and private organizations in Nigeria and West African sub-region; and
(d) Publication of research activities through journals and other media.
According to the Director-General/Chief Executive Officer, Dr Bayero Salih Farah, the institute has made substantial investment with the support of the Federal Government. It has established outreach centers in about six locations across the country and has provided facilities in those centers some of which have been commissioned. It also supports staff capacity building and manpower development.
Said the DG: “Our stock- in- trade is the knowledge we give and for us to give the knowledge, we have to have the knowledge. It is in our front burner to develop staff capacity. Every year our staff are entitled to training programmes in-house and external to enhance their capacity and to be motivated to give their best. Just as we focused on the provision of facilities, we also focused on improving the staff through continues training and development”.
Like most government establishments, NITT’s major challenge is funding. The institute requires substantial investment to provide facilities and infrastructure that are required and needed to execute its functions. But that is been hindered by paucity of funds The second challenge is the need to provide state- of- the- art faculty that is properly trained in the best institutions in the world to compete favourably within and outside Nigeria.
Transport education is relatively new in this country and NITT is a pioneer institute in this field and as such is saddled with a very big responsibility to provide the nucleus of the faculty in the logistics and transport industry right from the beginning. In this respect, it had to depend on foreign institutions to develop the faculty and that has been a big challenge to the institute.
But Dr Farah said the institute is aware of the challenges and is doing everything possible to overcome them. “We are proud to say that we have the capacity to meet substantial needs of the transport industry in Nigeria which indeed is our mandate”, the DG said.
Apparently fascinated by the standard of equipment in NITT, the Hon. Minister of Transport Chibuike Amaechi during his visit to the complex said: “NITT have all it takes to design a made in Nigeria car — from design to engine to body”, stressing that when that was done, then the federal government can “create patency for NITT”.
Amaechi further promised to assist the university attain the status of a university subject to the approval of the National Universities Commission. His words: “I am satisfied with the facilities I saw here; all the Institute needs is just governance. In terms of equipment, they’re doing well. What the Federal Government has done is to ensure that areas where you have infrastructures, they’re properly funded. But they need to show that they’re not only able to transfer knowledge, but also to supervise the trainees so that we can create employment”.
In line with the Minister’s mandate, the institute’s governing council led by Olorogun John Onojeharho swung into action by exploring all avenues that could make the institute self- sustaining, improve staff welfare, enhance performance and generate revenue to the government, by making it a world standard organization.
Said the Chairman: “As a Council, one of our major focuses is to achieve visibility for NITT. For the past 20 years, no minister has visited NITT but in the first one year of our appointment, we had the minister visit the organization. So he knows and had seen what we have here, and that would make him to support us when we make presentations or require his assistance in terms of training personnel both from the ministries, agencies and industries. We have also started a major exposition in rail. We need to train the manpower not only to operate the systems but also to ensure we have proper mechanics.”
….Ogbonnaya wrote in from Lagos