Exactly one year after the white papers were submitted by 10 committees saddled with the responsibility of drafting them, the Nigerian government on Thursday presented the gazetted copies to the pro-chancellors and chairmen of the concerned universities.
The government had earlier set up visitation panels to probe the activities of more than 30 federal universities between 2011 and 2020. The panels submitted their reports in 2021 but copies were not made public.
However, following protests by workers’ unions, the Nigerian government in February 2022 set up committees to prepare white papers from the reports submitted by the panels, and the different committees had since May, 2022, submitted the white papers.
But despite pressure by the workers’ unions, the government refused to make public the gazetted copies until Thursday, a few days to the end of the current administration.
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, presented the reports to pro-chancellors of the institutions on Thursday at the National Universities Commission (NUC). Some vice-chancellors were also present at the event.
Mr Adamu called on the chief executive officers of the universities to take responsibility for the implementation of the recommendations enumerated in the reports.
He said the white paper containing the recommendations for the institutions has been officially gazetted.
The minister said the production of the white papers demanded significant resources and efforts from the government.
He added that the recommendations in the reports serve as a compass guiding university education in achieving the objectives set forth by the government when the institutions were established.
He insisted that the release of the documents was a testament of the federal government’s commitment to ensuring the highest standards of education and academic excellence in the universities.
The minister said: “It is, therefore, incumbent upon each of you, as the esteemed chief executives of these institutions, to take responsibility for the diligent implementation of the recommendations outlined within these documents.”
“The federal government has entrusted you with this crucial task, and failure to execute it faithfully will not be taken lightly. The well-being and success of our students, faculty, and the Nigerian populace as a whole depend on the effective execution of these recommendations.”
Every four years, the President, as a visitor to the federal universities, appoints panels to visit the universities, conduct comprehensive reviews, and report on their activities, including their internally generated revenues, expenditures, and disciplinary cases against staff and students.
These panels are entrusted with the responsibility of conducting a comprehensive assessment of the universities and inter-university centres.
Controversy over delay
The government’s refusal to make the reports public has in the past caused conflicts between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the government, as the latter repeatedly cited it as one of the reasons for embarking on industrial actions.
ASUU had consistently insisted that making public the white paper from the visitation panel reports would expose the rot within the university system and enable the government to address them headlong.
In February 2020, the government constituted 10 committees to draft white papers from the reports of the panels to the universities just a few days after ASUU embarked on strike. PREMIUM TIMES reported how the committee presented the drafted white papers to Mr Adamu in May 2022.
Qosim Suleiman is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe
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