A Professor of political Science and former Vice Chancellor of the Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko , Professor Femi Mimiko has sounded the alarm bell on the state of the country’s University System saying poor governance, lack of innovation and convoluted appointment system have combined to put it in dire strait. He made the observation at the Special Valedictory lecture and 70th birthday anniversary of the former Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology Akure, FUTA Professor Adebisi Balogun on Tuesday August 2 at the Obafemi Auditorium FUTA Akure. In his lecture with the title, Rethinking our Challenges and their Contradictions: Reform Imperatives in the Governance Structure of Tertiary Educational Institutions in Nigeria, Professor Mimiko said, “Paucity of funds is a challenge but it does not tell the full story of the challenges in the University system. The convoluted governance structure is also a major problem. The University has made nonsense of the Autonomy it won to the extent that in choosing Vice Chancellors administrators now run to the Minister of Education to come and adjudicate after making nonsense of the process.”
He said the fact that Nigeria has close to 205 Universities, 152 polytechnics, 36 monotechnics and over 200 Colleges of Education should provide a solid base for development. But that is not the case. “If the Universities have taken their proper place in the scheme of things, half of the population will not be living in poverty. Nigerian Universities are not as effective as they should be. There is a correlation between the state of a country development and its universities. The country’s universities have not been able to crystalize development,” the Guest lecturer said. Professor Mimiko said the lack of synergy among Government, the industries and the Universities has further compounded the inability of system to deliver optimally.
He said the way out is for the University System to take its place as the bedrock of innovation. “Nigerian Universities must begin to translate knowledge into usable products; knowledge must become applicable to societal needs. There should be a synergy between the industries, the universities and the government.” He said it was imperative for Nigerian Universities to become global in its recruitment process and do away with its opaque governance. He said Universities must be allowed to charge fees as government that precludes fees is not funding the Universities adequately. He however suggested the establishment of students’ loan and scholarship schemes to enable students who could not afford fees to get support.
Professor Mimiko disproved the general notion that Nigerian graduates are not employable stressing that there was a need for more focus on developing life skills and critical thinking of students. This according to him will go a long way to enable students to have a richer learning experience capable of making them to hold their own anywhere in the world. He said that tertiary education in Nigeria must not lose its focus which is knowledge building and value addition which according to him is the most credible platform for catalyzing development. He said the system must become transparent and use its autonomy, self -governance and regulation to its advantage and that of the development of the country.
The Chairman of the Occasion former Pro-Chancellor of the Federal University Lafia, Basorun Seinde Arogbofa said Professor Balogun epitomizes the Omoluabi mantra. “He is a gentleman; he works hard and contributed to the development of society. The gathering here showed that he was good at home and at the place of work and not in the public sphere alone. Unfortunately in Nigeria today people with noble character are not many and that is why the problems in the society continue to mount. Of course the state of insecurity should tell us that we have fewer and fewer people of noble character. Professor Balogun deserves to be celebrated because of his sterling contributions to FUTA and the country’s University System.”
Speaking at the occasion FUTA Vice Chancellor, Professor Adenike Oladiji said Professor Balogun left a lasting legacy during his tenure as Vice Chancellor. She said “without any shred of doubts the fruit of his efforts and ideas form the platform upon which I am standing today as the Vice Chancellor of FUTA. I celebrate this exemplary leader and scholar who is one of my predecessors whose worthy legacies have contributed to the growth and development of FUTA”.
The Chairman of the Organizing Committee and Rector Federal Polytechnic Ile Oluji, Professor Adedayo Fashakin said the event was put together to honor a colossus who has bestridden the landscape of FUTA for the past four decades untainted and has recorded remarkable landmarks and achievements. He described him as a leader mentor teacher, a quintessential administrator and an iconic leader whose giant strides were worthy of emulation. He said it was the first time a former vice chancellor will be celebrated on retirement from office at the mandatory age of seventy adding that it was symbolic as it would be setting a precedence to honor highly placed administrators and academics who have contributed to the development of the university.
Two Books, Selected Titles in Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture and Methodologies in Fisheries and Aquaculture Research were presented at the occasion