Legal luminary advocates autonomy for Nigerian varsities

Legal luminary advocates autonomy for Nigerian varsities

By Akeem Abas

A renowned legal luminary, Mallam Yusuf Ali SAN, says Nigerian universities will achieve their core mandates and academic advancement, if granted autonomy.

The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that Ali, who is also the Pro-Chancellor, Osun State University, made the disclosure,  at the 80th birthday celebration of Prof. Michael Omolewa ,OON, in Ibadan.

Ali in his lecture, entitled: ‘University Autonomy: Opportunities and Challenges’, said that the universities deserved academic, administrative and financial autonomy.

He said that such autonomy, if granted, would allow the institutions concentrate on their core mandates of adding value to student education and academic advancement.

The legal luminary said that it would also help them concentrate on cutting edge research, public accountability, social responsibility, transparency, ethics and integrity.

“If Nigerian Universities are serious about competing on the global stage, there is need for academic autonomy, administrative autonomy and financial autonomy.

“Higher institutions in Nigeria are still suffocating under the strangulating control of government, and if this situation persists, it portents a bleak future for our university education sector,” he said.

Ali listed some of the challenges affecting the universities as low funding, tribalism, lack of academic culture, attitude, professionalisation of unionism and multiplicity of regulators.

This is in addition to lack of a sustainable system to train those who run institutions, externalisation of university affairs by members, and inherent governance weakness in the appointment process.

“Our universities should strive to grow to a level where the government will have little or nothing to do with universities anymore.

“Universities should be left to determine the remuneration packages for its workers,” he said.

He also called for a review of how councils were constituted, saying that there was need to return to the old system where students commented on the performances of their lecturers.

Ali charged the media to play their roles in identifying areas of weaknesses and promoting the best of the system.

Mallam Adamu Adamu, the Minister of Education, described Omolewa as a great mentor and an academic of note.

The minister, who was represented Prof Abba Haladu, the Executive Secretary, National Commission for Mass Literacy Adults and Non Formal Education, congratulated Omolewa on his new age.

NAN reports that the event featured the presentation of a book titled ‘Book of Tributes’ reviewed by Prof. Adeniyi Gbadegesin, a former Vice-Chancellor of Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomoso.

The event was attended by several dignitaries, among which was Prof. Adebola Ekanola, the Acting Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan. (NAN)