Exactly one year after the white papers were presented by 10 committees tasked with drafting them, the Nigerian government on Thursday presented the published copies to the rectors and presidents of the relevant universities.
Previously, the government had established visiting panels to investigate 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 labor unions, the Nigerian government in February 2022 established committees to prepare white papers from the reports submitted by the panels, and the different committees had submitted the white papers since May 2022. .
But despite pressure from labor unions, the government refused to make the published copies public until Thursday, just days before the end of the current administration.
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, presented this Thursday the reports to the deans of the institutions in the National Commission of Universities (NUC). Some vice rectors were also present at the event.
Mr. Adamu called on the CEOs of the universities to take responsibility for the implementation of the recommendations listed in the reports.
He said that the white paper containing the recommendations for institutions has been officially published.
The minister said that the production of the white papers demanded significant resources and efforts from the government.
He added that the recommendations of the reports serve as a compass to guide university education in achieving the objectives set by the government when the institutions were established.
He insisted that the release of the documents was a testament to the federal government’s commitment to ensuring the highest standards of education and academic excellence in universities.
The minister said: “Therefore, it is up to each of you, as esteemed CEOs of these institutions, to take responsibility for the diligent implementation of the recommendations outlined in these documents.”
“The federal government has entrusted you with this crucial task, and it will not be taken lightly if you do not execute it faithfully. The well-being and success of our students, teachers and the Nigerian population as a whole depend on the effective implementation 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 internally generated income and expenditures and disciplinary cases against staff and students.
These panels are entrusted with the responsibility of carrying out a comprehensive evaluation of universities and inter-university centers.
The government’s refusal to make the reports public has in the past caused conflict between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the government, as the latter repeatedly cited it as one of the reasons for industrial action.
ASUU had consistently insisted that making the white paper of visiting panel reports public would expose the rot within the university system and allow the government to immediately address them.
In February 2020, the government set up 10 committees to draft white papers of panel reports to universities just days after ASUU went on strike. Newslodge reported how the committee presented the draft white papers to Mr. Adamu in May 2022.
Qosim Suleiman is a reporter at Premium Times in association with Report for the World, which connects local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on hidden issues around the world.