The Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, has warned the Vice-Chancellors of public universities of any attempt to run six weeks Semester crash programme in a bid to make up for the lost period of the prolonged strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
He gave the warning on Wednesday at an interactive session with the media, as part of the programmes marking the 60th anniversary of the Commission.
Rasheed described the ASUU strike as the biggest threat to the stability of the nation’s university calendar, stating that there are hardly any two Federal universities out of the 50 of them with the same academic calendar because of the disruptions caused by unions’ strike.
He frowned at the attempt by some Vice-Chancellors to six weeks Semester instead of the prescribed 17 weeks Semesters, disclosing that the Commission has held a meeting with the Vice-Chancellors and directed them the directive to ensure that a semester lasts 17 weeks and not to complete semesters in six weeks.
The public universities in Nigeria have been in a frenetic move to recover lost time owing to the prolonged industrial action by ASUU), which grounded academic activities for eight months.
The ASUU, on October 14, finally suspended the strike it embarked upon on February 14 over the government’s failure to implement its demands on salaries and allowances of lecturers, improved funding for universities, as well as the adoption of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS), against the federal government’s preferred payment platform — Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) among others.
The lecturers also spent almost 11 months at home, in 2020, in one of the longest strike actions in Nigeria by ASUU. This, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic had led to the loss of accumulated academic sessions, which the institutions are trying to make up for.
But the NUC Executive Secretary said the Commission would not compromise on the quality of teaching and learning in the University System, adding that the Commission would set up a panel to visit affected Universities in ensuring that no University goes against the directive.
He said what the Commission is doing was to protect the integrity of the certificates issued by Nigerian Universities.
On the appointment of VCs, he said the Commission has no hand in the selection and appointment of a Vice-Chancellor, noting that it is the responsibility of the Governing Councils to appoint Vice-Chancellors.
According to him, “even the Minister of Education or the President of the Federal Republic has no hands in the appointment of Vice-Chancellor of any University.
On the issue of illegal universities, Rasheed said that the commission was in collaboration with Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Commission (ICPC) to check the proliferation of illegal degree mills.
“We have set up a committee to look into that and I can tell you that we are doing a lot to end the ugly trend of the illegal degree mills”, he said.
He urged members of the public to assist in reporting illegal universities as the task of safeguarding the quality of the university system is not only that of the NUC.
According to him, the commission is facing very serious challenges from the universities, even as he called for a concerted effort to ensure that the system continues to thrive.