By Yekeen Nurudeen
Crisis is brewing between the federal government and the National Assembly over the decision of the former to transfer the supervision of all the Federal Universities of Agriculture in the country from the Federal Ministry of Education to the Ministry of Agriculture.
Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, had on Tuesday in Abuja at the inauguration of new Governing Councils of 23 Federal Universities, announced the federal government’s decision to move the universities to the Ministry of Agriculture.
But he may have drawn the ire of the National Assembly with the Chairman, House Committee on Education, Suleiman Aminu, openly describing the decision of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, as hasty and ill-conceived.
The decision became public when Adamu said in his remark that it was the last time he would be inaugurating the Councils of Universities of Agriculture because the institutions have been moved to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.
He said it was unfortunate that the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, who was invited to witness the inauguration of the Governing Councils of some Universities of Agriculture failed to turn up.
But when the Chairman, House Committee on Education stood up for his remarks, he accused the Minister of using fiat to make changes in institutions created by law.
He said the Federal Executive Council could not have approved the movement of the Universities of Agriculture to the Ministry of Agriculture without due consultation with critical stakeholders.
Aminu insisted that there should have been a lot more discussion on the issue before the government’s pronouncement, saying the National Assembly on getting wind of the development had commenced a process of dialoguing with stakeholders to seek their inputs on the issue.
“There should be a lot of discussion. World over, there are specialised universities but they are not restricted this way.
“Even if you are going to change anything, it cannot be by fiat because these are institutions created by law,” he said.
The Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, however, countered Aminu, insisting that the decision of the Federal Executive Council was in the interest of the development of the country.
“I’m a member of the Federal Executive Council and I stand by the resolution of the Council as delivered by the Minister of Education. The decision stands,” Dalung said.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Education, Adamu, while inaugurating the councils, warned the members against corruption and undue interference in the day-to-day running of the universities.
He warned that any governing council that fails in its statutory responsibility of properly managing the governance crisis in its university, including appropriate sanctions on erring officers, after following due process and diligence, “such a governing council shall be dissolved for incompetence in line with the provision of the Act appointing you.”
Adamu, also recalled that part of the salary crises being faced by many universities were as a result of reckless employment of staff without compliance with the approved budgetary ratio for personnel cost.
He said this lopsided employment pattern by some current and previous Vice Chancellors and councils have been to the detriment of the development of infrastructure of the affected universities.
ICIR reports that the Federal Government had early in the year directed all specialised universities to focus on their core mandates and stop running courses not relevant to their purpose of establishment.