My Vision for the University of Abuja
Professor M. U. Adikwu, FAS, FPSN, FSTAN, MIPAN
1.The two problems with the University are Human and Monetary. In dealing with the Human Problems, I will focus on stimulating every facet of the University through relationship with all the unions including the students union. I will take the challenge to their doorsteps very regularly through meetings with each union at least once in two months. I will allow for development of team spirit and team work to move the University forward.
2. Circulate annual work-plans to all departments which will include the annual budget of the University, for accountability and transparency. With this, I will ensure that every staff of the University is on the same page with the Administration.
3. Create a Development Committee that will prepare annual budgets and work-plans. Each department and faculty is expected to indicate what they are capable of generating annually. The Development Committee shall comprise the VC as chairman, the DVs, the Registrar and Deans of Faculties and Directors of Institutes. The Development Committee shall also be responsible for creation of new departments and faculties before it is sent to the Senate.
4. I will cause to be conducted an equipment audit of all available research and other facilities and commence a University Magazine or newsletter to showcase what we are doing, what we are capable of doing and also rigorously campaign to the Abuja community and beyond the facilities and services that are available. For this purpose, I will create an advancement office with a director not more than the post of a senior lecturer, who will in turn hire some temporary staff to be paid purely by that unit. They will be responsible for going out to solicit for funds. Carrying out annual equipment audits of all equipment will establish those that are faulty, those that are reparable, those that are in good form and those that are commercializable.
5. I will institute what I will call Tea Day when I will meet with each Faculty or two faculties and when I will challenge them with what they should do with the available facilities to generate funds for themselves and the University.
6. My first vision is to make the University of Abuja, be among the first 3 in Nigeria and among the first 10 in Africa and among the first 200 in the world. The University of Abuja is the image of the Federal Universities based on its strategic location at the Federal Capacity. In driving for funds this will be our key word. We will drum this; we will sing this to the ears of the Federal Government.
7. I will focus on the completion of all ongoing projects including the abandoned ones. My theory in life is that there is nothing that cannot be done! Over 150 years ago it was unthinkable that human beings could invent a flying machine. As a pharmacist, we were told in our student days that many diseases cannot be cured. Today, they are being cured.
8. I will improve on the relationship between the University and the contiguous communities by using them largely as experimental points to demonstrate our innovations. Thus the principle of “town and gown” will be brought to the fore. This is one good way to generate funds where such extension services are provided.
9. Focus on making the University a self-reliant one. Sustainable education is the only way to go in this generation of scarce resources. One international organisation calls it “Teach a man to fish” approach to education. There will be a curriculum for entrepreneurial education that will be taken by all students irrespective of the field and tested in a centre owned by the University for fund generation.
10. Establish a Directorate of Research and make it functional to attract foreign grants to the University. The centre will be required to foster collaborations with various national and international institutions. All the collaborations we fostered when I was coordinator of the STEP-B Project will be revitalised.
11. Ensure that our Admin Staff receive adequate training both locally and international on strategic management of higher education. Good institutions for this type of training are the Galilee International Management Institute in Israel, the MDF in the Netherlands and the World Bank Institute in the USA. Bringing them to train our staff will enhance productivity while a few our core staff will also be sent there for further training. Notably are the DVCs, the Registrar, the Bursar, the University Librarian, and few Deans such as that of Agriculture.
12. Commence a postdoctoral research system that will attract foreign based researchers to Nigeria. Within the first few years, we will focus on those who have background in areas that can easily yield funds from available facilities. Part of the annual funds from the ETF for staff training will be used for this. The era of bringing people from other nations to our university is now. This will properly internationalise the University of Abuja and bring in the expertise in the key areas to turn our fortune around.
13. Establish a Faculty of Pharmacy and commence pilot drug production on a commercial scale. The pilot unit will anchor the pharmaceutical technology department for training students. The faculty will be made to also establish a model pharmacy and money provided on a revolving loan basis. This will also be a centre for practice in community pharmacy.
14. Nigeria is one of the highest consumers of second hand cars popularly known as “Tokunbo.” The University deserves a mechanical workshop that should compete with the best mechanical workshop for repair of vehicles. This combined with a unit of mechatronics will be formidable in capacity building of both staff and students and also bring in the necessary income.
15. Focus on the acquisition of skills and other creative abilities by the staff that will transform the University and the entire nation. One of the major problems of our universities is the lack of creative skills. There may be a unit dedicated to creative sciences and people identified with such skills will be hired. This will be rigorously advertised and people with certain skills brought in to kindle the place. While, on STEP-B I meet people with such skills. One developed a human mind computer, another developed a machine that could predict disease and drug resistance.
16. Concentrate on ensuring that many fresh PhD graduates of the University of Abuja that are staff are sent for postdoctoral research overseas. This will also enhance their capacity and when they return the University will be better for it. An Advancement Office will be created for this to be headed by a director. Nothing is as good as boosting the moral of staff. As a young academic in those days, I attended an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship in Germany. I now had to encourage all my PhD graduates to attend. Three are already full professors and one is an associate professor. In fact, one is already a Deputy Vice Chancellor at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.
17. Ensure the usage of staff and student skills to carry out direct project implementation to save cost and enhance staff and student skills.
18. Ensure more ICT compliance by connecting the University to the Nigerian Research and Education Network (NgREN) located at the National Universities Commission and making the University more visible on the web. All the fee collection will be domesticated in the MIS unit of the University for enhanced effectiveness and accountability.
19. Create a safer secure environment for teaching and learning.
20. Create boreholes for water generation and paying adequate attention to power generation and campaign for use of power-saving devices including bulbs and other appliances. Our Engineering faculties will be challenged with this.
21. Establish strong relationship with the industry and other the local business community such as commercial banks to ensure that they participate in the governance and projects in the university.
22. Establish more departments and units to meet the dynamics and complexity of modern day society such institute for corruption studies, institute for peace studies, institute for project management to focus on project management, procurement, monitoring and evaluation, etc. Where they already exist, they will be made very functional and challenged with the need for revenue generation. Many people will prefer weekend and certificate courses from a university than those from consultancy firms that are run ad-hoc.
23. Include labour market observatory and labour market management system in the office of the Alumni Relations. Institute an Alumni day to bring members back to make contribution to the development of their Alma mater. The institute will be responsible for studies on job creation nationally. We will work closely with the Ministry of Labour and Productivity.
24. Include National Vocational Qualifications Framework (NVQF) in the Centre for Entrepreneurship Studies. I will work closely with the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) on this. In this regards, we will hire some skilled workers who are not necessarily graduates to help in pushing this. They will be helpful in some of the areas mentioned above.
25. Domestication of some aspects of our curricula to meet local needs and maintain some of our good value systems. Let’s take a look at the market around us and see what we can do with millet, groundnuts, nunu, even the oil sector, etc.
26. Establish a reward system for performing lecturers who publish in high impact journals including accelerated promotion. Those who are bring in new ideas and funds also deserve similar treatments. Publication in high impact journals may attract a Vice Chancellorship Prize.
27. Enforce the timely completion of postgraduate studies within the stipulated periods. Currently, many postgraduate students are over-delayed in schools for lack of researchable topics and close supervision. Enlarge the course base for PG courses. University of Abuja is a metropolitan university where civil servants may want to come and do some course. We may want to take a second look at evening and weekend programmes.
28. Establish a unit for Technology Policy Analysis to explore areas of Academic Research we can suggest to all our academic units so that we will defeat the on-going counsels of “Ahitophels” in our educational sector at whatever level and what kind of funding we can access.
29. Encourage the Departments and faculties who are already engaged in the publication of Journals and Newsletters with some funds and ensure wider marketing of such publications; Textbook publications will be encouraged and also publication of inaugural lectures for marketing.
30. Encourage departments and faculties to organise more national and international seminars, workshops and conferences and encourage them with some funding. This should be in key demand areas and areas of international interest such as bioinformatics, ICT, STEM cells, etc.
31. Widen the scope of the consultancy unit. There should be a legal unit where people can come and hire lawyers. The University Abuja should be able to have bottled water. It should be able to produce fruit juice; and other agric products.
32. Fix a day in a year or in two years for exhibitions of innovations, discoveries and inventions. We can then bring in people from the business community to come and see those that they can help us to commercialize.
33. The so called public-private partnership will be strongly called to the fore. There are many people that can help with infrastructure that they can slowly recoup their funds with time and after handover completely to the university.
34. Liaise with the Songhai Centre in Port Novo to see if the Centre can be replicated at the University here. This will certainly enhance the revenue base of the University. The Songhai Centre is owned by a Nigerian and is recognised by the United Nations as a model Centre for Agricultural Entrepreneurship. Places like Grand Square in Abuja should be able to have University of Abuja chicken supplied to them on a weekly basis.
35. I will make revenue drive a strong aspect of the University life. I will be in constant with various firms and individuals. Those that cannot build for us or make other donations should be able to Institute a Faculty or Departmental Prize for a graduating student.
36. I will ensure that any money not yet released from TETFund due to unretired advances will be retired and further funding commenced.
37. Ensure some level of discipline in terms of fees. Any student who has not paid fees within a month shall be liable repeat the year and/or pay some late registration fee.