Earlier, you acknowledged stable academic calendar this year, as there has been no strike. But one is brewing already with the FG/ASUU face off over the Integrated Payment and Personnel Information System (IPPIS). As somebody who has vast experience in the university administration, in what way are you advising the government to handle this matter?
Frankly speaking, my response to this question is not as JAMB Registrar, it is as a Professor from a university and as somebody who had managed the university and who has also been President of Association of African Universities and has a fair view of what goes on in the university all over the world. This is because I served on the governing boards of the Association of Commonwealth Universities as well as International Association of Universities. Besides, I am widely travelled when it comes to university administration. I will caution the Federal Government about IPPIS. The government should be cautious because IPPIS might do more damage to the University system than good.
My own position is that we are swinging between one extreme to the other. Prior to 2005, no university got direct allocation from the government; we used to defend our budget with the National Universities Commission (NUC). It is the NUC that regulates, controls, supervises and monitors everything. Now, because our colleagues felt that NUC was too overbearing, they decided to have direct interface with the National Assembly and the national purse. This is one of the consequences of such complaints about NUC being accused of being overbearing. I believe that if you look at the analysis of government expenditure on universities, prior to 2005 and after 2005, go and compare, there has been lawlessness since 2005 because what you get into the university is no longer a product of what you need, but a product of lobbying and so many dirty things that go along with lobbying. It is no longer regulated. When NUC was regulating, we had parameters, size of the university, age of the university, Science-Arts parameter and the growth rate. Then, there was the University System Annual Review Meeting (USARM) where every Vice-Chancellor accounted for every kobo given to his school to the NUC. The NUC would harvest this review to serve as basis for its recommendation for budget allocation for all the federal universities.
Now, we have dismantled that structure and every university now handles matter individually independent of NUC, which is not even cost effective. If you analyse how much every Vice-Chancellor spends in coming to and from Abuja on the issue of contacting National Assembly or contacting IPPIS, they are not only spending money, they are learning new tricks about corruption. This is because, yes, many people may say universities are corrupt, yet no sane person will assert that the universities are more corrupt than the public service. Civil service is stinking about corruption and the universities are still sane. But by the time we allow the undue and unregulated intermingling, you are going to transfer this poisonous dose into the university system and they are going to be the worse for it as they (universities) have the intellectual capacity to package the corruption. It is something that we need to look into! Many people raised the issue that some Vice-Chancellors were prosecuted. What was the outcome of the prosecutions? I did not find any one of them that was not set free.
The court said that by the rules of the University, they have not done anything wrong. All the noise in the media is when they are being tried. But when the court sets them free, nobody hears about it. There was the case of somebody who was serving President of the AAU (and Vice-Chancellor); you know the impact of the trial of such a person on the nation. We were really shocked and after the man went through all the horror, only for the court to say nothing was found against him after the name of the country and the University was almost permanently damaged.
So, what we are saying is that there are in-built mechanisms for addressing the issue of corruption in the university system. Let us activate those mechanisms, let us make sure that NUC is made to play both supervisory and regulatory role on federal universities. They have regulatory roles over all universities but they have both supervisory and regulatory roles on Federal Universities and that is what we are saying they should activate.