Prof. Julius Okojie, former executive secretary of the National Universities Commission, implored the Federal Government on Thursday to reconsider the Autonomy Act and contemplate bestowing complete financial autonomy upon Nigerian universities to enhance their operational efficiency.
“In 2001, I presided over the Committee of Vice-Chancellors, which is an autonomous body of the university,” he stated. Ultimately, the universities possessed a degree of autonomy. While administrative autonomy was granted to them, financial autonomy was not. Universities ought to reconsider the Act if they desire genuine autonomy.
During his address at the third convocation of KolaDaisi University in Ibadan, Oyo State, which was held in the Agbeke Memorial Hall of the institution, Okojie proposed that public universities transition into enterprises with the theme “The Nigerian Education System at a Crossroads.”
However, he pointed out that to effectively collaborate in research and service provision, they should cooperate with the private sector and generate funds by government policies.
The former NUC correspondent expressed disapproval regarding the prevalence of political stalwarts who are also professional politicians occupying university councils, stating, "University councils should not be dominated by such individuals. They should be well-respected and well-informed regarding the university’s primary programs.
“Political, religious, and ethnic factors are contributing to the demise of our universities.” Our academic institutions lack productivity. They ought to be confronted with national issues such as climate change, environmental concerns, economic progress, pertinent research, and innovations, among others, and actively participate in discussions at the national level.
He stated that universities and research institutes should be encouraged to collaborate on national innovation and development initiatives.
Okojie further expressed concern over the extinction of polytechnics and urged immediate action to reverse the trend.
''The polytechnics are on the verge of extinction due to low student enrollment and a declining number of graduates each year. They might be considered for conversion by the government into polytechnic universities.
“Our academics and experts in the diaspora should be encouraged to collaborate with professionals and experts in the home base in emotional intelligence, artificial intelligence, and blockchain technology.”
Before that, the institution’s vice president, Professor Adeniyi Olatunbosun, exhorted the graduating class to go out and positively impact society.
“I extend my sincere congratulations once more to the graduating class on this momentous achievement in their life’s journey. I am confident that the knowledge you acquire during your time here will position you to bring about a significant transformation. I implore you to actively participate in the endeavor to elevate Nigeria’s status to that of a global powerhouse.”
According to him, twelve of the 123 graduates hold first-class degrees, fifty hold second-class upper division degrees, 39 hold second-class lower division degrees, and 22 hold third-class degrees.
Chief Kola Daisi, the university’s Founder and Chancellor, emphasized that the establishment would persistently meet the anticipated standards. He further stated that “not only our nation but the entire world is currently in critical straits for individuals whose ingenuity and originality can assist in resolving the enormous challenges that confront us.”