Akin Akande, Abuja
The Minister of Education, Professor Ruqqayatu Ahmed Rufai, has described the various challenges facing the University of Abuja, as a clear case of system failure.
The university has been battling with internal crisis bothering on accreditation of three key academic programmes: engineering, medicine and agriculture which have been suspended by federal government until they are accredited by the appropriate bodies.
The Minister said this when she was briefing the National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the scorecard of her ministry.
She said that if a system has failed for several years, then it will be difficult to resolve it overnight, adding that it was a problem that was inherited.
She also said that the ministry’s target is to attain 60 per cent passes by students in public examinations by 2015, adding that a four year strategic plan had already been developed to achieve the target which would ensure passes in relevant subject such as English and Mathematics.
Explaining further the efforts being put in place to rectify the problems being faced by students in engineering, medical and agricultural faculties in the University of Abuja, the Minister explained that the issue of medical students would be resolved in the next two weeks, while students in other faculties would be transferred to other institutions where the programmes have been accredited.
“Remember we had a Visitation Panel in the University because we have so many problems there. How can we say that before us in the FCT, the University is decaying to this level so, we raised a high powered Visitation Panel; the highest level so far, over 40 members with so many committees headed by a renowned SAN.
“They came up with a very good report, detailing on a one-by-one basis all the issues because for a very long time, the university is in a rot.
“We have submitted White Paper on that and by the time we get approval from the Presidency, you will definitely see action on one-by-one on all the issues,” she stressed.
Still on the University of Abuja crises, she explained that: “I have said this over and over and over that University of Abuja is a clear system failure.
“If a system has failed for several years, then it will be difficult to say you will resolve it overnight. We have a problem we inherited; NUC gave us approval, NUC for about four years, stopped these processes.
“NUC is still working and they are working with COREN and Medical and Dental Council.
Where we are today and why these students are on the streets is that we cannot graduate engineering students from the University of Abuja, based on what is on ground.
“However, we have hope that in two weeks or so, we may have accreditation for medicine in the university.
And so, if we can have accreditation for them within that period, what is it they are now hurrying for.
“I don’t know whether the VC is communicating with them at all. I don’t know why is sitting there and allowing them to go and tell the world that we have problems.
“What the NUC people told me this morning is that they are on top of the issue for the medical students and they are going to do accreditation for them next week and since we have the facilities where they can do their clinical, they can still graduate, especially since they don’t have problems with these set of students.
“But, we have to take time that whatever we shall provide is in line with government policy. What we have would be to overhaul the entire university,” she disclosed.
In his remark, the National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, urged the Minister to abide by the Party’s manifesto which he said was aimed at transforming the nation’s education sector.