NETA NWOSU, Editor, speaks with Prof. Peter Aziba, Professor of Pharmacy and Toxicology, Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo state on allegations of flawed National Universities Commission (NUC) accreditation process, duplication of roles of professional bodies in tertiary institutions, unhealthy promotions, JAMB’s recent directive on cut-off points amid other issues.Excerpts
There have been complaints that the National Universities Commission (NUC) accreditation process is flawed. Some Academics have continued to insist on flaws in NUC’s annual accreditation. What do you think? What are these flaws?
The NUC, as established, serves as a watchdog to all the universities to regulate and maintain standards, hence the benchmark help to assess a minimum requirement expected when new programmes are to take off in the universities .This would seem to create uniformity and standards. It has also fostered and helped to equip universities in the programme, students/staff ratio, and helping to maintain vigilance in the institutions. However, it is also an organisation bedeviled with corruption vis-a-vis approval granted to the institution the usual grease-the-palm syndrome, collecting so called mobilization fee from institutions by NUC or its agents. I think NUC should be allowed to continue its role, but corrupt officers should be weeded out of the body.
There have also been outcries concerning duplication of roles by professional bodies in the tertiary institutions. Is this true? Please share your thoughts.
The duplication of roles by professional bodies is unnecessary, unbearable, and uncalled for. Some of these professional bodies are usurping the Senate functions in the universities. They are not academic bodies by establishment. They have constituted a sort of ego trips, economic gains and caused academic frictions especially the health related bodies. They have even gone beyond their mandates by demanding that Heads of Department in their programmes must be professional and that non Professional be appointed as Head of Department. It is the prerogative of Vice Chancellors, not these bodies interfering in the running of universities. Recall the University of Benin issue when a non medical scholar was elected as provost, and the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria threatened to withdraw its accreditation. This is very shameful and unacademic, it has created non cordial relationship between medical and non medical scholars in the universities. Now every Professional body organises call to Profession and the bottom line is economic gain.
Recently, educational analysts stated that core academic positions and promotion have been reduced to objects of political tinkering and patronage in Nigeria. What you think?
The promotion exercise in the universities of late has been bedeviled with corruption, favouritism , ethnic coloration, mentor/mentee accord especially in the Professorial Cadres. Take a look at the major criteria in appointing a Professor. It includes , Academic Paper publications, year of last promotion, additional paper publications since last promotion, journal offshore (international journal publication (onshore), Local publications, time of publication before promotion exercise, volume of journals, teaching experience and administrative position held prima facie qualified (PFQ) and three years after last promotion. These are merits/ integrity driven demands, but lately some universities have introduced some anomalies for example local and national publications, percentage contributions of authors. I am worried about this unacademic outlook of the last two requirements. What is local publication? It is determined by the place for example if a scholar in Benin publishes in Akure it is local but if the publication is a Journal in Sokoto or Abuja it is national.
I can believe such coming from a university, another disturbing criteria is the percentage contributions. For example, A paper listed 5 authors as contributors and each is to be scored on that paper, how, who does the scoring? For instance, let say 2018 exercise one of the Author is due and score himself on mutual agreement score 65% and the rest share 35 %. In 2021, another contributor is due for promotion and he or she submitted same paper and now score himself 65%, he or she had 35% three years ago. These are absurd unacademic and fraudulent practises which borders on morality. Note in addition to publications is the issue of number of publications which may not help sacrosanct to all, given the fact that hardship discipline are taken into consideration. I think what should be more of considerations should be quality of publications in quality journals of reputations.The game of numbers should be left to politician who count of good, bad and ugly numbers. It is very common to hear academics saying I have over 200 publications. Of what significance is this? We know of Nobel Laureate with less than 30 publications and have solved, proffer solutions to existing problems or discover or invent new drugs. It is quality that counts. This brings us back to what we have not been considering in our universities as Impact factor(PF!). In many universities abroad, impact factors are indicated as per each journal publications. This is what accounts for quality in academic paper qualification. I have singled out these two obnoxious criteria by some universities. Must promotion be based on mutual agreement? Largely, promotion exercise is similar but bedeviled by unwholesome corrupt practises in our universities. Another anomaly is in the case of PFQ for Associate Professor, my thinking is that since it is a Professorial cadre, there is no need asking for a second PFQ for full Professorship.
Lately, the reappointed Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) Registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede announced that though tertiary institutions would still use JAMB’s Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination scores, they could independently determine the cutoff point acceptable to them. Is this regionally motivated as proclaimed by many? What do you think? How would this development affect Nigeria’s educational system and quality of its citizenry?
As for JAMB, the recent call that universities should determine its entry point again corroborated my earlier call that JAMB is an unpredictable body with hidden agenda to favour a section of the country. What is certain with JAMB is uncertainty. It is a body that should be scrapped. JAMB to my observation is not serving the common good of Nigeria educational system. It’s all politics by mediocre who by religion or ethnicity found appointment to head such a body. Let us go back to each university conducting its exams and give admission to qualified students “Imagine, a student with 80 marks can be admitted by educationally disadvantaged state, run his or her undergraduate course and proceeds to a higher degree. If by design, he or she is made Minister of Education, what directives and compliance will he or she now issue to her subordinates who are better grounded. This what we are witnessing in the educational sector in this country. We are destroying the future of our Children as a result of incompetence, mediocrity, ethnicity, religion and favouritism. Please note that all educational parastatals of Federal Government are controlled by ethnic and religious considerations. See NUC, JAMB, NECO to mention a few. It is a disturbing phenomenon in our educational. sector.it is a shame.