•Fate of 63 academic staff of Bauchi State University on overseas state-sponsored scholarship programmes hang in the balance as varsity is hit by lack of funds
From Paul Orude, Bauchi
Unless the Bauchi State government takes immediate step to pump some money into the state-owned varsity, Bauchi State University, Gadau, the institution of higher learning may end up producing half-baked graduates. Investigation also revealed that the same lack of fund has stalled the construction of road project within the campuses and of new hostels for the increasing number of new students.
The university which has some good facilities especially at the main campus in Gadau, is currently plagued with the twin problems of dearth of funds and skilled manpower to oil its academic excellence.
Lack of adequate funding, it was discovered, has also affected its academic staff on scholarship for further studies as the university is finding it difficult sustaining their training on fellowship programmes, in and outside the country.
For instance, lecturers sent overseas for postgraduate programmes (masters and PhD) in various fields and professions have been left stranded, without tuition and fellowship grants, while most of them are paying for their feeding and accommodation with their monthly salaries.
Affected lecturers describe situation
Speaking exclusively to The Sun Education, one of the affected lecturers described it as an ugly situation which has made it difficult and unbearable for them to pursue their academic careers.
Our source informed that many of the lecturers who should have graduated by now were unable to do so owing to high indebtedness. “Like me, I paid for my second session tuition fee and now I am going to pay for my final session by instalments from personal source because the state government has not paid since last year February. My research work has been stagnated and so I have to source for the fee on my own in the face of high exchange rate in addition to paying for my accommodation and feeding.”
According to our source, the situation has become so unbearable that some of the scholars had had to abandon their programmes because they were being barred from entering lecture rooms.
“If proper action is not taken, the state is about to lose one of its major investment in the educational sector because already some of the lecturers that personally sourced for their tuition fee are threatening to take up appointments somewhere else after graduation,” the source said.
He claimed that one of the major campaign promises of Governor Mohammed Abubakar was to consolidate the educational system and so “it will also be of paramount importance for the state government to have a rethink and urgently take the needed action as leaving such heavy investment to waste will seriously tarnish the image and reputation of the administration. For the sake of God and the people of Bauchi State, please wake up to your responsibility and clear off all outstanding tuition fees.”
Asked to comment on the matter, the Special Assistant to Governor Abubakar on Scholarship, Mohammad Jibo told The Sun Education that it is not the responsibility of the state government to pay the tuition fee of the university lecturers studying overseas.
History and progress of the university
The idea to establish the state university was first conceived by the Adamu Mu’azu administration and implemented by his successor, Isa Yuguda. Following approval by the National Universities Commission (NUC), the university was eventually opened, on September 23, 2011, with excitement among the people of the state.
To help the university meet its objectives of education, research and granting of degrees, the state government contributes two per cent of the state’s statutory allocation while the 20 local government areas of the state contribute five per cent. A senior lecturer who is in the clear picture of everything going on as far as funding is concerned recalls that the then governor (Yuguda) directed the local government to pay N40 million monthly for the running of the university while the local governments contribute between N15 and 20 million, depending on the statutory allocations accruing to each of them.
With the local government areas now mere political/administrative appendages, under the total control of the state governor who appointed caretaker administrators to manage their affairs, it is not clear whether the third tier of government is committed to this arrangement. The immediate past administration at inception claimed that the sum of N1.6 billion was spent on construction of hostels, library, road networks and blocks of classrooms.
The federal government, at a time, announced an approval of N2.2 billion for the Bauchi State University as Special Intervention Fund to provide conducive teaching and learning The university has among, other objectives, to identify, recruit and attract the finest manpower to carry out its traditional functions of teaching, research and community service and to encourage, promote scholarship and conduct research in all fields of learning and human endeavours.
But five years down the line, there are fears among the staff and students that this vision is about to go up in smoke due to poor funding. It was learnt that the university depends mostly on visiting lecturers from Bayero University ((BUK), Kano, University of Maiduguri, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, among other established universities in the country for manpower. According to a lecturer with the university, the visiting lecturers are mostly doctorate degree holders and professors with years of experience needed by the young university. The inadequate manpower is noticeable in virtually all the academic faculties of the university.
Bemoaning the situation at the varsity
Indeed some of the lecturers who spoke with The Sun Education decried the situation saying it was unfortunate that the university depends on visiting lecturers due to dearth of sound lecturers. “As I speak with you now some of our courses are yet to be accredited by the NUC,” a source said. “We are also not being paid regularly and this is making life difficult for us.”
The university was established under the Bauchi State law promulgated in 2010. But in March 2011 the state government appointed a consultant to resolve all outstanding issues and to put finishing touches to the arrangements being made for a smooth take-off of the university in the 2011/12 session.
Consequently, three campuses were approved, one in Gadau (Azare) the main campus and home to the university’s apex administration, Misau and Bauchi. Following in the Nebraska University multi-campus system, a fourth campus has now been established at Jammare. The Gadau campus, is expected to host Faculties of Arts, Education, Science, Agriculture, Pharmaceutical Science and Post-graduate School and Centre for Ecology Research, while Misau campus hosts Faculties of Administration and Law and the Bauchi campus, Faculties of Social and Management Sciences, Engineering and Environmental Science. But while some academic programmes have received full accreditation, some partial, some have not any, full or partial.
Take, for instance, the case of administration and law at Misau campus. Both courses are yet to be accredited while some courses in the Faculty of Engineering and Faculty of Environmental Sciences have received partial accreditation. As can be deduced from the flurry of academic/administrative activities, serious efforts are being made to fill the vacuum left by the exit of the immediate past Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Ezzuldeen Muktar Abdulrahman. In the meantime the Visitor, Governor Abubakar has appointed an acting VC, Dr Musa Muazu Badara, to be in charge pending the appointment of a new VC and other principal officers for the university.
Confirming the facts from ASUU branch chair
Speaking with The Sun Education, the varsity’s local chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Dr Musa Wunti, admitted that there is the challenge of funding which is similar to all state government-owned universities and one of the reasons ASUU went on strike.
“This problem has resulted in so many problems. One of the problems is the issue of non-payment of our salaries or delays in payment,” he said. “Once the two per cent allocation is not paid there is no way the university can pay its staff their salaries and that directly affects the welfare of academic and non academic staff.”
Wunti who revealed that the state government has sent a large number of its academic staff on study fellowship, locally and internationally, lamented that it can no longer meet its obligation:
“Some have dropped especially those schooling in Malaysia,” he said. “Some cannot do their external final defence because the universities expect them to clear their final school fees. There is issue of housing because almost everyone of them in rented accommodation have been asked to vacate the place. One of the affected is with me here. He is in Kenya but he cannot settle his fees and has to use his salary. TETFUND is not forthcoming. I expect you to talk to some of the affected staff in order to authenticate your report. If you don’t have trained academic staff with PhD or minimum of master’s degree then there is no way you can run the university successfully.”
Efforts to get the state Commissioner for Education Engineer Nuhu Gidado, who is also the Deputy Governor proved abortive as he is said to be on vacation. When our correspondent met the Permanent Secretary, Nasiru Mohammed Yelwa, after several trips to the ministry, he said as a civil servant he has to get clearance from the commissioner. He could not get the clearance from Gidado at the time of the report. When contacted the commissioner overseeing the ministry Ibrahim Umar, who is also the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice declined comment on the issue. His reason: He had little information as he has just been asked to oversee the education ministry.