By Gabriel Dike
Executive secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, recently inaugurated two committees: Committee on the Review of Submission on the Procedures, Criteria and Records of Professorial Promotion by some non-degree awarding institutions in Nigeria and Committee on the Development of Guidelines for Mentoring New Universities. The committees were constituted on June 18, 2022, and August 15, 2022, respectively.
According to the current NUC Bulletin, Rasheed specifically told the first committee: “NUC found it nauseating the manner in which some academics are desperate to be addressed as professors. This has been rampant among lecturers in private universities.”
To stem the tide, he disclosed that the commission sent a list of professors to vice-chancellors for verification and to ascertain who actually qualifies as professor. He mentioned the case of agencies like the Nigerian Institute of Advance Legal Studies (NIALS), National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) and the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPRC), that conferred professorial titles on some of their members and resource persons:
“The Nigerian French Language Village, Topo Badagry and the National Institute of Nigerian Languages (NINLAN), Aba, are guilty of this act. Some institutions and agencies go as far as the National Assembly to get a law that will endorse fake professorship on their members.”
He charged committee members to follow due process and advice NUC on international best practices and guidelines on the promotion of professorial titles to deserving academics: “Members should be proactive in their approach to save the commission from entertaining court cases against it.” He promised NUC’s assistance to the committees to fulfill their assignments.
He advised them to brainstorm, “even if it means setting up zoom meetings and exploring other meaningful ways to write to the agencies to stop such nefarious activities. While carrying out your duties, you should define clearly who qualifies to be addressed as professors. Even the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) will be interested in the matter.”
On the second committee, Rasheed said: “It has become obvious that NUC in the process of issuing licenses to private university operators also outlines a 14-step procedure they are to follow which most public universities do not seem to have clear understanding. This affected their relationship as mentoring institutions with some of these private universities and now exerting much pressure on them.
“NUC frowns at such a situation where the bigger public universities exert undue pressure on mostly newly established private universities by as far as demanding the number of professors they must have. The expectation of the NUC is to supervise the new private universities and properly mentor them to fruition.
“A good private university can mentor another new university. The committee should help NUC by looking at the current private universities’ guidelines and advise appropriately on how the mentor and mentee university relationship should subsist.”
Chairmen of committees are, Prof. Ribadu Abdullahi and Prof. MuhammedYahuza Bello, respectively. They promised to deliver a quality assignment stressing: “The issue of quality assurance remains sacrosanct in the delivery of quality education for nation-building.”
Other members of the Committee on the Review of Submissions on the Procedures, Criteria and Records of Professorial Promotion by some non-degree awarding institutions in Nigeria are, Profs Chinedu Nwajiuba, Adebola Ekanola, Joseph Ahaneku, Angela Freeman Miri, Fatima Batul Mukhtar and Mohammed Yahuza Bello as member/Secretary.
Its terms of reference include: Critically reviewing the various submissions by the identified Institutions and advice the commission as appropriate, taking into consideration extant guidelines on the promotion of Nigerian academics to the rank of a Professor, as well as the institutions’ laws; Carefully review the guidelines on visiting, sabbatical and an adjunct appointment in Nigerian universities and advise the commission as appropriate; and make any other recommendations that would further improve the process for the promotion/ appointment of professors, as well as sabbatical/ visiting adjunct appointments in the Nigerian university system.
Other members of the second committee are, Prof. Alhassan Gani, Prof. Adebola Ekanola, Dr. Noel Saliu, Mrs. Constance Goddy–Nnadi, Mrs. Lydia Imoroa and Mr. Pascal Eruaga as secretary.
Its terms of reference are: Critically reviewing the commission’s extant policy on monitoring newly established private universities in Nigeria, taking into consideration global best practices; Developing standard guidelines for monitoring newly established universities in Nigeria, irrespective of proprietorship; and making any recommendations that would engender harmonious relationship between the newly established universities and their mentoring Institutions, towards the realisation of the stated objectives.
In 2019, no few than 100 fake professors were uncovered by the NUC and details were posted on its website. The commission sent the names to the various universities for verification. Rasheed this at the 2019 retreats for vice-chancellors.
He thanked them for their cooperation with the NUC Strategy Advisory Committee (STRADVCOM), which published directory of full professors in the NUS, statistical digest of the NUS 2017-2018; refinement and modernisation of instruments for accreditation of undergraduate, postgraduate, part-time, affiliate, open and distance learning programmes and institutional as well as state of university education in Nigeria 2017- 2018.
The NUC boss said the updated version of those documents would be published by December 2019 and that professors in their respective universities uploaded their curricula vitae on the website which was used in the compilation of the directory of full professors in the NUS and had helped in identifying fake professors in the system. He stressed that the fight against fake professors was a collective responsibility.