By Fred Itua, Abuja
A bill for the upgrade of Ahmadu Bello College of Agriculture, Kabba, to a specialised university passed second reading on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday.
The bill, sponsored by Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC- Kogi West), was presented for first reading, last January.
The Ahmadu Bello College of Agriculture, Kabba, was first established by the Premier of the Northern Nigeria, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello in 1963.
Presenting the lead debate, Senator Adeyemi said the upgrade of the school to a specialised agricultural institution would be a bold step towards, not only in addressing the educational needs of the people of Kogi West Senatorial District but it will also serve as a training ground for the development of agriculturists in the country.
‘Agriculture with its allied sectors is unquestionably the largest livelihood provider more also in the rural areas and can contribute significantly to the GDP. Demand for agricultural products is rising rapidly with increase in population and per capita income and growing demand from the industrial sector,’ the Senator stated.
‘The Ahmadu Bello College of Agriculture, Kabba when upgraded to university status will provide the holistic development of agricultural education, knowledge skills and the telescopic vision on future that will help them contribute to accelerated agricultural growth rate, enhance farmers income and generate employment in the sector. The Institution which has been a Diploma Awarding Institution will now offer a four-year BSc (Agriculture) programme. This will give the students a platform to enable the country to achieve self-sufficiency in food, reduce poverty and bring economic transformation in millions of rural families.
‘One noticeable feature in the development of universities in Nigeria is the emergence of specialised universities. Most of these focus on science and technology; while only three (Makurdi, Abeokuta and Umudike) focus on agriculture hence the need to upgrade the Ahmadu Bello College of Agriculture, Kabba to a university to increase the tally to four and as a matter of fact, this will help the back to land policy of the Federal Government to ensure the diversification of our national economy.
‘Agriculture is key and the drivers of these to me are products from the universities of Agriculture, I, therefore, advocate for the establishment of more universities of Agriculture across the country.’
The Chairman Senate Committee on Aviation further noted that the proposed University of Agriculture has no huge financial implication for the federal government as he maintained that the needed physical infrastructures are already on the ground.
‘Mr President, Distinguished Colleagues, I wish to state that there is no financial implication to this Bill, all the operational structures are already in place as the University is taken over from the existing Ahmadu Bello College of Agriculture.
‘I, therefore, urge you all to support this Bill to keep alive the dream of one of our country’s founding father, an exemplary and visionary leader, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, the Suduana himself.’