The Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria has been asked to release its stranglehold on the College of Agriculture in Kabba, Kogi State, in order for the National University Commission (NUC) to give the necessary accreditation to convert the school to a full fledge University of Agriculture.
The Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Smart Adeyemi, who joined the Obaro of Kabba, Solomon Dele Owoniyi in pleading with authorities of ABU over the upgrading of the school, recalled that when the 8th Senate considered the Bill in 2017, ABU kicked against it on the ground that the college is a campus of the university.
The lawmaker also argued that “the College was long overdue for upgrade into full-fledged University like the former ones in Markurdi, Sokoto, Kano and Bauchi, even as he declared that in line with the diversification policy of the present government, there is need for establishment of two federal universities of Agriculture in each of the six Geo- political zones.”
In his presentation at the public hearing session organized by the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND on Bills separately sponsored to that effect by himself and Senator Ayo Akinyelure (PDP Ondo Central), the Kogi West Senator noted that “it is not out of place for Nigeria to have at least two federal university of agriculture in each of the geo-political zones of the federation. He said it would help to improve our foreign exchange earnings and provide jobs for millions of Nigerian youths.
“The College Of Agriculture Campus of Kabba which we are asking for its upgrade to a full-fledged university, has facilities which are currently under-utilized such as the 10 big halls of residence for students (both male and female), living quarters, a dam, a standard library with e-learning facilities, not less than 20 class rooms, an auditorium with a sitting capacity of a minimum of 2000 students, about10 laboratories in different courses of anatomy, soil science, microbiology, chemistry, physics, and other courses.
“When upgraded to a full-fledged university, the by-product will be a new generation of educated farmers that will guarantee self-sufficiency in food, reduced rate of poverty, provide self-employed graduates, improved cash-crops that will contribute to foreign exchange earnings of the country,” he insisted.
Similarly, holders of Higher National Diploma (HND) in the country, vehemently called for abolition of all forms of dichotomy between them and university degree holders in public service.
The two Bills are the one seeking for an Act to establish Federal University of Agriculture, Kabba from the present college of Agriculture which has been serving as a campus of ABU in Kabba since 1971 and the one seeking for abolition and prohibition of discrimination between university first degree and Higher National Diploma degree holders in public service.
The National Coordinator of HND stakeholders, Sebastien Onyemaobi , in a 34 – page memorandum submitted to the committee, asked the panel to stop the dichotomy which he said started during the colonial regime in 1955.
Corroborating Onyemaobi’s position, the representative of the Head of Service, Dr Emmanuel Meribole who serves as Permanent Secretary, Service, Policies and Strategies in the office of Head of Service of the Federation, called for a review of curriculum of Universities and Polytechnics before the dichotomy could be abolished.
According to him , while dichotomy at entry level into public service between University and Polytechnics graduates has been removed, that of progression of level 14 upward is still there , as a polytechnic graduate will have to acquire post graduate diploma or Masters degree before advancing further from level 14.
In his remarks, the Committee Chairman, Senator Ahmed Baba – Kaita disclosed that the Committee had received no opposition against the bill even as he begged ABU to release the school and allow it to be upgraded.
He added that of all the Federal Colleges of Agriculture established across the country from 1960s to 1990s, only the Kabba one still remained a college while the others have been upgraded to Universities .
“Other Colleges of Agriculture established in Abeokuta , Akure Makurdi and Omudike are now full fledged Universities of Agriculture .
” The one in Kabba should not be left at the level of College but also upgraded to full-fledged University as well captured and proposed by the bill sponsored by our Senator , Smart Adeyemi,” Baba – Kaita said .