The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Abdul-Ganiyu Ambali, has appealed to the Federal Government to relax the procedure for accessing the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) grants.
Prof. Ambali, who made the appeal at a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) forum in Abuja recently, noted that the protocol involved in accessing the funds was tedious, adding that many universities would have loved it to be made easier.
Investigations have shown that tertiary institutions had yet to access about N43bn with TETFund due to cumbersome procedure.
The Vice-Chancellor said, “I am sure the protocol in TETFund is not like the Bible or the Quran that cannot be changed, to make things much easier for all stakeholders”, stressing the need for the management of TETFund to meet “to look at the protocol and review it with a view to making it more accessible if possible.”
Prof. Ambali added that making the process of accessing the funds easier would improve the funding of the universities and polytechnics in the country.
Pointing out that the process is even cumbersome for officials involved in the monitoring, assessment and project report and recommendations, the Vice-Chancellor noted that “based on the number of universities that we have, based on the number of projects going on in every university, the protocol should be made easier.”
Prof. Ambali, however, said that the University of Ilorin had been able to access its funds from TETFund, saying it had been getting its request as at when due. He said that the University had been able to access 85 per cent of its budget, including other assistance allocated to the institution.
He said, “If you go to the University of Ilorin today, you will not see any abandoned project, the projects that you will see are either ongoing or already completed, waiting for inauguration by Mr. President or the Minister of Education.
“So we do not have much problem when it comes to accessing TETFund grant from the organisation”.
The Vice-Chancellor also disclosed that Unilorin had achieved 60 per cent paperless operations to ease administrative procedures and make its operations environment friendly. He said that tapping into the electronic platform was imperative, as Information Communication Technology had taken over every field of human endeavour.
Prof. Ambali said, “The University has embarked on paperless Senate, that one has been on for quite a while now and our Council meetings are paperless. I am happy to say that at least we have achieved 60 per cent of the paperless activities or deliberations at the Council level.”
“At the students’ level, they have also been able to collaborate with some establishments, for example, Samsung. And through that, we have been able to procure some light-emitting diode screens installed in most of the Faculties so that communication among students is through ICT,” he added
The Vice Chancellor also disclosed that the University is set to inaugurate its Moringa processing factory to boost the medicinal values and revenue base of the institution. He said that the University had also established other plantations to serve as training outlets for the students.
He said, “The Moringa processing factory, which has been completed, will be inaugurated during this year’s convocation ceremonies.”
Prof. Ambali said, “We also have other plantations like jatropha, teak, date palm and the oil palm plantation that is coming up soon. All these were established to serve as practical training outlets for our students, most especially those in the Forestry Department, Biological Sciences, and even Economics and other disciplines in the Faculty of Management Sciences.” He said that the harvesting, processing and marketing of the Moringa plant required the expertise of those in the Marketing, Accounting Departments and other Management Sciences.
The Vice-Chancellor, however, urged the Federal Government to involve youths in mechanised farming to boost food production in the country.
According to him, the government should re-assess the agriculture sector to refocus on two main areas in order to achieve the feat.
“We have to re-assess our focus. There are two ways to look at it. Do we want youths to be in agriculture because we want more food to be produced for Nigerians? Or do we want to put more youths into agriculture because we want to address unemployment?
“When you look at the developed world and calculate how many percentage of their population are in agriculture, it is very few, very small percentage of them are engaged in agriculture, because most of the practices are mechanised.
“But if you want to get more youths out of the streets to go into agriculture, then, we are thinking of subsistence form of agriculture and it would not work.
“If we want more food, then, we have to mechanise our agriculture,” he said.