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Proliferation of military universities: Military : Nigerialog.com - Nigeria's Premier Online Forum

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Proliferation of military universities

By: Gideon |Time : May 01, 2018, 01:56:33 AM
The Nigerian Army has a new university located in Biu, Borno State. An approval for its establishment was given by the Federal Executive Council at its April 10 meeting. This is a needless addition to the long list of 41 universities owned by the Federal Government, which are so far grossly underfunded.

In justifying its existence, the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, said the institution was uniquely designed to serve as a solutions centre, especially concerning the challenges the military face in the North-East. His logic is not convincing against the background of the fact that the Nigerian Defence Academy in Kaduna has for long been functioning as a university; just as the National Defence College, Abuja, where senior military officers are taught war strategies, also runs postgraduate programmes in affiliation with the NDA. With Naval Admiralty University, Ibusa, Delta State, licensed last December, and the Air Force angling for its own, the country might end up having five degree-awarding military institutions. This bespeaks waste and irrationality.

Faced with the Boko Haram enigma and periodic decimation of troops fighting the insurgency, what the Army sorely needs is a renewal of its ordnance or weaponry, as typified in President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent request to the National Assembly for an approval to withdraw $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account for military equipment procurement.

Reacting to the din the cash request has generated from the public and political opposition, the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Rogers Nicholas, says an Apache helicopter costs between $20 million and $65 million, while a Super Tucano jet costs $14 million, among others, stressing, “So talking about a billion dollars for the military in the North-East to me is grossly inadequate.” This is where the emphasis should be.

However, the President takes the blame for this obvious policy contradiction. In August 2015, barely three months in office, he had reversed the elevation of five federal colleges of education and two polytechnics to universities by his predecessor, despite their vice-chancellors having been appointed. This generated mixed reactions. But what stuck out was the fact that existing institutions were badly funded. New ones hardly enjoy a different treatment.

The mockery government makes of these so-called new citadels of learning is evident in the N1 billion take-off grant given to each of the 12 universities the Goodluck Jonathan administration created, whereas Abuja City Gate got about N7.5 billion. The Federal Government owes its universities N800 billion revitalisation fund, contained in its pact with the Academic Staff Union of Universities, which had embarked on countless strikes, in its quest for the implementation of the 2009 agreement.

Government should stop biting off more than it can chew. The Economic Counsellor and Director of Research of International Monetary Fund, Maurice Obstfeld, recently warned Nigeria not to mismanage the current crude oil price rebound, with the ominous message that it might not be lucky a second time in exiting economic recession. Setting up new cost centres and bureaucracies, which the Army University represents, is one clear way of undermining the recovery.

A military institution should not necessarily have to be a university before it can provide quality or world-class training. Sandhurst, United Kingdom’s best military academy, is a typical example. With its over 200 years’ history, fame and royalty, it has not metamorphosed into a university. It is only affiliated to the UK Open University for the 120 credit course points in distance learning programme for a degree in International Studies. The United States equivalent is the West Point, where its graduates obtain degrees after four years of study.

If any void existed in our own system, it was filled in 1985 when the NDA began undergraduate programmes. This notwithstanding, many Nigerian soldiers have obtained degrees up to the doctorate level from our local and foreign universities in defence studies and other disciplines. At the moment, there are 162 universities in the country, comprising federal, state and privately-owned, in which any soldier in the quest for knowledge or a degree can be enrolled for studies.

The fad of creating a university for every agency that demands one should end now. The police and National Legislative Institute also have their own varsities, just as a public Maritime University exists in Delta State. These public universities are funded mainly with oil revenue. But the crash in global crude oil prices since mid 2014 should have taught Nigeria a lesson − an economy dependent on a single commodity income is perched on the precipice.

How this affects the ivory tower could be seen in the paltry N66 million the University of Ibadan received for capital projects in 2017. The fate of others may not have been different. Consequently, the condition of our universities would remain as degenerate as the 2012 Needs Assessment report observed: absence of basic facilities like water, electricity and bathrooms; hostels infested with rodents and common rooms turned into living rooms by students. According to the report, the universities are “grossly understaffed, relying heavily on part-time and under-qualified academics.” It noted a shortfall of 32,000 PhD holders. Since more universities have been licensed since then, it means that the personnel deficit has spiked.

This development, no doubt, dredges up the question of quality of output. No Nigerian university is ranked among the best 1000 in the world. The closest is UI, placed 1099 in the 2018 Webometric ranking. Therefore, the Federal Government should stop establishing these glorified institutions as universities, but adequately fund existing ones for them to function as real citadels of learning – centres of excellence in research, innovation, teaching and learning – which Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge and other Ivy League universities typify. Harvard’s $36.4 billion in endowment funds alone, as of January 2016, according to the CNN, should make Nigerian authorities and perceptive minds to think twice about the purpose our own universities serve in today’s knowledge-driven world.
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Re: Proliferation of military universities

By: Gideon |Time : May 01, 2018, 02:07:21 AM
Well,I think maybe 3 should be enough to cater to all the armed forces of Nigeria. One school for navy,one school for airforce,and one school for military.

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