In a contribution in the Independent recently to a controversy over the stand of the National Universities Commission (NUC) on affiliation of institutions to
universities in Nigeria and the possession of a doctorate degree as a requirement to teach in Nigerian universities, Rev. Fr. Peter Adeyemi of the SS Peter and Paul Seminary made a personal attack on Professor Julius Okojie, the Executive Secretary of the NUC when he tried to compare his tenure with that of the immediate past Executive Secretary of the NUC, Professor Peter Okebukola.

The comparison which was based on some inaccurate information was uncalled for and it did not add anything positive to the argument which Fr. Adeyemi tried to advance in his article.

It is, however, of interest to observe that what could have been a dispute over the offensive comparison has been resolved amicably. The matter was
discussed with Professor Julius Okojie who took the pains to enlighten Fr. Peter Adeyemi and others who were present at the occasion about the
operation of the NUC, the issue of affiliation of institutions too universities in Nigeria and the question of a doctorate degree as a requirement to teach in
Nigerian universities.

At the end of the discussion, Rev. Fr. Peter Adeyemi admitted that if he had known as much before he wrote his article as he did after the discussion he
would not have written it the way he did or probably would not have written it in the first place.

Some of the comments which were made by different people on the issues were based on the wrong notion that the Executive Secretary of the NUC sits
in his office and churns out “decrees”, directives and regulations. It is not realized by such people that the Executive Secretary of the NUC functions
within a team in a democratic set up.

Like in other similar establishments, issues are identified or passed down by a higher body for consideration. These are discussed and decisions are reached and they become the decisions of the management team and not just that of the head of the team. The decisions do not end there especially if they are major policy issues. The NUC has a commission with a chairman which ratifies all major decisions or rejects them as the case may be.

Although the Executive Secretary as the executive head of the organization should accept blame as well praise for the decision of the NUC, it is not quite
desirable to hold him personally responsible for everything that may have gone wrong. Praise and condemnation should be for every member of the management team of the organization.

Furthermore, it is often not realized that the policies which are being implemented and over which there had been hue and cry, are not new. As Mr. Felix Adenaike rightly pointed out in the Tribune of January 23, 2008, the debate on the requirement of a doctorate degree for lecturers is not new. The academic and the nonacademic staff of Nigerian universities are well aware that for progression along the academic ladder, especially to the level
of professor, a lecturer is required to possess a doctorate degree. The policy was inherited by the current Executive Secretary of the NUC during whose tenure the deadline which had been fixed for 2008 has been shifted to 2009because the original was found to be unrealistic.

It is amusing that people who have argued that the quality of university education in Nigeria is low and would like Nigerian universities to be ranked
among the best in the world would seem to oppose a prescription of a doctorate degree for university lecturers which would enhance their teaching and research effectiveness.

Pope Pius X1 in his Encyclical Letter, Divini Illius Magistri in 1929, stated that the soundness and efficiency of a school is a matter not so much of good
rules as of good teachers. In 1942, Pope Pius X11 in a Christmas Message stated that good schools are the fruit not only of good regulations but principally of good teachers. The Second Vatican Council declaration on Christian Education stated that whether or not Catholic schools achieve their
objectives depends largely on teachers.

It follows, therefore, that if the quality of university education in Nigeria is to be improved and if Nigerian universities are to be ranked among the best
universities in the world, it is essential that Nigerian university teachers should be excellently trained in the respective subjects which they are to teach and they should possess high intellectual and moral qualities. In view of the poor quality of the products of Nigerian universities, first degree holders of Nigerian universities can hardly make good university lecturers.

Reference has been made to persons like Professor Wole Soyinka and Professor Chinua Achebe who though have no doctorate degree have been
recognized as efficient lecturers and have attained the rank of a professor. These are rare cases and cannot be rightly used as a justification for retaining
lecturers who have no doctorate degrees in the university system in Nigeria.

Many people do not seem to know that Professor Wole Soyinka did not become a professor just for the asking. He was refused professorship at the
University of Ibadan because he did not possess a doctorate degree before he went to Obafemi Awolowo University, when it did not possess the status
which it now commands, in order to be a professor.

Another issue which has attracted a great deal of attention is the affiliation of institutions to universities, although it is not of recent origin. There has been
affiliation over the years and it as undergone changes. It must be emphasized that it is not the making of the current Executive Secretary of the NUC.
The wrong impression has been created by some people that the issue of affiliation concerns only theological institutions. In addition to theological
institutions, colleges of education, polytechnics and colleges of technology are involved in affiliation to universities for the purpose of preparing students
for one academic qualification or another. The Nigerian Defense Academy was once affiliated to the University of Ibadan through the Institute of Education of the University.

Colleges of education and polytechnics were affiliated to universities for the purpose of providing quality control for the Nigerian Certificate of Education
(NCE). When the National Council for Colleges of Education was set up to look after the affairs of colleges of education, affiliation of colleges of education to universities for the purpose of the NCE was discontinued.

However, a few colleges of education remained attached to the universities to which they had close association and prepared students for the degrees of
such universities. Many other colleges of education and polytechnics consequently sought affiliation to universities for the purpose o preparing students for the degrees of such universities.

There was a sharp rise in the number of institutions which were affiliated to universities for the purpose of the award of university degrees. It did not seem that the universities were sufficiently discriminatory in approving applications for affiliation. It may be said that as many institutions as applied for affiliation got it.

In view of the large number of institutions which were affiliated to universities, fears were expressed that there would be inadequate supervision of the affiliated institutions and that this could adversely affect the quality of the degrees which are awarded. This probably led to the clamp down on affiliated institutions by the NUC.

Nigerian universities can admit only a small percentage of all candidates who apply annually for admission into universities in the country. Affiliated
institutions should, therefore, be allowed to remain in order to help absorb some of the candidates who cannot be admitted by universities. In order to
maintain quality in university education, the NUC should lay down some stringent rules for affiliation of institutions to universities which must be
enforced.

The NUC should prescribe the facilities which institutions seeking affiliation should have and it should specify how well they should be equipped. In order
to ensure adequate quality control, the NUC and the universities to which institutions are affiliated should undertake regular supervision of affiliated
institutions.

The case of Catholic theological institutions should be given special consideration. They were hitherto affiliated to the Pontifical Urban University
in Rome for the award of the bachelor degree in theology, but the NUC by a letter dated July 16, 1979 and addressed to the Catholic Secretariat of
Nigeria, directed theological institutions based in Nigeria to affiliate to local  universities. In compliance with the directive of the NUC, Catholic seminaries
were affiliated to Nigerian universities.

It would seem that the NUC is now saying that the affiliation which was undertaken as a result of its directive is no longer valid because the
universities to which they are affiliated did not notify it of the affiliation; this is unfair to the seminaries. It is not the fault of the affiliated institutions that
the NUC was not informed of the affiliation by the universities and they should not be penalized for the omission of the universities.

The NUC should, therefore, not deny Catholic seminaries recognition of their affiliation to universities which was carried out in accordance with the rules
of the universities and the NUC which prevailed at the time of the affiliation.

 

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