Prof Muhammad Akaro Mainoma is the Vice Chancellor (VC) of Nasarawa State University, Keffi. In this interview with DOMINIC AKPENSUEN, the VC speaks on the need to expand the capacity of existing universities instead of establishing new ones, and decries the present situation where there are not up to 50 accounting professors in all the universities in the country. He also bares his mind on other issues affecting the institution.
Prof Mainoma, who was appointed Vice Chancellor in 2014, said his administration has ushered in significant developments in the university despite several challenges. He said the recent hike in school fees for fresh students was necessitated by the need to meet up with staff salaries.
“There is increment in school fees for the new students because we were finding it difficult to even pay staff salaries, and the cost of training the students have also increased significantly, so students cannot continue to pay N25,000 per session. We followed due process before embarking on the increment, we agree that let start with N62,000 for indigenes and about N100,000 for non-indigenes, this will assist us to meet up with the demand to improve our academic standard and produce quality graduates,” he said.
On the frequent establishment of universities in the country, Prof Mainoma called for the expansion of the existing universities rather than creating new ones.
His words: “The idea of establishing more universities will come with additional cost in terms of current expenditure and principal officers, but my opinion is we should expand our existing public universities instead of creating new universities, because the cost of running the university is much, and the cost of expansion is not much. So, if we expand the available ones more space can be created for students, but in establishing new universities there is need for manpower that you may require, for example, all over Nigeria we don’t have up to 50 professors in accounting and we have over 100 universities offering accounting courses, and each department requires at least three professors.”
Prof Mainoma identified accommodation as one of the major problems of the university and thanked the Nasarawa State government for the support to surmount the challenges of running the school.
He said, “We have challenges in office accommodation and classrooms, because we have programmes that have grown and the population of students is getting larger, so, we need to step up and have theatres that can accommodate our students. As it is now, we have only one theatre that can accommodate 1,000 students even though we don’t have a class that is up to 1,000, but if we have combine class that has general courses it will be up to 1,000 (students), so our hope is that very soon we shall have a larger class. Fortunately, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) is available to assist us develop larger theatres. On the issue of office accommodation, we have a complex that will soon be completed because of increase in number of staff especially at the higher level.
“Hostel accommodation is also another challenge. Students live outside the university campus which imposes security threat on them, but the state government has come to our aid with three hostels that will accommodate over 2,000 students. Though there is delay in the contractors handling the project, but very soon hostels will be ready for use before the commencement of new session, although they will be available by March this year and we hope more buildings we come on from the state government based on their pledge to us.”
On the admission policy adopted by the school, Prof Mainoma said as state-owned university, attention is given to indigenes over non-indigenes on issue of admission.
Hear him, “We have a policy on admission; 80 per cent of admission goes to indigenes and 20 per cent is given to non-indigenes, and we follow it serially because in five students one must be non-indigene. So, no matter the number of non-indigenes that apply for admission we maintain our standard.”
The Vice Chancellor said the university also runs a post graduate school that is duly approved by the National Universities Commission (NUC).
“We do the assessment of our courses before we commence them, because at the end of the day NUC have to come and assess them, so, any programme we start it means we have the minimum requirement to start the programme.”