… As Bill passes 2nd reading
By Ignatius Okorocha
President of Senate, Ahmad Lawan on Thursday charged Defence Ministry to supervise Army University and ensure that its courses were military related to avoid duplication.
Speaking after the Army University Biu bill was passed for a second reading and referred to committee on army to report back in four weeks, Lawan said military universities must be established with a clear vision.
Recall that the Army university was established following an approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in August 2018.
The university which has been in operation since then, matriculated 2,776 students in 2020 which are running 39 programmes in five faculties.
But speaking on the numerous universities being establish even without legislative backing, Lawan said even though the country has National Defense Academy (NDA) Kaduna, Armed Forces Command And Staff College (AFCASC) Jaji and the National Defense College (NDC) added that there was nothing wrong in having an army university but insisted that they should be under one supervision.
“The Nigerian Airforce and the Nigeria Navy soon decide on their universities. The army university should be strictly on army issues,” Lawan said.
“The entire defence related institutions should be under the ministry of defense. The Nigerian Navy and the Nigeria Airforce universities must be established with a clear purpose to avoid duplication,” Lawan said.
In his lead debate, sponsor of the Bill, Sen Ali Ndume (Borno South) said the University was established following an approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in August 2018.
According to him,it will be the only university with three Deputy Vice Chancellor (DVC) in academic, administration and Military training.
Ndume, who said Borno should not be neglected because of the Boko Haram crisis, added that the university should have been established in Sambisa forest in order to root-out the terrorists.
Ndume said: “In 2020, the university matriculated 2,776 students running 39 programmes in five faculties to conduct research, entrepreneur skill, promote advancement of knowledge in army hard wire and soft wire,” Ndume said.
Ndume said: “The university will be a training institution for technical empowerment, to be supervised by the Federal Ministry of Education and the National University Commission (NUC).
“There won’t be discrimination based on region, state, tribe no race,” Ndume said.
Speaking, Adamu Aliero (Kebbi Central) said they are just seeking for legal backing for the university.
Aliero who said the university will promote education within the military, added that the Army University Biu will be the only second military university after NDA.
Aliero who supported the passage of the bill, urged his colleagues to support it.
Also, Ajayi Boroface (Ondo North) said he is very scared when he see the number of university seeking for legal backing.
Boroface who said when unspecialized university are created, the labour market will be saturated advised the lawmakers to be more focus on creating specialised universities.
He said he supports the creation of the university since it will be for the training of Nigerians on military issues and new technology.
On his part, Abba Moro (Benue South), who supported the bill, said the military university in Biu is one of the unique university that will help Nigeria secure it territory.
He said there was need to inculcate good training to the Nigeria military personnel adding that they need to legalise it.
On his part, George Thomson Sekibo (Rivers East) said he was in between an opinion whether to support or not to support but added that he support the bill to be read for a second time.
He said according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), 10 million young Nigerians applied for admission but about seven million could not get admission.
He said many that were not taken in the universities not because of disqualification but that the instructions capacity were not adequate.
Sekibo suggested that Nigeria Army university should have 70 percent of military science to help the country.
Sam Egwu (Ebonyi North) said the university should help people to learn military tactics for self defense.
But Francis Fadawunsi (Osun East) who said university of Maiduguri is overstretched, added that the army university will provide the needed education to the North East.
He said even though the university is already onground added that it will not require more funds if approved by the Senate.
James Manager (Delta South) who frowned on the way and manner institutions been established without legal backing, said the Senate must stop such act.
“The university, we were told has been in existence since 2018 with lecturers employed and students already studying.
“But I think the idea of establishing something when National Assembly is in session and they can’t come and seek for legal backing is not good enough,” Manager said but admitted that the institution is a popular university.
“It’s a popular university why wait for two years before coming for legal backing,” Manager asked insisting that many universities are established with in Nigeria with just an executive fiat which he said was not good.
“The university is to provide research in military hard wire and soft wire. What the country need is military technology. What is lacking in our country is the technical approach in fighting the war. The military must play a role in the university for it to be called an army university. If there is time for Police or Airforce University, let it be in the South South or south East,” manager added.
But the senator representing Borno North, Abubakar Kyari, said when they started, the admission was loopsided.
He insisted that every Nigerian should be given an opportunity to get admission in the army university Biu.