How we lost 2 members during probe of Abuja’s Varsity – Prof. Briggs

by Felix Khanoba

The Chairman of the Federal Government’s administrative panel on African University of Science and Technology (AUST), Abuja, Prof. Nimi Briggs, has narrated how two members of the panel lost their lives in the period of their assignment.

Prof. Briggs, who made the ugly development known while submitting the panel’s report to the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, in Abuja, said the deceased members drawn from the National Universities Commission (NUC) died all of a sudden within a short period of time.

“We lost two of our members; we first lost our secretary-Hamza. Hamza was replaced by another secretary. Hamza was a director in the section that deals with private universities at the National Universities Commission. He was a fine gentleman, sadly he died.

“And again recently, the gentleman who was put to replace him, who is the director of our legal services, also died. At the time they were dying, I too was very ill, and was very scared,” Prof. Briggs said.

While commending the minister for providing an opportunity to the administrative panel to investigate issues bordering on proprietorship, governance, financial and physical development in AUST, Prof. Briggs said the report which came in two volumes would address all the issues that prompted the constitution of the panel.

He said the University established in 2004, was designed to boost the studies of science and technology, adding that the complaints on ownership and the way the institution was being run prompted the Federal Government to set up the panel.

“AUST was established with very good intention, it was meant to be part of a series of African institutes of science and technology that were meant to be dotted all over sub-Saharan Africa.

“The idea was that through these institutions, science and technology was going to be given a serious boost in Africa and a path through Africa, particularly Southern Africa, was to be developed,” he said.

Responding, the minister of education, expressed the commitment of the Federal Government to ensure the implementation of the report to fulfil the mission of the University.

Adamu, who did not disclose the findings of the panel, commended the team for a job well done.

The AUTHORITY recalls that the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono, inaugurated the administrative audit panel about 18 months ago, where he expressed concerns over the findings of an earlier committee.

During the inauguration, Echono had said that NUC had in 2017 constituted a fact-finding team, which established that AUST jointly belongs to the Federal Government and the Nelson Mandela Institutions under a Public Private Partnership agreement.

He said the recommendation of the fact-finding team, however, frowned at retention of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as one of the directors representing Federal Government contrary to the agreement and legal instruments of the University, adding that some of the discoveries by the NUC’s fact-finding team were mind-boggling.

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