Reps C'ttee Ends Oversight To UniPort, Other S'South Fed Institutions By Otikor Samuel

Pursuant to its watchdog role in tertiary institutions and Inter-University Centres, the House of Representatives Committee on Education and Services, on Tuesday, April 24, 2019 visited the University of Port Harcourt in continuation of Oversight Function which started late last year. The Committee members led by their chairman, Hon Aminu Suleiman, were received by the Vice-Chancellor and other Principal Officers of the University at the Governing Council Chambers. The delegation thereafter proceeded to the Vice-Chancellor's Committee Room to scrutinise the University's books for evidence of compliance with approved financial regulations.

Speaking on behalf of the House Committee, its Chairman, Hon Suleiman, dispelled speculations that its mission was to lay blame or find faults with the running of the University. “We are not an inquisition panel with a hidden motive to indict the Management or any officer of the University. The essence of our visit is to further collaborate with you, and objectively discuss the challenges you face and holistically engage ourselves on how to run an efficient system that would deliver quality education to our children. The intention is not to witch-hunt anybody, but to apply an eagle eye to what is happening in the educational sector to ensure quality and access for our children,” the Committee Chairman said.

“Sometimes at the Plenary Sessions, we are forced to defend the reports presented to us as if we are the Bursars of these institutions. So, we need thorough explanation; the report should speak for itself even if we are not there to defend it,” the Chairman said, advising that the University should strictly observe the Federal Character Principle in the recruitment of staff. Hon Suleiman, however, commended the University for practising gender parity in its top echelon.

Welcoming the delegation, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ndowa Lale, apologised for the late submission of the University's report to the Committee as directed, blaming the delay on the three-month strike action embarked upon by the Non-teaching unions in the university system. He told the Committee that the University Management received little allocation from the Federal Government as overhead cost, whereas it spent much more on municipal services and other expenditures that keep the system afloat. Professor Lale stated that such a troubling scenario left the University to depend more on Internally-Generated Revenue (IGR), appealing to the Committee to use its good office to intervene on behalf of the universities.

The Vice-Chancellor noted the observations made by members of the Committee, promising to make the needed corrections on the final report to be forwarded to them in Abuja.

The Committee members also took presentations from other tertiary institutions in the South-South, which came to meet them in the University. The three-day interactive forum ended on Thursday.

Other members of the Committee on the Oversight Function included Jarigbe Jarigbe (Deputy Chairman), Ayorinde Olabode, Abban Tajudeen, Salihu Bashir, Dyegh John, Molle Ibrahim, Mohammed Rano, Mu'azu Lawal and Ben Nwankwo.


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