By Tahir Ibrahim Tahir Talban Bauchi.
Mallam Adamu Adamu is one of the most prolific writers of our time who was consistently passionate about the predicament of tertiary education in Nigeria. He dedicated his columns to the advancement of the ASUU struggles, through the 2000s, most pungent was his, ‘Why ASUU is always on strike’ of 15th, November 2013. Generally considered a polyglot, Mallam Adamu Adamu had Mr. President’s confidence, that in appointing him as Education Minister, he would take the assignment with courage and make the difference, having X-rayed the education quagmire over and over again; with Mr. President knowing Mallam Adamu Adamu to be a steadfast and prudent man. Since his appointment as education minister, Mallam Adamu has not relented in consolidating on the development of tertiary education in the country. Under Mallam Adamu’s tenure, The Federal Government has established 21 new tertiary institutions, with 7 universities, 8 polytechnics, and 6 colleges of education, with a take off allocation grant of 48 billion naira to these institutions. This is regarded as one of his most sterling achievements as Education Minister. Understanding the scope and volume of what has been achieved within this period that goes beyond establishment of new institutions, is a breakdown into components; where the Education Ministry has done creditably well.
Such areas include the development of academic staff, where a total of 21 thousand staff of Tetfund beneficiary institutions including Public Universities, Polytechnics, and Colleges of education, were sponsored for further studies, both locally and overseas. This was under the flagship Tetfund Scholarship for academic staff. This accounts for 60% of the nearly 37,000 beneficiaries of the Tetfund since its inception in 2011. A similar 42,544 staff of tertiary institutions were sponsored for various academic, learned and professional conferences, both home and overseas. This cost a total of 21.9 billion naira. Under this same period, a total of 75,626 Teaching Practice supervision were sponsored, to promote hands-on training and practical experience.
Mallam Adamu also ensured that there was a consistent provision of essential physical Infrastructure, to facilitate and improve teaching and learning, across the nation’s public tertiary institutions. The various intervention lines include, physical Infrastructure and programme upgrade, equipment fabrication, project maintenance, development of entrepreneurship centres, special high impact projects, and of course zonal and special interventions. From 2015 to 2022, a sum of 556 billion was allocated to universities, 266 billion to polytechnics, and 215 billion to colleges of education. There was remarkable progress in the volume of allocations and disbursement of funds which is one of the hallmarks of the Buhari administration. The Minister’s unique style of unobstructive facilitation contributed immensely to this achievement.
Research was accorded the priority attention that it deserved during Mallam Adamu Adamu’s tenure as Education Minister. The fund has witnessed tremendous improvements in its contributions to nation building. This is in respect to driving research activities at the nation’s ivory towers with a view to stimulating research culture, innovation, and inventions. The fund was able to inject 17 billion naira in different research projects despite the covid 19 global pandemic, both at the level of the beneficiary institutions, under the Institution Based Research, (IBR) and the National Research Fund (NRF) interventions. This caused for the naming of the Tetfund as Nigeria’s role model intervention agency, and as the first Nigerian Institution to join the Commonwealth Science Granting Council. There was also the Nobel achievement of developing a trial vaccine for covid-19 by a consortium of Nigerian Research Institutions.
Libraries in tertiary institutions also received due attention during Mallam Adamu’s tenure as education minister. 43.7 billion was spent in the development of libraries, and procurement of resoirce materials, with 8.5 billion spent in the conversion of 1,541 academic manuscripts into books. A notable approach under this period is the pragmatic response in equipping the nation’s tertiary institutions to adapt to the new learning models using ICT. 77 universities were covered in the 2016 to 2018 ICT support intervention. 58 polytechnics were also covered while 64 colleges of education were covered by the intervention.
Under Mallam Adamu’s stewardship, a USD 600 million facility was secured from the World Bank under the Better Education Service Delivery for All, BESDFA, to help 17 States across the country enroll over 2 million pupils into schools. Out of school children under this programme drastically reduced from 10.1 million to 6.9 million. Even though primary education is seen as under the purview of State Governments, the Federal Ministry has done creditably well in this regard too. A mass literacy campaign was launched where a code of conduct for learning centres in adult and non formal education was consequently developed. The National Commission for Nomadic Education was instrumental in the development of training manuals, and the training of Nomadic extension agents. Eight years can sound like such a long period of time but today, it’s been almost 8 years of Mallam Adamu’s remarkable tenure as Education Minister. He sure has racked up a lot of achievements in such little time. It is in no doubt that if we have a continuity of giant strides like this in our tertiary education sector, we will all be the better for it.
Tahir is Talban Bauchi.