The Nigerian government has inaugurated an Administrative Audit Panel to review the proprietorship, academic affairs, governance, financial and physical development in the African University of Science and Technology, AUST.
The Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Sonny Echono urged the committee members to proffer recommendations towards resolving the challenges in the University.
The National Universities Commission NUC had in 2017, received a report from concerned stakeholders expressing worry over the management’s impasse impeding the day-to-day management and operational activities of the university.
Among the challenges identified are ownership, governance structure, academic activities, funding and assets of the university and allegation of sale of the university land.
Mr Echono further noted that sequel to the fears raised, a committee was instituted by NUC to ascertain the state of affairs at the institution and allay the fears of the concerned stakeholders who brought the matter up.
“After careful consideration of the findings and recommendations of the team in August 2017, it was noted that the AUST is jointly owned by the Federal Government and Nelson Mandela Institutions (NMI),” he stated.
The AUST limited is incorporated under the companies and allied matters act of 1990 and is limited by guarantee.
“The directors as listed in the incorporation documents, are, therefore, listed as representatives of the owner and not in their personal capacity.
“The continuous retention of the name Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as one of the directors representing the Nigerian Government of Nigeria is contrary to the incorporation agreement as well as the legal instruments of the AUST, and consequently, flawed…The current governance structure of the university is irregular and not in line with the university law.
”The university has no governing council in line with known best practices. The board, therefore takes decisions on matters that should have normally been the responsibility of the council,”Echono explained.
”There is currently no representative of the Nigerian Government on the Board of Trustees,” he stressed.
The permanent secretary also explained that the university had a senate that did not have a final say over academic matters, saying the role of the Vice Chancellor had also been eroded by interference from the board.
Mr Echono said that the Nigerian Government had resolved that the challenges facing the university were natural consequences of the unresolved ownership and governance issues which required urgent attention if the objectives for establishing the institution were to be fully achieved.
He urged the members of the committee to come up with working recommendations within six weeks to find a lasting solutions to the challenges.
Members of the administrative audit panel has Professor Nimi Briggs as chairman and Professor Afis Oladosu, Mr Joel Ojo, Mr Balarabe Ahmad, Dr Ramon Yusuf, Mr Chris Maiyaki, Dr Abubakar Siddique, Mr Moses Awe. Other members are a representative of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), a representative of the Federal Ministry of Finance and Malam Hamza Abdullahi.
Responding, Professor Nimi Briggs expressed appreciation to Government for finding the members worthy to serve and promised not to betray the confidence reposed in them.