Federal Co-operative Colleges Bill passes second reading in Senate

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

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The Bill for an Act to provide the establishment of Federal Co-operative Colleges and for related matters has scaled the Second Reading in the Senate.

Leading debate on the Bill during Wednesday’s plenary, the sponsor and Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, regretted that the Federal Co-operative Colleges created by the military fiat in 1976 had been operating without an enabling Act of the National Assembly.

He said: “The three Federal Co-operative Colleges located in Oji River, Ibadan, and Kaduna were established by an administrative fiat of the Federal Government in 1976 for the purpose of providing the required manpower in co-operative subsector of the economy.

“From inception, the Colleges were slated to cater for the growing needs of the co-operative education in Nigeria. Presently, the Colleges offer courses leading to award of Certificate and Diploma in Co-operative Studies. Each of these courses runs for one academic year. They also offer courses and give certificates for National Diploma Programme (ND) in Co-operative Economics and Management from the 1998 – 1999 academic session.

“In 2003, the Colleges were given full accreditation by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) to run Higher National Diploma Programme (HND) in Co-operative Economics and Management.

“Although the staffers of the Colleges were initially appointed as civil servants, their role and work schedule have changed from that of Civil Service to Tertiary Educational Institution. The salary structure for Tertiary Educational Institutions has long been approved for the Colleges, while that of retirement age of 65 years has remained pending.”

Senator Ekweremadu however, explained that the Bill, when passed into law, would, among others things, provide for each College a Governing Council and the methods of appointment into the said Council, create for each College an Academic Board with its composition and functions thereof as well as establish the Office of the Provost of the College with the qualifications, functions and powers.

It would also empower the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development, with the approval of the President, to establish in the six geopolitical zones of the country, such number of Federal Co-operative Colleges as it may determine from time to time.

The Deputy President of the Senate added that the Bill had no cost implication on government as the Colleges had been in existence for many years.

The bill was thereafter read a second time and referred to the Committee on Tertiary Institutions.

Omolayo.A