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By Chukwuka Ugokwe :

A university don, Prof Nkemdilim Nnoyelu has lamented overbearing interference of governments and its regulatory agencies or bodies on the autonomy of public Universities in the country.

He identified such interference as major factor hampering development of university education system in Nigeria.

Nnoyelu, a professor of Industrial Sociology and Industrial Relations stated this while delivering the 98 inaugural lecturer of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State titled: “From classroom teachers and researchers to union activists: The predicament of academics in Nigerian public Universities”.

He described the practice of Ministries of Education and the National Universities Commission (NUC) determining curriculum benchmark as strange to global standards.

He canvassed review of NUC mandate, including allowing Universities liberty to determine their content, syllabus and curriculum without being restrained by regulation and standardizations.

He said, “Autonomy of the university is sacrosanct. The university should be insulated from government interference to enjoy academic freedom in terms of content, curriculum and syllabus. 

“The university should not be under the overbearing of the Ministry of Education or any other authority. They should be allowed to develop their own programmes. 

“Professors should be allowed to teach what they want to teach and not to be given benchmark, all in the name of uniformity of standard. 

“Intellectuals should be allowed to flourish and blossom. It’s a major struggle. That’s why university is called “mahadum” in Igbo language.

“NUC affects this autonomy to a very large extent. The whole system should be adjusted and reviewed especially in terms of the powers the Commission weilds. 

“The accreditation system is a ruise. What’s it doing for us? Even though they point to global standard, but we know the reality on ground.”

While lamenting the over 7years closure of universities in the last 31 years occasioned by strike actions, the inuguaral lecturer called for institutionalisation of collective bargaining and implementation of agreements with unions as panecea for reoccurring industrial disputes in the education system.

Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof Charles Esimone, while decorating Nnoyelu with the lecture medal, commended him for speaking truth to power at the same time proffering solutions to challenges facing the nation’s University system.

Esimone, represented by his deputy in-charge of academics, Prof Joseph Ikechebelu explained that the culture of inaugural lectures has been sustained to promote academic and research excellence in the University.

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