Nigeria’s Minister of Education, Tahir Mamman, has announced that the federal government-owned tertiary institutions- universities, polytechnics, colleges of education, and mono-technics, will no longer need to obtain waivers from the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation to fill vacancies in their institutions.
Mr Mamman, a professor, made this disclosure on Thursday in Lagos while addressing the delegates at the 67th National Council on Education Meeting hosted by the Lagos State Government.
The new development is coming less than 24 hours after the announcement of the removal of the tertiary institutions from the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) for the payment of their staff salaries and emoluments.
The minister thanked President Bola Tinubu for granting the requests, noting that the autonomy of the nation’s university system must be jealously guarded.
He said: “We want to specially, on behalf of the entire Nigerian tertiary education and indeed Nigerians, thank President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR for taking the tertiary institutions out of IPPS, and also (saving the heads of these institutions from) constant trips to the Office of Head of Civil Service of the Federation for wavers to fill gaps in their personnel need.”
Following the placement of an embargo on direct recruitment by the academic institutions by the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari, these institutions have continued to suffer acute staff shortages due largely to the exodus of Nigerian lecturers abroad for greener pastures.
Sources also confirmed that the introduction of the IPPIS by the government also barred the institutions from deploying adjunct staff to augment their regular workers, because “IPPIS” does not recognise adjunct workers.
The policy on recruitment had mandated heads of tertiary institutions to obtain waivers from the office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Budget Office, and Bureau of Public Procurement, among other agencies of the government before vacancies could be filled.
The bottlenecks, according to some of the heads of the institutions, had barred many from seeking the required waivers while many programmes run by their institutions lost accreditations due to staff shortages.
“Even when you apply for the waivers, the politicians would hijack the processes by dictating who should be employed even when they are not qualified,” a head of of the nation’s universities who craved anonymity, told PREMIUM TIMES during an interview in October.
A similar view was expressed recently by the Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Sonny Echono when he alleged that 70 per cent of recruitment by tertiary institutions is cornered by politicians.
Shortly after his address at the forum on Thursday, the education minister said the administration of Mr Tinubu is determined to remove all the bottlenecks that are perceived to hinder the delivery of quality education in Nigeria.
According to the minister, that the President has listening ears is evidenced by some decisions recently reversed, even as he cited the decision to withdraw 40 per cent from the revenues generated by the institutions.
“As you would recall, immediately after we heard of this development, the President ordered the reversal because our academic institutions are not revenue-generated agencies. The President is committed to overhauling the education system for better results,” Mr Mamman said.
Speaking on the importance of the NCE meeting, the minister lamented the high number of out-of-school children, urging all stakeholders to work together towards achieving the desired results.
He said: “Honourable Commissioners, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, the theme for the 67th National Council on Education (NCE) “Addressing the Challenges of Policy Implementation: A Panacea for the Achievement of Education 2030 Agenda’’ seeks to examine the critical issues that affect policy implementation in education putting into focus effective strategies that can lead to the attainment of education 2030 agenda and national growth and development.”
He quoted World Bank statistics that 13 million Nigerian children between six to 14 years of age are out of school and that only 25 per cent of Nigerian children within the same age bracket are proficient in reading and numeracy while “39 million children cannot read and write.”
The minister added: “This simply implies that we need great improvement to strengthen the system and service delivery at the basic education level. The interventions and initiatives of development partners such as the World Bank, UNICEF, and UNESCO targeted funding and conditional transfer initiatives have helped to reduce the number of out-of-school children, skills and literacy improvement.
“Although these interventions have led to a considerable increase in enrolment, infrastructure and quality of service delivery, we still need to re-examine the system critically and proffer workable solutions.”
In his welcome address, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, emphasised the significance of policymaking and implementation to the success of any agenda, even as he called on delegates to generate ideas based on the peculiarities of the different states to arrive at workable policies for the education sector.
He said: “I enjoin you to share insights from the perspectives of your various states, identify and embrace strategies that have yielded the desired results. More importantly, let us resolve to rededicate ourselves to ensuring that our policies are not just fantastic on paper but are actionable and implemented to achieve the desired result. Let us embrace innovation and be open to new ideas and strategies that are technology-driven and consistent with global best practices and the renewed hope agenda.”