TEXT OF THE VICE-CHANCELLOR, PROF ABDULLAHI BALA’S PRESS BRIFING FOR THE 37TH FOUNDERS’ DAY AND 29TH CONVOCATION CEREMONY

On behalf of the Council, Senate, Staff and Students of the Federal University of Technology, Minna, I welcome you to the present year’s press briefing, which is supposed to supply a rundown of the activities lined up for this year’s Founder’s Day Celebration and Convocation Ceremony.

Permit me, if you’ll , to start out the presentation with a general overview and highlights of the University’s major activities, successes and challenges within the past year so as to supply the background and context within which we are celebrating this year’s event.

The year started with a nationwide industrial strike embarked upon by the tutorial Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU), which was suspended in early 2019. within the middle of the year, precisely August of 2019, the three unions representing the non-teaching staff also joined their colleagues on a nation-wide one week strike. This was shortly then , in September, 2019, followed by an altercation between a number of our students and tanker drivers ahead of the Gidan Kwano Campus of the University. except for the swift intervention of University Management with the robust support of the Niger government , this crisis would have degenerated into a disaster of epic proportion.

In spite of those glitches, however, i’m happy to report that the University was ready to successfully complete the 2018/2019 school term . As a result, and according to our tradition, our graduands at this year’s convocation are going to be collecting their graduation certificates on the day of the Convocation.

It is instructive to notice that, apart from the occasional nation-wide industrial strikes, the University has continued to enjoy good industrial relations and harmony for both staff and students. Staff welfare has continued to receive due attention.
In the year under review, a complete of 351 staff were promoted to varied ranks. These comprised 22 Professors, 10 Associate Professors and 78 other academic ranks also as 241 non-teaching staff.
Additionally, the University approved a complete of 86 study fellowships within the year, consisting of 57 local and 29 international studentships. Currently, a complete of 108 staff are being sponsored for PhD and 57 for Master’s degree programmes locally and abroad. variety of staff have also benefitted from sponsorship for conference attendance, with 146 and 29sponsorships for local and international conferences, respectively.

Management, with the support of Council, has continued to form giant strides within the provision of infrastructure and requisite facilities so as to engender a cushty , conducive and enabling environment for work and study. the development of the varsity of Life Sciences Complex at the Gidan Kwano Campus has reached a complicated stage, while work on the complex for the varsity of Physical Sciences has commenced in earnest.
The completion of those two complexes later this year will enable the relocation of the 2 Schools from the Bosso Campus to the Gidan Kwano Campus.

Construction of the phase II clinical trial building for the varsity of Engineering was completed last year, thereby providing additional 21 offices and eight lecture rooms for the varsity . Facilities at the varsity of data and Communication Technology (SICT) also are being expanded with the commencement of labor on the phase II clinical trial building of the Department of Cyber Security and a 500 twin lecture theatre. Substantial progress has also been made within the construction of the phase I clinical trial of the Department of Cyber Security.

The University also has the privilege of getting two IT hubs under construction with funding each from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and therefore the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA). Both are at different stages of development and, when completed, will provide a state of the art facilities for training in 21st Century technologies, like AI , Internet of Things, Block Chain Technology, and Autonomous Vehicles.

The Leave-a-Legacy Programme, which was designed for graduating undergraduate students to contribute money and build a capital project as a legacy of their sojourn within the University, was also not overlooked within the provision of additional infrastructure. The 2019 set constructed the phase II clinical trial of interlocked walkway, spanning a distance of about 150m from the University Clinic to the Students’ hostels. The importance of this project can’t be over-emphasized as long as it eases pedestrian movement, especially during raining season, from the hostels to the tutorial areas.

Work on the development of the primary cluster of students’ hostel by Urban Shelter Limited commenced in 2019 and is ongoing. The Alumni Association of the University also administered the sod-turning in November, 2019 ceremony for the development of 5000 bed space hostel for the University.

In addition to physical projects, the University also administered extensive maintenance and renovation projects in 2019. Prominent among these are the renovations of the students’ hostel, some staff homes, laboratories, classrooms and theatres at both campuses also because the road network at the Bosso Campus.

The University also spent over thirty million Naira within the procurement/purchase and provision of books, journals, electronic resources also as other equipment and literature within the library. quite N400m was expended on the procurement of kit and furnishing of laboratories. The National intelligence also supported the University with multi-million Naira equipment that led to the establishment of the Digital and Malware Defection laboratories at the Department of Cyber Security Science. This investment not only went an extended way in enhancing our preparedness for the 2019 accreditation exercise conducted by the National Universities Commission (NUC), but certainly enhanced our capacity and skill to deliver top quality practical training to our students and also enhanced our research capacity.

Senate of the University approved new programmes during the year under review. At the undergraduate level, B. Eng. Mining Engineering was approved and therefore the Department of Horticulture was carved out of the Department of Crop Production, while B.Tech Applied Geophysics, underwent resource verification and was granted approval by the NUC.

At the postgraduate level, the Master’s Research Programme (MRP) sponsored by WASCAL (West African Science Service Centre on global climate change and Adapted Land Use) was upgraded to a PhD programme on Human Habitat.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, you’ll recall that eventually year’s press briefing, we announced that the University successfully secured a USD $6 million grant to determine the African Centre of Excellence (ACE) on Mycotoxin and Food Safety. i’m happy to tell you that the required administrative and academic structures are put in situ for its operation.
The Centre has introduced new programmes at PhD and Master’s levels for Food Safety, biology and Bioinformatics and Toxicology. At the close of application processthe total of 103 Nigerians and 78 foreigners had applied for admission into the varied programmes. The foreign applicants are from nine African countries, namely Cameroon, DRC, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Niger, Sierra Leone and Uganda. it’s trite to watch that both the WASCAL and ACE programmes provide world-class curricular and are a veritable platform for the actualisation of the University’s objective for internationalisation of her programmes.

In furtherance of the University’s effort to expand access to college education, Federal University of Technology, Minna initiated the method of affiliation with additional tertiary institution including Niger State Polytechnic Zungeru, Niger State College of Education Minna, Federal Polytechnic Ilaro and Federal Polytechnic Ado Ekiti. The processes are at different stages of completion. additionally , the affiliation programme for Hassan Usman Katsina Polytechnic, Katsina secured approval by the NUC.

The successes recorded in terms of approvals from NUC for affiliation programmes are just not a fluke or accidental. they’re as a results of the meticulous adherence and due diligence to the principles guiding affiliation. Just yesterday, at the NUC’s Annual Stakeholder Meeting of Parent Universities and Affiliate Institutions, FUT Minna was announced because the best institution with 99% compliance in supervisions and monitoring.
After a seven-year hiatus following an initial NUC pre-validation visit of the University’s open and distance learning programme, and following several iterations, i’m glad to announce that the University underwent another NUC pre-validation visit in 2019 and emerged successful. Finally, the University’s Centre for Open Distance and E-learning (CODeL) will commence its ODL programme this year, with the roll out slated for our Founder’s Day, 1st February, 2020.

Consistent with the policy on quality assurance within the University System, FUT Minna was a number to sixteen panels from NUC that came for accreditation of sixteen various programmes. The results of the exercises are being awaited.

The University was also a number to varied panels for accreditation by professional bodies including the Architects Registration Council (ARCON), Council of Registered Builders (CORBON), Quantity Surveyors Registration Board (QSRBN), Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) and therefore the Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NIAS). i’m happy to mention that each one the eleven programmes that underwent the exercise were successful in accreditation.

Our consistent commitment and investment in staff training has continued to yield positive results as a results of the presence of a crop of highly qualified staff. The year 2019 was an impressive year for the University in terms of attraction of research grants. Twenty three research groups attracted the entire sum of N23,280,232.00under the TETFund Institutional Based Research Intervention (IBRI), while five other groups, out of the nine that applied, were successful within the TETFund National Research Fund (NRF), attracting the entire sum of N175,943,776.00. This represents a hit rate of fifty six percent, which is one among the very best within the country.

In addition to the TETFund, our staff were also successful in attracting research grants from the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (N20,000,000) and therefore the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (N15,275,000).

The University also secured two international grants. A consortium involving FUT Minna and 4 other African Universities and led by Rhodes University, South Africa , was successful in attracting a grant of 1.4 million Euros under the African Intra-mobility Programme. FUT Minna’s role within the consortium are going to be the training of M.Tech and PhD students and for workers exchange/visits.
The other may be a grant of 155,465 Pounds Sterling from the Royal Academy of Engineering, uk for AI for Clean Energy. FUT Minna is that the lead partner together with three other Nigerian Universities.

As a results of enhanced research activities within the University, there has been a pointy rise within the number of patent applications by our staff. Four applications were successful within the past year. Among these are an invention on a ‘method for Removing Heavy Metals and Pigments from Textile and Tannery Wastewater using Carbon Materials Produced from Hydrothermal Carbonisation of Biomass Wastes, and using the Treated Wastewater for Agriculture in Developing Countries’.

In recognition of our enhanced research activities and therefore the spike in patent applications, the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) donated to the University a state-of the art set of kit for the establishment of an property and Technology Transfer Officer (IPTTO), which was commissioned by the Director General, NOTAP, Dr. Dan-Azumi Mohammed Ibrahim, on 17th April, 2019.

The successes highlighted today are by no means exhaustive but a broad depiction of the developmental trajectory of the University. there’s little question that 2019 was an impressive year for the University. The achievements of the year are, therefore, deserve celebration.
Programme of Events
This year’s anniversary marks the 37th Founder’s Day and therefore the 29th Convocation Ceremony. As usual, today’s briefing formally kick-starts the series of activities lined up for the celebration. this may be followed by a Special church at both campuses of the University on Sunday, 26thJanuary, 2020 at 8.30 a.m.
Too often, we are quick to sanction errant behavior by our students, but we are short in recognizing and appreciating exceptional skills and exemplary conduct.
From this year, we are set to correct this defect as we’ve introduced, as a part of our Founder’s Day celebration the Founder’s Day Vice-Chancellor Students’ Award Ceremony, which is supposed to reward high academic performance, good conduct and achievements and attraction of laurels for the University. This programme is scheduled for Wednesday, 29th January, 2020 at the University’s Auditorium, GidanKwano Campus at 3.00 p.m.

On Thursday, 30th January, 2020, the Founder’s Day Chancellor’s Kids final Match will commence at the gridiron , GidanKwano at 3.00 p.m. The Exhibition of Research Products also will commence on Thursday and ends on Saturday, 1st February, 2020. The venue of the exhibition is that the Suleiman Kumo Convocation Square from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.

A Special Jumma’at Service comes up at the Central Mosques of the 2 campuses at 1.30 p.m. on Friday 31st January, 2020.

The Convocation Lecture also comes abreast of Friday, 31st January, 2020 at the Caverton Lecture Theatre, GidanKwano at 3.00 p.m. This year’s Convocation Lecturer is that the Honourable Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), FNCS, FBCS, FIIM. The title of the lecture is ‘Datafication of Society: Economic and Security Issues in Producing and Using Public and personal Data in Nigeria’.

The grand finale of the activities is that the Convocation Ceremony, which comes abreast of Saturday, 1st February, 2020 at the SuleimanuKumo Convocation Square, Gidan Kwano at 10.00 a.m.

Conferment of first degrees, higher degrees and postgraduate diplomas also as award of prizes will happen during the Convocation Ceremony.
Graduating Students

Ladies and Gentlemen, I now present to you a summary statistics of this year’s graduating students.

Thetotal number of graduands of undergraduate programmes is 3,597. This comprises 57 first-class , 926 Second Class Upper, 1733 Second Class Lower, 836 Third Class and 45 Pass degrees. the entire number is formed from graduands from both the University and affiliate institutions, namely:
i. Federal College of Education (Technical) Akoka – 11
ii. Federal College of Education (Technical) Potiskum – 105
iii. Kaduna Polytechnic – 23
Graduands from the postgraduate programmes are 94 for PhD, 629 for Master’s degree and 182 for postgraduate diploma, giving a complete of 905 candidates.

A cursory comparison of this year’s graduands with those of last year shows that:
i. the amount of undergraduates is a smaller amount this year than last year by 74 candidates. However, in both years, the odds that constituted first-class , Second Class Upper and Pass degrees are 2 percent, 26 percent and 1.25 percent respectively. There are slight variations for Second Class Lower and Pass degrees.
ii. This year’s postgraduate awardees (905) are quite last year’s (772) by 133. Also, the numbers this year for PhD and Masters are above last year’s, while the amount of postgraduate diploma for last year are quite this year.

Although it’s too early to conclude, the measures put in by the University in 2018 to make sure timely completion of postgraduate studies appears to be yielding fruits. We shall still strenuously make sure that students keep to the prescribed timelines for his or her postgraduate programmes and in doing so, we might have succeeded in sanitizing the programme during a manner that not only is quality assured, but also timely completion of programme.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I many thanks for your attention.

 

 

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