Conditions for Appointment of Professors MUST Change – FUTO’s Prof. Pantami Saga explained differently

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  • February 19, 2022
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Obviously, the Triple Helix model of Innovation that the National Universities Commission (NUC) is advocating and promoting, and which is the current global best practice, is strange to a lot of people. The courage of FUTO and Pantami to practically actualize this in our University system needs to be encouraged and applauded, NOT criticised ignorantly by even the so-called experts in academia.

In concepts such as the Knowledge Economy, the Triple Helix model of innovation seeks to promote interactions between Academia, industry and Government in order to Foster Economic and Social development. Therefore, the model is conceived such that the 3 different bodies collaboratively play their roles to ensure that innovation is fostered and development eventually occurs.

Those following this development, therefore, would not be surprised when recently, NUC is promoting that Professors in the Academia should go on their Sabbaticals to Industries or Government Regulatory agencies like NUC, Tetfund, NNPC, RMRDC etc., instead of the old practice of going to other universities. Similarly, University Councils and Senates are being encouraged to appoint as Tenure, Visiting or Adjunct Professors from highly experienced professionals in the Industry or Government, to come into the university from time to time, to share industry or policy experiences with the students (Ask the Directorate of Entrepreneurship). This, it is envisaged, would go a long way to promote innovation by giving students additional perspectives. The time it was when Professors of building Engineering, Robotics, Computer science, Business Administration, History, or any discipline for that matter were mere theorists with little or NO practical experience or expertise. Working collaboratively with experienced industrial or Government policy practitioners is thus envisaged to change all that and if students are added to the equation, they would be better for it.

I am therefore not surprised that Pantami, as the minister of the Digital Economy and one of the Champions of the Knowledge Economy in Nigeria is taking a lead in this direction. Further, that this is happening with the University of Technology, the story cannot be more comprehensive.

Reading Pantami’s acceptance letter and noting that he was placed on a different Salary scale and to which he declined to receive payment and also confirming that the President was aware of his appointment, should ordinarily have made people curious, to find out what was going on, instead of the ignorant condemnations, very uncouth masturbations that greeted the situation.

We Nigerians have severally challenged the Nigerian education system to be more innovative and asked for the introduction of new perspectives to improve our graduates to make the economy better. We have condemned our academic system as declining or becoming more outdated and sometimes, you read that our graduates are unemployable because they lack the relevant industry or policy experiences.

Thus, as much as we always clamour for change and are not willing to change or accept changes in the way things are done, surely change can only continue to elude us or remain a mirage.

We are not still in the stone age when in Nigeria, Professors were only teachers using old textbooks or sat underneath trees, dreamed up data and got them published in International journals of everything for everyone, at Samaru or Nsukka or Ibadan printing press. We are in the 21st century when an undergraduate project has become a product that makes life easier for millions of people globally.

Our understanding of Research must expand, as Innovation, which will change lives may not necessarily be the product of only a Professor’s moulded ideas inside the walls of a University alone.

We must recognise that collaboration, synergy and multidisciplinary thinking are the best approach to practical innovation. To that extent, therefore, it becomes pertinent that we modify our definition of who a Professor is, to also include professionals in the industry and in Policy positions in Government that have lots of experience to share (teach) to students, to improve our economy. Academia must open its doors to accommodate experts of the industry and experienced policymakers, as co-teachers, fellows, or Visiting Professors. The world is changing fast, and so should our perspectives and our definitions.

Consequently, based on these premises, and as promoted by NUC the regulatory body for University Education in Nigeria, my opinion is that Isa Pantami is eligible to be appointed as Professor and FUTO deserve our accolade for taking the bold step. Others should follow and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) needs to be told clearly to stop dabbling into issues outside their mandates. They are not remotely responsible for the appointment of, or promotion to Professor in the university system.

As even when committees are set up to review conditions of appointment or promotion of Academic staff, the process starts in the Senate to draw members, goes to the management Committee before being sent to the Governing Council for approval.

Aliyu Mohammed Paiko is a Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry & Biotechnology, Dept. of Biochemistry, IBBUL.

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