Faith-based varsities need strong finances to stay afloat, says Okojie
For privately owned universities, especially faith-based ones, to be financially independent and function at optimal levels, a solid and comprehensive plan that should guarantee adequate revenue generation should be put in place by their administrators.
According to Professor Julius Okojie, former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), this is necessary to keep the universities, which are currently not receiving subvention from governments, afloat.
Okojie in his paper at the 7th convocation lecture of Joseph Ayo Babalola University (JABU), Ikeji-Arakeji, Osun State and titled “The Fate of Faith-Based Institutions: Whither The Faithful,” said the solid and comprehensive plan for revenue generation should include establishment of consultancy services, small and medium-scale enterprises and alumni associations to raise funds.”
The former NUC boss who was represented by Professor Bisi Balogun, a former Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), also urged the universities to consider raising funds “through establishment of agro-processing industries using the public-private partnership platform with additional support from donors and the church hierarchy for Christian faith-based universities.”
He also identified lack of grants from government as one of the challenges facing private university institutions while urging them to solidify their engagements through the triple mandate of knowledge generation (in research), transmission (in teaching) and application (in responsive social engagement).
He however offered a platform of support for the institutions in their quest to benefit from funding from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TetFund) of the Federal Government.
He said, “In terms of funding, let all the heads of religious organisations that float universities come together and put pressure on the Federal Government to ensure that faith-based institutions get little out of the TetFund for the growth of the institutions.”
He noted that the essence of establishing private universities, including the faith-based ones, in Nigeria was to create wealth for the country, to train future leaders and advance research that will promote industries in the country.
He however frowned at the mode of appointments of personnel in some faith-based universities which is allegedly based nepotism, saying this often result to appointments of incompetent hands to manage the affairs of the institutions.
“When some of them (faith-based varsities) appointed someone who is not from their faith, some people will cook up offences in order to get the person out so as to appoint their own person, ” the don stated.