How to make Daura transport varsity viable, by stakeholders
Sequel to the inauguration of the University of Transportation in Daura, Kastina State, the president’s hometown, stakeholders believed that critical projects of such, should be sited on merits of location, while necessary facilities be provided in order to achieve its purpose.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Monday, declared that siting the university in Daura would boost local capacity, economy, domestic technology, enhance innovation in the nation’s transport system and create more job opportunities. The university project is one of the requests from the Chinese government aimed at boosting Nigeria’s capacity to train the manpower required to sustain the ongoing transformation in the sector.
When completed, the N18 billion university would be the nation’s premier tertiary institution for training transport professionals since independence. It is coming 99 years after the International University of Logistics and Transportation (IULT) was founded in Poland, and over 70 years of a similar varsity in Moscow, Russia.
The absence of requisite skills in transportation education, transportation engineering and technology, transportation economics, and other critical adjuncts, have been described as the bane of the much-desired economic boom. Since Nigeria’s independence, the transportation sector has remained the most neglected, despite the demand for experts to manage it.
The only institution that held sway in the sector, until lately was the Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NITT), established in the 50s by the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), to train its workforce on railway operations.The institute was taken over by the Ministry of Transportation, when the railway became bankrupt. But the intervention had not impacted the sector, as the institute since inception, has remained a mere appendage and not recognised beyond awarding diploma certificates for short-term courses on transportation, especially rail systems and logistics.
Transportation studies, in the main, have remained a mere appendage of either department of Geography or Urban and Regional Planning in many of the recognised federal and state universities across the country.That was the story until 2008, when the Lagos State University (LASU) elevated Transportation Studies by establishing a School of Transportation Studies (LASU-SOT), the first, not only in Nigeria, but also in Southern Africa. A similar faculty of transportation existed only in Cairo, Egypt.
Stakeholders said, if properly nurtured, the project could be the catalyst for the growth and professionalization of the sector.
Expected to draw inspiration from across the globe, where similar institutions had been established, the university is expected to address manpower training, research and policy, which had been obtained offshore, especially in China.Chief Executive Officer, West Atlantic Cold-Chain and Commodities Limited, Henrii Nwanguma, described the varsity as one more Federal institution with ‘political considerations’ determining its location.
According to him, the Jonathan Administration gave Katsina its first taste of a Federal University to ensure even spread so this is no different.“I’m more concerned about the quality and impact it will make to scholarship and research, its funding, and competitiveness against the best on the African continent.”
Besides, Jibiya, an international border town is a vital point of connection to our international transport system. The AfCFTA regime is upon us. Nigeria should tap into the Sahel as much as possible. In fact, the university should be bilingual to capture the francophone Sahelian market in transport courses,” he said.
The Dean, School of Transport, Lagos State University, Prof. Samuel Odewumi, congratulated the people of Daura for a new socio-economic development impulses which the university will bring, employment, increased economy activities and education access.The Don said: “The siting of the University in Daura is a controversy, which I rather not discuss except to point out that when people desperately want their kinsman in power, they can cite this case to justify their blind and subjective support.
“I have my reservations about establishment of new institutions where the existing ones are grossly underfunded. What happens is that you have increased administrative overheads to the detriment of core academic teaching and research focus. Recall that this same China has converted 60 universities to polytechnics in order to orient their education for their national critical needs. We’re in love with ineffectual novelties.He said that the indigenes will have to tolerate some of the socialising influences that the institution will bring which in strict Islamic tradition will be considered as haram.
“I would rather personally prefer that the most comprehensive and the best technically equipped technical college that can give thousands of the youth of Daura and the region relevant skills that are desperately required in Nigeria.”“Skills that Ghanaians end Togolese are using to displace our youths who can hardly deliver quality crafts in plumbing, electrification carpentry etc. Lots of Daura youths will easily qualify to gain entry into the technical college rather than technical university that will demand qualifications far higher than what is commonly available,” he added.