THE Federal Government has lamented the negative perception foreign bodies have on degrees awarded in Nigeria due to the incessant strikes by unions in universities and polytechnics and advised the unions to embrace dialogue as a more productive alternative to strike.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, inan address at the retreat for Governing Councils of federal universities in Abuja, lamented the incessant strike by unions in institutions of higher learning in the country.

Senator Anyim said the situation was worrisome and should be addressed to restore confidence in the degrees awarded by Nigerian universities, adding that the frequent downing of tools by staff unions had led to instability of the Nigerian university system.

He said: ‘This inability not only has a negative effect on the parents/guardians and the students, but the perception of Nigerian degrees by foreign bodies.

The SGF said the Federal Government believed that high quality governance in universities would only come about if Governing Councils, universities senates and vice-chancellors performed their roles with skill and efficiency.

Anyim, who was represented by a permanent secretary, said government was conscious of the nature and kind of universities that would deliver on its goals for national development and had painstakingly chosen members of the Governing Councils that were expected to drive its aspiration to fruition.

He said: “It is one thing for government to appoint members of Governing Councils; it is another for the councils to function as expected. This is where the individual and collective responsibilities of members come to play.”

The SGF, however, advised members of the Governing Councils not to interfere withthe day-to-day running of the universities but focus on policy issues, adopt best practices, monitor institutional projects and source for support for the universities outside the usual government subventions.

Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayyatu Rufa’I, said governance at the university level should not be treated with kid gloves, adding that it was the responsibility of the governing council to ensure academic programme, in line with the core mandate of the universities.

The minister, who regretted that convocations in the universities had been turned into mere rallies, as a result of the underserved honorary degrees awarded to some personalities with questionable characters, announced that crisis in University of Abuja would soon be over.

The retreat was attended by Vice-Chancellors of universities, chairmen and members of Universities Governing Council.

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