Kenneth Udeh, Abuja
A Bill seeking to establish a Federal University of Agriculture at Enugu State scaled its second reading during Tuesday’s Senate plenary.
The bill of the proposed University set to be sited in Mpu, Anniri Local Government Area of the coal city state passed its second reading following an unanimous resolution of the members of the Senate presided by the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan.
The bill titled “A BILL FOR AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURE MPU, ENUGU STATE AND FOR OTHER MATTERS CONNECTED THEREWITH, 2021” is being fronted by the former Deputy President of the Senate and current Senator representing Enugu West , Senator Ike Ekweremadu.
Giving a synopsis of the bill in his lead debate which was first read on Tuesday 20″ April, 2021, Ekweremadu said that until the early 70s, agriculture was the mainstay of the nation’s economy, accounting for 80 per cent of its Gross domestic Product (GDP) and its major export income earner before losing its place to oil.
Addressing his colleagues on the need to create the specialised University , Ike noted that Agriculture has over the years remained under-developed and characterized by inappropriate technology, subsistence farming and low and sub-standard yields. He said lamented the lack-luster attention paid to the development of agriculture affected efforts at building strong institutions and structures that will sustain the sector and propel it into limelight.
Outlining the need for firm structures and institutions the former Deputy President pointed out that the changing the trajectory and reinventing agriculture in an oil-economy, such as Nigeria’s will not be a tea party.
He said “the much talked about technology transfer will remain a mirage until conscious plans and efforts are made at putting together structures and institutional frameworks that will take the nation to the next level economically.
He continued “It is this determination that informed the need to establish not just a tertiary institution but a specialized one for the teaming and industrious young and up-coming people of Nigeria and other citizens of the world.
Persuading his colleagues led by the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan Ike stated that the establishment of the University will avail students with Agricultural, Technical and entrepreneurship skills and other programs that will elevate the nation’s Agricultural sector from the peasant and subsistence level to an enviable position; and turn an import prone nation to a major exporter of various types of agricultural products.
In his words “ there is a strong correlation between agricultural development, job creation, food security, poverty alleviation and eradication of crimes. Agriculturally viable nation will answer the question posed by those problems.
According to Ekweremadu if Palm trees introduced to Malaysia in the early 1970s as ornament plants from Nigeria made Malaysia the world’s largest exporter of Palm oil, conscious efforts made at putting structures and institutions that will harness our huge agricultural potentials, through dedicated education, will surely yield huge dividends and change our story as a nation.
He disclosed that the catchment areas of the proposed University are notable in large quantity and quality production of assorted types of farm produce and other agricultural products.
“the establishment of this University will empower the students with academic and occupational skills and provide skilled, competent and passionate professionals that are seeking to enhance quality of life through satisfactory and result-oriented services and careers. It will equally provide opportunity for the teaming academic manpower that are yearning for expression”.
Future details of the bill states that;
It will encourage the advancement of learning and to hold out to all persons without distinction of race, creed, sex or political conviction; develop and offer academic and professional programs leading to the award of certificates, first degrees, post-graduate diploma and higher degrees with emphasis on planning, developmental and adaptive skills, technology, applied science, commerce, arts, social science, and allied professional discipline in Agriculture; produce socially mature educational men and women with capabilities ;understand educational need of Nigeria as a nation, but also to exploit existing educational infrastructure and improve on it to develop new ones; act as agents and catalysts for effective educational system, through post graduate training, research and innovation, for effective economic utilization and conservation of the country’s human resources; bring quality change in Agriculture by focusing on Agricultural education through teaching and learning innovations; collaborate with other national and international institutions involved in training, research and development of Agriculture with a view to promoting self sufficiency, export of Agricultural : r products, leadership among Agricultural Managers and management skills ;identify educational identify the needs of the society with a view to finding solution to them within the context of overall national unity; provide and promote sound education training as a foundation for the development of Nigeria, taking into account our natural agricultural heritage and indigenous culture and the need to enhance national unity among others.
In his conclusion Ike explained that the bill is divided into seven parts with 35 clauses and one schedule, in his explanation clauses ;1 — 8 deals with the establishment, objectives and constitution of the university, 9 deals with the General Fund of the University, 10 with the Transfer of Property,11 — 13 statutes of the University, 14 — 18 Supervision and Discipline, 19 ~26 Deals with Financial Provisions while clauses 27 ~ 35 Deals with Miscellaneous and General Provisions.
Urging his fellow colleagues to support the bill Ike said their backing will be taking a calculated and bold step that will enhance the growth of our economy and bring into reality, the much talked about diversification of the economy through Agriculture, by passing this Bill into law. In Line with Order 77(3) of the Senate Standing Order 2015 as amended, I attached herewith a compendium of the financial implication of the establishment of the University.
Lending his support to his Enugu counterpart Senator Chukwuka Utazi representing Enugu North lauded Senator Ike for initiating the bill, he drew the attention of the lawmakers to the advantages of the proposed Agricultural institution saying that Federal Government’s quest to diversify the nation’s economy will be encouraged if eventually established.
He said “I want to congratulate Senator Ike for initiating this bill , the Agricultural belt of the South East is Enugu State and in the State we have two one in Ada rice at Uzo Uwani in my local government area and the next is located at Enugu West where Senator Ike Ekweremadu represents and this university is different from others because it will advance the course of Agriculture to take the front seat in all aspects of our nation.
He concluded saying “the proceeds coming from oil is no longer paramount today, people are exploiting non oil revenues now and Agriculture is the new deal and this bill keys to it, if the University is established in that area of Mpu which is known for Agriculture. With the University the people will be more enlightened on new technologies in Agriculture and do away with primitive subsistence farming and all these can come to reality with the establishment of this University as advanced by Senator Ike Ekweremadu. I plead with this Senate to rise in unisim and support this noble bill.
Consequently the Senate in a voice vote moderated by Ahmed Lawan passed the second reading of the bill and referred it the Senate committee on tertiary institutions and TETFUND to report back within four weeks.
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Source: Nigerian Newspapers Online