FUTMINNA @ 37: ACCOLADES, GARLANDS FOR A PACE-SETTING IVORY TOWER - Entrance to the Main Campus

The 37th Founders’ Day and 29th Convocation ceremonies of the Federal University of Technology, Minna may have come and gone, it is pertinent to reflect on the notable milestones recorded by the institution since inception.
The University was established on February 1st, 1983 with a vision to become a world class institution of learning and Nigeria’s leading University recognized for its excellence in capacity building and service delivery. The institution’s mission focuses on the training of skilled and innovative workforce that would transform Nigeria’s natural resources into goods and services driven by entrepreneurship as well as Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to positively affect the economy and thus the quality of life of her people. It is instructive to note that 37 years down the line since its establishment, the University has not deviated from its stated vision and mission.

The University started at a temporary campus in Bosso with barely 15 staff, less than 100 pioneer students and two Schools. The University now has nine faculties including the Postgraduate School, over 22,000 students population and over 3,000 staff strength which comprises both teaching and non-teaching staff. The University also moved into its permanent campus located along Minna-Bida road during the 2004/2005 academic session.
From an obscure background, the institution now has more than 130 professors, providing scholarly mentorship for junior staff and students of the University. There are about 165 staff of the university who are within and outside the country pursuing various doctorate and Master’s degree programmes under the institution’s sponsorship policy. The selection process is transparent and rancour free because the consideration of staff for study fellowship is under the purview of the University’s Committee of Deans who has the mandate to make recommendation to the Vice-Chancellor for approval.

Since its inception, it has been one story of progress or another for FUT Minna. The University has been soaring high like an eagle in all perspectives which has also culminated in the institution being ranked as the best specialized university in the country. FUT, Minna was one of only two Universities to have scored AA+ in the last and only institutional accreditation exercise conducted by the National Universities Commission (NUC) and 4th among the best most preferred graduates by employers.

Indeed, FUT Minna is truly a cosmopolitan university in the country, with its students and staff population drawn from every local government area in the country. The University has consistently provided a level playing field for staff and students to aspire for any position irrespective of religion, tribe or ethnic considerations. It is a university where the best brains are assembled on the basis of what they can offer and not where they hail from. This is further demonstrated with staff from various ethnic or religious backgrounds occupying vital positions. Similarly, in terms of students’ admission, every local government area in the country is also represented in the University’s admission policy.

Furthermore, cases abound of other people from the Southern part of the country heading sensitive positions in the University. This is a story that is rare in other federal institutions in the country where attainment of elective or appointive posts are based on primordial sentiments. The liberal disposition of the institution towards all nationals since inception has no doubt accounted for its impressive progress.

For seven years running, FUT, Minna has been consistent in conducting its convocation ceremony every year with certificates issued to graduands on the spot in tandem with global best practices. This singular act has further endeared the University alumni to the institution. Also, students’ transcripts have been automated and its alumni can now apply for their transcripts online via the university website from any part of the world. The period of application and collection of transcript is now less than three days. Also, staff of the University are promoted as and when due in line with the University’s extant laws. For instance, it is on record that all professorial promotions for 2018 have been concluded and those for 2019 have been sent out for external assessment. The University also holds its Senate meeting every last Wednesday of the Month to deliberate on issues of contemporary importance for the development of the University, and examination results are usually approved by the University Senate within six weeks after the examination.
FUT Minna has an intriguing track record of superb scholarship comparable to any part of the world and this has made the university the cynosure of all eyes whenever quality university education is mentioned in this clime. In the area of research breakthrough, the institution ranks high among its peers in the country and has a well-documented history of ambitious researches that led to amazing discoveries. In the early 1990s, one of the University researchers, Prof Samuel A. Garba of the Department of Microbiology developed the typhoid fever vaccine which became the toast of the country. In terms of research grants, the University researchers have attracted many grants to the institution since its establishment.
Notable among these grants are; the World Bank (Step-B) project for vaccine and drug development to the tune of 5.5 million dollars. The World Bank grant led to the establishment of the Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology. At this Centre, some of the university researchers carried out a study which led to the development of the first carbon nanotube for the treatment of water plants in Nigeria.

In 2012, the university won a grant from Germany for the establishment of West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) Master Research Programme (MRP) in Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (CC & ALU). Owing to the outstanding performance of the University, the programme has been upgraded to Ph.D. status in Climate Change and Human Habitat. This has also contributed immensely to the bulk of the University research drive geared at tackling societal problems in the areas of climate change, environmental degradation and safety. This programme has also assisted greatly in the institution’s quest for internationalization of its programmes because the bulk of students for the WASCAL programme are from the West African sub-region, thereby giving FUT Minna an international outlook. In 2018, FUT Minna won the World Bank research grant for the establishment of Africa Centre of Excellence for Mycotoxin and Food Safety worth six million dollars. This programme will assist in the training of competent manpower at Master’s and Ph.D. levels to address the problem of mycotoxin and food safety in West, Central and East Africa.

Over the years, the University has been consistent in winning the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) institutional based research grants and National Research Funds. Out of the nine research proposals submitted by the university to TETFund for the 2019 national research calls, five went through and got grants of N175, 943, 776. 00. FUT, Minna was also part of a consortium involving four other African Universities that won a grant of 1. 4 million Euros under the African Intra-mobility programme. The institution also won a grant of £155, 465 from the Royal Academy of Engineering, United Kingdom for Artificial Intelligence for Clean Energy. For the past five years, the university researchers have won several grants from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NUC) in telecommunication related inventions. The university has also attracted grants from the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steels as well as other local and international sources. In view of the University’s commitment towards research and patent applications, the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) donated world class equipment to the institution for the establishment of an Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Office (IPTTO).

Just recently, the NUC granted approval to the University’s Centre of Open Distance and e-Learning (CODeL) to run an online degree programme via ICT enabled learning model of Open Distance Learning (ODL). In view of the need to meet up with the demand of the 21st century, the university has reinvented and introduced some novel courses aimed at providing the fulcrum of manpower required to reshape the fortunes of the nation. The Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Bala has concluded plans to float new programmes in the Departments of Oil and Gas Engineering, Welding Engineering, Mining Engineering and the School of Health Sciences.

Funding largely from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and the Presidential Needs Assessment Fund for the Revitalization of Public Universities has enabled the University to undertake the construction of complexes for the School of Life Sciences and the School of Physical Sciences. The completion of these projects will enable the University relocate the two schools from the Bosso campus to the Gidan Kwano campus. The University has also started the construction of earth dam to address the shortage of water scarcity on Campus.
The University also has a valid partnership with some renowned institutions abroad namely Florida A & M University (FAMU), United States of America, Ghent University, Belgium, Anand Agricultural University, Anand, Gujarat, India just to mention but a few. The partnerships centre on staff and students exchange programme, joint research collaboration. The University also has collaboration with GIZ Germany on Entrepreneurship. There are also some memoranda of understanding initiated with the aim of widening access to university education with some Polytechnics and Colleges of Education to run affiliated programmes with strict supervision by the university.

The University’s postgraduate programme is now one of the most highly sought after on the continent based on the fact that it is well structured and students conclude their studies as and when due without delay for those who are ready to work. This has culminated in exponential rise in the number of students seeking admission for postgraduate education in the university. The University has also made tremendous progress in addressing the shortage of students’ hostel accommodation on campus, mainly through Public and Private Partnership with reputable investors as well as governmental intervention through the Needs Assessment Funds used to build the Ultra-modern students hostel adjudged as one of the best in the country.

The present Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Abdullahi Bala has demonstrated an unprecedented commitment towards the development of University. As a consummate University administrator with over 30 years of scholarship, the Vice-Chancellor has used his contact in the society to attract critical infrastructure and investors to the institution. Notable among these partnerships is the on-going construction work for 5, 336 bed spaces undertaken by Urban Shelter Limited based on Build, Operate and Transfer agreement with the University. To ease the problem of students’ accommodation, the University Alumni Association has also embarked on the construction of 5, 000-bed space hostel for the University. The University has also introduced the students’ support programme as well as the Vice-Chancellor’s Students’ Awards ceremony to honour all students who score up to CGPA of 4.50, which is first class grade entry point.
The University has been able to record all these milestones because of the well-documented support it enjoys from the host communities of Bosso and Gidan Kwano. To reciprocate these gestures, the university, since inception, has introduced different life changing programmes to impact its host communities.

The Federal University of Technology, Minna has gone a long way in making a case for its rightful elevation into the league of the world's elite universities. Indeed, all these achievements recorded over the years from limited available resources is proof of the rarefied field the institution now plays in. Consequently, the university is open to more partnerships and support from spirited individuals, corporate organizations, particularly its Alumni to enable the University provide the right resources that would stimulate effective learning and research in its quest for more global recognition. Indeed, FUT Minna is moving forward.

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Federal University of Technology Minna, Main Campus, Gidan Kwanu, P.M.B 65, Minna, Niger State, Nigeria

 

 

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