The Senate on Tuesday considered a bill seeking to give legal backing to the Nigerian Army University, Biu.
Sponsor of the bill, Senator Ali Ndume (APC – Borno South), said the University which was approved by the Federal Executive Council in 2018, has thirty nine academic programs in five faculties.
According to Ndume, the university was established with the aim of promoting research and other means of advancement of knowledge and its practical application to military hardware and software.
He added that the university as an institution for the development of middle and high-level manpower in the area of technological empowerment, shall be supervised by the Federal Ministry of Education and the National Universities Commission.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, in his concluding remarks on the bill, on the contrary suggested that the University be directly under the supervision of the Ministry of Defence.
He argued that placing Defence related institutions under the Ministry of Education and National Universities Commission would create complications that would be counter-productive towards achieving the objectives behind the establishment of the university.
“Senator Sekibo pointed out that we already have some institutions that train the military, the Nigerian Defence Academy, Command and Staff, Jaji; the National Defence College. There is nothing wrong with having the Nigerian Army University.
“But my advice here would be that they should be under one supervision. When you have the first three I mentioned under the Ministry of Defence, and the Nigerian Army University going to the Federal Ministry of Education and the National Universities Commission (NUC), a problem of some sorts could come up, implication and working at cross purposes.
“I think with this university being established, and subsequently the air force, the Navy may decide, let there be specialization. I would prefer to have the Nigerian Army University completely focused on anything and everything army.
“If we allow, for example, the Nigerian Army University to admit people reading sociology like most of our universities are doing today, the purpose of setting it up will be lost.
“So, I think there is need for the entire Defence related institutions to be under the supervision of the Ministry of Defence. Even the curriculum will be properly defined, otherwise, we may establish the army, navy or air force universities, and at the end of the day, we may not get the maximum benefits from those establishments,” Lawan said.
Contributing earlier to the debate, Senator James Manager (PDP – Delta South) said, “there are too many of this institution in one location”, adding that whenever such military or security institutions are to be established, they should be located in other geo-political zones of the country.
Senator Matthew Urhogide (PDP – Edo South) who noted that the University has already been in existence since 2018, prevailed on his colleagues that the National Assembly as a lawmaking body of the country needs to legitimize already existing institutions.
Senator Abubakar Kyari (Borno North), in his contribution faulted the admission process which he described as “lopsided”.
He, therefore, urged the authorities of the Nigerian Army University to open up admission to all prospective applicants from all parts of the country.
“They should open up admissions, so that everybody can have equal opportunity,” Kyari said.
The Nigerian Army University bill which scaled second reading was referred to the Committee on Army for further legislative work.
Meanwhile, the Senate also on Tuesday considered two bills seeking to establish the Federal College of Agriculture, Bambam, Gombe State; and the Federal University of Technology, Yaba.
Both bills were sponsored by Senators Bulus Amos (APC – Gombe South); and Solomon Adeola (APC – Lagos West).
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, referred the two bills to the Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFUND for further legislative input.