Nigeria: Nigerian Private University Laments Paucity of Funds, Begs for Support

“It is only the Faculty of Law that has a dedicated faculty building. The six other faculties are sharing the few buildings available.”

The Acting Vice-Chancellor (VC) of Paul University, Awka, Anambra State, has lamented poor funding and the acute shortage of classrooms, lecture theatres, laboratories, offices and students’ hostels bedevilling the institution.

Mr Nwosu also noted that the university does not have a healthy learning environment.

The VC made his lamentations at the weekend during the 4th convocation ceremony of the university.

“There is just one hostel each for the male and female students, each accommodating only 400 students.

“Let the Church, groups or individuals come to our aid, build, operate and so long as they will give the university a good percentage as its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

“It is only the Faculty of Law that has a dedicated faculty building. The six other faculties are sharing the few buildings available,” he said.

He disclosed that the management of the university is planning to build a shopping complex in front of the university as a way of earning funds to run the school.

“Let interested groups or individuals come and build, operate and recover the cost of building or sign an agreement with the university.”

Mr Nwosu urged parents to enrol their children in the institution because of stability in its academic calendar since strike actions are not entertained in the school.

“If your child enrols for a four-year course, it will certainly be four years. Therefore, I advise parents to enrol their wards into this university,” he said.

Speaking at the event, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of the university, Chris Okoye, appealed to “our award recipients, who are distinguished personalities in their own right, to be Ambassadors of Goodwill for Paul University.”

The founder of the university, the late Maxwell Anikwenwa, will receive a posthumous award, the university announced.

To the graduating students, Mr Okoye charged “As you receive your degrees and/or diplomas after several years of toil and sweat! With a great sense of pride, I congratulate you all and urge you to realise that a university environment is quite different from the one you will encounter outside.

“The former is protective, the latter could be hostile; I urge you not to forget the well-structured and rigorous programmes you have gone through here to prepare you for the tomorrow you are going into.

“You must raise the flag high and always showcase the standard of Paul University, Awka, remembering our motto: “ecce ego mitte me” which translates as “Here am I, send me”.

He said, “You should be intentional to exhibit and propagate the culture of service for the common good, which was inculcated in you during your stay here.”

Mr Okoye, however, encouraged the graduates to join their alumni association and contribute their quota to the development of the school.

He commended their parents, saying ‘it is not easy’ as the Nigerian parlance goes; “but here you are today beaming with joy and smiles.

“Yes, the joy today, is also yours, because you played major roles in bringing it to pass. Congratulations,” he said.

Mr Okoye noted that Nigeria and Nigerians have been passing through difficulties for about a decade now.

The resilience and ingenuity of the vice-chancellor and the principal officers of the university have tried to reduce the challenges facing the university, he said.

“My prayer is that our graduands of today would be leaving the university with the spirit of enterprise, to conquer the world and make it a better place. Your parents and sponsors have planted a good seed in you in the rich soil of Paul University.”

The Founder of VCO Foundation, Valentine Ozigbo, in his convocation lecture, said that the journey of elevating private universities to world-class standards is a collective responsibility which requires the concerted efforts of all stakeholders.

Mr Ozigbo said that stakeholders need to play their part diligently. The title of his lecture was “Managing Private Universities in Nigeria: challenges and prospect”.

He said that for the journey towards building a stronger Nigeria and a more robust academic ecosystem to be successful, “we must embrace a fundamental paradigm shift.

“The culture of continuous improvement central to this ethos is a philosophy originating from Japan but universal – Kai meaning “change” and “zen” meaning better, together forming “kaizen”, represents the concept of continuous, incremental improvement

“It is not just a methodology but a mindset and attitude and a cultural cornerstone that believes in improving processes, products and even our very selves, day by day, step by step.

“So why is Kaizen crucial for us? Why should an ancient Japanese philosophy matter to the educational institution in Nigeria?” he asked.

He said Kaizen transcends borders and industries; it is a universal call to action that drives organisations and individuals to constantly challenge the statuesque and look for ways to do things better.

Mr Ozigbo said that with the Kaizen philosophy, things are done more efficiently, more effectively and it is about harnessing the collective intelligence of all stakeholders making incremental changes that over time lead to significant transformation.

“For Kaizen to work, it must be more than just an executive strategy or a managerial tool, it needs to be a pervasive culture.

“Everyone from the top echelon of leadership to the newest member of an organization, must believe in and practice Kaizen,” he said.

He said in this age of rapid technology and socio-economic changes, Kaizen can lead to a dramatic improvement in curriculum design, teaching methodologies, research output, administrative process and responsive action to students’ needs.

He said, “We must recognise that creating the Nigeria we need is not a sprint but a marathon that demands perseverance, dedication and a collective resolve that truly shapes the future of the nation.”