FUTMinna @ 37: Accolades, garlands for a pace-setting ivory tower

The 37th Founders’ Day and 29th Convocation ceremonies of the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State may have come and gone but it is pertinent to reflect on the notable milestones recorded by the institution since inception.

The university was established on February 1, 1983 with a vision to become a world class institution of learning and Nigeria’s leading university recognised 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.

From an obscure background, the institution now has more than 130 professors, providing scholarly mentorship for junior staff and students. There are about 165 staff members 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 members 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.

Also, members of staff are promoted as and when due in line with the university’s extant laws.

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 specialised 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.

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. In 2018, FUT Minna also won the World Bank research grant for the establishment of Africa Centre of Excellence for Mycotoxin and Food Safety worth six million dollars.

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).

Funding largely from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and the Presidential Needs Assessment Fund for the Revitalisation 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’s postgraduate programme is now one of the most 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 current 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 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.