Protest in Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike ( MOUAU) over delisting of programmes by JAMB reports that students of Michael Okpara University of  Agriculture Umudike ( MOUAU) last week staged a peaceful protest to register their grievances over the delisting of seven programmes in the College of Management Sciences ( COLMAS) of the institution by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board ( JAMB).

The affected programmes include : Accountancy, Banking & Finance, Economics, Entrepreneurial Studies,  Business Administration, Industrial Relations, and Personnel Management.

While Accountancy, Banking & Finance, and Marketing are retained as options in Agric- Business, others were completely delisted from JAMB website.

The protesting students carried placards with  various inscriptions such as " Management programmes in MOUAU have been in existence since 2003", " Restore our programmes in JAMB brochure",  " Please secure our future in the labour market", " We don't want to study management as option in Agriculture", " Please Dean, don't allow this; our future is at stake", among others.

Addressing the Dean of COLMAS and other management staff of the college on behalf of the students, the President, Association of Management Science Students, Comrade Udochukwu Uzoma, said the action of JAMB had distabilised the students.

He appealed to the Dean and the management of the university to intervene and have the delisted programmes restored as the fate of students in the affected courses now hang in the balance.

Responding, the Dean, Professor John Ihendinihu, commended  the students for their peaceful disposition,and  told  them that the management of the institution was already making spirited efforts to have the delisted courses restored.

He expressed hope that JAMB which had already restored similar programnes delisted in sister universities - Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi, and Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta- would not treat MOUAU differently.

Later in a press conference, Professor Ihendinihu, called on the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to rescind its directive for the three specialized universities of Agriculture in Nigeria to shut down all non- agriculture programmes they run.

He described the policy as retrogressive, injurious and a contradiction to the Act establishing the specialized universities which gave them the tripodal mandate of "teaching, research, and extension in agricultural and related/ allied disciplines".

The Dean also recalled that most universities of Agriculture in other parts of the world offer programmes outside their core mandate, wondering why Nigeria " will prefer to live in the past".

" Is Nigeria going back to antiquity?" Ihendinihu queried.

The Professor of Accounting argued that the delisted courses are very critical to the success of Nigeria's quest to approach agriculture as business.

He further contended that agriculture had evolved beyond the peasantry level and needed the touch of business principles as packed in management science programmes.

" Furthermore, it is important to note that Abia State economy is driven by Commerce / Business with Aba as Japan of Africa , and that scaling down academic programmes in business courses in the only federal tertiary institution in the state will amount to a great disadvantage."

He further expressed shock that  while JAMB had already restored the non- agriculture courses earlier delisted in Makurdi, and Abeokuta respectively, that of MOUAU is yet to be restored.

The Dean also contended that running Accountancy, Banking & Finance, and Marketing as option in Agric- Business is a mockery as the students of the disciplines would not graduate with Bachelor of Science degree in them but in Agric- Business.

" With this they can not even be addressed as professionals in their fields because they will only have Bsc. degree in  Agric- Business  with options in those areas. Where will such graduates get employment?

 He also said JAMB had made the conditions of getting admission into the courses difficult as  students with social science background hardly meet up with the mandatory science subjects, thus making poor science students the favoured candidates while sharp social science students are weeded out.

Brandishing photocopies of documents downloaded from JAMB website which authenticated his claims, Professor Ihendinihu  said  such discriminatory treatment  gives room for suspicion.

" Let me not say it is deliberate yet but if they fail to restore them after restoring the affected ones in our sister universities, then we will assume it is deliberate", he fumed.

Lamenting the far- reaching implications of the action on both students and staff of MOUAU, Ihendinihu said the population of the institution would collapse as COLMAS accounts for almost half of the student population.

According to him, COLMAS has a total of 10, 931 students comprising 6,735 regular and 4,196 in non- regular programmes, and a staff population of 172. The total student population of MOUAU is less than 30,000.

Professor Ihendinihu further expressed concern over the implication of both the  directive of the Ministry of Agriculture, and the action of JAMB, saying they have further diminished the chances of Abia candidates seeking university education.

This, he said, was more worrisome considering the fact that "Abia has only one federal university , a specialised one for that matter with limited programmes", unlike many states which have at least two.

He also alleged the marginalisation of the South East geopolitical zone in the distribution of the 92 federal tertiary institutions in the country as the zone only got 13 against 20 in the North West, 17 in South West, and 15 in North Central.

" Out of the 13 federal tertiary institutions in South East only three are conventional universities, and they are in Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi while Imo and Abia only have specialised universities", he explained.

He tasked the political elite from the zone to rise to the challenge saying that the academic future of youths from the zone particularly Abia is at risk.

Recall that where as some non- agricultural programmes like Mass Communication, Philosophy, Peace and Conflict Resolution had already been shut down in MOUAU, findings indicate that Federal University of Agriculture  Makurdi still runs programmes in Medicine and Surgery and other areas outside its core mandate.

Similarly, Federal University Abeokuta is yet to scale down any of its non- agricultural courses, lending credence to the suspicion of bias in the implementation of the new policy.

By Steve Oko in Abia state
Protest in Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike ( MOUAU) over delisting of programmes by JAMB Protest in Michael Okpara University  of  Agriculture Umudike ( MOUAU)  over delisting of programmes by JAMB Reviewed by Unknown on Friday, March 31, 2017 Rating: 5

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