What we intend to scrutinise in NOUN – Panel

By Debbie Nduba & Ibrahim Kabiru Sule
Visitation panel chair

Chairman of the Presidential Visitation Panel to the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), Alhaji Isa Bello Sali, has said that part of his committee's assignment was to inquire into the level of implementation of the White Paper on the last visitation report as well as examine the quality of the leadership in the university.

Sali, a former Head of Civil Service of the Federation, stated this during the panel’s first interactive meeting with stakeholders of the university, held at the headquarters of the university on Tuesday in Abuja.

The event, which was preceded by a press conference, was graced by the chairman of the university’s Governing Council, Prof. Peter Okebukola, Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Olufemi Peters, the principal officers and directors.

Sali said since the inauguration of the various visitation panels by the the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, a couple of weeks back, the seven-man panel resolved to start by “knocking on the doors of the university by meeting with the Governing Council to seeks its support and blessings without which the assignment cannot succeed.”

He added: “Visitation panels are not new in the education sector. They are integral parts of the Ivory Tower system and so what we are here to do in the next few weeks is not strange but a continuation of a practice and a tradition that is perhaps centuries old.”

While reading out the panel's 10 terms of reference (TORs), Sali stated that the group would, among others, “examine the financial management of the institution including statutory allocations and internally generated revenue over the recommended period and determine whether it was in compliance with the appropriate regulations.

“Investigate the application of funds, particularly the special grants and loans meant for particular projects, in order to determine the status of such projects and their relevance for further funding.

“Examine the adequacy of staff and staff development programmes of the university,” and “examine the general security in the university and how the university has dealt with it and recommend appropriate measures.”

In an answer to a press question, the chairman clarified that the panel hoped to get the full reports of the 77 study centres nationwide from the university, as it would also divide itself to sub-committees to meet the target deadline set by the federal government.

Earlier, the NOUN Governing Council chairman, Prof. Okebukola, had welcomed the panel to the university, which he described as “special” due to its enrollment as the biggest on the continent, as well as its sheer student size.

He described the panel’s chairman as the "perfect square peg for the square hole" in the assignment, being the erstwhile Head of Service of the Federation, and assured the committee of all the necessary support it might need during the course of its assignment.