Prof. Okojie made this statement in Abuja when he received report of the National Review Committee, set up to make proposals for accessing the $8m grant provided by the World Bank for the African Centres of Excellence (ACE) projects.
The NUC Executive Secretary said the instability of Nigeria’s universities’ academic calendar, caused by incessant strikes had affected their taking the pride of place in Africa in terms of research and man-power development.
Prof. Okogie condemned the long-lasting strike by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), adding that it was unfortunate that proposals for ACE projects were being reviewed when the universities were at a standstill.
“I must say that it is so unfortunate that this is happening at a time doors of the universities are shut and our colleagues who know what the benefits are have not been responsive.
“Money is involved, $8m; and if we are able to get those centres, they will help us, just like the Step-B project.
“The Federal University of Technology, Akure, got a project of $7m; for an institution, this is a big leverage.
“There is money out there begging for people to apply, yet we keep saying there is no funding for universities.
“I hope that the African Union will take a cue from this and initiate a programme to support some of these projects when the fund from the World Bank is finally over,” he said.
According to him, the objective of the ACE project is to promote general specialisation among participating universities in areas that address particular regional development challenges and strengthen the capacities of the universities to deliver high quality training and applied research.
It has been revealed that the Republic of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo, with support from the World Bank, have launched the Regional ACE project.
A total of 53 proposals from Nigerian universities covering subjects such as Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Health Sciences and Agricultural Sciences have been received by NUC.