President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday laid the foundation of the Nigerian Army University project in Biu, Borno State, saying the citadel of learning will enhance the Nigerian Military’s responses to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
According to him, the establishment of the university will be of immense benefit not only to the military but also to the country.
The president who was represented by the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, noted that the government adopted effective mechanisms to harness educational resources to address security, political, social and economic challenges facing the country.
He said, “I particularly consider this event very epochal and a turning point in the annals of the Nigerian Army with regards to education, intellectual development and troop preparedness in the 21st century.
“I commend the Nigerian Army for the commencement of the university which will serve as the brain box for enhancing its responses to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
“As a government, we believed in harnessing the full potential of education especially at the higher level, to overcome multiple challenges from corruption and challenges of insecurity”.
Buhari said his administration has accorded priority to reinvigorating the education sector and approved the establishment of additional universities and institutions of higher learning in the past three years in the country.
He continued: “Since we came on board we have increased access by establishing new universities at the federal, state and private levels. This year alone, we have established Nigerian Maritime University, Delta, Nigeria Air Force Institute, Kaduna and the Nigeria Army University, Biu.
“We have also approved the establishment of eight state and 15 private universities since we assumed office.”
The president added that the government has also approved various degree awarding institutions in the country.
Also speaking, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Burutai, disclosed that N2 billion had been provided for the takeoff of the university project.
Burutai explained that the university would stimulate the Nigerian Army’s science and Information Communication Technology (ICT) drive.
He noted that the aim of the institution is to build the capacity of the Nigerian Army to enable it compete with other armies in the world.
“The university is designed to create the critical mass required for research, innovations, testing and development of military equipment in the 21st century setting,” he said.
The chief of army staff commended the federal government over its support to the military to enable it discharge its duties effectively.
On his part, the acting vice chancellor of the university, Prof David Malgwi, described the project as part of the successes recorded in the war against insurgency in the country.
Malgwi noted that the project is a clear indication of government’s commitment to the reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement (RRR) in the region that was bedeviled by insurgency.
“The University represents the future of Nigeria’s self-reliance in the area of science, technology, research and capacity building training in all fields of human endeavor through the application of modern teaching approaches to equip students with tools to live and work in the 21 century,” he said.
He disclosed that the university is billed to commence academic activities in 2018/2019 academic session in five faculties and 39 programmes, adding that admission began in collaboration with the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB).
According to the acting vice chancellor, the institute is designed to operate with 14 faculties, 113 departments and 493 programmes.
He called on the government to ensure adequate funding of the university to enable it achieve its objectives.
Malgwi also called for the rehabilitation of major roads linking the university with adjourning communities to enhance its operations.
The roads include Biu- Damboa-Maiduguri; Biu-Damaturu, Biu-Gombi-Yola and Biu-Numan -Jalingo.
Also present at the occasion were Governors Kashim Shettima of Borno, Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State and Senator Ali Ndume.
Others are the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Idris Garbai El-Kanemi; the Shehu of Dikwa, Muhammad Ibn Masta II; the Emir of Bauchi, Alhaji Rirwanu Adamu, Emir of Biu, Mai Mustapha Umar Aliyu, among others.
Troops Fighting Boko Haram Not In Deplorable Condition – FG
Meanwhile, the federal government yesterday denied reports suggesting that troops deployed to fight the Boko Haram insurgents in the North East are living in deplorable condition.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this during a press conference in Abuja.
The minister described the report as classic example of fake news, which the government has launched a campaign to curb.
He hinted that due to the grave security implication of the allegations, President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered an investigation to determine its veracity.
Mohammed said, “The summary of the findings is that there is no case of hunger, starvation or begging among the troops fighting in the North East and, in particular, in the Armed Forces Special Forces Battalion that was referenced in the publication.
‘’There is also no irregular/short payment of allowances, while claims of poor equipment, inadequate kitting and accommodation are found to be ill conceived and unfounded”.
Mohammed further stated that contrary to the publication, the troops in question deployed at Brig-Gen Maimalari Secondary School along Gubio Road are being fed centrally three times a day, and are kitted immediately after their training before they are deployed to the theatre.
“How then can soldiers who are fed centrally be starving or begging for food? Concerning the payment of allowances, the monthly allowances of troops of the AFSF Battalion are being paid directly into their various accounts from the Defence Headquarters; hence they cannot be shortchanged,” he added.
On the allegation of poor equipment and inadequate kitting, the minister said it was discovered that the inflow of logistics into the theatre in the past six months showed an enormous quantity of materiel was distributed to troops in the theatre.
He continued: “If anything, the publication in question exhibited poor understanding of what obtains in the theatre of military operations; for example, the claim of poor accommodation in an operational environment.
“By their training, soldiers in theatres of war are usually in trenches, tents or other makeshift structures. Fighting insurgency is not a walk in the park and the gallant men and women in uniform who are engaged in counter-insurgency operation in the North East are not on a luxurious expedition. The battlefront is no playground”.
Mohammed however warned that engaging in fake publication about the troops is not only a great disservice to the nation, but a terrible downplay of the kind of sacrifices being made by the gallant troops in fighting insurgency.
He said such fake reports amount to collaborating with fifth columnists and enemies of the nation to weaken the fighting spirit of the military forces, as well as represent a clear and present danger to the nation’s security.
While restating the administration’s belief in the freedom of the press, the minister appealed to the media to always commit to the highest standards of journalism by double-checking with the government before publishing any information from the theatre of operation in the North East.
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