President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday, inaugurated the newly completed Post-Graduate Centre of Excellence at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, constructed and donated to the school by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The President said his administration has invested close to N1.3 trillion in education, towards the development of institutions excluding overhead cost. He said that the effort is also geared towards narrowing infrastructure gap and restoring hope.
Similarly, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele said the apex bank intends to build seven diagnostic centres in each of the six geopolitical zones of the country and Abuja. “Now that we have sowed seed in the area of education, we are building diagnostic centres in the six geopolitical zones in the country together with the one in the national hospital in Abuja. The one in Abuja will also have Heart centre as well as Cancer centre,” Emefiele said in a chart with journalists on the sideline of the project commissioning in Zaria, Kaduna, yesterday.
He said the diagnostic centres will serve as referrals for the teaching hospitals in the country. “Rather than our people going abroad for diagnosis, paying a lot of money,” he said they will spend the money on the facility at home. He said the centres will be run by experienced people. And they will generate revenues because they will run these centres without CBN’s interference as such.
Emefiele was not certain on the period of commencement and completion of the health centres. “Hopefully these centres will commence about 2020 such that before 2024/2025, they will be ready,” he said in response to a question by this reporter.
Before unveiling the commemorative plaque to formally inaugurate the edifice that sits on a total floor area of 34,102.81sqm, President Buhari said the construction of the project was a testimony to his administration’s effort at supporting qualitative learning from the primary through to the tertiary level.
President Buhari said in its second term, he will continue to accord education priority by ensuring adequate funding for the sector to make it affordable, qualitative and competitive with what was obtainable in more developed countries.
While commending the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for supporting the federal government’s investments in the educational sector as well as other keys areas of the economy tied to overall national development, President Buhari urged the CBN to sustain such funding support for research and overall economic development.
Earlier, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele said the Bank’s involvement in the funding and infrastructural support in the educational sector was borne out of the conviction that an educated workforce played a critical role in the advancement of the Nigerian economy and the society in general.
He said the Bank’s analysis of the factors responsible for the growth of successful economies, indicated that investment in education played a prominent role in driving innovation and growth in advanced and emerging economies, while also contributing to significant reductions in inequality. Hence, he said the CBN, being a knowledge-driven organisation, had to ensure the sustenance of improvements in institutions of higher learning across the country.
According to Emefiele, the Centre of Excellence project was also designed to accommodate the Central Bank of Nigeria Collaborative Postgraduate Programme (CBN-CPP), which he described as a child of necessity in the Bank’s intervention programme in the educational sub-sector. He explained that the project was conceived to produce a critical mass of skilled professionals that will be able to apply their knowledge towards supporting growth and continued innovation in our nation’s financial sector and the economy in general. “This was against the recognition that the dearth of skilled manpower constituted a binding constraint towards making Nigeria the hub for economic activity in Africa,’’ he added.
He also disclosed that the three first generation federal universities in the country across the six geo-political zones (Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, University of Ibadan (UI), Ibadan and the University of Nigeria (UNN), Nsukka) were selected under the first phase of the intervention programme. He added that the programme was later expanded to cover six other tertiary institutions across Nigeria, which are nearing completion.
He added that the project was mainly to ensure that students at post-graduate levels in Economics, Accounting, Banking and Finance, Business Administration and Statistics study in a serene environment that would stimulate effective learning with a view to building human capacity for the financial services sub-sector.
Emefiele assured that the CBN, working closely with all the participating universities, had taken steps to ensure that this investment yields considerable benefits. Specifically, he said the curricula for the target disciplines had been reviewed and harmonized across board to ensure students are provided with the optimum level of knowledge relative to their peers in other parts of the globe.
“We believe that the Centres of Excellence will help support the government’s efforts towards reducing the incidence of brain drain, and curtail the huge foreign exchange being spent on school fees for Nigerians studying in other countries,” Emefiele said.
While disclosing that the three Centres of Excellence in Zaria, Enugu and Ibadan will commence operation in October 2019, he said the CBN expected the universities to take maximum advantage of the world class facilities provided by the Bank to challenge their counterparts in London, New York and Dubai in the provision of training programmes in banking and finance-related disciplines for the global business community.
He also thanked stakeholders in the Federal Ministry of Education, National Universities Commission (NUC), the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and the contractor, Messrs Afdin Nigeria Limited, for their support in completing the project, stressing that such collaborations were necessary for progress.
The Post-Graduate School project, similar to the project inaugurated by President Buhari at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus (UNEC) in January 2019, comprises a Faculty building and a block of rooms, as well as a 544-seater auditorium, four lecture and four tutorial rooms, traditional and e-libraries, and a telepresence room.
Meanwhile, the CBN Governor has disclosed plans by the Bank, in the near future, to also provide funding support for the health sector in the country, through the establishment of six diagnostic centres across the geo-political zones of the country.
In his welcome address, ABU Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ibrahim Garba disclosed that the University has gotten the National Universities Commission (NUC) approval to run a full time business school in Abuja, making it the first federal government owned business school in Nigeria.
Prof. Garba expressed appreciation to the CBN for building the about N7 billion state-of-the-art learning centre in ABU, a development he said will aid the commencement of special business courses in the school.
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