Following the recent directive by the federal government for the three Universities of Agriculture in the country to discontinue running non-core agriculture courses, the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, (MOUAU) has urged the government to revisit the directive by interpreting their legal mandate as enshrined in the Act establishing them.
The institution’s college of management sciences, in its position paper on the matter made available to The Guardian said the act establishing the three universities of agriculture, located at Umuahia in Abia state, Makurdi in Benue state and Abeokuta in Ogun state provided for a tripodal mandate of teaching, research and extension in agriculture and related discipline.
It urged the government to consider current trends in similar institutions all over the world and adjust to global best practices.“Universities of agriculture in various countries of the world are fast adopting comprehensive and diversified educational model that offers complementary benefits to a variety of disciplines.
“ Many universities of agriculture in China, India, USA, Pakistan, Indonesia, Russia and Africa accommodate degree programmes in Management Sciences, Education, Law, Humanities and Social Sciences”.
The university clarified that in addressing its mandate, it established core agricultural programmes in six colleges namely Crop and Soil Sciences, Agricultural Economics, Rural Sociology and Extension, Natural Resources and Environmental Management, Veterinary Medicine, Applied Food Science and Tourism including College of Animal Science and Animal Production.
Other non-agricultural colleges established by the institution to provide foundational services were; Physical and Applied Sciences, (which award degrees in Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Computer Science and Statistics), Natural and Applied Sciences awarding degrees in Microbiology, Biochemistry) and Engineering and Engineering Technology awarding degrees in Agricultural, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering.
Others are Colleges of Management Sciences (awarding degrees in Accounting, Banking & Finance, Marketing, Economics, Entrepreneurial Studies, Business Administration, Industrial Relations and Personnel Management), Education awarding degrees in Science Education ( with specialization in Mathematics, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science, Integrated Science ), Agricultural Education, Home Economics Education and College of General and Communication Studies that provides foundational teaching services in general and communication skills.
According to the Dean, college of management sciences, professor John Ihedinih, the colleges besides providing support teaching and research services to the core agricultural programmes also award degrees in their own rights.
Prof Ihedinihu said it is only fair to interpret allied or related disciplines in the context of the legal mandate of the federal universities of agriculture to mean all such discipline which offer foundational complementary teaching and research opportunities to core agricultural or other programmes in the university without discrimination.
He added that a selective application of this interpretation would be inappropriate and deplete the foundation of core agricultural programmes and render them incapable of realizing the university’s legal mandate.