WHEN THE SOUP IS GOOD, THE MONEY MUST BE GOOD. AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW OF PROF. MADU IWE BY ADANMA ODEFA
There is a saying in local pidgin lingo that soup wey sweet, na money kill am’. I couldn’t help noticing how apt this saving is as I sat down for a one on one interview with MOUAU’s own renowned professor of Food Science & Technology. Prof Maduchibisi Ofo Iwe. Professor Iwe is also the Deputy Vice Chancellor. Academic here at MOUAU. As we chatted about the multiple accreditation exercises this year. I marveled at big leap the University took in strengthening her academic muscle, justifying the investment made by the management.
Speaking on how important accreditation is to any University, Iwe says, “in Nigeria, at the University level, it is conducted by the Tertiary Universities Commission which is more or less the quality control of University academic programmes. They come periodically; this actually happens once in five years, for any program that has full accreditation at any time, but less than that for intending programmes and any programme that has interim accreditation should be re-presented between one or two years, depending on the readiness of the programme. Normally, accreditation is for mature programmes. It is not every programme that is ready for accreditation. After one year of mounting a programme, the programme will be first verified by the NUC after one or two years of the programme it should be mature for accreditation, and accreditation should be done before a programme begins to produce graduates, which is what accreditation is all about”. “Furthermore, accreditation is normally based on what we call minimum standard in Nigeria. There are basic minimum standards which are established as regulatory standards for various programmes for Nigerian Universities. Once in awhile, professional in the field are selected from various parts of the country by NUC and they are asked to go and see whether a particular program is meeting up to the standard and if it is not meeting up, it could be denied accreditation or if it is trying in keeping up to the standard but not very well then it could be given interim accreditation. But where the programme meets all the standard expected then it is given full accreditation”.
Bringing the accreditation conversation home to MOUAU. I asked Prof Iwe why this year’s accreditation was generating such a buzz. What is different?
“The present administration believes in quality of’ lives and programmes, so on entry, Prof. F. O. Otunta saw the need to make sure that all hanging programmes were presented for accreditation. There were a lot of programmes that were hanging and up till now, some have not been verified because of the way they were handled. and we believe that the best thing to do in this circumstance is to do the right thing and the right thing is to present every program the way it is, whether it is doing well or not, so that everybody will know, Based on that a lot of funds were committed into ensuring that programmes were doing well because this is a science based University and it requires laboratories, state of the art equipment, and of course good teaching staff and professors’.
Explaining Further, Iwe maintains that there is what we call staff mix there is also what we call students ratio and staff mix. If you keep admitting students without checking the effect of the volume of the admission on the standard of the programme then there will be problems and that is why we are having some problems. You will see in the past, there were departments that had four to six professors, yet they were having problem of accreditation. That means that there is a vacuum in the staff mix. There are established ratios for what we call the bottom style of staffing (assistant lecturer to lecturer I), the middle staffing (senior lecturers) and the top staffing (professors). There are ratios and once the ratios are not met, the programme will have a problem. Even though you have good staffing, once they are skewed in the ratio of the bottom, the middle and the top there will be problems. That is part of the problem we have before and that is why on entry, Professor Otunta made sure our students intake is not unnecessarily exceeded. We take students as much as the ratio will allow, because we are expected to have a lecturer teaching 15 students. Now, if you have more than that, it becomes a problem during accreditation and if you have zero lecturer teaching 15 students, then there is a problem and if you have 5 lecturers teaching 15 students, that is also a problem, so we have to start from the onset to be mindful of this. Between March and November when the Vice-Chancellor took over for last year’s accreditation, there were a few problems but we were able to manage the problems. At the end, out of about 14 programmes that were presented only one failed accreditation. So we had an excellent result. In June this year, we presented quite a number of programmes for accreditation, one cannot beginning to count all the departments but at the end. We had another outstanding result. About 19 programmes were presented again and only one failed”. It is just a matter of trying to do the right thing and providing the necessary fund. The University spent almost all it got from her internally generated fund between March last year and June this year on improving the standard of programmes; the University spent N231, 000,000 to get equipment, to recruit needed staff, that is needed not just any staff any staff and of course to make sure that the environment wigs acceptable to the accreditors”.
After talking so much about academic, I was ready to get to know the DVC (Academics on a more personal level. So I asked him what he did when he wasn’t chasing down everyone to improve the academic standards of MOUAU.
‘‘L do things that are necessary; I practice my religion. I Use my little free time to serve God and that’s the major area I put time into. I am also invoked in community service, right from my village, people come to me (or one advice or the other I make myself available to my village men (kinsmen) and give them advice while I encourage the young people to get along well with life I also spend some time with my wife and children to make sure everybody is comfortable.
Admiring the tall and fit frame of Prof Iwe. I asked him to reveal his secret and share with us how he keeps so trim. Chuckling with a little unseen blush he replies, when I have the time, I use to exercise myself, indoors exercise. I like trekking or walking when I have the time I think positively to keep my mind as clean as I can and I always digest the word of God and trust that God can do all things for me.
The present administration believes in quality of lives and programmes, so on entry Prof F O. Otunta saw the need to make sure that all hanging programmes were presented for accreditation.