Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, is one of the three Universities of Agriculture established by the Federal Government of Nigeria. Two Universities of Agriculture had earlier been established at Abeokuta (Ogun State) and Makurdi (Benue State) in 1988. The Universities of Agriculture are charged with the central mandate and mission of imparting agricultural education in a scientific but practical way, coupled with applied research and such extension services as would assist in achieving national self-sufficiency in food and fiber production in the minimum time while at the same time catalyzing and sustaining rural development.
Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (MOUAU), came into existence precisely on the 13th day of November 1992 when the Federal Government of Nigeria promulgated the Federal Universities of Agriculture Decree 1992 (also cited as Decree NQ 48 of 1992). This enabling law culminated in the appointment of the pioneer Governing Council led by Alhaji Mohamma Liman and the first Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Placid Njoku.
The Institution effectively took off on May 3, 1993, when the University admitted its foundational students. At the epoch of the Institution’s history, only Eighty-two (82) students were enrolled to pursue various courses of study. This figure is at great variance with the recent statistics that put the students’ population at about Twenty-seven Thousand, Seven Hundred and Fifty (27,750) undergraduates, Four Thousand, Five Hundred and Ninety- eight (4,598) postgraduates and Six Thousand, Seven Hundred and Thirty (6,730) part-time students at the Continuing Education Centre. This brings the total number of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike students to Thirty-nine Thousand and Seventy-eight (39,078).
What a massive quantum jump. The Management’s intention is to exceed the horizon of existing academic programs, coupled with the ever skyrocketing demand for the acquisition of tertiary education, and mostly the nation’s recent focus on agribusiness as an alternative revenue base of the economy, the students’ population is bound to explode.
The concept of the University of Agriculture is not restricted to Nigeria. In fact, such Universities are spread all over the world. It has been stated elsewhere that the general concept originated from the “American agrarian philosophy which premised economic development on the farm as a family business”. In Nigeria, the Universities of Agriculture can analyze the faults, weaknesses, and strengths of Conventional Universities that offer degrees in Agriculture, and therefore develop objectives that are long-standing and tailored towards the production of better graduates as well as higher/better service to the community as a whole. Agricultural education, before 1988 when the first two Universities of Agriculture were established, was characterized by many weaknesses, viz.:
The Universities of Agriculture were therefore established to help provide solutions to these weaknesses. On establishment, the philosophy of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, was tailored towards this end.
Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, is situated on an axis along the road from Umuahia to Ikot Ekpene. Its location is ten kilometers East of Umuahia, the Abia State Capital. Umudike and other host neighbors are agrarian communities. This brings to fore the role of the University as one specializing in agriculture and related programs. The University inherited the immovable facilities and properties of the former Federal College of Agriculture which has been moved to Ishiagu in Ivo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. The National Root Crops Research Institute has common boundaries and shares facilities with the University.
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