By Raphael Oni
It was indeed a remarkable site to behold as stakeholders from Kogi West Senatorial District, appeared at the Public hearing on Monday, to continue their clamour for the upgrade of the Ahamdu Bello University (ABU) College of Agriculture, Kabba, Kogi State, to a full-fledged Federal University of Agriculture.
They spoke at the opening session of a two-day public hearing on a Bill for an Act to establish the Federal University of Agriculture Kabba, organised by the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFund chaired by Senator Ahmed Babba Kaita (APC, Katsina North).
Sponsor of the Bill, Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC, Kogi West), said that the Kabba College, which “we are asking for its upgrade to a full-fledged university, has requisite facilities to function as a bonafide university.”
“May I, on behalf of the people of Kogi West once again plead with President Mohammed Buhari, to help renew the vision of the late Premier of the Northern Region, a highly detribalized Nigerian who kept the region and indeed Nigeria together in unity without any form of sentiments irrespective of tribe and religion by approving the upgrade of one of the legacies of the Saudana of Sokoto. Once again, may the labour of our heroes past not be in vain,” Adeyemi said.
The traditional ruler of Kabba, Obaro of Kabba, Solomon Dele Owoniyi, in his presentation, pleaded with the authorities of the ABU Zaria, to allow its campus which is the College of Agriculture in Kabba to be upgraded to a University of Agriculture.
He noted that of all the Federal Colleges of Agriculture established across the country from 1960s to 1990s, only the one in Kabba still remained a college while the rest have been upgraded to universities, adding that the Kabba college should not be an exception.
The Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District, Smart Adeyemi, who joined the Obaro of Kabba, Solomon Dele Owoniyi in pleading with authorities of ABU over the upgrading of the school, recalled that when the 8th Senate considered the Bill in 2017, ABU kicked against it on the ground that the college is a campus of the university.
The lawmaker also argued that “the College was long overdue for upgrade into full-fledged University like the former ones in Markurdi, Sokoto, Kano and Bauchi, even as he declared that in line with the diversification policy of the present government, there is need for establishment of two federal universities of Agriculture in each of the six Geo- political zones.”
In his presentation at the public hearing session organized by the Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND on Bills separately sponsored to that effect by himself and Senator Ayo Akinyelure (PDP Ondo Central), the Kogi West Senator noted that “it is not out of place for Nigeria to have at least two federal university of agriculture in each of the geo-political zones of the federation. He said it would help to improve our foreign exchange earnings and provide jobs for millions of Nigerian youths.
“The College Of Agriculture Campus of Kabba which we are asking for its upgrade to a full-fledged university, has facilities which are currently under-utilized such as the 10 big halls of residence for students (both male and female), living quarters, a dam, a standard library with e-learning facilities, not less than 20 class rooms, an auditorium with a sitting capacity of a minimum of 2000 students, about10 laboratories in different courses of anatomy, soil science, microbiology, chemistry, physics, and other courses.
“When upgraded to a full-fledged university, the by-product will be a new generation of educated farmers that will guarantee self-sufficiency in food, reduced rate of poverty, provide self-employed graduates, improved cash-crops that will contribute to foreign exchange earnings of the country,” he insisted.
The apex socio-cultural organisation of the Okun people in Nigeria and diaspora, Okun Development Association (ODA) represented by its National President, Barr. Femi Mokikan, spoke vehemently in support of the Bill, canvassing same reasons as other speakers. Barr Mokikan, said the school was established in 1964 by late Sir Ahmadu Bello, and handed over to ABU in 1971. That we have over 500 Professors in Okunland which goes to show that Okun main industry is Education
Okun delegates led by Obaro of Kabba spoke in turns, Agbana of Isanlu, Vice Admiral Joseph Ajayi, Dr. David Atte, Prof. Emily Alemika, Hon Commissioner for Women Affairs, Kogi State, Engr Emmanuel Ajibero.
In his remarks, the Committee Chairman, Senator Ahmed Baba – Kaita disclosed that the Committee had received no opposition against the bill even as he begged ABU to release the school and allow it to be upgraded.
He added that of all the Federal Colleges of Agriculture established across the country from 1960s to 1990s, only the Kabba one still remained a college while the others have been upgraded to Universities .
“Other Colleges of Agriculture established in Abeokuta , Akure Makurdi and Omudike are now full fledged Universities of Agriculture .
” The one in Kabba should not be left at the level of College but also upgraded to full-fledged University as well captured and proposed by the bill sponsored by our Senator , Smart Adeyemi,” Baba – Kaita said .
Kabba College of Agric (KCA) was established in 1964, with assistance of USAID. The College started under the Administration of the then Regional Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and was administered and managed by Institute for Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria in 1968.