CBN to repay dollar debts to banks next week
Folashodun Shonubi, acting CBN governor


As part of efforts to make Nigerian universities more relevant to the changing times, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is embarking on the establishment of dedicated, special purpose education facilities in existing tertiary institutions to shore up the capacity of the institutions.

To this end, the CBN is pumping in a whopping sum of N63 billion into Centres of Excellence in nine federal universities across the country to enhance post-graduate studies in financial related courses and the Tertiary Institutions Entrepreneurship Scheme (TIES) to train and finance entrepreneurship ideas of Nigerian university graduates.

The suspended governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele, made knowledge-based economy one of the main planks of his administration, paying an unrestrained attention to the positive impact such policy thrust was capable of having on the youth, who form the bulk of the employable segment of the society.

It was the need to take the policy to the university system where these young minds are nurtured and groomed that informed the decision to set up Centres of Excellence in the nation’s tertiary institutions.

The model is designed as CBN Collaborative Postgraduate Programme (CBN-CPP). In initiating these projects, especially in tertiary institutions across the country, Emefiele was deliberately drawing attention to the fact that Nigerian universities have been facing myriads of problems ranging from inadequate financing to deteriorated infrastructure, autonomy, among others. These encumbrances tend to limit the capacity of the institutions in the country to compete at the global stage.

A reputable authority in the ranking of universities globally, Webometrics, stated that no Nigerian university is in the top 1000 in the world. In fact, the highest ranked Nigerian university, according to the organization, is the University of Ibadan which was ranked 1,258 globally and number 18 on the continent of Africa.

The reason is not far-fetched. The funding of education at all levels in the country is below the recommended benchmark by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Specifically, UNESCO’s benchmark for funding education is 26 per cent of the national budget and 6 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP).

But Nigeria’s budget for the education sector has averaged 5.3 per cent of the budget which is in sharp contrast to the recommended target and continues to drop. The GDP perspective paints a more dismal picture, as the education sector accounted for 1.94 per cent of the real GDP in Q1 2021 and 1.86 per cent in 2020. According to data from UNESCO, about 76,338 Nigerians were studying abroad as of 2018, which is the highest recorded by an African country.

According to the CBN balance of payment statistics, Nigerians have spent a hefty $28.65 billion on foreign education between 2010 and 2020. The high demand for dollars to pay these foreign educational institutions has affected the country’s foreign reserves and contributed immensely to piling pressure on the exchange rate.

The CBN Centre of Excellence project was conceived as a world class postgraduate school focused on various business and finance disciplines in some of the beneficiary institutions. The facilities and infrastructure at the Centre have been designed as state-of-the-art complexes comprising a faculty building and hostel building.

The pilot Phase of the project which started in three premier universities covered the Universities of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, University of Ibadan; Ibadan and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, with six universities to be picked from each of the six geopolitical zones.

In conceiving the project, the aim of the Bank was to ensure students at postgraduate 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.

The Centres were delivered in phases and the first phase, which comprised the University of Nigeria, University of Ibadan and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria were first completed and ready for use by the institutions. The second category in order of completion includes those in University of Lagos, University of Port Harcourt, University of Jos, Bayero University, Kano and University of Maiduguri.

Speaking shortly before he unveiled the Centre of Excellence at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus (UNEC), former President Muhammadu Buhari, said the construction of the project by the CBN had also underscored the Federal Government’s commitment to provide a conducive environment for learning at all levels of education.

The then President said his administration placed premium on education to ensure, among other things, its affordability, stressing that education remained the bedrock of societal progress.

While stressing that the Federal Government would not rest on its oars in boosting the quality of education, he urged the CBN to go beyond providing physical infrastructure to the university to increasing partnership with the institution in terms of funding support.

Earlier in his welcome remarks, Mr. Emefiele disclosed that the aim of the Bank, being a knowledge-based and visionary institution, was to build human capacity for the financial system in particular and the economy in general.

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.

He disclosed that the project, which was the product of a N10 billion Endowment Fund instituted in 2006 that had grown to over N23 billion, also aimed at checking brain drain as well a strain on the country’s foreign reserve used for funding educational pursuits abroad. According to him, the project was an expression that the government, through the CBN, was contributing to education in the country.

Mr. Emefiele further disclosed that the Centre of Excellence would also enter into collaborative studies with ivy league institutions in the United States and Europe in order to attract the best brains in Finance, Accountancy and Economics.

The facility

The Centres, with 500-capacity auditorium, ICT facilities and e-Library, are designed to compete with any business school globally. They will also run programmes such as Forensic Accounting, Global Financial Market, Risk and Compliance Management.

The CBN is committed to an effective and efficient management of the facilities to forestall decay. Part of this management process will involve the engagement of accounting specialists and practitioners working in central banks across the world with the aim of tapping from their wealth of experiences which will be brought to bear on the Centres.

The CBN Centre of Excellence, Ahmadu Bello University, for instance is situated on a 360-seat capacity auditorium, a telepresence room, seven lecture theatres, six lecture rooms with a total seating capacity of 544 and six tutorial rooms with 240-seating capacity. There are also two cafeteria/kitchens with a seating capacity of 96; 32 offices to seat 59 staff, a 68-seating capacity library and a 50-seating capacity ICT Centre.

The facility also has a hostel accommodation comprising 66 single rooms and 33 double rooms that are all fully furnished. The hostel also has a gymnasium, seven common rooms, two meeting rooms, 13 laundry rooms, two communication rooms and two Hall Chairman’s Suites.

The service building houses two 1100KVA generators, two IMVA Transformers, three chillers for air conditioning and two firefighting pumps. External works consist of a gate house, fence, external landscaping, sit-out, water fountain and parking lots.


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