The Federal Government has threatened to relocate the Federal University of Technology Owerri (FUTO), and other government institutions experiencing crisis of land encroachment to other states.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Sonny Echono, said this in Abuja on Thursday when the Governing Council of FUTO visited him in the ministry.
Echono expressed worry on the spate of land encroachment in many governments owned institutions located at the various states in the country, NAN reports.
He said that it was time the ministry began to advise the Federal Government on the possible relocation of those institutions to prevent a crisis.
According to him, “the issue of land encroachment of FUTO is a serious matter for us here at the ministry.
“I want to state for the benefit of the public that we are getting to a position where the sector is going to advise the government on the possible relocation of federal facilities in communities that continued to be hostile.
“This is not limited to FUTO, there are a number of institutions, even our Federal Government Colleges, where government acquired land and paid full compensation for some of these schools.
“For those that are located at the outskirt and as development catches with the school, people now imagine that land left for future expansion and growth should be carved out and used for residential building, and that is what put a lot of pressure on these facilities.
“Sometimes, the state government officials and traditional institutions are accomplices in these acts of selling land that belongs to federal institutions.
“We are at the point where we will begin to recommend that we relocate such facilities and return them to states that are willing to accept them,” he said.
Echono also promised to immediately look into the fencing of the institutions.
On the erosion challenge of FUTO, the permanent secretary said the ministry would work closely with the Ecological Fund Office to assist in proffering solutions to the problems.
Earlier, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Board, FUTO, Prof. John Offem, said that successive FUTO administrations had confronted the challenge of encroachment without much success while calling on the ministry to intervene.
Offem said that the most meagre resources expended by the current management of the institution to construct about 5,000 metres of perimeter fence were completely destroyed by some misinformed youths from the host community.
The Pro-Chancellor also called for the intervention of the ministry to restore some delisted academic programmes of the school of management and management technology by the National Universities Commission (NUC).
”For three consecutive academic sessions, FUTO has been denied admission of fresh students to programmes namely: Maritime Management Technology, Project Management Technology and Transport Management Technology.
“Financial Management Technology and Management Technology, on the premise that these programmes were not included in the mandate of the university.
“The delisting if not reversed will lead to a dearth of highly skilled manpower in these fields for our fledgeling industries,” he said.
Offem also explained the purported resignation of the Chancellor of the university, Alhaji Muhammadu Barkindo, the Lamido of Adamawa was still not clear and we had lost contact with him.
“We have written and sent emissaries without any positive result; We heard through the grapevine that the chancellor had resigned his appointment but there has not been any official confirmation in this regard.
“The university is unaware of this development and therefore, seek the intervention of the ministry to ensure that FUTO is not denied the royal fatherly role of chancellors in the university affairs,” he said.
He, therefore, appealed for more support in some critical projects necessary for the status of a technological university.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that FUTO which was established in 1980 was recently elected as Africa Centre of Excellence in Future Energies and Electrochemical Systems with a project value of 6million dollars.