The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) since the 1990s, has expanded its involvement in community-based activities beyond just sports to include participation in other areas, particularly agriculture, education and others. DAVID AGBA reports.
Like other major monetary regulators in the world, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has increased its presence in the areas of capacity building programmes, particularly in the areas of financial research.
On August 22, 2019 in the city of Zaria, Kaduna state, President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the state-of-the-art Centre of Excellence constructed by the CBN as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the educational sector of the country.
The Bank’s Educational Sector Interventions are divided into two categories:
Centres of Excellence in Universities and Public Institutions; and
Learning Support Infrastructure in Universities, Polytechnic and Secondary Schools.
The CBN Centre of Excellence was conceived as a world class post-graduate school focused on various business and finance disciplines. The facilities and infrastructure at the Centre have been designed as state-of-the-art complexes comprising a Faculty Building and Hostel Building.
CBN’s reason for project
In conceiving this project, the aim of the Bank was to ensure 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.
The pilot Phase of the project covered the three premier universities – The University of Nigeria, the University of Ibadan, and the Ahmadu Bello University.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on January 24, 2019 inaugurated an academic Centre of Excellence built by the apex bank at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus.
Buhari said that the inauguration of the project became necessary following the desire of his administration to reverse the trend of dearth of infrastructure in Nigerian universities.
The president, who was on a campaign tour of Enugu state, said that his administration placed much premium on education as bedrock of growth and progress in the country.
He, however, regretted that facilities in most Nigerian universities had dilapidated over the years due to poor funding.
Buhari said that the immense challenge in the education sector called for a collaborative effort among stakeholders.
President Buhari after seven months, precisely August 22, 2019, inaugurated another state-of-the-art Centre of Excellence built by the CBN at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
The ABU facilities
Similar to the centre inaugurated at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, UNEC, the Zaria project sits on a total floor area of 34,102.81sqm with the under listed facilities. The centre boasts of a faculty building, comprising a 360-seating capacity Auditorium, a Telepresence Room, seven lecture theaters, six lecture rooms with a total seating capacity of 544 as well as a traditional Library and a fully functional ICT Centre.
This inauguration underscores the desire of the CBN to fast-track its already advertised Collaborative Post-graduate Programme (CPP), which seeks to ramp-up the level and quality of research, particularly policy-oriented research, at the post-graduate level in Nigerian Universities.
The programme will engage in multi-disciplinary collaborative research on major policy issues relating to the financial sector in particular, and the national economy in general.
Leaders in their fields of specialization
Centres across the participating institutions boast of faculty staff who are leaders in their fields of specialization with practicing/consulting field experiences in addition to vast teaching and research experience with publications in reputable journals.
The Centres would also engage the services of academic staff/industry practitioners across the selected disciplines within and across the universities, as well as, staff of international institutions as may be found necessary. The academic staff across the centres are most qualified to provide graduate training leading to Masters and PhD degrees and short-term industry and policy targeted programmes.
Specifically, the programmes to be offered at the CBN Centres of Excellence include Masters in the field of Economics, Accounting, Banking and Finance, Business Analytics, Taxation, and Credit and Financial Risk.
As a way of giving back to society
According to the Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, the Central Bank of Nigeria sees its provision of world-class infrastructure to educational institutions across the geo-political zones of Nigeria as its way of giving back to the society and in the process advancing human capacity and national development.
Speaking during the inauguration, Emefiele said the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria has played a significant role in the advancement of Nigeria’s financial sector and indeed the Central Bank of Nigeria, having produced one of its Governors, several Deputy Governors, Departmental Directors, numerous Executives and other category of staff. “With the commissioning of this Center of Excellence today, students at Ahmadu Bello University will be able build on the legacies of the founding fathers of this great institution, by acquiring the requisite skills that will enable them make meaningful contributions for the betterment of our society.”
He said: “As a knowledge-driven organisation, the Central Bank recognizes that our ability to address evolving economic challenges, would be impacted by the quality of knowledge provided to students today at our educational institutions. These observations have ultimately shaped our participation in supporting continued improvements in our institutions of higher learning.
Child of necessity
“Mr. President sir, this Collaborative Post Graduate Programme (CPP) initiative which is our flagship intervention programme in the education sub-sector can be described as a child of necessity. It was conceived to produce a critical mass of skilled professionals that will be able to apply their knowledge towards supporting growth and continued innovation in our nation’s financial sector and the economy in general. This was against the recognition that the dearth of skilled manpower constituted a binding constraint towards making Nigeria the number one hub for economic activity in Africa.
“It was in an effort to address this challenge that the CBN, in exercise of its oversight function over the financial services industry, decided to support enhanced delivery of finance related courses; such as accounting, banking and finance, business administration, and economics at postgraduate level in Nigerian universities. More specifically, these COEs will offer courses in specialized areas such as Forensic Accounting, Risk Management, Bank Management and Supervision, to mention a few areas. In the first phase of our intervention, three first-generation federal universities across the six geo-political zones namely: Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, University of Ibadan (UI), Ibadan and the University of Nigeria (UNN), Nsukka were selected. The Programme was later expanded to cover six other tertiary institutions across Nigeria, which are nearing completion,” he said.
The apex bank boss expressed delight that for the CBN as an institution, it was a thing joy that after many years of planning and eventual construction, the second Centre of Excellence was commissioned.
The centre and its facilities
According to him, the Centre comprises three buildings; a faculty block on four floors; two hostel blocks; and a service building. The Faculty Building consists of a 360-seater auditorium, 7 nos. lecture theatres, 6 nos. lecture rooms, and 1 nos. library. It also has a computer laboratory, a Telepresence room, 2 nos. cafeterias/kitchens and 32 nos. offices. The two-block Hostel Building can accommodate over 194 students, comprising 66 nos. single rooms, 32 nos. double rooms/kitchenette, 7 nos. common rooms, I nos. gymnasium, 6 nos. Reading rooms, 2 nos. Hall Chairman suites, 2 nos. common rooms, 2 nos. lounges, and 13 nos. laundries. The Service Building has a generator house with 2 nos. 1100KVA generators, 2 nos. 1MVA transformers, 3 nos. chillers for air conditioning and 2 nos. fire suppression pumps. The external works include a gate house, fence, external landscaping, seat-out & water fountain and a parking lot.
He assured that the CBN working in close collaboration with all the participating universities, has taken steps to ensure that this investment yields considerable benefits. The curricula for the target disciplines have been reviewed and harmonized across board to ensure students are provided with the optimum level of knowledge relative to their peers in other parts of the globe. This is with a view to making the learning environment here in Zaria, globally competitive in order to attract students and lecturers from other climes.
“When these centres commence operation in October this year, our expectation is that universities would take maximum advantage of these world class facilities to challenge their counterparts in London, New York and Dubai in the provision of training programs in banking and finance-related disciplines for the global business community.”