Abuja — Former Vice Chancellor of University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) Prof. Chinedu Nebo yesterday led the pack of other professors who emerged as pioneer vice chancellors of the new nine federal universities in the country.

Also making the list which was approved by President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday for the proper take off of the institutions by September 2011 is the former vice chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) Prof. Oye Ibidapo-Obe.

As a way of ensuring that facilities are put in place for the institutions, the federal government has directed the Education Trust Fund (ETF) to facilitate the release of the approved N13.5billion to the institutions.

Making this known while speaking to newsmen in Abuja yesterday, Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa'i, said the appointment of the vice chancellors and the registrars of the universities take immediate effect. The appointments made were made in line with the Federal Character principle.

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) had approved the establishment of the nine universities spread across the six geopolitical zones among the 12 states without federal universities to bridge the huge gap in access to university education in the country. The universities and their vice chancellors are: Federal University, Lokoja Kogi State, Prof. Abdulmumini Rafindadi (VC); Mrs. Habiba A. Adeiza (registrar); Federal University, Lafia, Nasarawa State, Prof. (Mrs.) Ekanem Ikpi Braide (VC), Dr. Idris Othman Jibrin (Registrar); Federal University, Kashere, Prof. Mohammed Kabir Farouk (VC), Dr. Abubakar Aliyu Bafeto (registrar) and Federal University, Wukari, Taraba State, Prof. Geoffrey Okogbaa (VC), Mr. John Kumbe Ansho (registrar).

Others are: Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State, Prof. Jibrila Dahiru Amin (VC), Alhaji Yusuf Adamu (registrar); Federal University, Ndufu-Alike, Ebonyi State, Prof. Oye Ibidapo-Obe (VC), Mr. G.O. Chukwu (registrar); Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Prof. Chinedu O. Nebo (VC), Dr. (Mrs.) Modupe Ajayi (registrar) and Federal University, Otuoke, Bayelsa State, Prof. Bolaji Aluko (VC), Mr. David Ujode Suwari (registrar).

Accordingly, the minister said the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB), has been directed to facilitate students' intake in September this year.

She said the establishment of the nine new universities was informed by the imperative of creating more access university education in view of the large number of qualified candidates who are annually stranded after taking university entrance examinations because they could not be absorbed in the existing institutions.

Rufa'i, who said the appointments were made to affirm the readiness of the federal government to ensure that the institutions take-off in September, 2011, said efforts were made to avoid localization of the universities by appointing the pioneer vice chancellors outside the states of location of the universities.

She said: "In the deliberate pursuit of this administration's determination to avoid localization of the new universities and to ensure that they take-off as national centres of knowledge, care has been taken to ensure that the pioneer VCs were carefully chosen from ranks of former vice chancellors, deputy vice chancellors; provosts of colleges of Medicine as well as distinguished Nigerian professors in Diaspora".

She said deliberate effort was made to ensure that no vice chancellor was appointed in a University within his or her geo-political zones, saying the institutions were designed to be models in the country.

In the case of registrars, the minister, however, said they were appointed from the States of location of the universities to ensure a good host community-university relationship and that in due course the universities would appoint other principal and frontline officers as well as support staff.

While reiterating the commitment of President Jonathan-led administration to provide access, equity and quality education at all levels in the country, the minister said the task was enormous and that the federal government alone could not shoulder all the responsibility.

She called on the hosting states, immediate communities and organised private sector to complement the efforts of the federal government in trying to provide enabling environment for effective teaching and learning in the institutions.