Railway Engineering : Nigeria-China Training Programme Records New Height

The Nigerian China training programme conceptualised in 2017 has recorded huge successes especially in the training of railway engineering students.

The programme according to Nigerian Presidency officials was instituted to strengthen Nigerian capacity to manage the railway network that is under Revival and modernisation across the country.

Ahmadu Bello University which was picked for the pilot programme had in 2018 signed an MOU with the Central South Univeristy of China.The delegation of Ahmadu Bello University led by President Ibrahim Garba visited CSU and signed the MoU on the Undergraduate Joint Training Program with CSU.

The leaders of CSU Tian Hongqi, Chen Chunyang and Huang Jianling met with the delegation led by Ibrahim Garba and a signing ceremony of MoU on Undergraduate Joint Training Program was held in the Meeting Room III of the Science Building. Directors of the Undergraduate School, the Graduate School, the Office of International Cooperation and Exchanges, the Development and Liaison Office, the School of Civil Engineering, the School of Traffic & Transportation Engineering, the School of Materials Science and Engineering, the School of Metallurgy and Environment and the Railway Campus of CSU and the representatives of CCECC also attended the meeting and the signing ceremony.

In Dec. 2017, President Tian Hongqi was invited to visit Nigeria and signed a memorandum on cooperation between the two universities, indicating the starting of cooperation between both sides. This time, both sides aimed at further promoting the cooperation in “3+2” double degree of civil engineering and traffic & transportation engineering.

On behalf of both sides, Chen Chunyang and Ibrahim Garba signed a “3+2” cooperation agreement. According to the agreement, CSU will select some junior students majored in civil engineering of Ahmadu Bello University to study civil engineering or traffic & transportation engineering for 2 years in CSU and complete the specified courses and credits of the Joint Training Program; those qualified graduates will get the bachelor’s degree of both universities.

Chen Chunyang said, CSU is now making great efforts to implement the internationalization strategy and promote “Double First-class” construction and is very glad to strengthen communication with foreign universities to share with and learn from each other. This cooperation is the first time for CSU to undertake the latter part of training of full-time students from a foreign university. It is expected that such a new talent cultivation mode and cooperation pattern may provide strong support for cultivating talents in the fields of civil engineering and traffic & transportation engineering for Nigeria and serve the “Belt and Road” initiative.

President Ibrahim Garba praised CSU as the “MIT of China”. He said, “Nigeria is the largest country of Africa and Ahmadu Bello University is the largest university in Nigeria and the second largest in Africa. With a long history in research on engineering, architecture and agriculture, Ahmadu Bello University has cultivated a large number of talents over the past years. We are looking for more cooperation with CSU in more fields and deeper communication between the two universities.”

Meanwhile,the second batch of 300- Level engineering students from Ahmadu Bello University chosen on account of their high academic performance have left Nigeria for Central South University (CSU), Changsha, China where they are expected to spend two years for a joint double degree programme in traffic and transportation engineering as well as railway equipment and control engineering.

The students, who had already gone to China for the programme, comprised 29 undergraduate and four doctoral students all drawn from Department of Civil Engineering and Department of Mechanical Engineering.

The programme is to last for a period of five consecutive years and the essence is to produce sufficient indigenous engineers who will continue to build and sustain railway infrastructure in Nigeria and beyond.

Speaking at a brief but colorful farewell reception for the departing students, the Vice-Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University, Prof Ibrahim Garba, said the programme would enable the students to earn dual degrees of China and Nigeria in traffic and transportation engineering respectively.

Prof Garba said ABU invested quite a lot in the programme as over N10 million was spent to freight the students to China and that they should therefore bear in mind that they were going on public funds partly, and then of the CSU’s scholarship. 

The Vice-Chancellor, who expressed gratitude to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), Chinese Embassy in Nigeria and Central South University, Changsha for the realization of this all important project, expressed hope that by next year CCECC would come up with another scholarship for another set of students to benefit.

“Let me congratulate this second batch of our students that are departing to CSU. By no means, you have also become part of the chosen ones that are going to utilize this very unique opportunity that has come our way in Nigeria and ABU in particular.

“So far, we are very happy to have realized that the first batch that we sent have not disappointed us; they have actually made us very proud by performing very well, living well, respecting the traditions and situations in China; and by so doing, Chinese are equally appreciating and respecting Nigerians”, he said.

Prof Garba, who reminded them that they were not the first set to be in China from ABU, also said they could gain a lot of experience from those that went there before them.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Director, Directorate of University Advancement, Ahmadu Bello University, Prof Adamu Ahmed, recalled that in the last few years the Federal Government had invested a huge amount of resources to build the railway infrastructure all over the country.

Prof Ahmed described the collaboration between China and Nigeria as an opportunity to educate Nigerians towards building a vibrant nation that could stand the test of time.

Speaking on behalf of the benefiting students, Aliyu Kasimu, who expressed gratitude to the university and the Vice-Chancellor for the opportunity, said there was a similarity between China and Nigeria.

The benefitting students promised to not only make Ahmadu Bello University proud but also Nigeria as a whole, assuring that the efforts of the university would never be in vain.

The programme all started in 2017 when ABU was picked out of seven Nigerian universities to begin as a pilot project a 3+2 joint degree programme with China Central South University (CSU), Changsha, where China’s railway technology was first invented.

In September, last year, a total of 45 300-Level students and 13 academic staff all from the Faculty of Engineering were flown to China for the joint Bachelor’s degree programme in engineering at Central South University (CSU), Changsha.

Of the 45 students, 30 were sponsored by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) and the other 15 are by CSU. They are expected to specialize in Central South University, especially in civil engineering, traffic and transportation engineering as well as railway equipment and control engineering.

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