Federal University Lafia (FULafia) was established in 2011 along with nine other universities by the Federal Government of Nigeria. The universities were created to increase access to, and improve quality of education, particularly in states that, hitherto, had no federal university. FULafia is located in Lafia, the capital of Nasarawa State, in North-Central Nigeria. The state is rich in solid minerals and agricultural resources. The institution had two vice-chancellors since inception, Professor Ekanem Ikpi Braide (2011-2016) and incumbent Professor Muhammad Sanusi Liman. The vision of the Federal University Lafia is to be a renowned institution of learning, research and innovation, for the positive socio-economic transformation of the nation. In accordance with the mission of the university to train its graduate and equip them with skills for socio-economic development, curriculum instructions are designed to respond to demands of employers, local economy and international standards. This is done with a view to producing graduates who can be employable. The core value of the university comprised integrity, innovation and excellence. These three key words constitute the guiding tenets of the university. Graduates from the university are expected to excel in their chosen field of endeavour, as well as to be capable of innovation and promotion of positive development. Academic activities started in the university in September 2012 with 247 students registered in 11 programmes. The programmes were located in the institution’s then three faculties of arts, science and social sciences. English and literary studies, history, visual and creative arts were offered in the faculty of arts. Mathematics, computer science, microbiology, chemistry and physics were situated in the faculty of science while political, sociology and economics were based in the faculty of social sciences. The university also now runs courses in social work in the faculty of social sciences, French, theatre and media studies in the faculty of arts; botany, zoology in the faculty of science and biochemistry in the faculty of basic health sciences. The number of students’ intake rose to 648 in 2013, 1,022 in 2014, 1,693 in 2015 and over 4,000 in 2016.
New programmes relevant to the socio-economic development of Nasarawa State and the nation have been introduced in 2016, for instance, the school of post-graduate studies and pre-degree and remedial programmes. Plans are ongoing to introduce faculty of education in the institution. There is an ongoing effort, spearheaded by the Nasarawa State Government, to secure approval from the National Universities Commission (NUC) for FULafia to introduce a faculty of medicine. To this end, the state government has since donated the famous Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital (DASH), Lafia, to the university to serve as its teaching hospital. The university has successfully graduated two sets of students since its inception.
In keeping with the advancement in technology, the institution is equipped with modern teaching and learning facilities. FULafia was the first among the new federal universities to be connected to the Nigerian Research and Education Network (NgREN). This initiative is aimed at enhancing research in the university and support the development of information in the country. NgREN is the third biggest broad band after MTN and GLO networks. The university has a highly motivated staff working hard to build a reputable institution. Realising that staff are the key drivers of its vision and mission, the management of the university places high premium on staff development through training and retraining. A number of staff, both teaching and non teaching, had over the years attended trainings, conferences and workshops within and outside Nigeria. Scholarships were also offered to some for higher degrees in various institutions within and outside the country. There have been concerted efforts to boost research activities in the university. Within its two years of existence, research products of the university won overall third position at the 5th Nigerian Universities Research And Development Fair (NURESDEF), organised by the National Universities Commission. The event took place in Federal University of Technology (FUT), Minna, Niger State, in 2012.
Individual members of staff also won first and second prizes in science and technology competitions. Also, the Erasmus Onyishi’s art work named “VIRUS” won the Justice Aniagolu prize for originality in the 2013 edition of LIFE-IN- MY-CITY Arts Festival (LIMCAF). The arts competition, held in Lagos, was organised by LIMCAF in collaboration with Alliance franchaise and Diamond Bank Plc. In the area of infrastructural development, the university, which started its activities at its take-off site, Obi Road, Lafia, in 2012, has now moved to its permanent site in Makurdi Road. However, the university still has some of its staff working at the take-off site which used to serve as the Nasarawa State secretariat. Soon after the buildings at the site were donated to FULafia by the state government, they were remodeled in line with the need and requirement of a teaching and learning environment.
As part of efforts to accommodate students in the university, the Nasarawa State Government had embarked on the construction of a three-storey hostel at the permanent site. When completed, the building will serve as a female hostel. There are also a number of structures constructed by the Federal Government under the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) on the permanent site which plot of land was also donated by the Nasarawa State Government. The permanent site houses the school’s central administrative building, faculty complexes, library, ICT building, male and female hostel and an auditorium.