By Yinka Kolawole, in Osogbo
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the Federal Government was making relentless efforts to make the hardship caused by economic recession in the country temporary.
The president, who was represented by the Executive Secretary of the National University Commission (NUC), Prof. Adamu Rasheed, said this at the 42nd convocation ceremony of Obafemi Awolowo University, yesterday.
According to him, government had put necessary measures in place but that it also needed the cooperation of Nigerians.
He said, “There is no gainsaying that we live in challenging times. Nigeria is not exempted from the political, security and economic upheavals going on worldwide.
“We have been making good progress, particularly on security issues, and we are relentless in our efforts to ensure that this economic recession is a very temporary experience in our national life. I am firmly convinced that with the measures being put in place and the cooperation of all Nigerians, it will soon be a thing of the past.
“This administration is committed to ensuring that as a nation, we are self-sufficient in food and thereof no longer dependent on food importation by 2019. Foreign exchange saved in the process will be channeled into reviving our industries, enhancing the hydrology and ecology of the Lake Chad Basin, improving our power generation and distribution infrastructure and completing all the abandoned rural electrification projects nationwide, among other things.”
He expressed concern at the growing rate of unemployment in the country, advising youths to develop entrepreneurial skills.
He said, “In September 2016, our unemployment rate reached a high value of 17.9 per cent as compared to 9.9 per cent the previous year.
I intend to remind you that although this administration is doing its best to provide jobs for the teeming population of Nigerian youths, our efforts still need to be complemented by the private sector. We have been bringing on board several entrepreneurship initiatives that create an enabling environment for job creators not only to thrive, but also excel.
“Promotion of local products, encouragement of export markets, tapping of indigenous raw materials, etc., are some of the avenues for this to operate. As fresh graduates with multitude of invigorating ideas, you are encouraged to forward your proposals under the appropriate parastatals and agencies.”
He explained that government had directed the National Universities Commission to chart a new course for curriculum development and review in the Nigerian University System.
He said, “This administration is concerned with the quality of university education in Nigeria. Government believed that the quality of universities is influenced by a number of factors within the output, process and output domains.
“The reality is that every facet of the university be it academic or non-academic, contributes to its quality. It is expected that universities will embark on strategic capacity building to bring academics up-to-date with the new trends in their respective subject areas in order to achieve the desired impact.”
The president urged management of federal institutions to be accountable, saying, “Visitations to universities are statutory requirements for accountability of the institutions to government and citizenry. Visitation to federally owned universities is due and government has appropriately constituted panels to embark on the exercise.
“The details of the exercise, which will commence in the New Year (2017), will be released in due course.
Staff, students, parents and relevant stakeholders are enjoined to seize the opportunity that will be provided by the exercise to submit memoranda for the success of the visitation.”
The Chancellor of OAU, Dr. Yahaya Abubakar, challenged members and staff of public universities to ensure adequate utilisation of resources made available by the government.
Abubakar, who doubles as Etsu Nupe, urged stakeholders in public universities to embrace dialogue instead of industrial action.
He said, “We are all experiencing the challenges of a very complicated world. As public universities, we have to depend on government for necessary resources required to run the universities. The prevailing economic conditions have unfortunately constrained the government’s capacity to avail these resources required to run universities.
“Indeed, this situation is unlikely to change in the near future. I appeal to staff to exercise more patience, embrace dialogue and negotiations instead of resorting to industrial action.”
The acting Vice-Chancellor of the OAU, Prof. Anthony Elujoba, advised the graduating students to make a difference in Nigeria by engaging in positive history-making achievements.
He said, “Let me remind you that the nation is facing challenges that require an intellectual response, involving the application of righteousness and cutting-edge research and service to tackle public challenges. You are agents of change, and today, as you get empowered and commissioned to make a difference in different sectors of the nation in particular, and the world at large, you must carry along your integrity and honour.
“My charge to you therefore is to explore novel strategies in applying what you have learnt in the lecture theatres, studios, and laboratories in order to provide solution to these growing challenges of our time.”
Meanwhile, no fewer than 66 students graduated with first class at the 42nd convocation ceremony, which started on Wednesday; 15 students graduating with distinction from the faculty of pharmacy.
The university also produced 1,305 students with Second Class Upper; 2,127 Second Class Lower; 606 Third Class; and 50 students had Pass.
For the unclassified degrees, 65 students graduated with credit; and 412 with pass. The summary of the statistics of the graduands presented by the acting Vice-Chancellor of the OAU, Prof. Anthony Elujoba, shows that a total of 6,827 students successfully graduated; while 4,646 students were conferred with first degree; 518 Postgraduate Diplomas; 1,663 got Postgraduate Degrees.