Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday in Nsukka reaffirmed his administration’s commitment towards massive investments in education, insisting that anything short of that would greatly undermine the nation’s drive towards accelerated development.
This came as the President asked Nigerians to partner government to uproot the evils of corruption, economic sabotage, criminality, delinquency and other forms of indiscipline in the nation’s body polity.
The President spoke at the 47th Convocation ceremony of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Also, three Nigerians including the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar III, former governor of Abia state, Orji Uzor Kalu, and the chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, Jim Ovia were honoured with honorary doctorate degrees in Law, Public Administration and Business Administration respectively.
The President, who was represented by the Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Anwukah said his administration was mindful of the role education plays in the development of any society, vowing not to shy away from his responsibility towards the sector.
He said it was for that reason that government has been making increased budgetary allocations to the sector especially the tertiary education.
He said government appreciates the roles of the universities in the upliftment of the socio-economic life of the country, adding â€œthatâ€™s why we shall continue to give the necessary support to enable them achieve the objectives for which they were established.â€
While noting that the universities have the potential and responsibility of training the necessary human capital to drive the various development initiatives of government, the president however urged them to reciprocate the noble gestures of government by striving at all times to measure up to the required standard to justify the monumental investments in them.
He urged the universities to define their roles and carve out a niche for themselves by designing programmes that will assist government in poverty reduction, creating employment opportunities, health promotion, application of new technologies in the advancement of knowledge and equality, protecting the environment, promoting sustainable human development as well as sustaining democracy and good governance.
To the graduands, the president asked them to take advantage of various aspects of the economic programmes of the Federal Government relevant to them by turning themselves into employers of labour; rather than searching endlessly for the white collar jobs which are not readily available.
He said the nation was in the process of revolutionary change, noting that universities must also key into the evolving ethical revolution because without discipline, law and order, no society can make meaningful progress.
In their separate addresses, the University Chancellor and Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi; Pro-chancellor, Chief Mike Olorunfemi and Vice Chancellor, Prof. Benjamin Ozumba expressed delight with the quantum of achievements recorded by the institute since inceptions, noting that some of the best brains in the country today took off from the University.
They said a total of 9,298, made up of 7,830 First Degree, Diploma and Certificate as well as 132 First Class graduands took part in the convocation.
Among the graduands were 1,468 Postgraduate Degrees and Diploma, including 331 Doctor of Philosophy Degrees; 982 Masters Degree and 155 Postgraduate Diplomas.
On their part, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar, former Governor Kalu and Ovia advocated an increased budgetary allocation to the education sector. The Sultan specifically asked that it be increased to 40 per cent.
While Kalu pledged to build and donate a Centre for Conflict Resolution where issues that border on Boko Haram insurgency, Biafra agitations and militancy will be discussed and resolved, Ovia on his part pledged automatic employment for best the graduating students in the Banking, Finance, Accounting and Economics departments of the institution with effect from next session.