- Inaugurates CBN’s N9bn Excellence Centre in Enugu
Christopher Isiguzo, Gideon Arinze in Enugu and James Emejo in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday said his administration was determined to reverse the falling education standards in the face of dwindling resource.
Speaking during the inauguration of the Centre of Excellence at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Enugu Campus, which is a N9 billion postgraduate studies facility funded by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the president said government attaches premium on education as it is the bedrock for societal development.
He lamented that facilities in universities and other institutions of higher learning had dilapidated but assured that “our administration is committed and determined to continue to reverse this situation even in the face of dwindling resources”.
Buhari said the inauguration of the centre was part of his administration’s commitment to address the situation and represented a landmark for “our students as it provides them a conducive environment and well-equipped facilities in their educational pursuit”.
He said: “I want to note here that this administration places much premium on education as it is the bedrock of societal progress
“The state of education in terms of outreach, quality and affordability is a direct bearing on our national aspirations and collective desire towards poverty reduction, securing the nation, narrowing the infrastructure gap and giving hope to our younger generation for a brighter future.”
He further promised that his government would “not rest until we deliver on these commitments.”
“I wish at this juncture to commend the CBN for this gesture, which goes beyond just providing this physical structure to include partnerships with the university administration, especially in terms of funding support.”
He added that the immense challenges in the education sector called for the type of partnership between the CBN and the universities, adding that the initiative will not only benefit the CBN but the entire country.
Also speak on the project, the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele said the initiative was part of the bank’s determination to address the problem associated with dearth of skilled manpower, which tended to undermine the country’s potential for growth.
He added that the institution was also designed to among other things, curtail the pressure on foreign exchange occasioned by educational tourism as well as check the brain drain syndrome.
“Basically it is the contribution of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) towards uplifting the standards of education in Nigeria.
“It is a centre of excellence mainly for postgraduate studies and finance and accountancy. We have these centres now in three places like University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and University of Ibadan.”
According to him: “Each of these projects costs nothing less than N9 billion. The second phase of these has about seven centres that is coming up and it is coming under the CBN endowment programme.
“The last administration in CBN did set up a N10 billion endowment programme about nine years ago. And as we speak, that endowment had grown to about N23 billion. “
“The centre is an exclusive postgraduate centre that will have collaborative efforts with other universities like Harvard and Stanford University and all that.
“So, you can imagine the standards that will be provided here. It has 150 postgraduate accommodation; 500-seater auditorium as well as a teleconference centre where students can stay in a classroom and receive lectures and seminars from universities globally.”
He said: “It has an e-library and a conventional library. The classrooms are well-furnished and I can assure you that when people say that the government is not investing in education, we are trying to use this as an expression that government through the CBN under its intervention programmes is trying to do something to uplift the standards of education in Nigeria.”
The Vice-Chancellor, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Prof. Benjamin Chukwuma Ozurumba, said the project meant “everything for the school”.
He said:”This was achieved by the CBN. I am literally pleased to take possession of the building, which will be commissioned today by the president.
This marks a turning point in tertiary education in Nigeria. The talk about town to gown, this is now government to gown. Government came directly to institutionalise the use of this edifice for the educational programme of the financial sector.
“So much has been said about the economy of the nation. This is a shot in the arm for the economy of the nation under the initiative of the federal government and the CBN.
“The UNN is particularly pleased that this is happening in the Nigerian educational system. The government even at this busy time found it necessary to bring this to fruition: that makes me particularly delighted to be here.”
The VC further vowed that “We shall make very good use even optimise any resource we are given to make this a sustainable project. I am giving a firm promise”