Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday asked public universities nationwide to source for external funds to meet their needs, noting that the federal government could not provide all the funds they would require.
He gave the advice at the ninth convocation of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike (MOUAU), Abia State, saying the governing councils of universities should lead the way in mobilising external funds.
Buhari, who was represented by the Deputy Registrar, National Universities Commission (NUC), Dr Gidado Kumo, said the federal government was looking up to the ivory towers to come up with solutions to the various problems facing Nigeria.
He said: “It is the expectation of government that beyond husbanding resources allocated to the university, governing councils should assist universities to mobilize external resources to meet their needs, as allocations are usually limited.”
He specifically noted that the universities of agriculture, by their mandate, were expected “to fast-track agricultural development and hence diversify our economy which currently heavily dependent on crude oil”.
According to him, agriculture remains a critical sector of our economy both for reducing our dependence on imported food and stimulating agro-industrial development to create jobs and reduce unemployment.
The president noted that the policy thrust of the federal government in the agricultural sector “places premium on value chain approach to research and development.”
He, therefore, charged the universities of agriculture “to scale up activities to transform our agriculture along value chains while assuring them of the support of government.”
In his address, the Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Francis Otunta called on both government and private business concerns to encourage the emergence of agro-processing industries in rural areas that are close to urban centres.
He added that the university was poised “to improve agriculture production through “articulate increase in application of scientific procedure. The assistance of public and private sector operators is needed to achieve this goal.”
Certificates were awarded to 6,215 first degree graduates, out of which 100 got first class while post graduate certificates were awarded to 788 successful persons, including 142 doctorate degrees.
Former Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt Gen Azubuike Ihejirika was the sole recipient of an honorary doctorate degree at the convocation.