Tinubu: FG Working to Reintroduce Full Autonomy to Universities

Tinubu: FG Working to Reintroduce Full Autonomy to Universities

*Says it will shift performance responsibility to individual institutions

*UNIBEN honours Fashola, Komolafe, Adegbulugbe, others

Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja and Funmi Ogundar

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu disclosed at the weekend that the federal government was working towards re-introducing the policy of full autonomy for universities. Tinubu said the idea would naturally transfer the responsibility of performance directly to the individual institutions.

The president, who is Visitor to the University of Benin, spoke through the Minister of Niger Delta Development, Mr Abubakar Momoh, at the institution’s 48th convocation ceremony in Benin City.

The event featured the conferment of honorary degrees on some prominent Nigerians, including Chief Operating Officer, Green Energy International Limited (GEIL), Dr. Kayode Adegbulugbe; former Governor of Lagos and immediate past Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola; wife of Edo State Governor, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki; and Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Mr. Gbenga Olu Komolafe.

Tinubu stated that the new policy direction was premised on the conviction that university autonomy would provide the platform for the institutions to develop at the pace set by their councils and senate rather than being bogged down by external bottlenecks or red tape.

He assured the people that the current administration would formulate sustainable policies that would outlive it.

Tinubu said in his address, “The federal government is working towards the re-introduction of the policy of university full autonomy.

“This new policy direction is premised on our conviction that university autonomy provides the platform by which the institutions could develop at the pace set by their Councils and Senate rather than being bogged down by any external bottlenecks or red-tapism.

“University autonomy, no doubt, transfers the responsibility of performance directly to the individual institutions rather than the current state of uncertainties.

“This administration believes that this is a right step in the right direction and will do all that is possible to re-position tertiary institutions and, indeed, the education sector in the country for excellent service delivery.”

The president said his government was not unmindful of the concerns arising from months of unpaid salaries of all categories of university staff, in particular, members of the teaching staff unions, as a fallout of their eight months industrial action.

He said, “You are all aware of the fact that I recently announced a four-month salary payment for all university workers to minimise the impact of the non-payment of salary during that period for work not done. This waiver was considered necessary and does not in any way obviate the ‘No Work, No Pay’ policy of government.

“In that regard, the federal government will continue to demonstrate its commitment to improved conditions of welfare in the universities by the provision of needed infrastructure, such as lecture theatres, students’ hostels, administrative offices and learning tools.”

Tinubu said that commitment was currently being expressed through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund). He added that the gesture was expected to galvanise staff and students to put in their best.

He stated, “As a responsible government, we would continue to dedicate tangible resources to education and to formulate sustainable policies that would outlive this administration.”

Tinubu called on education policy formulators and the universities to strive to modify such policies to accommodate every segment of the youth population, through specialised skills acquisition programmes and internships.

According to him, the universities have the multiple responsibilities of helping to expand horizons through research and technological breakthroughs, impartation of relevant skills, and entrepreneurship.

“They must also take up the onerous task of re-directing the teeming youths on the path of moral rectitude, love for nation and respect for constituted authorities,” he stated.

He added, “Certainly, we must return to the Nigeria our founding fathers fought for and bequeathed to us. Our journey to industrialisation, economic prosperity and self-reliance as a nation, can only be realised, if all hands are on deck. It is only in togetherness that we can achieve greatness.”

While applauding the University of Benin for its strides, Tinubu noted that the institution was positioned to deliver on its mandate of providing the critical manpower needs of the country, taking into consideration the pedigree of staff and cutting-edge facilities.

He expressed optimism that the university would attain new heights in the current infrastructure dispensation, and said his administration was poised to change the narrative of higher education for the better and place institutions of higher learning on pedestals by which they could compete favourably with their peers, globally.

Tinubu commended the commitment of the University of Benin community to the advancement of the institution, stating, “Your service to our fatherland is greatly valued. I charge you all to place the overall interest of the university above personal or sectional interests and to strive at all times to justify the investments of government in the education enterprise.”

At the convocation ceremony, the Senate of the University of Benin conferred an Honorary Doctor of Science (D.SC), Honoris Causa, on Adegbulugbe for his ingenious contribution to the development of the Nigerian oil and gas sectors.

Other award recipients included Fashola, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki, and Komolafe.

Speaking at the occasion, one of the academic honourees, Adegbulugbe, noted that he was honoured and humbled to be considered among the recipients.

In his own response, Komolafe, said, “The award shows that the society is watching us and that we should strive to give our best to the nation, believing that the nation is watching so that our labour would not go unrecognised.

“Today, myself and other honourees are appreciative of UNIBEN that recognised our various individual contributions to the national development and we are poised to do more to this great nation.”

He called on the youth to contribute their quota to national development, saying at a point in time, their contribution would be recognised.

On his part, Fashola charged the graduands to give back to the society, as their degrees were a service to the society and the school.

“On behalf of the honourees, I pledge our commitment to the University of Benin,” the former governor said.

“On behalf of the honourees, I pledge our commitment to the University of Benin,” the former governor said.

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