Uche Usim, Enugu
President Muhammadu Buhari in company with Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode; his Imo State counterpart, Rochas Okorocha and Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi on Thursday commissioned the N9 billion Postgraduate Centre of Excellence complex located at the University of Nigeria Enugu Campus (UNEC).
President Buhari in his remarks at the event described the edifice as a good initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) meant to rebuild the depleted manpower stock, especially in fields like Accountancy, Banking and economy in general.
The president also hailed late President Nnamdi Azikiwe’s visionary leadership style which led to his establishing the UNN over six decades ago.
President Buhari regretted the perennial decay in Nigeria’s educational system, assuring that his administration would arrest the slide and plant the sector on the path of sustainable growth.
“This complex will help students and other stakeholders in their learning.
“Poor funding of education over the years led to the low standards.
“We are committed to reversing the trend and this commissioned complex is part of the efforts.
“We are committed to providing good learning environment and required infrastructure.
“My administration places premium on quality education because it has a national bearing on poverty reduction and economic development. We won’t rest until we deliver on this mandate,” he stated.
President Buhari called for a robust strategic partnership with the UNN management for funding support.
He said it was noteworthy that the centre’s curriculum had been revised to tackle emerging issues, adding that the financial services sector wouldl benefit from the inputs from there.
He hailed the roles played by other stakeholders like the Ministry of Education, the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC), pointing out that it showed robust inter-agency collaboration.
In his remarks at the event, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said the centre which sits atop a 32,102 square kilometres, boasts of ultramodern facilities like 10 well-equipped lecture rooms, two cafeterias, 150 postgraduate accommodation, 500-seater auditorium, a tele-conference centre where students can stay in a classroom and receive lectures and seminars from universities globally; among others.
He added that the centre has an e-library and a conventional library, in addition to well furnished classrooms.
Emefiele said the facility was primarily built to carry out postgraduate studies in Finance and Accountancy related fields.
He said: We’ve these centres now in three places like University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and the University of Ibadan.
“Each of these projects costs nothing less than N9billion. The second phase of this project has about seven centres springing up and it’s 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 has grown to about N23 billion”, Emefiele explained.
The CBN governor said the executive postgraduate centre would have collaborative efforts with other universities like Harvard, Stanford and other reputable tertiary institutions across the globe.
“So, you can imagine the standards that will be provided here. 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.
On tuition fees, the CBN governor assured it will not be as expensive as Harvard, Stanford and other offshore universities, even though the quality of education will be the same or higher.
Also speaking on the edifice, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria Nsukka, Prof Benjamin Chukwuma Ozurumba, hailed the CBN for the initiative, describing it as a turning point in tertiary education in Nigeria.
“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 of Nigeria and the CBN.
“We shall make very good use of this place. We will even optimise any resource we are given to make this a sustainable project. I am giving a firm promise on that,” he said.
The Vice Chancellor also revealed that the institution has mass-produced the laptop computers built by the school.
He added that UNN will roll out its tractors designed and built the school to boost mechanized farming and other projects.
Other dignitaries on the president’s entourage included Minister of Labour, Dr Chris Ngige, Senator Godswill Akpabio, Senator Ken Nnamani and the National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomole, among others.