By Gabriel Dike
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday challenged the universities to be at the forefront in providing solutions to issues affecting the country.
Buhari, who spoke at the 52nd convocation ceremony of University of Lagos (UNILAG), said universities must take the lead in addressing societal problems.
On the last day of the convocation event, UNILAG conferred diploma, degree, and PhD on 4, 418 graduates. In all 12, 217 graduated in different courses while 238 obtained First Class.
At the university celebrated 70-year-old PhD graduate, Pa George Anacious Asuelinmen from Mechanical Engineering while Dr. Chinyere Umudu, who emerged overall best PhD graduate was also honoured by UNILAG.
Buhari, who was represented by the Deputy Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Dr. Chris Mayaki, said his administration would continue to encourage the Nigerian University System, by ensuring that the nation meets its obligations to institutions and the pride and future of our nation.
He disclosed that recently his administration showed its commitment by releasing N22.5b as Earned Allowances and N30b as revitalization fund for the universities, stating, “we have also ensured that TETFund is responsive and proactive, by providing among others, funds for research, infrastructure, and staff development. From 2019 to date, a sizeable amount running into billions has been disbursed for the funding of research.
“We shall not rest on our oars. We shall continue to engage the relevant stakeholders to ensure sustainable funding to enable our universities to deliver on their mandates. Let me reiterate that education remains a top priority of this administration.’’
The president explained that only education; particularly the quality education produced in good universities can instigate rapid social, economic, scientific, and technological changes needed to guarantee our march to the future with pride and confidence.
According to him, education remains the most potent weapon for injecting hope in the youth and in our ability to negotiate a better quality of life for our people. We need to change the way we do things in Nigeria.
His words: “We need to change our attitude towards education if we desire genuine change and progress in our country. Nigeria’s challenges are multiplying by the day. Tackling these challenges would require different but fresh perspectives anchored on innovative approaches to education delivery throughout the country.
“It is imperative for universities in this country to take the lead in opening our minds to the emerging scenarios and equipping ourselves to meet the challenges posed by these changes, as We cannot afford to be strangers in the new world being driven by education and technological advancements.
“Our universities must be in the forefront of generating and disseminating knowledge and innovations to ensure our country’s participation in the global knowledge society. Government on its part will continue to encourage our universities and other tertiary institutions to produce the necessary skilled manpower with a view to building a strong economy.”
Buhari commended the leadership of the university for the deliberate efforts being made in ensuring that the institution run smoothly with the huge successes recorded, despite the many challenges.
Vice Chancellor of UNILAG, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, said at the end of the convocation ceremonies, the university would have graduated 53, 420 students under his administration in the last four years.
Among dignitaries that graced the event include Alafain of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, Shehu of Borno, and Chancellor of UNILAG, Alhaji Abubakar El-Kanemi, Pro-chancellor of University of Benin, Dr. Sunny Kuku, Senator Lanre Tejuosho, and representatives of the Minister of Education as well as Ooni of Ife.