From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, responded to criticisms that he was given preferential treatment while pursuing his academic career at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) based on his social status.
Responding to the criticism at the institution’s 7th convocation ceremony held in Abuja, he dismissed the insinuation as unfounded, adding that he had at the entry point requested that he should be allowed to pass through the process without fear or favour. So far, Obasanjo is the first PhD graduate of the NOUN. He was honored with doctorate degree in Christian theology yesterday.
His words: “I requested that I should not be given any special privilege or recognition as a former Nigerian President. My reason was because I wanted to pass through the system like every other student and I am proud that I did that with all diligence.”
“I carried my NOUN bag like every other student. I attended classes and wrote my exams like every other student. Most helpful was the learners’ support services which I maximized just like every other eligible student.”
“My teachers and supervisors were firm, strict and ensured that I diligently passed through the process.”
Recalling his research experience, he said his field work had afforded him the opportunity to appreciate the socio-economic realities confronting the people of the North-east. “Most instructive was my field work in the northeast. It exposed me to the true state of the geopolitical zone. I had the privilege to interact with people of different strata and they spoke candidly to me on the state of things there.”
“The experience I gathered from there enriched my knowledge and my position on any socio-economic/political discussions of the region. It made me to understand that poverty is not our lot or that of anyone but as a result of the conscious or unconscious decisions made by our leaders,” he submitted.
The former president, therefore, used the occasion to call on the electorate to make good choice of leaders that would pull Nigeria out of poverty and underdevelopment in the 2019 general elections.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Rasheed Abubakar, urged the institution to strengthen its learner’s support system for effective service delivery. He also congratulated Obasanjo for the success of his academic programme, describing him as a role model.