Thursday, November 17, 2016 9:52 pm
President Buhari assures universities that all arrears and allowances will be paid as UI honours Dangote, Osundare and Amao
Thursday November 17 2016, eminent individuals in Nigeria and some other African countries gathered in the main hall of the International Conference of the University of Ibadan, UI for the 68th founder day where eminent Nigerian international personalities: Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Professor Niyi Osundare and Chief Bode Amao were conferred honourary degrees along 422 PhD graduands.
Dangote, described as an international business guru and a quintessential role model to millions of youths in Africa is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Dangote Group, Osundare is an international Professor of English, a poet and world-acclaimed writer and Chief Amao, the first Asiwaju of Ibadanland, who was described as an entrepreneur, community leader and a great benefactor to generations of undergraduates in many Nigerian universities including the UI, is the chairman of Atlantic Carpet and Bode Foam.
Among those in attendance were: royal fathers including; Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Akanmu Adetunji, Aje Oguguniso1, Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, Vice Chancellors of many universities including; Vice Chancellor and Principal, Walter Sisulu University, WSU, Prof Rob Midgley, President, Delaware State University, DSU, Dr. Harry Lee Williams, both in South Africa, former VCs, UI, University of Benin, UNIBEN, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Olabisi Onabanjo University, OOU, Professor Emeritus Ayo Banjo, Prof. A. B.O.O. Oyediran, Professor Professor Omoniyi Adewoye, Professor Grace Alele Williams, Prof. Adeniyi Osuntogun, Professor T.O. Bankole, Ambassador Olu Saanu and his wife, Chairman, Board of Directors, University Press Plc, Dr. Lekan Are, Professor Femi Osofisan, Professor Olabode Lucas, Professor Abiodun Jeyifo of Havard University, Professor Adigun Agbaje, former President of Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes, CCII, Chief Bayo Oyero, Professor Bolanle Awe, Professor Adetoun Ogunseye, Governor Abiola Ajimobi represented by the State Secretary to the Governor, Alhaji Ismail Alli, and Christians and Muslim religious leaders.
The occasion was spiced with fanfare, musical interlude, and presentation of awards to deserving graduands.
In his address, President Muhammadu Buhari who was represented by the Director of Tertiary Education in Ministry of Education, Mrs. Fatima Muhammed, reiterated the ambition of Federal Government in the provision of qualitative education, especially tertiary education for the teeming youths which he acknowledged that it would require the support of all stakeholders. “It is a fact that our educational system is undervalued but government is working assiduously towards ensuring improvement. It is very sad too, that, currently, the standard of education in Nigeria has, succeeded in creating three classes of Nigerians-a minority that is well educated , a majority that is poorly educated and those without education at all. This is quite unhealthy for our country and concerted efforts should be made to reverse the trend”, Buhari stressed.
Buhari noted that the government has increased the budgetary allocation to education because it has realized that the role of educating and training the requisite human capital to drive the various development initiatives of government rested on the universities adding, “Education is a liberating force from poverty and ignorance while serving as a key to unlocking our natural resources. Government alone cannot successfully fund education because of other competing demands in the economic sector. I therefore urge the organized private sector to get actively involved in the provision of quality education”.
He called on the nation’s universities to endeavour to identify and embark on programmes that will assist government in poverty reduction through advancement of knowledge stressing that universities should also support environmental protection, democracy and good governance while promoting sustainable human development within the context of achieving the global sustainable development agenda 2030.
Calling on the universities to develop patriotic ideals by identifying with the national cause and observe corporate discipline through competence and prudent management in conformity with the government commitment to the zero tolerance to corruption, Buhari said, “Corruption has almost crippled the Nigerian society resulting in under-development and backwardness as a nation. My administration has put in place, the necessary machinery to stamp out corruption across the country and enthrone the spirit of hard work, honesty, commitment and inspiring leadership that will command the desire respect among the comity of nations”.
Speaking on the economy, Buhari also disclosed that his government has decided to diversify the economy with emphasis on the agriculture and other economic activities that could offer job opportunities to millions of Nigerians while providing opportunities for increasing foreign exchange earnings.
Describing as encouraging the recent ranking of UI by the Timers’ Higher Education, which ranked it as number 801 among the world’s universities, the president assured the university’s community of the government determination to fulfil its obligations to all tertiary institutions. “We are not unmindful of the shortfall in the personnel cost and outstanding earned allowances as these are being resolved. In this regard, I would like to request for more patience and understanding from the staff unions”, Buhari appealed.
In his speech, the insitution’s chancellor, Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, 111, who bemoaned high corruption among the elites as a result of lack of moral consciousness urged the nation’s universities to revisit the content of their training and find out where exactly the quest for material acquisition finds its way into the psyche of the educated elite.
Sa’ad said, “We must probe into the psyche of not only the elite but also the wider society, which appears to condone their behavior or even inspire them to commit more fraud. Another issue, which is related to this, is the need for our teeming graduates to be trained to find jobs. We must not continue to produce graduates that will wait for government job; rather we need to impart in them the requisite and appropriate skills to create their jobs. The academic community must be challenged to continue to undertake the requisite research to provide both skills and the opportunity to use this diversification to create jobs for our young people”.
Speaking on behalf of the honourees, Dangote who donated N250m to the premier university said, “For me, it is a matter of great pride to join the erudite Professor Niyi Osundare, whose prodigious intellectual capacity I have always admired, and the renowned industrialist, Chief Jacob Olabode Amao, whose legendary entrepreneurial accomplishment has provided a benchmark for young entrepreneurs such as my humble self”.
Dangote stressed that UI deserves special attention not just because of its status as Nigeria’s oldest university, but also because of its invaluable contribution to the transformation of society through creativity and innovation saying that with adequate funding, the university would compete favourably with the best universities in the world. He said, “In this wise, I will like to enjoin the Federal Government to consider allocating special funds to the UI to enable it improve on its research and upgrade its infrastructure. I strongly believe that the private sector must go beyond the payment of the two percent Education levy to join hands with the senate and Federal Government in funding tertiary education in Nigeria”.
Speaking on his vision on the economy, Dangote disclosed that Dangote Group would invest nearly $20 billion in projects ranging from a petroleum refinery, petrochemicals, fertilizer, gas pipeline, to backward integration in sugar and rice production and dairy farming adding that the projects would create over 250,000 jobs, provide foreign exchange earnings and savings of $16billion, thus helping to diversify the nation’s economy. “By 2019, with the commissioning of these projects, Nigeria will become an exporter of fertilizer, petroleum products, polypropylene, polyethylene, and produce enough gas to generate 12,000 megawatts of power. We are quietly using economic diplomacy to project Africa’s positive narrative, which is scarcely mentioned in mainstream western media”, the business mogul said.
Speaking earlier, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of the institution, Dr. Umar Musa Mustapha assured that the institution’s authority is poised to improve the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR of the university and its distribution within the university system.
Olayinka gave a summary of the graduating candidates to the president when he said, “Your Excellency, a total of 5,598 candidates received first degrees in various disciplines on Monday, 14 November, 2016. Moreover, some 3,913 candidates received master degrees over the last two days. The later comprised 30 candidates for the research degrees of Master of Philosophy, 93 for the Master of Public Health, 2,940 for Academic Masters and 407 for Professional Master degrees. In addition, we awarded 109 postgraduate diplomas. Today, a total of 442 candidates, spread over 11 Faculties and 2 Institutes and 2 Centres would be awarded the Doctor of Philosophy Degrees, in addition to 1 Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree from the Faculty of Clinical Sciences. The Faculty of Education leads the group with 116 graduands, followed by the Faculty of Science with 68 and the faculty of Arts with 67”.
Speaking on the students matters and staff welfare, Olayinka lamented the shortfalls in the personnel cost grant being been receiving from the Federal Government which has resulted into the under-payment of staff salaries since December 2015 adding, “In other words, what we receive monthly is enough to pay just about 89 percent of the salary of each member of staff. The joke on the campus is that the Vice-Chancellor pays only ‘amputated’ salaries”.
Appealing to the students and staff to continue to show understanding pending when the proprietor would do the needful, Olayinka assured the university community that the institution’s management was poised at fixing the challenge of providing municipal services necessary for effective teaching, learning and research on the Campus. “Efforts are geared towards solving electricity problem with the ground breaking ceremony of our 10 MW /Solar Plant/Independent Power Project (IPP), which is being carried out in partnership with the German government, took place in Ajibode on Thursday, 13 October, 2016 under the Chairmanship of the Honourable Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, with the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Nigeria, His Excellency Bernard Schlagheck as Special Guest of the day. The water treatment plant enhancement programme project is nearing completion, while the dredged Oba Dam remains the sole source of raw water supply, thus saving the university the cost and inconveniences attached to the procurement of raw water from Oyo State Water Corporation”, he stated.
On linkages programme, the VC noted that currently, the University had 259 Memoranda of Understanding with various universities and research institutes in various parts of the world and that 31 other agreements were in the pipeline.
Explaining the state of the postgraduate training, he disclosed that new postgraduate programmes are being introduced not only to meet the demands of our society and industry but to also sustain academic scholarship. He said, “One of such new progammes approved by UI Senate is the Postgraduate programme in Biomedical Engineering slated for commencement in the 2016/2017 session. Given the difficulty of importing medical devices into Nigeria at the moment, the progamme will prepare engineers to invent locally fabricated medical devices which will be more readily affordable by Health-Care Establishments in Nigeria. This will go into the inexhaustible list of value additions of the University to the Nigerian society”.