Jonathan stated that the recent ratings which indicated that “no Nigerian university is among the top 10 providers of tertiary institutions in Africa, not to mention globally” was unacceptable.
He declared that Nigeria “cannot be a great nation on the back of poorly trained youth. It is for this reason that the transformation of our nation must start in the classrooms”.
In the speech read on his behalf by Education Minister, Prof Ruqqayatu Rufai, at the 41st convocation of University of Nigeria Nsukka, UNN, the President charged the universities to lead in fresh thinking that would align their curricula with modern reality to produce graduates with an entrepreneurial mind-set.
Jonathan said the transformation programme of the Federal Government mirrored the values of the founding fathers of the University of Nigeria now in its 52nd year.
“There is no doubt that the University has been a transformational force in the evolution of our country. The Founding Father’s vision was for a united, strong and prosperous Nigeria. These values underline our present transformation initiatives,” the President said.
He asked the UNN to “spearhead the design of new programmes to inculcate values of dedication to work and entrepreneurship in your students.”
Said he: “The University of Nigeria should lead because of its age, quality of staff and students and its achievements in research and community service.
The various international linkages and the recent UNESCO recognition of the University as a biotechnology centre should help elevate your ranking in the near future.”
Jonathan reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government under his leadership to “bringing about the desired transformation in the country and the education sector” because of his belief that “a sound education system is key to the transformation of Nigeria’s economy to make it competitive.”
The President further said: “Transformation is not just another slogan. We cannot tolerate the attitude of “business as usual”. Let me assure you that our decision to support the education sector is resolute. We will continue to work until our universities become centres of excellence.”
He canvassed increased private sector collaboration and participation in funding education in Nigeria while urging university administrators not to rely only on funding and allocations from the government but to increase their internal revenue generation efforts.
Three distinguished citizens received honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Nigeria Senate at the 41st Convocation.
Fidelity Bank Managing Director, Mr. Reginald Ihejiahi and political economist, Prof Patrick Okedinachi Utomi received Doctor of Business Administration honoris causa while former Nigerian Bar Association President Olisa Agbakoba bagged the Doctor of Laws.
Agbakoba (1977) and Utomi (1977) are both alumni of the University. Agbakoba, a former president of the Nigerian Bar Association and renowned constitutional and maritime lawyer, read Law at Enugu campus of the university, while Utomi graduated from the famous Jackson School of Journalism, Department of Mass Communication. Ihejiahi studied Accounting at Ahmadu Bello University
The awardees joined 1,253 graduands that received post-graduate degrees and certificates, made up of 170 doctorate degrees, 892 masters degrees and 191 post graduate diplomas.
On Friday, at Nsukka main campus, UNN awarded first degrees and certificates to 10, 243 graduands.
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