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As UNN Matriculates New Students – VC Urge Freshmen Not To Let Their Parents Down

Full Text of The Vice-Chancellor’s Address at the 39th Matriculation Ceremony of the University of Nigeria, on Saturday January 12, 2013

Deans of Faculty,

Heads of Department,

Distinguished Academics and Administrators,

Respected Parents and Guardians,

My Dear Students,

Lions and Lionesses,

Ladies and Gentlemen:


On behalf of the management, staff and students of the University of Nigeria, I am pleased to welcome you all to the 39th Matriculation ceremony of our university. To our new students, I say, welcome to the “University of your Dream”.

Our dear first-year students, today’s ceremony marks your formal admission into the family of Lions and Lionesses – the endearing name for students and alumni of this University. By your admission into the University of Nigeria, you would be following in the footsteps of many great men and women, who passed through the lion’s den on their path to eminence and greatness.

At today’s occasion, you will be required to solemnly declare on oath, your loyalty to the University, followed by a pledge to abide by her rules and regulations, and a promise to appreciate and cherish her objectives. Thereafter, each of you will sign the matricula, which would signify your formal registration as students of the University of Nigeria.

You earned a place at today’s ceremony because of your impressive performances at both the University Matriculation Examination (UME) and the Post University Matriculation Examination (PUME). You should all be proud of this achievement. However, you should be humbled by the fact that less than 7,000 of you have been given this opportunity out of the over 100,000 candidates that competed for a place at the University of Nigeria.

While congratulating you for this impressive performance, I make haste to urge you to make the best use of the golden opportunity presented by your admission into the University of Nigeria. To do this, you ought to stay conscious of the expectations of your parents, as well as the enormous sacrifices they will be making to see you through the university in the next four, five or six years. You should, therefore, also make a personal commitment today that you will not let them down. You need to also know that your admission does not always guarantee that you would get a degree of the university. Your ability to get a degree will depend on how hard you work and how well you conduct yourself at the university.

Today, you have the privilege of being formally admitted into Nigeria’s oldest university, with an enviable reputation of excellence. All the courses mounted by the university are fully accredited by the National Universities Commission. In the coming years, you will also have the benefit of being taught by experienced, motivated and committed experts in the various fields of learning. In keeping with our tradition of excellence through hard work, they will task you and put you to test all in a bid to equip you with the knowledge and skills you need to get a good degree. Remember, “only the test of fire makes fine steel”.

You have also come into the university at a time of great transformation and growth. This is obvious from the many on-going construction projects on our campuses, which are intended to modernize and improve the capacity of our classrooms, laboratories, theatres, studios and offices to keep pace with the exponential growth which our university is experiencing. Similarly, the administration has commenced a project to digitize the classrooms, and refit the laboratories with ultra modern teaching and research facilities. We already have one of the biggest libraries in the country, as well as an ultra-modern campus-wide internet network. These are intended to make sure that you can compete favourable with your peers anywhere in the country and beyond.

The administration remains committed to students’ welfare and would continue to improve the conditions in the hostels and the entire campus. Thus, efforts will continue to be made to improve the supply of municipal services in our campuses and to provide facilities for students’ extra-curricular activities. The student multi-activity centre, which has been designed to serve as a one-stop centre for all student activities, is virtually ready for use. Rehabilitation work has also commenced on a variety of sporting facilities in our campuses. Efforts would continue to be made to maintain the newly created ambience all around our campuses.

As the biblical injunction goes, “to whom much is given, much is expected “. So, in return, I demand that you look after these facilities and make use of them in a manner that preserves them for future generations of students, who may include your friends, siblings and children. Always remember that the resources to provide them are hard to come by, and we may not be able to replace them if they are destroyed.

As a duty, your university will continue to offer you all the necessary support you need to achieve your dreams here at the university. I believe you all participated in the three-day orientation programme, which was designed to facilitate your integration into the university community. In addition, you would have received valuable guidance and countless advice on how to make the best of your stay at the university. You all need to remember that you have just entered that phase of your life when you are free from daily parental control and guidance. Thus, what you make of your stay at the university would depend, to a great extent, on the choices you make and how you conduct yourself while here.

I advise you to take advantage of the different levels of support and guidance available to you at the university. By now, every one of you should have been assigned an academic adviser, whose wise counsel you should always seek on all academic matters. In addition, the Deans, Heads of Department and lecturers are typically student-friendly and accessible. Please, feel free to approach them to help find solutions to whatever genuine problems you may have. The department of student affairs also offers free students advisory and counselling services. Feel free also to take advantage of these services when in need.

In addition, the student handbooks and academic regulations, including the faculty handbooks, contain other vital information that you will find valuable all through your stay at the university. For example, the academic regulation provides that students who fail to register their courses within the stipulated time will forfeit the session, and all full-time students must attend 75% of all lectures in order to qualify to write examinations in the courses. This means that contrary to public opinion, it is mandatory for students to attend lectures at the University of Nigeria.

There are a number of legitimate student clubs and associations which are registered with the Department of Student Affairs. You are encouraged to identify the ones that appeal to you, and to register and participate in the activities of these genuine associations. On other hand, however, you must also shun the membership of all forms of clandestine societies and cults because the University of Nigeria has a zero tolerance policy on cultism. Those of you who joined these cults before seeking admission to the university are advised in your best interest to denounce such memberships, because any student associated with cultism will be expelled and, thereafter, handed over to the Police for prosecution.

Let me also reiterate some of the advice which you may have received as part of the orientation exercise: Spend your time wisely and always recognize your studies as your number one priority. Always seek to be on the right side of the law and shun all forms of criminality, including stealing, cheating, forgery and examination malpractice. The university has stringent rules guiding examinations, the breach of which is visited with dire consequences. Remember, what Abraham Lincoln said, “it is far more honourable to fail than to cheat”.

Finally, under no condition should you embark on the wilful destruction of university property. As civilised people, we must find legitimate and rational ways to express our feelings without undue recourse to violence and wanton destruction of public property.

Remember, the degrees of this University are awarded only to students that have been found worthy in character and learning. You are advised, therefore, to add virtue to your learning. Always remember our philosophy: to seek truth, to teach truth; and to preserve truth.

Finally, I commend our dear parents and guardians for their commitment towards the education of their children and wards. It is my hope that you will not abandon your children to the university, but will continue to exercise the necessary control over them. In addition, I would like to remind you of your new status and responsibilities as stakeholders in the affairs of the University of Nigeria. As you may already know, the problem of under-funding is still here with us, and we are continuously seeking funds and resources to sustain the growth and development of the University. I, therefore, appeal to those of you with the wherewithal to support the growth and development of our university in whatever ways you can.

Once again, I am happy to admit our new students into the family of Lions and Lionesses. I wish you all the best in the years ahead as you begin the pursuit of your dream.

God bless you!

Professor Bartholomew N. Okolo (Ph.D Stratchclyde)




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