By Fatai Abdullahi
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday said that Nigeria now ranked amongst the leading democracies in Africa and in the Commonwealth 20 years after it began to experience an uninterrupted democratic culture.
President Buhari was the visitor at the final day of the 50th Convocation Ceremonies of the University of Lagos, which also served as the convocation for the 2017/2018 academic session.
The president was represented by the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Rasheed
“With the 2019 general elections that had come and gone, we as a nation have once again reiterated our choice of democracy as the system of government by which we hope to imbibe an all-round development.
“ Our administration is committed to ensuring that the sacredness of that choice is preserved. With this policy enunciated and every programme instituted, we shall ensure that our democratic culture takes firmer roots and legacies further consolidated.
“Let me reiterate that my administration will not waver in its commitment to following due process, preserving the sanctity of the rule of law, battling grand corruption, securing the lives and property of our people and rehabilitating or upgrading our critical infrastructure.
“We will continue to be unrelenting in enthroning hard work, honesty and place the welfare of our citizens above everything else.
“ We must all join hands to take Nigeria to the next level of progress,’’ President Buhari said.
According to him, his administration will continue to encourage Nigerian universities to build closer and better relationships with the industrial sector.
He said this would help to bridge the gap between theories and practicality with a view to addressing some of the most required needs of the nation.
He added that his administration believed in the imperative of sound educational system for national development.
“We recognise the place of our intellectuals to undertake cutting edge researches that will address the challenges of development and contribute to making lives better.
“ We acknowledge that our advancement as a nation will be driven by a robust human resource base.
“ It should, therefore, be our collective determination to do our best to guarantee a peaceful and stable future for Nigerians through education.
“ We shall continue to interface with the unions of universities in our bid to ensuring that we have a stable higher education sector that contributes to the nation’s global competitiveness,’’ he said.
While congratulating the graduating students, President Buhari charged them to make their impacts felt in matters of national development.
“As you make your ways into the world beyond this ivory tower, let me assure you of our administration’s commitment to ensuring that the skills and knowledge you have acquired are put to use and be productively engaged.
“While many of you will be gainfully employed in the public and private sectors, some of you may choose to explore the entrepreneurial route by founding and co-founding small and medium scale businesses.
“In a special way, the knowledge and competences you have developed in the course of acquiring Nigeria’s degrees, diplomas and certificates are to be applied to the noble course of national development,’’ he said.
Earlier, the Chancellor of the university and the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar El-kanemi, said that the tertiary education sector in general and the university system in particular would enjoy renewed attention with the release of the graduands.
“Having said this, I must say that it is necessary for us to put in place, more support for policies, programmes and finances to keep the ivory towers at par with their counterparts globally.
“Many globally renowned feats by our faculties and students make a case for my appeal,’ he said.
Giving a break down, the Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, said that 5,405 postgraduate degrees consisting of 150 Ph.D holders, 4,771 Masters and 484 postgraduate diplomas would be awarded in various disciplines.
NAN reports that four eminent personalities were conferred with Emeritus Professorship and honorary degrees in recognition of their roles in developing the country.
The honorary doctorate awardees included: Mr Jim Ovia, businessman and founder, Zenith Bank Plc, Alhaji Lateef Okunnu, and Dr Daniel Olukoya, the General Overseer of the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries worldwide.
In their acceptance speeches, Ovia emphasised the need for the private sector to join hands with the Federal Government in the funding of education in the country.
He, however, called for the licensing of more private universities in order to enhance the academic standard of the country.
Olukoya in his speech, emphasised the need to encourage the development of country’s youths on how to be self reliant after school.
He also said that there was the need for the Federal Government to institute a compulsory course in universities on life after school.
Olukoya said the course should encompass integrity, hard work, honesty and relationship.
“If students fail the course, they should not be allowed to graduate,’’ he said.