By Hilary Akalugwu
President Muhammadu Buhari has urged universities in the country to justify Federal Government’s investment in them by striving to raise standards.
Buhari made the call on Saturday in Nsukka during the 47th Convocation of the University of Nigeria, for the conferment of postgraduate diplomas, higher degrees and award of honorary degrees to three distinguished Nigerians.
He acknowledged that universities had the potential and responsibility of training the human capital to drive various government initiatives.
“Indeed government is mindful of the social role of universities in the uplifting of the socio-economic life of our country.
“Government will continue to give support to enable our universities to achieve the objectives which they were established.
“Universities on their own are expected to reciprocate the noble gesture of the Federal Government by striving at all time to measure up to the required standard to justify the monumental investment in them,” he said.
The president, who was represented by the Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Onwuka, urged the organized private sector to play prominent role in providing quality education, saying government could not do it alone.
“To this end, the organised private sector should play prominent role in helping government to achieve quality education, since government cannot shoulder the financial responsibility alone.”
He congratulated the graduands and honorary doctorate awardees as they distinguished themselves that the university found them worthy for the awards.
“Use the knowledge acquired positively for the service of your fatherland. Let this recognition and honour spur you to do more to the university and humanity in general,” he said.
In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor of university, Prof. Benjamin Ozumba, said the occasion was to confer academic masters, PhD degrees and postgraduate diplomas to graduands found worthy in character and learning by the university.
He said, “340 people will be conferred with doctorate degree, 1,027 Masters degrees and 157 postgraduate diplomas.
“I rejoice with you for having been found worthy in character and learning.
“It is the university’s wish that you will use the knowledge acquired to improve yourself and contribute positively to national development,” he said.
Ozumba listed those to be conferred with honorary doctorate degrees as Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Mohammadu Sa’ad Abubakar 111; Chairman of Zenith Bank, Chief Jim Ovia and former governor of Abia, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu.
He disclosed that eight retired professors of the university that met stringent criteria would be conferred with Emeritus professor of the university.
In his remarks, Chancellor of the university, the Oni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, commended the institution’s VC and Senate for the continuous training and graduating of high class manpower.
He lauded the school for honouring superlative achievers with the conferment of honorary degrees and honouring UNN retired professors with professor emeritus.
“I urge the graduands and the honorary awardees never to relent in being good ambassadors to this university and the country.
“To professors emeritus, I congratulate you for this high academic feat you have achieved and request you to continually play elderly roles to younger academics,” the Oni said.
Governors of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal and his Enugu State counterpart, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi were among dignitaries at the occasion.
The Sultan of Sokoto was conferred with honourary Doctor of Law, Kalu, Doctor of Public Administration and Ovia bagged Doctor of Business Administration.
In their separate responses, the awardees expressed appreciation to the university, and promised to continue to render selfless service to humanity.