As activities of the 24th convocation ceremony of University of Uyo were rounded off on Saturday, Akwa Ibom State government donated N100 million development projects to the institution.
Though the university is a Federal-owned institution, the state government under the then Governor Godswill Akpabio helped in the re-accreditation of more than 28 lost courses, tarred streets in UNIUYO town campus and built mock court in the university, among others.
Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, who was among the dignitaries at the ceremony where he announced this on Saturday, did not specify the projects.
Rather, Emmanuel charged the management of the institution to re-jig the curriculum of courses to incorporate Science and Technology in order to bridge the technological gap and enhance economic growth of the nation.
This was even as President Muhammadu Buhari who is the visitor to the university warned Nigerian elites to stop misleading the people through their unguarded utterances.
In his goodwill message, the governor pointed out that Nigerian Universities have a role to play in achieving sustainable democracy, explaining that producing graduates vested in science and technology would contribute to economic development, which in turn, strengthen democracy.
According to the Governor, “Democracy and Economic growth work hand in hand, democracy cannot flourish without the corresponding economic growth and prosperity. In as much as liberal sciences remain the defining blocks of understanding the realities of our social relations we should begin to tailor our curriculum around the areas of science and technology”.
He commended the governing council and staff of the University for maintaining the passion for academic excellence which the institution is known for, asserting that Uniuyo has become one of the most sought-after tertiary institutions by prospective students in Nigeria.
While congratulating the graduands on their success, Emmanuel urged them to exhibit the glowing tendencies inculcated in them during their study at the University, hoping that the knowledge they acquired would place them in advantaged positions to successfully compete with their contemporaries while projecting them as worthy ambassadors of their institution.
He reiterated his administration’s commitment to qualitative education, saying that it is one of the cardinal responsibilities of the state government and maintained that the huge investment in the education sector is justified as a social debt to the people.
The Governor restated that primary and secondary school education remains free in Akwa Ibom State, noting that students in tertiary institutions are also accommodated in generous grants from the state government and acknowledged his administration’s efforts at providing conducive learning environment for pupils and students in public schools.
He said that it was his believe that students in public schools should be given the same educational opportunity as their contemporaries in the private schools, indicating that it was the conviction that prompted the huge expense and employment of qualitative teachers for public educational institutions in the state.
The President Buhari, who was represented by Mr Ibrahim Yakasai, Director of Corporate Communications, National University Commission (NUC), said that development and progress could not thrive in a hate-filled and divisive society.
He said universities as home of great thinkers, should give guidance to the communities to enable the people to make informed decisions as we approached 2019 general elections.
Buhari said that the Federal Government would not condone or tolerate incendiary remarks from any person or group of persons which were meant to cause fear and spread hate in the country.
He said that the federal government would continue to do its best to ensure the maintenance of peace and security of lives and property in the country.
“At this point, I want to be very clear and equivocal, that the Federal Government will never condone or tolerate incendiary remarks from any person or group of persons, which are meant to harass, intimidate, cause fear and spread hate, no matter how highly placed such a person is.
”Law enforcement agencies should fish out people who make inciting statements, instigate civil disobedience, broadcast hate speeches or stir strife, riot and rebellion and bring them to book. We should continue to live together as brothers and sisters,” Buhari said.
The president called on the new graduates to look beyond leaders who have failed themselves and the nation but choose their heroes from among those who believe in the progress of Nigeria and emulate those who are honest and work hard in their profession.
Buhari said there was need for the curriculum of Nigerian universities to be diversified to include entrepreneurial skills to help graduates to employ themselves and others after graduation.
He stated that as Federal Government efforts to improve on researches in the universities, government recently provided N3 billion for scholarly and high impact researches to universities through TETFUND.
He said, “The nation will continue to look up to our universities for solutions to some of the challenges we are facing today.”
Professor Enefiok Essien, the Vice Chancellor of the university, said that the ceremony was the second to be organized during his tenure, having held the first last year, saying that it has afforded him the opportunity to assess his progress as well as project into the second half of his administration as the VC of the institution.
Essien hinted that shortly after assuming office in 2015, the University, under his leadership, embarked on completion of physical development projects initiated by the former Vice Chancellor and execution of new ones, including the construction of a new office complex for the Department of Communication Arts, at the Main Campus of the University.
He, however, thanked Governor Emmanuel and wife, Martha, for the construction and equipping of an Arts Gallery of international standard, the Professor Stella Idiong Arts Gallery, which was commissioned in the University by the Governor early this year and ExxonMobil for initiating and constructing the ongoing world-class Engineering Complex.
The Vice Chancellor acknowledged that the University has received full accreditation for all its courses, following two streams of visits by teams from the National Universities Commission, NUC, between the last convocation and the present, emphasizing, “I can announce with pleasure that the University has a 100% percent accreditation status for all its programmes.”
Essien noted the improvement in the welfare of staff of the institution, the peaceful disposition of the staff and Student Unions of the university as well as the appointments, awards and recognition accorded members of the university community, applauding the graduating students on their successful completion of academic pursuits in the institution.
The convocation ceremony preceded with a lecture on the theme, “Creating a World-class University For A Vibrant Nigerian Economy and Sustainable Democracy”, was held at the institution’s convocation arena, Main Campus, Nwaniba Road, Uyo.
A total of 4,539 graduands were awarded various degrees, certificates and diplomas, comprising 631 higher degrees, 3,678 first degrees and 230 diplomas and certificates.
The university also conferred a posthumous honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine on Dr. Ann Ward, an Irish Missionary who devoted 50 years of her life at St. Luke’s Hospital, Anua in Uyo to saving the lives of women with pelvic deformities caused by complicated births and later built the Vesico-Vaginal Fistula, VVF Centre at Mbribit Itam, Akwa Ibom State, which becomes the sole centre for obstetric fistula operations in the South South and South East of Nigeria.
Other dignitaries at the occasion included His Royal Highness, Alhaji Abubakar Adamu Maje, Chancellor of the University; Prof. Austin Awujo, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council; Mr. Sean Hoy, the Ambassador of Ireland to Nigeria who received the posthumous doctorate award on behalf of the late Dr. Ann Ward; Malam Adamu Adamu, the Minister of Education.