The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Saturday urged university unions, particularly the Academic Staff Union of Universities, to partner with the Federal Government to arrive at a funding blueprint for the university system.
Buhari said that such a funding blueprint “should take cognisance of local peculiarities and modern realities based on global best practices.”
The President said the incessant industrial actions by ASUU and other unions in the university system always revolve around the issue of adequate funding, stressing that university funding in different parts of the world was not the sole responsibility of the government.
ASUU embarked on eight months of industrial action last year over university funding and other welfare issues which had brought about the current problem of outstanding unpaid eight months’ salaries to the academic staff.
The President, represented by Minister of State for Education, Goodluck Opiah, who spoke during the 7th convocation ceremony of Federal University, Oye Ekiti, charged Nigerian universities “to reassess themselves in the light of national and global expectations”.
Three eminent Nigerians – legal luminary, Wole Olanipekun; former Managing Director, First Bank of Nigeria, Bisi Onasanya; and sports legend, Segun Odegbami were conferred with honorary doctorates at the occasion where Olanipekun was also appointed as a visiting professor of constitutional law.
Buhari, who said that his government had set Nigeria on irreversible paths of greatness through the implementation of masses-centric policies, said, “My campaign to become president in 2015 was built on the promise to improve the security, strengthen economy and combat corruption.
“It is with immense gratitude to Almighty Allah that I make a bold to say that we have delivered on the three promises.
“At my inauguration, the country was practically under the siege of terrorism and other forms of insecurity.
“With every sense of responsibility, I state boldly that the war against terrorism has been fought and won as all the territories lost to these groups have been reclaimed.
“And terrorism in Nigeria today is breathing its last breath.”
He charged Nigerian ivory towers, saying, “Any university that does not make worthwhile contributions to the positive transformations of its country and the global community has failed to live up to the reason for its existence.
“I request that all hands must be on deck to save our dear country from the myriads is socio-economic and political challenges that beset it.
“I challenge FUOYE to take the lead in proffering workable solutions to these challenges.
“The university system has remained one of the largest beneficiaries of the budgetary allocations to the sector.
“Notably through increased funding of Tertiary Education Trust Fund, my administration has regularly financed human capital and infrastructural development across Nigerian universities.”
The President also challenged ASUU and other sister unions to dissipate half of the energies they devote to confronting the government on issues of funding to check the excesses of their members, listing such to include gross indiscipline and corruption which he said contributed to the inabilities of Nigerian universities to be high fliers.
FUOYE VC, Prof. Abayomi Fasina, in his remarks, said that the institution within the shortest time of creation had carved a niche for itself on an international grid of academic excellence as he admonished the graduands to positively project the image of the institution.
FUOYE officially graduated 3,898 students comprising 3,811 first degrees made of 91 first class, 1423 second class upper, 1845 second class lower and 452 third class; and 103 higher degrees comprising 12 doctorates, 71 masters and four post-graduate diplomas.