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Buhari charges varsities to tackle menace of unemployable graduates

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President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed worries over the poor standard of graduates churned out by the Nigerian universities annually, declaring that it portends disaster for the future and development of the country.

Without mincing words, he decried the observation from employers of labour that assessed Nigerian graduates of deficient in critical thinking, creativity and innovation amongst other skills.He decried that the assessment of Nigerian graduates by the employers of labour and their lacklustre performances saddle the university management with a lot of responsibilities to improve the education sector. He said: “Government continues to consider education as the cornerstone of national development with universities as the pinnacle of education being the engine of knowledge generation and dissemination.  

“My expectation is that our universities will use the instrumentality of their tripartite mandates of teaching, research and community engagement to launch Nigeria into an enviable position among nations of the world.”  

Buhari stated this recently during the 31st convocation ceremony of Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA), stressing, “I expect universities to pay serious attention to the less than complimentary assessment of the graduates of our universities by employers of labour.  

“Definitely, we cannot be comfortable when products of our citadel of higher learning are being described as ‘unemployable,’ exhibiting lack of job-readiness and so on.“Issues of graduate employability and skills are pertinent issues gaining traction nationally and internationally and are prominent on the front burners of discourse on higher education and the future of work.”  

The President, who was represented by the Deputy Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission (NUC), Dr Suleiman Yusuf, urged the universities to play more proactive roles to produce competent graduates that can also be job creators.“Definitely, universities need to engage more meaningfully and intensely with employers of labour and the organized private sector in order to address the much talked about ‘lack of job readiness’ of graduates of the Nigerian universities,” he added.  

He identified a strong collaboration and multi-frontal approach to solve the problems, leveraging the existing “triple Helix model of academia-industry-government partnership” by NUC and the organised private sector.  

This initiative under the auspices of Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), he said: “Portends great promise in bridging the gap between theory and practice, through the anticipated intense interactions between academia and industry.”  

Expressing the commitment of the Federal Government to give maximum financial support, he urged the universities to focus on more collaborative researches with the private sector and achieve more patent rights in science and technology.He said: “It is not out of place for Nigerian universities to dedicate some of their research endeavours towards the attainment of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) based on each university’s comparative and competitive advantages.
 
“I urge our universities of technology to raise the bar and move from mere publications of the outcomes of their research efforts to the acquisition of patent eights and innovative processes for the development of new products and services.”
 
The Chancellor and Emir of Bauchi, Dr Rilwan Suleiman Adamu, lauded the Federal Government for supporting FUTA on its mandate as one of the five specialised human development universities of technology in the country.
 
Adamu, who congratulated the graduates, urged government not to relent on its efforts in creating more jobs and opportunities for the graduating students, saying it will transform their ideas into entrepreneurial business.
 
The Vice Chancellor, Prof Joseph Fuwape, listed the numerous achievements of the institution to include: patents on form-fill sealing machine, protein feeds for livestock, water hyacinth harvest, non-fuel generator, Heliostat drone just to mention few.He, however, demanded more support from the Federal Government and other stakeholders, especially for more laboratory equipment, lecture halls, buses for field trips, endowment of professorial chairs, and provisions of student hostels under Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) agreement among others.


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