Nwodo urges government to respect universities’ autonomy
*As 22 gets first class in FUNAI
For universities to achieve their purpose of establishment, President-General of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohaneze Ndigbo, John Nnia Nwodo, has called on government to respect and uphold the autonomy of universities.
Nwodo who made the call while presenting the second convocation lecture of the Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ikwo (FUNAI), Ebonyi State, titled “National Reconciliation and The Role of Universities,” maintained that universities by the laws that govern them were expected to enjoy considerable internal autonomy in their administration.
He regretted that government’s appointment of university governing councils mostly on political patronage has remotely diluted their autonomy.He said universities were supposed to be places for research, growth of ideas, and solution-oriented contribution for advancement of mankind, lamenting that lack of funding, poor management and intellectual dishonesty are deterring most Nigerian universities from achieving these goals.
Visitor to the university, President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by the Director of Management Support Services, National Universities Commission (NUC), Victor Onuoha, while restating government’s commitment towards education of its citizens, challenged universities to embark on productive research and international collaborations that will yield innovative ideas and solutions to problems facing the nation.
Earlier at the occasion, chaired by the wife of the first President of Nigeria, Prof. Uche Azikiwe, Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Chinedum Uzoma Nwajiuba, stated that out of 247 graduating students, 22 made first class honours degrees in different disciplines; 140 had second class upper division; 80 made second class lower division; while five made third class.
He attributed the students’ performance to excellent staff – student ratio, staff commitment, willingness of students to learn, dearth of common vices plaguing other older universities, good laboratories and workshops, among others.
Urging the graduands to be good ambassadors of the university, Nwajiuba said, “May I remind you that sowing and reaping have not ended with your graduation. You have merely moved to higher levels of sowing and reaping. What eventually becomes of you will depend not only on the quality of your harvest so far, which have become seeds for the future- and that is the degree you are being admitted into today – but what choices you make in the years ahead; for every choice we make will bear consequences.”
Pro-chancellor and Chairman of the university governing council, Prof. Mba Uzoukwu, restated the commitment of the council in ensuring that the institution sticks to the principles of excellence and integrity.
The Chancellor, His Royal Majesty, Oba Michael Aremu Adedotun Gbadebo, the Alake and Paramount Ruler of Egbaland, on his part, charged the university authorities to remain committed to the vision of building a world-class institution that would be reputed for its vibrant teaching and learning activities.
He stressed that the level of Nigeria’s economic growth and development depends to a large extent on the quality and quantity of functional knowledge and sellable skills at the disposal of the citizens as well as the quality of research output from Universities.