Varsity’s strides attract presidential accolades
THIRTY-two years after its establishment, the Federal University of Technology (FUT), Minna, Niger State has not only lived up to expectations, but has also fulfilled the mandate for which it was established, so says Visitor to the institution, President Goodluck Jonathan.
Speaking at the 24th convocation ceremony of the university, which recently held at the school’s permanent site at Gidan Kwanu, Minna, Jonathan urged its stakeholders including staff, students and alumni to be proud of the school, just as he applauded the vision that brought about its establishment.
The Minna-based institution, is one of the products of a visionary education policy, which was enunciated about 32 years ago, for the creation of specialised universities to address national needs like skilled and knowledgeable manpower in the areas of science, technology, engineering and agriculture.
From a humble beginning, the school is now ranked as sixth Nigerian university by 4International Colleges and Universities (4ICU), a leading international higher education directory and search engine, which features reviews and web rankings of 11, 307 universities and colleges in 200 countries.
The body also ranks it 57th in Africa. While commending the vice chancellor and his management team for what they have been able to achieve so far, Jonathan stressed that good quality and high standard of education were part of the factors that would assure us of a more prosperous Nigeria.
According to him, “All over the world, universities are the birthplace of societal change and national development. They steer nations to progress and keep society’s conscience alive… and that is why between 2011 and 2013, my administration established 12 new federal universities in states where they did not previously exist.”
Jonathan who said that the objective of establishing more varsities was to bring university education closer to the citizens of those states, added that, “I am proud to say that the first set of students in these institutions would be graduating this academic session.
” Pro-chancellor of the university, Prof. Rufai Ahmed Alkali, while congratulating the graduating students, urged them to remember that they have graduated from a university that has achieved unique and unparalleled feat in the areas of cutting edge research and academic excellence.
He further implored them to embark on continuous professional education in order to enhance their personal development and consequently excel in life.
The pro-chancellor thanked President Jonathan for the disbursement of N2.7bn to the university under the Needs Assessment of Nigerian Public Universities intervention in 2014, which he noted has opened a new vista in the infrastructural development of the university, helping it to address accommodation challenges, provision of water, laboratories, workshops and equipment.
He also applauded the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) for its massive funding and support to tertiary institutions in the country, and specifically for the ongoing construction of the academic publishing centre in the university.
Vice chancellor of the institution, Professor Musbau Adewumi Akanji, in his remarks said his administration desires to build a university that would not only produce high-quality science and technology graduates that are capable of embarking on relevant research works that would impact the society positively, but also a school that would walk and work in the tradition of world’s best varsities.
He described the 24th convocation ceremony, which was rescheduled as a result of the recently concluded general elections as, “an apt occasion to count our blessings and express our joy to God Almighty for the height we have climbed. We are both thrilled and humbled by this milestones.”
He said as part of efforts to remain on course and achieve set goals, the management had set clear targets for individual members of staff and also gone ahead to monitor their performances, in line with its determination to ensure compliance.
Akanji, who highlighted some of his administration’s achievements in the last two and half years disclosed that the school has continued to establish linkages and collaborations with institutions and establishments across the world, all with a view to further scholarship.
One of these collaborations, he pointed out, is with Tulane University in New Orleans, United States (US), which is currently funding curriculum as well as faculty development on disaster resilience in Sub-Sahara Africa by the university’s Centre for Disaster Risk Management and Development Studies.
The University of Mississippi also in US is funding research in various aspects of hydrobiology in the Department of Biological Science.
The university, Akanji said, has also offered scholarship to some undergraduate and postgraduate students in that department and in the Department of Geography for Remote Sensing Application.
He added that components of the collaboration with the above two institutions also included faculty exchange.
In order to ensure administrative effectiveness, the school carried out a re-organisation of various schools, with the splitting of very large ones into smaller and more compact units, and “we have also added some new programmes and departments. That gives our children coming in greater choices in terms of where they can go.”
The modest strides recorded by the school notwithstanding, it is bogged down by accommodation challenges, a development, which has seen it having only 2, 250 bed spaces accommodation for a student population of about 16,000. This, the vice chancellor said falls short of the expected 75 per cent provision.
Although he disclosed that the Federal Government recently released the sum of N2bn to the school under the Needs Assessment of Nigerian Public Universities, he said that amount can only make cater for the accommodation needs of about 1, 000 students. While thanking some members of the public for their donation of hostel accommodation to the students, he called on other public-spirited individuals to assist the university along that line.
This year’s convocation exercise was preceded by a convocation lecture, which was titled, “The Role of Law in the Enhancement of Socio-economic Growth of the Nation.”
The former Chief Justice of Federation, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, delivered it. In the lecture, the retired justice dwelt extensively on the negative impact of corruption on the country’s economic growth and development.
Justice Kutigi, who noted that corruption impacts negatively on the country’s economic development and was one of the major factors militating against the growth of many developing countries including Nigeria, expressed regrets that despite the fact that there were criminal code provisions, statutory enactments and administrative institutions for combating corruption, several factors still account for the reason corruption thrives in the country.
All over the world, universities are the birthplace of societal change and national development. They steer nations to progress and keep society’s conscience alive… and that is why between 2011 and 2013, my administration established 12 new federal universities in states where they did not previously exist
He fingered weak legal institutions and culture as some of the factors that permit corruption to thrive saying, “it is therefore imperative for developing countries like ours to create institutional structures and procedures that are designed to reduce the opportunities for corrupt practices and behaviors that are undesirable.
Highlight of this year’s convocation was the graduation of 3, 490 students for the 2013/2014 academic session. Of this number, 2, 903 graduated with their first degrees, 105 with postgraduate diplomas, while 453 bagged their masters’ degrees and 29 earned doctor degrees.