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FG to fast-track Nigeria’s development via education, says Buhari

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Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Prof Olayinka Idowu (left); wife of an awardee, Modupe Babalola; awardee, Aare Afe Babalola; and the institution’s Chancellor, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, during the conferment of honorary Doctor of Letters (D.LITT) on Babalola at the Founder’s Day of the university In Ibadan…. yesterday. PHOTO: NAJEEM RAHEEM

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President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said his administration was deploying education to fast-track the transition of Nigeria to modern society.

Speaking yesterday during the 2019 convocation, 71st Founder’s Day and award of doctorates and conferment of honorary degrees and fellowships on some prominent Nigerians at the University of Ibadan, Oyo State, Buhari pledged that his government would continue to substantially invest in education to make the country a knowledge-based economy.

Represented by the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, the president also urged the graduating students to contribute to nation-building and be good ambassadors of the university.

He said: “I charge you to make meaningful contributions for the development of the nation in particular and humanity in general. It is my belief and prayer that the recognition of these prominent Nigerians, especially Aare Afe Babalola, will spur the graduating students to cultivate selfless service to humanity. One of the main purposes of university education is nation-building. To achieve this noble objective, you have to be good ambassadors of this school by deploying your skills for national growth and development.

“The university and government at all levels have invested for your graduates to be useful to yourselves your parents, community and the larger society. Here today, we are celebrating an important milestone in your life.

“I, therefore, urge you all to justify the investment in you. We will continue to invest substantially in education and government has not relented in its efforts to ensure that education is used to fast-track Nigeria’s transition to modern society.”

A total of 343 candidates from various disciplines were awarded the Doctor of Philosophy degrees. The Faculty of Education led the pack with 70; followed by the Faculty of Science with 60 PhD graduates and the Faculty of Agriculture with 44.

Five distinguished Nigerians were given honorary doctorates and a fellowship award.

Among the recipients is Aare Are Babalola. Three former teachers of the university made the prestigious list. They include the ninth Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ayodele Falase who received an honorary fellowship; the foundation’s Dean of Technology, Prof. Fola Aboaba and ex-Dean of the Social Sciences, Professor Emmanuel Edozien.

Similarly, Prof. Alex Chika Eze, an alumnus, received an honorary Doctor of Science (D.Sc.).

Speaking on behalf of the awardees, Aare Babalola called for the autonomy of public universities in Nigeria to attain a world-class standard.

His words: “I wish to utilise this auspicious occasion to address an issue that worries me day and night – which is the autonomy of public universities in Nigeria. The fact remains that quality and functional education is a very expensive enterprise. It is a notorious fact that UNESCO had recommended that the government should spend a minimum of 26 per cent of the budget on education.”


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