The need to accord greater attention to education in most African countries formed the focus of discussion at the convocation ceremony of the Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti at the weekend as the state Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Vice President of Ghana, Dr John Mahama and Director General, UNIDO, Dr Kandeh Yumkella identified the disconnect between universities and the society as the factor responsible for the under-development in many third world countries, particularly in African sub-Saharan region.
Governor Fayemi while addressing the gathering in his capacity as the Visitor to the University, said it was saddening to note that the first African University in the 2011 Universities rating occupies 387th position in the world while the first university to be mentioned in Nigeria is number 2,266 in the world and occupies 35th position in Africa.
The convocation also witnessed the conferment of honourary Doctorate degrees on the Ghanaian Vice President, Dr Mahama, UNIDO boss, Yumkella and the former Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Prof Tekena Tamuno.
Mahama was conferred with the Doctor of Public Administration, Yumkella received the Honourary Doctor of Science while Professor Tamuno got the Doctor of Letters.
Fayemi lamented the inability of many universities to impact positively on the society; adding that the rating of the Universities was an eye-opener to the problems of the University system.
“While it is true that such statistics may not tell the whole story, perceptions of quality and standards are often shaped by such ratings. This rating certainly talks volumes on how structurally deficient our universities are and the possible reasons why they have not been able to serve as catalysts for the overall development of the Land.
“Many of our Universities have largely been unable to engage in researches that have direct impact on the developmental needs of the continent. The society is thus left to grapple blindly with unworkable trials that have translated to collateral failure of the state in its responsibilities to the society,” Fayemi lamented.
While reiterating the commitment of his administration to making the Ekiti State University an intellectual bank capable of providing solutions to our developmental challenges through virile scholarship, the Governor said the society looked forward to the production of graduates whose scholarship would add value to the quality of lives of the people.
Fayemi disclosed his readiness to play active role in repositioning the University by teaching in the Department of Political Science of the institution.
While assuring that the state government would not relent in properly funding the University so that it would not only compete favourably with institutions from international communities, the Governor warned that the state government would not accept funding as an excuse for non-performance.
“I am not unaware that the major complaints of public institutions centre on inadequate funding. While this is true, it would however be unacceptable to this government should the Ekiti State University be attracted to the temptation of using this as an excuse for failure to meet its obligations as required. I challenge you to engage in profitable and socially relevant consultancies and be prudent in your resource management, ”he said.
The Governor who lamented that much of the available research funds remained unaccessed by academics, urged them to embrace drive with a marked departure from what it has always been to become development oriented researchers, even as the state government was looking up to the academics “as critical partners in the transformation agenda of the present administration in the State by making available practicable findings to take on our socio-economic, political and technological challenges.”
On the merger of three state universities into one- Ekiti State Univeristy, Fayemi explained that the merger was in response to the unanimity of calls by concerned citizens across social, political and economic lines for an immediate halt to the drift that informed the consolidation of the institutions.
He added that the changes in the name of the University represented a fundamental departure from the norm and a substantial shift from the uncertainties of the past even as it was the vision of his administration that the University promotes knowledge with character, learning with culture and research with integrity.
Ghanaian Vice President, Dr. Mahama who also called for a greater attention for education in the continent, said no effort should be spared to educate the African child.
Dr Mahama also commended Governor Fayemi for consolidating the relationship between Ghana and Nigeria; recalling that at the time of difficulty in Ghana, many Ghanaians took refuge in Nigeria and the relationship has been consolidated thereafter.
Mahama who was accompanied at the event by his wife, Lady Lordina, added that Nigeria remained in the fore-front of the African economic development as it accounts for at least 50 per cent of its GDP goes to the West Africa economy.
“Your Excellency Governor, you have a great country, you are blessed with best human materials and natural resources. You can make Nigeria one of the greatest nations in the world only if you learn to appreciate who you are and what you have. Rome was not built in a day. Recognise your successes and build on them”, Mahama charged.
UNIDO’s Director-General, Dr. Yumkella who dedicated his award to his mother, charged the University students not to be deterred by the challenges they may be facing at present but be determined and have a vision for themselves as well as for the state and the country.
While recalling his childhood interest in studying in one of Nigeria’s tertiary institutions, the UNIDO boss lamented the decay that now characterise the education sector in the country; saying that Nigeria’s Universities should be among the best ten in Africa, adding that Nigeria ought to lead the continent’s education sector.
“EKSU Students, the sky is your limit. You should be ambitious for yourselves, for your state and for your country. I was very troubled when I listened to the Governor and he said that one of the recent rankings of Universities in the world, the first Nigeria University to appear was ranked 2,266. That’s a disgrace. How can you allow yourselves to go below 2,000?” Yumkella lamented.
Last modified: April 1, 2012