October 23, (THEWILL) – President Muhammadu Buhari has tasked Nigerian universities with conducting researches targeted at discovering a vaccine for COVID-19.
Speaking at the grande finale of the 36th convocation ceremony of the University of Ilorin in Ilorin on Saturday, President Buhari, who is also the Visitor to the university, said the nation’s universities have a role to play in the efforts to combat COVID-19 in the interest of the nation and humanity.
Represented by Professor Ignatius Onimawu of the National University Commission (NUC), the president said the nation expects nothing less from the Nigerian university system.
“While I expect us to abide by all the protocols given out by health authorities on COVID-19, our universities have a role to play in the efforts at combating it in the interest of the nation and humanity. I expect our universities to conduct researches targeted at discovering an antidote to it. Universities are expected to focus their research attention on challenges facing our societies and find practical solutions within the context of national development.
“I, therefore, challenge the universities to give their best in the fight against this common and unrelenting enemy of humanity. I enjoin our researchers to collaborate among themselves and look forward to bringing an effective solution to this medical challenge. The nation expects your university to play a leading role in the research efforts to develop COVID-19 antidote in Nigeria. The nation expects nothing less from the Nigerian university system,” he said.
The president also appealed to leaders and members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other unions within and outside the university system to always give peace a chance, adding that dialogue is always better than conflict.
“No one gains from the crisis. While government alone cannot solve all challenges facing society, this administration is willing to listen to complaints and alternative points of view to managing a situation. The university system cannot withstand any crisis now, considering the time it had lost to coronavirus pandemic,” he said.
Also speaking, the vice chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Professor Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, challenged the graduates to dare the odds by venturing into noble projects that can catapult them into prominence.
“The reality is that white-collar jobs are almost non-existent in Nigeria today and what the situation demands is critical thinking that can birth innovation and invention. The dynamism that characterises the human environment requires thinking outside the box. Therefore, you need to be creative. Creativity may involve doing it differently from the way others are doing it or have done it. You have a huge role to play in advancing the cause of Nigeria because you are a beacon of her hope.
“Dear graduands, as products of our dear institution, therefore, you are expected to be in the vanguard of those that will pull Nigeria out of her numerous challenges. Instead of being job seekers, you are to be job providers. You should be part of those who will fill the yawning gap that is aching for attention. Getting yourselves involved in sharp practices is not the option but earning a legitimate income. Wealth without work will wither and wane eventually. It will surely be trailed by grievous consequences. Note that the popular misapplied idiom that “If you cannot beat them; join them” should not apply in this regard.
“Distinguished audience, as an institution that is abreast of happenings in the country, we have over the years ensured that our students are exposed to entrepreneurship. They are not expected to be limited to their certificates. This is affirmed in the Latin proverb “If the wind will not serve, take to the oars.” The essence of entrepreneurship is to avert laziness, lack of direction and to enable them to chart a new course in life after school. Thus, a product of our institution is not bound to operate solely on the basis of the course he/she has studied.
“The skills that our products have imbibed are to help them to be relevant in the scheme of societal development. The programmes you have just completed are meant to add value to whatever you wish to embark upon. We all know that our society is passing through a phase that can be described as “convulsive.” A classic example is evident in the self-resignation of “future leaders” who resort to committing suicide probably because of their inability to cope with the demands and dictates of the school or those of the wider society. Inability to meet up with the demands and expectations of parents, friends, associates, among others, should not be given the pride of place to diminish one’s worth, as no one can make one feel inferior without one’s consent!.
“It is recalled that a total number of 180 First Class graduates are included among 10,922 graduates produced by the University of Ilorin in the 2019/2020 academic session.
“Physical attendance at the main convocation was restricted to only graduates with first class degree honours, prize winners, and doctoral awardees.
“Out of this (10,922) figure, 9,338 are First Degree/Diplomas graduands while the remaining 1,584 are graduating with Higher Degrees/Postgraduate Diplomas. In the First Degree/Diploma category, we have 180 First Class, 2,836 Second Class Upper Division, 4,879 Second Class Lower Division, 1,110 Third Class, and 14 Pass. We also have 140 MBBS graduands, 46 graduands in Nursing, 5 graduands with Distinction and 16 with Pass in Optometry, 6 graduands with Distinction and 49 with Pass in Pharmacy while we have 37 graduands in Veterinary Medicine.
“Furthermore, a total of 20 graduands are obtaining Diploma from the Institute of Education. For emphasis, the total number of higher degrees to be awarded on this occasion is 1,584. This figure comprises 142 Postgraduate Diplomas, 1142 Masters from various Faculties, 113 MBA/MPA/MILR/MGIS/MPH/MHPM, and 187 PhDs.
“The 2019/2020 session was also special because we had 2,766 students from our affiliated institutions that completed their programmes and will be awarded Postgraduate Diplomas after going through our rigorous and high standard of academic excellence as well as our stringent quality control mechanisms. Another 84 students from institutions affiliated with us are also being awarded Diploma degrees in various disciplines,” the vice chancellor said.