The Visitor to the University and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, has reiterated the determination of the Federal Government to adequately fund its universities to enable them achieve their mandates. The Visitor gave this assurance during the 27th Convocation Ceremony of the University.
The President, who stressed the importance of education as a tool for national building and development, was represented at the occasion by the Honourable Minister of State for Education, Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, who charged stakeholders to use sound education in addressing national needs. The Visitor expressed government’s desire to continue to support university education in the area of funding, noting that the provision of job was not the sole responsibility of government.
At the occasion, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Mohammed Nanono highlighted the efforts of the Federal Government at improving the agriculture sector and reducing the nation’s overdependence on oil by adopting agriculture as the country’s economy mainstay through diversification. The minister observed that agricultural production was facing many challenges in the nation such as inadequate mechanisation, and the relegation of research and development to the background, saying “our research and development have been relegated, but we can develop agricultural research and make it fundamental in the interest of the country”.
The Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Rasheed has challenged specialised universities in the country to work closely with the industries, to mitigate the unemployment challenge facing the nation. The Executive Secretary, who was represented by the Deputy Executive Secretary (Academics), Dr. Sulaimon Ramon-Yusuf, congratulated the special awardees and graduands, while charging specialised universities in Nigeria like FUNAAB, to work more closely with the industries to address the problem of unemployment.
“Graduate un-employability is a big issue and we believe that specialised universities like FUNAAB are in a vantage position to create a truly entrepreneurial environment. We will like to implore specialised universities to look more closely at options and opportunities of collaborating with private sectors to address this troublesome phenomenon of un-employability of our graduates and try to create true entrepreneurship, which is not only about skills acquisition; it is about the mind-set of finding creativity. We are convinced that NUC is working closely with the private and other sectors so that our universities can be better positioned to add value to human capital development”, he added.
The Chancellor and Obong of Calabar, His Eminence, Edidem Ekpo Okon, Abasi Otu V, appealed to the Visitor, to magnanimously restore the institution’s courses in the College of Management Sciences (COLMAS) that were delisted about three years ago, stating that the establishment of the College was borne out of the call for the diversification of academic courses in specialised universities with the promise to retain agriculture as the flagship programme. He said that the restoration of COLMAS would add value to what the University was doing because of the strong inter-relationship between agriculture and management.
The Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council, Dr. (Barr.) Aboki Zhawa assured the Visitor that the Council would continue to key into the President’s mission of the fight against corruption; promoting mechanisation and modernisation of agriculture; and subscribing to the provision of quality education. The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Kolawole Salako, admonished the graduates to uphold FUNAAB’s core values of academic and moral excellence in their endeavours, as such attributes would distinguish them among their peers, as good ambassadors of the University.
The well-attended convocation ceremony, which had dignitaries from all walks of life, witnessed the conferment of Honorary Degree (Doctor of Science) on the President, African Development Bank (AfDB) and former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, and the appointments of two Professors Emeriti, who were former Vice-Chancellors of FUNAAB, namely: Prof. Julius Okojie, immediate past Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC); and Prof. Israel Adu, National President, Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NIAS). The Honorary Awardee, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina disclosed that agriculture remained the most important profession and business in the world, which must be supported to alleviate the challenge of food insecurity in the world. In his acceptance speech, the President of AfDB advised the Federal Government to develop an integrated agricultural value chain and make Nigeria more competitive in the food and agriculture industry.
The Overall Best Graduating Student, Miss Odunayo Odunsi, of the Department of Aquaculture and Fisheries Management, College of Environmental Resources Management (COLERM), has stressed the imperative for people to focus on their personal goals and beliefs and never leave room for doubts that could hinder such dreams. She dedicated her success and degree to her father, for his guidance and preservation throughout her journey in the University, adding that “The best investment that any society can make is the education of its young people and this shouldn’t basically be looked upon myopically as a ‘cost’. It should rather be looked upon as the best investment that any society can make”.
Miss Odunsi commended the University Management for the affordable tuition fees and conducive learning environment, which had provided her with the enabling academic atmosphere to excel. She described FUNAAB as a place that is more than an academic learning ground for her, while appreciating the efforts of the FUNAAB Chapter, Nigerian Association of University Women (NAUW), under the leadership of Prof. Comfort Onifade of the Department of Communication and General Studies (COLAMRUD), for sponsoring her entrepreneurial training because the skills she gained had helped in alleviating her financial burden on campus.
As part of the convocation activities, a press conference was held, where the Vice-Chancellor disclosed that FUNAAB students are the best-behaved among others in tertiary institutions in Ogun State and indeed, Nigeria. According to the Vice-Chancellor, “Going by records and attestation by authorities who know better, FUNAAB and its students have kept a clean sheet as one of the best-behaved tertiary institutions in Ogun State, and indeed the country”. The Vice-Chancellor confirmed that 27 out of the 29 academic programmes were fully accredited by NUC and that FUNAAB had blazed the trail as the first public university in Nigeria to obtain international accreditation for some of its programmes.
The Vice-Chancellor stated that various infrastructural development programmes were ongoing on campus, as the current administration had embarked on the completion of outstanding projects before he assumed duty about two years ago. He lauded journalists for being supportive since he assumed office as Vice-Chancellor. He enjoined them to let professionalism be their guiding principle. “I implore you to strive to uphold the ethics of the noble journalism profession by shunning biased reportage and sensationalism. Always go for facts at all cost and never give any room for enemies of progress to have an upper hand at the expense of the truth, which is ever sacrosanct”, he said.
There were theatre performance; film show titled, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind”, as directed by the Nigerian-born British actor, Chiwetei Ejiofor and screened by Alagba ‘Tunde Kelani; research and agricultural fair; as well as commissioning of the male and postgraduate hostels by the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Executive Secretary of NUC. The Convocation Lecture had the renowned scholar and essayist; Prof. Adebayo Williams as guest speaker, where the Don challenged federal authorities to constitute a National Initiative for the Recovery of Intellectual Treasures (NIRIT) Board, to make the nation great again.
Titled, “The Beast Unburdened Once Again: Artificial Intelligence and Life More Abundant”, Prof. Williams stated that many trained Nigerian academics in the global sanctuaries of knowledge, whose expertise can be deployed to make the country great, had withdrawn from the nation in sullen and angry retirement. As a way forward, he revealed that with the advent of Artificial Intelligence, humanity was at the threshold of an unprecedented and revolutionary breakthrough. He described the era of Artificial Intelligence as the most far-reaching in human, scientific and technological revolution, stressing that it had opened up an era of surplus and unprecedented prosperity and new possibilities for the human race by making life more abundant, ensuring food security and safety.
“The work place has become a virtual theatre, the old economy and its mode of production are replaced by knowledge economy and its new mode of production, the dominant capital is human capital, the old schools, universities, tertiary institutions are profoundly affected, as knowledge economy takes root in most parts of the world and as the old system of learning gives way to revolutionary means of wealth creation. Consequently, the old disciplinary order collapses and new disciplines emerge as an epistemological imperative of the new mode of knowledge production”, he added. The Convocation Lecturer charged federal authorities to partner with Nigerian entrepreneurs in finding ways and means to establish centres and institutes for Artificial Intelligence that would power cutting edge innovations in the knowledge industry.
At the Jumat Service, held at the University Mosque, the Vice-Chancellor thanked God for the existing unity and peace in FUNAAB, saying that he was indeed happy with the level of achievements recorded and the rate at which projects were being erected in the University. The Chief Imam, FUNAAB Muslim Community, Prof. Idris Ayinde of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Farm Management, College of Agricultural Management and Rural Development (COLAMRUD), thanked God for the mercies and peace prevalent in FUNAAB. Stressing the need for peace, the Vice-Chancellor said, “Without peace, there won’t be progress, which is why some projects, which ought to have been completed in the past administrations, still lingered on”.
At the Interdenominational Church Service, held at the University Chapel of Grace, Prof. Salako also advised staff and students to embrace peace, stating that the University could only record progress if there was peace on campus. The Vice-Chancellor said about 30 projects were on-going in addition to the distribution of various newly-purchased farming equipment across Departments. The Vice-Chancellor enjoined staff and students to avoid externalising issues, and charged them to read the University’s rules and regulations, to avoid being led astray by other people.
He advised FUNAAB students to shun anti-social behaviours and avoid renting houses in secluded areas, stating that any crime committed outside the University would be handled purely by security agencies. Prof. Salako further cautioned students against indiscriminate use of social media. Prof. (Pastor) Adegboyega Aduradola of the Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management (COLERM), who delivered the sermon titled, “A New Beginning” called on all to “Follow official regulations and also maintain integrity in everything we do”. During the 27th Convocation Ceremony, a total of 3,226 students graduated from the various disciplines, out of which 122 bagged first class honours for the 2017/2018 academic session and 2018/2019 first semester, and first degree programmes.