The University of Nigeria, Nsukka held her founders day celebration Last weekend, and below is an excerpt of a Speech by the President of the Federal Republic.
I am pleased to be in your midst today as you celebrate another milestone in the history of this great institution. The celebration of your 52nd Founders’ Day, serves as a further confirmation that this University has come of age. You all deserve commendations for setting aside a day likethis, to honour the Founding Fathers whose vision led to the founding of this legacy institution.
It is indeed a day of joy not only for the staff and students who are the current custodians of thisvision, but also for the many alumni who have earned the prestigious degrees of this University over the years.
We are all familiar with the unique vision and courage that led our First President, the Rt. Hon. Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, a great son of Africa to found this University on the eve of Nigeria’s independence.
As Nigeria’s first indigenous University, the University of Nigeria was charged amongst other things to produce the necessary manpower needed to build the newly independent state of Nigeria and the rest of black Africa. It is noteworthy that the University has lived up to this mandate and in doing so, earned an enviable reputation of excellence.
Over the years, the University of Nigeria has also pioneered the development of many of the unique features of the country’s University system and has contributed significantly to the development of curriculum and the training of personnel for younger institutions in the country. These accomplishments should form a major part of what we are celebrating here today, and I am truly happy to be part of it.
My presence here today is also a further demonstration of the importance our Administration continues to attach to education in the country. As part of the Transformation Agenda, Government is committed to improving access to education and providing additional infrastructure to ease overcrowding in schools as well as improving the quality, competence, efficiency and commitment of teachers and other personnel involved in education.
This is because if we must derive the optimum benefit inherent in our huge population, we musttransform a higher proportion of this population from unskilled to skilled manpower. In truth, our population will not count for much if most of us are uneducated, unskilled and unproductive.
Thus, to grow as a nation we must improve on the number of Nigerians that have access to good quality education at all levels. This was what informed the decision of the Federal Government to establish six new universities across the six geopolitical zones of the country. In addition, the older Universities are being encouraged to increase their carrying capacity, while the first generation Universities have also been directed to increase their ratio of postgraduate to undergraduate students.
I am aware that these additional responsibilities would require additional investments in infrastructure and government would continue to make additional funds available to Universitiesfor infrastructural upgrade believing that the funds would be deployed prudently and wisely. To this effect, I want to express my satisfaction with the management of the University of Nigeria for the bold attempts they have taken to improve the state of infrastructure and scholarship at the University.
Worthy of mention are the ICT infrastructure including the robust, ubiquitous, always-on wifi, the new Centre for Environmental Management and Control, the International Scholars Village, as well as the new Vocational and Technical Education building. Others are the renovation of the buildings housing the Personnel Services Unit, Public Relations Unit, the Departments of Economics and History, the Faculty of Law building and the new School of Postgraduate Studies building.
I am also aware that construction work has commenced at the new faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences building, a new ICT Data Centre and the new Administration building for Enugu Campus, while work will soon start on a new Central Biotechnology Laboratory Clinical Diagnostic Centre and the Institute of African Studies building, among many others.
It is additionally heartwarming that some of these projects have been made possible by the relentless drive of the administration to solicit funds from individuals and corporate bodies and not just the Government. This commendable achievement is a clear reflection of the current trend in the management of higher tertiary institutions all over the world.
It is my wish that this healthy trend will continue in this and other institutions across our country. It is my hope and prayer that the staff and students of the University of Nigeria will continue to create the peaceful and harmonious environment in which this kind of development can continue to thrive.
Finally, I congratulate you all on your Founders’ Day Anniversary, while commending the management of the University for sustaining this enviable tradition of honouring the Founding Fathers of the University. It is a noble thing to do.
As a nation, it is important that we remember the great sacrifices of our forbearers. Only then can we truly sing: “the labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain” as we join hands to Restore the Dignity of Man.
I thank you.
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