President Muhammadu Buhari has called for the involvement of employers of labour, along with other critical stakeholders, in the design and review of curricular for institutions of higher learning to generate the skills and competences, that would benefit the society.
Buhari stated this while delivering his address at the Federal University of Technology Akure, FUTA, during the 31st convocation of the university held on Saturday 21st December 2019.
The President, who was represented by the Deputy Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, NUC, Dr. Suleiman Rahman Yusuf, said such review will take care of the perceived gap in the specific needs of the society and what is being taught in the ivory towers.
According to him, government expects Nigerian universities to produce quality graduates imbued with the requisite knowledge, competences, attitudes, and skills to be active role players in our quest for socio economic and technological development.
“I expect Universities to pay serious attention to the less than complimentary assessment of the graduates of our universities by employers of labour. Definitely we cannot be comfortable when products of our citadels of higher learning are being described as ‘unemployable’ exhibiting lack of job readiness and so on”, he charged.
Buhari maintained that issues of graduate employability and skills were pertinently gaining attention nationally and internationally and were prominent on the front burners of discourse on higher education and the future of work.
He said the situation, “calls for a more proactive role by universities in ensuring that their graduates were better equipped to function more meaningfully in the world of work, in addition to acquiring the requisite entrepreneurial mindset and can-do spirit, which have become a sin qua non, in today’s reality where readymade jobs are dwindling by the day meaning that graduates with the mind set of job creators stand a much better chance of success than those who are fixated on working for others”.
The President also emphasized the need for collaboration between the academia and the industry to proffer solution to Nigeria’s challenges.
He said “in order to ameliorate the identified deficiencies, a multi- faceted approach is required and in this regard, collaboration is key. Government is aware of the ongoing partnership between the National Universities Commission and the organized private sector under the aegis of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) within the framework of the triple Helix Model of Academia-Industry-Government partnership”.
According to the President, such important partnership, “portends great promise in bridging the gap between the theory and practice, through the anticipated intense interactions between academia and industry including industrial attachment, sabbatical leave, internships and immersion for both lecturers and students”.
He said such collaborations and cross fertilization of ideas are also “capable of mitigating the competency and skill gaps believed to exist among fresh graduates of Nigerian Universities in the work place since the lecturers would expectedly return to the classrooms with first had knowledge of contemporary industrial practices and realities”
Buhari challenged FUTA and other specialized universities to seek out and collaborate with venture capitalists and other entrepreneurs to create innovation hubs and science and technology parks in their campuses to provide practical scenarios for the promotion of the actualization of the entire gamut of research and innovation value chain.
The President implored the 2019 class of FUTA to remain ever determined to contribute their quota to nation building by making the world a better place while assuring of governments readiness to continue to fulfill its obligation to the universities and appealed to the university managers to adhere strictly to management principles and practices that guarantee the judicious expenditure of available funds.
Speaking at the occasion the Chancellor, Alhaji Dr Rilwanu Adamu, CFR , Emir of Bauchi said it was heartwarming to note that the university is taking the lead in several areas; advancing the frontiers of knowledge in science engineering and technology with diverse breakthroughs in scientific research, invention and human capital development.
The chancellor commended the Deji of Akure, Oba Aladelusi Adetoyinbo, for his role in the acquisition of the site being used for the development of the University’s School of Health and Health Technology and for being a gracious host to the university community.
He also commended the governing council, senate and management and staff of the university under the able leadership of the Vice Chancellor Professor Joseph Fuwape.
He said “it is praiseworthy that the university has been steadfast and focused in playing critical roles in shaping the lives and character of the youths who are the most active segment of our population through learning, teaching, and research and community service”.
In the same vein, the acting pro chancellor Dr Idris Yahuza commended the Governor of Ondo state, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for his support and collaboration of his government with the university in particular on the establishment of a Tech Hub.
He said” we will continue to value your unflinching support and the contributions of the Ondo State Government to the development of our university at all times”.
The Vice Chancellor in his remarks said FUTA will always be committed to internationalization and leading the drive for technological advancement.
He eulogized the late Pro Chancellor Senator JKN Waku, over the role he played in stabilizing the university and commended the University’s Governing Council for sustaining his legacies.
Professor Joseph Fuwape, said no fewer than 4,000 students graduated in the 2018/2019 academic session with Mr. Lawal Saheed Adesile of the Department of Physiology, School of Health and Health Technology graduating as the best student with the highest Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.91.
Giving a breakdown of the class of degrees, he said 153 finished in the First Class Division, 1514 with Second Class Upper, 1212, Second Class Lower, 216 Third Class and 15 in the Pass Division.
According to him, 122 were awarded Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), 720 with Masters Degrees and 517 with Post Graduate Diplomas.
In his valedictory speech, Mr. Lawal appreciated the relentless effort of the school management in making the institution conducive for learning and research and implored graduands to make the Alma Mata proud in their future endeavours.
He said “the university has trained us academically and character wise. Let us be good ambassadors of this great university anywhere we find ourselves. We are products of confidence, we are products of hard work, we are products of struggle and we are products of diligence. Let us try to build on the trainings we received in this great institution”.
At the event, Mr Ananou Gabin Kouevi, a Togolese based in Germany and a key player on the Board of the West African Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land use (WACAL) was conferred with the University’s Honorary Degree Doctorate (Honoris Causa) in recognition of his contribution to the development and sustenance of WASCAL programme domiciled in FUTA.