The Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, Governors Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto State and Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State and three others were recently bestowed with honorary doctorate degrees by the Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto. The honour was in recognition of their services to the country, Mohammed Aminu writes
Until last month, most students at Usmanu Danfodio University had no contact with Nigeria's number four citizen, but that changed. It was the day the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal got a standing ovation from thousands of students of Usmanu Danfodio University that thronged the university auditorium for the 31st convocation ceremony. As an alumnus of the University, Tambuwal was duly honoured for making his alma mater proud and for his selfless service to the country and humanity. It was the day the university community honoured one of their own, having graduated from the university with a law degree in 1991.
Since the establishment of the University in Sokoto in 1975, the institution has grown in student population, diverse academic programmes, scholarly publications and contributions to the society. The university is among the most stable in terms of academic calendars in the country. It is also ranked one of the best by the National Universities Commission (NUC).
It was this tradition of scholarship and excellence which Tambuwal imbibed during his school days at Usmanu Danfodio University that shaped his world view and gave him the impetus and ability to handle the affairs of the House in the last one year. As the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tambuwal had exhibited exemplary leadership and has helped unified the House in a manner that strengthened the democratic process and further enhanced the harmonious relationship between the three arms of government. Thus, it was in recognition of all these efforts that the Senate and Council of the Usmanu Danfodio University Sokoto found him worthy for the award of Doctor of Laws Honoraries Causa of the university.
Speaking at the convocation ceremony recently, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Riskuwa Shehu, stated that the honorary doctorate degree bestowed on Tambuwal, Wamakko, Amaechi and three other recipients was well deserved, stating that they distinguished themselves in their various fields in one way or the other to the development of education and socio-economic advancement. Shehu described Tambuwal as an alumnus of the university who had made the university community and Sokoto State proud through his achievements and leadership of the House of Representatives.
On the honour bestowed on Amaechi, The Vice Chancellor noted that the Rivers State Governor performed well in the education sector through massive construction of secondary schools with all essential learning facilities comparable to a university which is a model in the country. According to him, what made Amaechi outstanding in development issues was his very strong rating in the implementation of the Millennium Development goals (MDG) through the provision of free education and conducive learning environment.
Shehu said a total of 11,532 graduands received various degrees and diplomas, adding that 120 received PhD, 968 Masters Degrees, 673 got Post Graduate Diplomas while 8,509 bachelors degree. He maintained that the university had produced large number of graduates that occupy high positions in private and public sectors.
Further, he disclosed that the university had entered into collaboration with the United States Centre for Disease Control and Institute of Kidney Disease and Transplant in India to establish an Institute for Urology and Nephrology at the Usman Danfodio Teaching Hospital, Sokoto, pointing out that the first kidney transplant would be conducted in the hospital by the end of 2013.
Shehu announced that the university would focus on science and had concluded arrangements to start courses in Geology, Radiography and Nursing, saying the Faculty of Engineering was currently under construction and would take off very soon. He stated that the university had resolved to continue to adopt efficient ways to increase revenue generation so as to augment funding from the government. The vice chancellor therefore appealed to the federal government to hasten the rehabilitation of the university road damaged by floods in 2010.
In his remarks, President Goodluck Jonathan congratulated the honorees and reminded them that the honour done to them was a further call to duty, saying they should not rest on their oars but to redouble efforts to bequeath a lasting legacy to the nation. He challenged stakeholders and managers of universities to complement government efforts through the provision of facilities that can enable institutions to function optimally, saying the federal government alone cannot shoulder the responsibilities of funding tertiary institutions in the country.
Jonathan, who was represented by the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Julius Okogie, stressed the need for universities to explore opportunities for productive and beneficial partnership with the organised private sector to supplement the revenue from federal government. "The universities should form productive and beneficial partnerships with the private sector, so that they can generate needed funds to supplement allocation from the federal government, "he said.
He noted that while it is necessary for federal government to maintain its commitment from budgetary sources, time has come for the management of universities to cast their nets wide and generate resources for their various institutions.
Jonathan noted that the university had continued to live up to expectations in terms of scholarship and the noble tradition of the Sokoto caliphate. He said the importance of education to the development of people and society cannot be overemphasized and as such government will continue to support all tertiary institutions that would serve as catalysts to the development of the country.
"Our tertiary educational institutions are pivotal on which the transformation agenda rest upon, hence the need to develop them to achieve the desired targets," he stated. The president harped on the need for universities to lay emphasis on programmes designed to improve entrepreneurial skills that will benefit students after graduation.
Speaking on behalf of the awardees, Governor Rotimi Amaechi thanked the university for the honour bestowed on them, saying it was a reminder that education is the bedrock of development of any society and as such they would redouble efforts to improve the lot of the people.
He lauded Wamakko for his giant strides in the areas of education, particularly the establishment of Sokoto State University and other institutions in the state. Amaechi announced that both Tambuwal and Wamakko had resolved to construct a hostel in the university while pledging to endow a chair in the Department of English.
Six people received the honorary doctorate degrees. They comprised Tambuwal, Wamakko and Amaechi, who all got doctor of law honourary degrees. Others included the pro-chancellor of the university, Alhaji Bilya Sanda, Executive Secretary of (TETFund), Prof. Mamood Yakub, and an American scholar, Prof John Paden, who were awarded doctor of letters honourary degrees.
At the occasion, the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) also announced four outstanding graduands of the university as winners of its annual Elumelu Legacy Prize. The Elumelu Legacy Prize awardees were Atiku Usman, a graduate of the Faculty of Medicine; Muhammad Sani, who obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics; Shadi Sabeh, who obtained of Masters of Science degree in Economics; and Salihu Umar, who graduated with a Masters in Business Administration.
Speaking at the convocation ceremony, Former Managing Director of United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA), Mr. Tony Elumelu, said he was impressed with the ambition and the qualities exhibited by the students as scholars and contributing members of the society. He said the presentation of the prizes to the outstanding four graduands was meant to spur them to redouble their efforts in future endeavours so as to excel in their professional life. Elumelu expressed hope of working with them and future winners over the years to fulfill their goals and contribute meaningfully to Nigeria and Africa's transformation.