President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed concern over low ranking of the country's universities. The president expressed the concern on Saturday in Bauchi at the 19th to 22nd convocation ceremony of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi.
Represented by Prof. Julius Okojie, Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, he said that "it is worrisome that no Nigerian university is quoted among the top 100 universities in the world.
"We rank below a thousand, if we do not aspire to be among the world class universities, we cannot boast of robust system capable of making the country among the top economies of the world. "We have abundance of talents who excel elsewhere but appear incapacitated at home. This is unacceptable.
"Whatever makes our abundant talents fail at home and excel abroad must be identified and neutralised for our benefit and that of our future generation," Buhari said. He blamed incessant strikes by teachers as "major bottlenecks to progress of the country's university system". "The repercussions of strike usually retard the smooth running of academic activities with heavy negative consequences".
The president called on the state governments to support and encourage universities situated in their states because they were responsible for harnessing local talents and promotion of local innovations. He observed that the Treasury Single Account policy was meant to enhance accountability, transparency and revenue.
"The seemingly challenges especially in tertiary institutions should be seen as a teething problem that will gradually vanish as the policy takes roots.
"MDAs should, therefore, exhibit patience and understanding, bearing in mind that Nigerians shall surely reap from the fruits of the policy," he said. Oba Rufus Aladesanmi, Chancellor of the institution, urged the graduating students to explore ways of self employment. Aladesanmi further urged them to contribute to the technological and economic development of the country.
He observed that in spite of large number of students that applies for admission, few were being admitted due to few facilities. The chancellor called on stakeholders to urgently find both short and long term solutions to the problem. Prof. Saminu Ibrahim, Vice-Chancellor of the institution, said that the institution was graduating 8,127 students for its 19th and 22nd convocation.
He explained that the figure included 845 diplomas, 5,577 first degrees, 1,620 post-graduate diplomas and Masters and 85 students as Doctors of Philosophy (Ph.D). Ibrahim further explained that out of the 5,577 first degree graduates, 32 obtained First Class, 1,203 Second Class (Upper Division) 2,702 Second Class (Lower Division), 1,481 Third Class and136 Pass.
On achievements made by the institution, Ibrahim said that 40 academic staff members had obtained PhD. degrees worldwide while many others were pursuing their Masters degrees. He said that the institution was constructing six news hostels and renovating the existing ones as parts of students' welfare package.