By Dayo Adesulu
Novena Universityâ€™s objective is not only to assuage the despondency of our youths who desire education but cannot have admission slots in public universities, but also to assist the same youths to acquire relevant entrepreneurial skills that will make them employable and useful to themselves and by this, reduce restiveness in our nation.
This was the assertion of Prof. Edward Adedeji, Vice Chancellor, Novena University Ogume (NUO), Delta State when speaking during the institutionâ€™s maiden convocation held recentlyÂ at Amai, Delta State, where eighty four students got bachelor degree in their various disciplines.
Addressing the mammoth crowd at the convocation, Adedeji said that the dictates of globalization have made it imperative for us to move away from the dark ages of isolation to the modern age of socio-economic interdependence.
The VC insist that to achieve the vision 20:2020 objectives, we must not only teach entrepreneurship in our universities, we should also be ready to practice entrepreneurship. Government must provide an environment that is conducive for small business enterprises.
He noted that business is the foundation of all advanced economies, adding that China and India are now considered as emerging economies of the world because they promote entrepreneurship. He lamented that Nigeria is not promoting entrepreneurship to the fullest. He believes it is extremely difficult to form a company in Nigeria because of all the bottlenecks involve, adding that, formation should be made simple so as to encourage entrepreneurs to generate employment, poverty reduction, and wealth creation as the government cannot provide all the jobs, but the government can provide an enabling environment for job creation.
On business formation, the federal government should remove all the bottle-necks that are costing entrepreneurs a fortune before they even get started, stressing that to file for an Article of Association, an entrepreneur needs N50,000 to N100,000. This might sound so small, but it is enough to stop the progress of small entrepreneurs whoÂ might grow bigger tomorrow.
Advising the government on fund generation, the VC said that we need a systematized tax assessment and tax collection at the federal, state, and local government levels and that money collected should be used in providing the infrastructure for the economic sector to earn more taxable incomes.
Prof. Adedeji admonished the government to be in the forefront of placing the Nigerian economy on a sound footing, reiterating that we need to promote a new culture of quality assurance in our goods and services produced in this country in orderÂ to compete effectively in the Africa and global market. He noted that the banking sector is equally important in advancing Nigeriaâ€™s economy. According to Adedeji, the banking industry should develop loan packages that will essentially empower the small entrepreneurs. Given credit to the past and current reforms in the banking industry, he noted that more reforms are necessary in the foreign exchange market. In the past, and even currently, he observes that banksâ€™ charges for foreign exchange are too high for ten to twenty-five per cent which discourage Nigerians abroad from sending foreign currencies to the country via the banks operating abroad from Nigeria.
While challenging graduates to get involve in politics, Adedeji said that Novena isÂ releasing the graduatesÂ to the realities of our staggering economy, political system and democratic experience, noting that in every organization, and even in private homes all over the world, there are some elements of politics. So, politics is a reality of our lives. He was amazed why most Nigerians have left their political fortunes in the hands of semi-illiterates and rascals in this country, just because the qualifiedÂ areÂ not interested adding that, it is high time more Nigerians developed faith and confidence in the politics of this country, and got involved rather than blaming those in politics. â€œ To bring about change, most of us must be involved,â€ he said.
On Agriculture, Prof. Adedeji asserted that any nation that cannot feed itself is in serious problem as he noted that Nigeria has good plans on agricultural projects, but when it comes to implementation, we do a poor job. His words:Â â€œNigeria, although blessed with a good variety of food and cash crops, has, to a considerable extent, retained its agricultural production technology to that, very close to the pattern engaged by our ancestors. The result has been the nationâ€™s inability to extend much beyond sustenance farming, and thereby increasing its dependence on imported food items.â€
Moreover, on education, he said,Â in every advanced country, education is a major factor, asserting that many countries of the world use 20-25% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in advancing education.Â According to him, we need a revolution in our educational system as private universities are now being licensed, noting that educational strategy can only work if the federal and state governments will give a level playing field to the private universities. â€œPrivate universities unlike government institutions generate their funds with little or no aids from other bodies or individuals, yet we must play by the same rules in terms of infrastructure, admissions, teaching, and research,â€ ha said.
Also speaking, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, Chuks Ochonogor disclosed that Novena University is honouring Gov. Adam Oshiomhole with a doctorate degree and is also setting up â€˜Adams Oshiomhole Centre for Conflict Resolution and Rural Developmentâ€™ for his positive contributions to the development and growth of education in Nigeria having succeeded in resolving the crisis between ASUU and the Federal Government, insisting that there in now sanity in the universities.
He urged the governor to make a case for the private universities to benefit from the Education Trust Fund, arguing that statistics all over the world show that university business as a venture is not profit making.