…I’ll make education affordable in my second term,he vows
By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA – PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has attributed the crises in the country to what he referred to as “ignorance.”
To this end,he has vowed to tackle the menace headlong by making education affordable to all Nigerians in his second term of office.
The president,who stated this, Saturday,in his speech delivered at the graduation ceremony of the National Open University of Nigeria, NOUN,said the challenges of insecurity and violence crises in the country could be avoided through functional mass education.
In the speech he delivered through his representative and the Deputy Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission,NUC, Mr Victor Onuoha, at the NOUN’s 8th convocation ceremony in Abuja, where about 20,799 students with a total of 103 of them bagging First Class, graduated, the president insisted that education was the key to social, economic, political and religious development.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria is more than ever before, committed to making education affordable through the open and distance learning system.
“In this connection, therefore, a national policy on education has provided for life-long learning that transcends all barriers through open and distance learning,”he said.
He said as a government, necessary funding would be deployed through budgetary allocations, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) intervention and Needs Assessment funding to shore up the provision of quality tertiary education so as to guarantee access for the teeming youths in the country.
The President added that the open and distance learning would be further strengthened to take the lead in this desired direction of the government.
Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Abdalla Adamu, speaking at the convocation ceremony, said the number of graduands was the highest single graduation of students in Nigeria.
Mr Bala Salihu Magaji, who bagged First Class in Islamic Studies, emerged the overall best graduating student out of the 15,642 undergraduate graduands and won the University coveted prize for 2019. The number of postgraduates is 5,157.
Adamu said: “It is worthy of note that last year, we graduated 14,769. The massive increase in the number of graduands this year is a clear indication of increasing confidence reposed by Nigerians on the efficacy of Open Distance Learning as an enabler,”.
He added that the student population which stands at over 500,000 would remain grateful to President Muhammadu Buhari, for proving funding support in order to expand access to the University.
He said Buhari is the Visitor to the University occupies an exalted status in NOUN that goes beyond the leadership of the country; “for it was you who created this campus that we holding our convocation in, and it was you who commissioned it on 16th January 2016
Your gracious assent to the amendment of the NOUN (Amendment) Act in December 2018, has indeed opened more doors for thousands of youths in Nigeria to have greater confidence in NOUN.
“Prior to the assent to NOUN Amendment Act, there were misconceptions that the University offers part-time courses, or is a correspondence institution.
“This constituted a barrier to all our young graduates who are aged less than 30 and who are eager to serve their fatherland in the National Youth Service Scheme (NYSC).
“This conception also serves as a barrier to our Law graduates who have undergone a course of instruction in our Law degree, which was fully accredited by the National Universities Commission (NUC) to get admitted to the Nigerian Law School where they can be further trained as Barristers at Law,” he said.
The Vice-Chancellor further revealed that all the 18 programmes submitted to NUC, have all received accreditation, adding that while 15 had full accreditation, only three had interim accreditation.
Pro-Chancellor of NOUN and former Executive of National Universities Commission, Prof. Peter Okebukola, in his address, revealed that NOUN now has enrollment in excess of 500,000 while also aiming for the one million marks by 2025 with quality graduates as the averred goal.
He charged the graduating students to be good ambassadors of NOUN having been well prepared in learning and character to contribute their quota to the development of the society.
Okebukola expressed optimism that very soon the Council of Legal Education would begin to admit NOUN graduates to the Nigerian Law School, saying “show them the stuff you are made of by bagging at least 50% of the First Class awarded at the end of your training.”