Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
Eminent personalities, high profile political figures, scholars, and indeed, people from all works of life converged on Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike Ikwo (AE-FUNAI) in Ebonyi State recently.
They attended the 3rd convocation ceremony of AE-FUNAI where 355 graduands were officially certified worthy in character and in learning.
A breakdown revealed that out of the figure, 15 bagged First Class Honours; 188 made Second Class Upper; 145 made Second Class Lower and seven came out with Third Class. These graduates were drawn from four faculties, namely: Humanities (44); Basic Medical Science (62); Science (101); Management and Social Sciences (148).
In attendance at the event was the visitor of the university, President Muhammadu Buhari; the state Governor, Chief David Umahi; Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun; the former Governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, the second republic Minister of Education, Prof Ihechukwu Madubuike; the Alake and paramount ruler of Egbaland, Oba Michael Adedotun Gbadebo; and the Executive Secretary, African Capacity Building Foundation, Harare in Zimbabwe, Prof Emmanuel Nnadozie, among others.
At the event, two prominent Nigerians were also conferred with the honorary degrees of the university. The recipients are the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Gbadebo, who doubles as the Chancellor of AE-FUNAI and Prof Madubuike.
In his address, the Vice-Chancellor of AE-FUNAI, Prof Chinedum Nwajiuba, said that he was elated that the university is on upward trajectory given its performance in the past years.
“Last year, at a similar event, we awarded degrees to 247 graduands, while in 2016 we had 124 graduates. This year, 2018, we have 355 graduands”, he said.
He commended the Federal Government for listing AE-FUNAI as one of the benefiting universities of the Energizing Education Programme aimed at providing the institution with alternative power source.
In his speech, the Chancellor of the university, Oba Gbadebo, commended President Buhari for his support to the institution and appealed for the completion of some of the projects which started in 2012 but have remained uncompleted six years after.
“I want to use this opportunity to call on the Federal Ministry of Education and the National Universities Commission to intervene in the areas of the abandoned projects. I also solicit the intervention of the Ebonyi State government in resolving the problem of compensating the original land owners to forestall breakdown of law and order in the university community”, he appealed.
The visitor to AE-FUNAI, President Buhari, in his speech, congratulated the graduates, the university’s hierarchy and the staff for working hard to promote and sustain the gains of the university.
Buhari, represented by the Deputy Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Victor Onuoha, a lawyer, said that his administration is working hard to reposition the nation’s education sector.
He said that the federal government’s determination to provide the requisite environment for teaching and learning in the Nigerian University System (NUS) made it to come up with the Energizing Education Programme (EEP).
The president said that the “federal government appreciates the importance of education in our march to economic prosperity” and pledged that it will ensure increased funding for it.
“It will, therefore, continue to ensure increased and timely funding and provision of specific infrastructure in our institutions through the annual appropriations as well as other interventions, including the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) and NEEDs Assessment projects.”
The Executive Secretary of African Capacity Building Foundation, Harare in Zimbabwe, Prof Nnadozie, delivered the convocation lecture. It was themed Fulfilling Education’s Promise in Africa: the Role of the University.
Prof Nnadozie blamed the World Bank for misleading African governments into laying faulty foundation for its universities. He said that it was responsible for the continent’s poor university education which, to some extent, is responsible for its underdevelopment.
He reasoned that if the World Bank had not come up with the faulty advice, university education in Africa would have by now, been the best; and by extension, served as a solution hub for the continent’s challenges.
Nnadozie said: “In particular, the poor quality of university education emerged as an outcome of the faulty advice from the World Bank to African governments to shift attention from tertiary education to basic education. The mistaken thinking was that if governments provided basic education, the children would be alright.
The best graduand of AE-FUNAI, Miss Nnenna Chukwuekezie, in her valedictory speech, commended the management and staff of the institution for providing conducive learning environment for the students.
Specifically, she eulogized her lecturers in the Department of Biology/ Microbiology/ Biotechnology for their “tremendous efforts in unleashing their potentials on their scholars.”