President Muhammdu Buhari has stated that the N500 billion allocated to the education sector in the 2016 federal budget, which he described as the highest so far allocated to the sector in the country, would be judiciously used.
Buhari stated this at the weekend while delivering his message at the 2014/2015, and 29th convocation ceremony of the University of Calabar (UNICAL) held at the school’s Abraham Odia Stadium.
Buhari who is visitor to the university, was represented by the Deputy Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Akaneren Essien.
The president said funds provided for the sector would be used to improve university education so; they can compete among other universities in the world.
“This administration is focused on providing a suitable environment for universities to grow, thrive and fulfil the triple mandate of research, which is knowledge generation; teaching knowledge transmission; and responsive social engineering, knowledge application.
“The 2016 budgetary provision of N500 billion for the education sector is the highest so far, and it is our desire is to apply every kobo this budget to deal with various need of our universities to ensure that they become more globally competitive,” Buhari said.
However, the president noted that it was imperative to apply best practice and due process in the application of funds budgeted for the education sectors.
The president observed that tertiary institutions in the country have failed to avail themselves with the various funds established to enable them engage in research.
He stated: “It was with the aim of resuscitating research activates in the nation’s tertiary institutions that government put Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) establish two lines of funding for research namely, the Institution Based Research and the National Research Fund. So much of these funds are yet to be accessed by the nation’s public universities. I urge the nation’s public universities and other institutions to put in place fundable proposals , taking into consideration the nation’s contemporary challenges in the area of energy, economic diversification strategies , value chain for our agricultural products and further exploitation of our local raw materials for our industries.”
Buhari said in order to continue to support research in the nation’s tertiary institutions, the federal government supported the establishment of the Nigerian Research and Educational Network , which is domiciled at the NUC, stressing that universities and other tertiary institutions should key into the network , which he noted has become the bedrock for research and development.
Buhari urged the management of the University of Calabar to ensure that the objective for which the university was established became realised through the encouragement and promotion of scholarship and conduct of research in all fields of learning and human endeavour.
The president implored the university to conduct work in league with the NUC to encourage postgraduate studies in fields such as tourism and hospitality industry and management “ to leverage on the huge number of people who visit Calabar and parts of Cross River State for tourism annually.”
He congratulated all the grandaunts who successfully completed their programmes.
At the former Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke was conferred an honorary doctorate degree in law while Princess Florence Ita-Giwa, was conferred with an honorary doctorate degree in political science.
However, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who was also billed for the award of an honorary doctorate degree was conspicuously absent from the event.
No official explanation was issued for the senate president’s absence.
During the pre-convocation briefing on Thursday, Akpagu had announced that Saraki would also be conferred with an honorary doctorate degree for his contribution to the development of Kwara as governor and Nigeria in general.