2nd Combined Convocation Ceremony Of Federal University, Wukari In Taraba State On 12/02/2022
ADDRESS BY THE VISITOR, HIS EXCELLENCY, MUHAMMADU BUHARI, GCFR, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, DELIVERED BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE 2ND COMBINED CONVOCATION CEREMONY OF FEDERAL UNIVERSITY WUKARI, TARABA STATE ON THE 12TH OF FEBRUARY, 2022
“A GREAT FUTURE.”
I bring you warm greetings from the Visitor of the University, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, on whose behalf I present the Visitor’s address.
THE PRESIDENT’S ADDRESS:
It is a special, pleasure to be with you on this special occasion of the 2ND Combined Convocation Ceremonies of the Federal University Wukari. It is also a pleasure to be here in the heart of the Ancient Kwararafa Kingdom. For 45 years, this great kingdom was ruled by the Aku Uka Wukari, His Royal Majesty Shekarau Angyu Masa-Ibi Kvyon II, Chairman then of the Taraba State Council of Traditional rulers who recently passed on after a life of meritorious service to this community, the State and the nation. I extend sincere condolences on behalf of the Federal Government to his family, the Wukari Traditional Council and the government of Taraba State. May his memory be always blessed.
Let me also salute the fine academics and scholars who make up the faculties here. Every good university is so because of its academics. I am told that the University has recently been ranked as the top Federal University in the North-East geopolitical zone. Congratulations!
The university has also widened its academic base, the number of faculties has now increased from three to nine and the College of Medical Sciences, Faculties of Engineering, Education and Law recently commenced academic programmes, well done indeed.
You must now work diligently and in collaboration with the private sector and relevant government agencies to ensure that you have the best possible teaching hospital facilities for the medical programmes of the university. Also, you are close to the Mambilla hydro project, perhaps there are ways that your Engineering faculty can add value to the implementation of the project. The Ministry of Power may be able to point you in the right direction for this purpose.
I applaud the University’s choice of honorary degree recipients; His Excellency, Alhaji Ahmadu Adamu Muazu, former Governor of Bauchi State; Dr. Damien Dodo, SAN, a highly successful legal practitioner, and Chief Innocent Ifediaso Chukwuma, Chairman Innoson Motors. These are individuals who represent the true spirit of Nigeria – hard work diligence, resilience, creativity, and the success that crowns it all. As alumni of the university, you have become partners also and I urge you to please render support to the University in any way you can. Congratulations!
And to the main reason for our gathering the graduating students, congratulations on the successful completion of your various degree programmes. And an extra commendation to the prize winners. The journey of acquiring a degree is one that tests individuals’ resilience, grit, as well as knowledge of the subject matter. I am glad that you have been found indeed worthy in character and learning.
Congratulations also to parents, guardians, families, friends, and all whose sacrifices and efforts have helped to actualize the dreams of the graduands
Your Excellency, honoured guests, permit me a moment or two to offer a few words of admonition and advice to our graduating students.
You belong to one of the most resilient, dynamic and energetic populations on this planet – a people that are by nature undaunted by the challenges of their environment. In this country, Nigerians have established industries of global renown and achieved things that have earned international acclaim. This can-do spirit is why Nigeria is now home to the third-largest film industry in the world and why we are the epicentre of a global and pan-African popular culture driven by the dynamism of Nigerian creatives.
We often cite what is going on in the digital technology space as an example of what is possible. Young Nigerians such as yourselves are pioneering new patterns of enterprise and wealth creation and in the process have established this country as the most vibrant innovation hub on the African continent.
There are several Unicorns and promising start-ups in Nigeria already. In the fintech sector, we have such examples in Andela, Flutterwave, Paystack, and Interswitch – all valued at over $1billion each. Many of these companies started business in 2015 and prospered in the midst of two recessions and the two years of COVID-19.
Our tech entrepreneurs and innovators are not just applying their talents to profit-making and all other endeavours but also seeking to address social problems. In the past, I have had cause to mention a few young Nigerians that are creating and innovating in various spheres. I have spoken in the past about people like Saadat Aliyu, who runs a tech hub in Kano and has developed an application for reporting cases of sexual assault.
Many of you may have heard of Amal Hassan the young lady who established the leading Business Process Outsourcing company in Nigeria in Kaduna State. Her company, Outsource Global, trains hundreds of Nigerians in exportable business processing skills. Or Silas Adekunle, the robotics engineer who invented Mekamon, the world’s first intelligent gaming robot or Max Chinnah who at 26, invented the Genesys Cooker, a smokeless stove that addresses the problem of smoke pollution which kills an estimated 4 million people every year in Africa. Or Ejikeme Patrick Nwosu, an organic chemist who has invented a fire retardant paint that could drastically mitigate the risk of fire outbreaks. These are only a few of the young Nigerians that are working on solutions to all sorts of Nigeria’s challenges.
I urge you therefore to see the various challenges in our environment as opportunities for the creation of solutions. We are a nation with a rapidly expanding population with attendant human sustenance needs. You must take full advantage of the knowledge and skills you have acquired to innovate and create, be productive and make adding value your motto.
Government is ready and willing to support initiatives that would create wealth, jobs and opportunities. This is why we have established initiatives such as the N75 billion National Youth Investment Fund and the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Creative Sector Fund. It is why I recently approved the investing in Digital and Creative Enterprises (iDICE) programme, an over $600million programme that will support young tech and creative sector entrepreneurs through the provision of finance, skills development and infrastructure.
This year “The Nigeria Jubilee Fellows Programme” will begin. Every year under the programme, 20,000 young graduates who have done the youth service will be given fully-paid internships that will last for 12 months in reputable private and public sector organizations across the country. The idea will be for the participants to gain relevant career and life skills that will enable them to transition seamlessly into professional, business or public sector careers, while also earning a living along the way. The programme will last for five years and it is funded by the Federal government, the UNDP and the EU.
But this is not all that is happening, infrastructure is key to all development and we recognize that Digital Technology is our pathway to accelerated growth so we are on course to ensure broadband connectivity for all by 2025.
We are also connecting the vast reaches of our country by investing heavily in rail and road infrastructure and power because we recognize that the ease and speed with which people and goods can move is a key accelerant of economic development. In effect, we are opening new economic corridors that can enhance trade and enable access to markets. These ongoing projects are resulting in the creation of more jobs and increased economic activities in host communities.
We have also dedicated a significant portion of our budget to social investments which cater to the poor and vulnerable. We are in the Home-grown School Feeding Programme, feeding 9.5 million children in public schools daily, the N-Power job scheme provides jobs for 500,000 young Nigerian graduates, and now 1 million. We also have 20,000 non-graduates in different areas of public services.
The Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, (GEEP), hosts the largest micro-credit scheme in Africa, providing loans directly to 2million petty traders and artisans under the Market Moni, FarmerMoni and TraderMoni, initiatives.
Currently, the National Social Register of poor and vulnerable Nigerians has 32.6 million persons from more than 7 million poor and vulnerable households. For the first time in our history as a nation, we have laid the foundations of a social safety net for our people. But nation-building is a continuous process, it involves all of us, it is not just about doing well at our jobs or innovation, or brick and mortar, it is about building bridges of brotherhood and unity.
There are those that will tempt you into believing that you are locked in a life and death struggle for resources with your compatriots. You may have heard, for instance, that because someone is Tiv, then the Jukun and the Idoma are their mortal adversaries. Or that if you are Jukun, then the Chamba or the Fulani are your implacable enemies. Let it be your generation that will bury those prejudices, heal those wounds and build a great society of brothers and sisters of different tribes and tongues.
You belong to a generation of Nigerians ordained by momentous historical circumstances to play on a grander stage. You belong to the most globalized generation ever to walk this earth and your field of competition is not local but global. You have come of age in the era of a worldwide marketplace of opportunities. Refuse to be consumed by the petty prejudices and biases that predispose us to mutual antagonism with our fellow citizens and neighbours. You must refuse to be prisoners of history and commit to encountering the world with an open mind.
In this Federal University, you have met and made friends with people from diverse parts of this country. This was one of the goals of establishing federal universities all over this nation – to bring Nigerians together in the same learning and social environments and strengthen the affinity between them. The challenges that we are facing demand that we close ranks as a people. because indeed “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”
One of the most profound lessons of history is that diversity is essential for growth. It follows therefore that promoting unity in diversity holds the very real promise of fostering a creative synergy of our constituent communities in ways that dramatically amplify our national performance.
Furthermore, larger nations also mean potentially larger markets and larger fields for production. Given these dynamics, any call for disintegration of our country is an invitation to economic suicide. By reason of her sheer size and population, Nigeria is a huge market and potentially carries the potential to serve as a continental hub for a broad range of value-added economic activities. Our country is feared, respected and revered in the continent and in the world because we have the size, resources and manpower to be a truly great nation and we will be the greatest that our potential offers us.
Our increased growth can literally stimulate development on a regional and continental scale. The inclusive prosperity which we aspire to is only possible within the framework of unity in diversity.
Thus, staying together as a people is not just a good idea, it is an economic imperative with real consequences for the lives of millions of Nigerians.
I urge the university to continue to prioritize genuine scholarship for global competitiveness but more importantly for local relevance. As primary partners of the society through teaching, learning, research and community service, your host community must feel your positive impact. You must harness local knowledge also, especially in the areas of agriculture, power, and tourism to enhance your scholarship in these and other relevant areas.
The government on its own part will continue through its programmes and policies to encourage productivity and excellence. We remain poised to strengthen the spirit of self-reliance among the youth by promoting entrepreneurship, creativity and innovations.
Congratulations again to our honorary graduands, graduating students. I pray that you will make progress speedily and that your work will be rewarded with promotion and prosperity. I wish you a great future.
Long live Federal University, Wukari.
Long live Taraba State.
Long live the great Federal Republic of Nigeria.