Graduation Of Senior Executive Course No. 37, 2015 Of The National Institute For Policy And Strategic Studies

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I am delighted to be with you this morning on occasion of the graduation ceremony of Participants of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, the nation’s foremost policy and strategy institution, which has since its establishment 36 years ago produced a crop of technocrats of high intellectual capacity for the needs of our country.  I commend the National Institute for its consistency in adequately preparing top level policy and strategy experts in the past and many more that occupy key positions of governance in the country. I am pleased to note that the Institute is graduating a set of 63 Participants today. Let me at this point commiserate with the National Institute over the loss of one of its participants during the course; may his soul rest in peace. I understand that you have already started showing your character by the donation of a Language Laboratory to the National Institute and dedicating it in honour of your departed colleague. That is what our country is about and I commend your spirit of remembering.

Nigeria is on the rise again despite serious security and economic challenges. We are already tackling the several security challenges that have hindered our progress, sustainable security and overall national development. Security and the wellbeing of Nigerians will continue to remain among my Administration’s highest priorities. Let me reiterate that the Boko Haram insurgency as well as their ideology will soon be defeated and consigned to history. We are rapidly degrading their defensive and offensive capabilities and their end is near. An effective counter insurgency operation of this nature requires the involvement and support of every patriotic Nigerian. All the bickering on the matter will not help our country; what we need is unity of purpose and sacrifice for our beloved country. During my Inaugural Address, I promised to commission a study on Boko Haram. I hereby charge the National Institute to come up with a set of proposals for the comprehensive study of the phenomenon, with a view to forestalling future occurrence. Never again shall we allow an insurgent group to threaten our National Security. All aggrieved groups should submit to peaceful and democratic means of expressing their grievances.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I received the report of this graduating set a few days ago. Its theme was “Repositioning Nigeria’s Educational System for Global Competitiveness” and I listened carefully to the presentation by the Participants. It was thoughtful as well as practical, and its recommendations have the potential to address some of our challenges relating to education. I congratulate them. Our government recognises the importance of education to the attainment of our national goals. Globalisation of markets, the interdependency of international financial systems, the expanded role of technology and high speed communications have created an enormous need for highly skilled technical, professional, and managerial leaders. This is why education is very high on our list of priorities. Let me assure you that this Government would refine existing educational policies and institutions as well as confront those factors that have negatively affected our educational system. Indeed, our efforts would be directed towards enhancing the quality of our educational system and expanding the educational opportunities especially for marginalized groups. This is instrumental to the full development of our country. Our focus shall be on access, equity, quality, infrastructure, teacher development, curriculum relevance, funding and closing the policy implementation gaps. In addition, we are giving a lot of attention to Technical and Vocational Education & Training (TVET), which would provide skilled manpower for rapid socio-economic development. TVET would impart the required skills and competencies leading to the production of artisans and technicians who will be enterprising and self-reliant, thus propelling the greatest potential to facilitate industrialization, generate employment and reduce poverty.

Let me state that the Federal Government cannot fund the education system alone.  Education is on the concurrent list in our constitution, therefore all levels of government must invest massively in the educational system of the country. The private sector has also very important roles to play in this regard. This is the sure way of repositioning our educational system for global competitiveness. Tertiary institutions, especially, must make themselves relevant to the private sector, through research, to attract funding from them. They must develop more labour-relevant curricula.  The quality of the teaching staff must be enhanced. Our academics must have the highest qualifications in their fields. They must teach well and regularly conduct researches that are relevant to our current and emerging needs. They must be both innovative and creative in the work they do, for us and for humanity at large. Our universities and research institutions must aim to be among the top in the world. In sum, what the country needs is quality education for development.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I have been briefed concerning some of the challenges facing the National Institute. I am pleased to inform you that we are addressing them. We are already attending to the review of the Act establishing the National Institute to fully realize its mandate. We are also putting in place a robust Salary Structure and Conditions of Service to attract, retain and motivate staff. In addition, we have put in motion steps to guarantee more assured funding. Of course, these need to go along with the efforts of the National Institute to attract funding through Policy Research and Consultancies. In regard to the latter, let me commend some the Institute’s partners for their support and commitment. I want to particularly thank the United Nations Development Programme (Democracy for Governance and Development II) for its continued collaboration with, and support to, the Political Parties Leadership and Policy Development Centre of the National Institute. This is a very important Centre for the political development of our country. I urge all political parties to utilize and sustain this Centre. We will support the Centre with funding to enable it to realize its full potential. I urge the Director General to make budgetary request for the Centre in the next budget. I wish to also commend the National Stability Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) for their funding of the Eminent and Expert Group Meetings (EEGM), which has now become an annual event.

I urge other funding agencies to partner with our apex National Institution to enrich our national policies and strategies. I have noted with satisfaction that support to the Institute is not limited to international organisations. It is gratifying to acknowledge the support by the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN) as well as the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) for their contribution to the National Institute in the area of infrastructure. I urge many others especially in the private sector to emulate them.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen. I wish to congratulate today’s graduands for the successful completion of their programme. I implore you to deploy your knowledge to the benefit of this country. You should begin to think of what to contribute to the transformation of our great country. Indeed, this is what your motto “towards a better society”, presupposes! I want to commend the Institute for this graduation and for some of its successes in the area of research, while urging you to do more towards uplifting our great country.

I thank you all. God bless the Federal Republic Nigeria.