Posted by News Express | 29 March 2014 | 5,054 times
University of Nigeria Nsukka Saturday stirred emotions as large crowds of dancing celebrants converged on the Margaret Ekpo Convocation Grounds to witness the conferment of a posthumous Doctor of Laws honoris causa on Late General Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu, leader of the defunct Biafra. It was the high point as UNN also honoured outstanding entrepreneurs Mrs Folorunsho Alakija, a player in oil and gas, Chief Innocent Chukwuma of Innoson Auto Manufacturing Company in Nnewi and Chief Maduka Onyishi of the popular Peace Mass Transit bus service.
Nigeria’s ambassador to Spain Chief Mrs Bianca Ojukwu, wife of the late Eze Gburugbu of Igbo land and leader of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, received the award on behalf of her husband. Former Anambra State Governor Peter Obi, current governor Chief Willie Obiano and APGA leader Chief Victor Umeh joined her to celebrate the honour done Ojukwu. MASSOB leader Ralph Uwazuruike was also present.
Dancing troupes sang in praise of the departed Biafran warlord outside the convocation arena bearing banners one of which said, “UNN remembers our hero”.
The three other honourees received Doctor of Business Administration (Hon. DBA) degrees from the university in recognition of their exploits in entrepreneurship and business management. Speaking on behalf of the awardees, Alakija, rated by Forbes magazine as Africa’s richest woman, urged graduands to dream big armed with their certificates.
“I once dared to dream”, Alakija informed the audience, while urging them not to lose track of their visions and the lessons from their studies. She said they should be change agents, adding that whatever she has achieved has been through God’s enablement. Alakija thanked UNN management for finding her and the other recipients worthy of the honour.
Visitor to the University President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan harped on the imperative of adequate funding to enable Nigerian universities compete internationally in this era of university rankings. He stated, “In this era of global ranking of universities, we all have a stake in improving the worldwide ranking of our universities. On the part of the Federal Government, we have kept our promise to make additional funds available for the purpose of improving the state of facilities in our universities. Since 2009, through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) we have been successful in High Impact Interventions in many universities.”
Represented by the supervising minister of Education, Barr Nyesom Wike, President Jonathan commended UNN management for “delivering impressive levels of simultaneous development”.
Jonathan reiterated his earlier appeal to university administrators to “continue to seek other ways of generating additional revenue needed to fund research and capital development in the institutions they administer.” He rapped alumni of the university for inadequate support to their alma mater. Jonathan stated, “I commend the Vice Chancellor of this university and his team for the good progress they have made in this regard. However, for a first generation university like yours, with a large complement of alumni, many of whom are well placed in all facets of our national life, a lot more can be achieved in terms of revenue mobilisation.”
Jonathan noted that the problems of universities go beyond inadequate funding to include “the challenges of poor work ethics and prolonged industrial actions.”
Remarking on the recent disturbances in the University of Nigeria, the President delivered a message to host communities that “federal institutions should not be seen as the property of the communities in which they are situated.”
He affirmed: “Universities are international and universal learning centres where people of all races are given equal opportunities to excel. We must at all times preserve the sanctity of our ivory towers as centres of excellence. Parochial and clannish tendencies must be taken out of our universities.”
The university awarded 338 Doctorate degrees, 2015 masters and 515 post graduate diplomas at the 43rd Convocation ceremony. Among the Ph.D recipients was Dr Rachael Seriake Dickson, wife of the Bayelsa State Governor.
•Photo shows UNN honorees Dr Innocent Chukwuma, Chief Mrs Bianca Ojukwu, Mrs Folorunsho Alakija and Chief Maduka Onyishi.
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