SPEECH DELIVERED BY HIS EXCELLENCY, ENGR. ABDULLAHI A. SULE, THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF NASARAWA STATE ON THE OCCASION OF THE 2ND, 3RD, 4TH AND 5TH COMBINED CONVOCATION CEREMONY OF THE FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF LAFIA: SATURDAY, 15TH FEBRUARY, 2020
1. His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Visitor to the University;
2. His Excellency, the Deputy Governor of Nasarawa State;
3. Members of the National Assembly here present;
4. The Honourable Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu;
5. The Right Hon. Speaker, Nasarawa State House of Assembly;
6. The Hon. Chief Judge of Nasarawa State;
7. The Chancellor of the Federal University, His Royal Majesty, King W.S. Joshua Igbugburu, the Ibenanawei of Bomo Kingdom;
8. Principal Officers and Members of the State House of Assembly;
9. Members of the State Executive and Security Councils;
10. The Secretary to the State Government;
11. The Head of the Civil Service;
12. The Pro-Chancellor, Chairman and members of the University’s Governing Council;
13. The Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed;
14. The Executive Secretary, TETFund
15. The Registrar, Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB);
16. The Vice Chancellor and Principal Officers of the Federal University, Lafia;
17. Visiting Vice-Chancellors;
18. His Royal Highness, Hon. Justice Sidi Bage Muhammad I JSC (Rtd) Emir of Lafia and Chairman, Nasarawa State Council of Chiefs;
19. Your Highnesses, other Royal Fathers here present;
20. Staff and Students of the Federal University, Lafia;
21. My dear Graduands;
22. Gentlemen of the Press;
23. Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is with gratitude to Almighty God and utmost joy that I join you today at this auspicious occasion of the 2nd 3rd, 4th and 5th combined Convocation Ceremony of the Federal University, Lafia, taking place here in the University Campus.
2. Let me specially welcome His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the visitor to the Federal University, Lafia. Indeed, we are honoured by your esteemed presence. Similarly, I warmly welcome the Honourable Minister of Education and his entourage to this citadel of learning. In the same vein, I acknowledge the presence of our distinguished personalities, who find time amidst your tight schedules to grace this memorable occasion.
3. Today, marks yet another milestone in the history of the Federal University Lafia. Let me, therefore, on behalf of the Government and people of Nasarawa State, express our profound appreciation to our celebrated scholars, professionals, philanthropists, industrialist, friends, associates and men and women of goodwill from within and outside Nigeria who have turned out in such a large number to be part of this event. As we say in Nasarawa Barka da zuwa. Your presence in our midst today is a strong re-assurance that this solidarity will continue to grow from strength to strength.
4. Let me congratulate the Governing Council, the management and the entire staff of the University for successfully organizing this historic event. I also congratulate my dear graduands whose convocation we are witnessing today. It is my belief that the knowledge and skills which you have acquired during your studies will be necessary potentials for accelerating your career development and, by extension, add value to the technological, industrial and socio-economic development of our dear nation.
5. I wish to also congratulate the distinguished Nigerian statesmen who are conferred with the Honorary Doctorate Degrees at this convocation ceremony. This, indeed, is the manifestation of your enormous contributions towards the development of dear nation.
6. Your Excellency, distinguished guests there is no doubt that this combined convocation ceremony marks a watershed in the history of this young university, and the story of education in Nasarawa State and the Nation at large. It is gratifying to note that within just one decade of its existence, this institution has grown in leaps and bounds in terms of scholarship and research, infrastructure development, social impact and collaboration.
7. There is no gainsaying that education remains the all-time solution to the myriad of challenges facing mankind. In the current global race, therefore, there is no place for ignorance. In the circumstance, no investment can be too much to make in education. It is for this reason that I commend the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhamadu Buhari, GCFR for the commitment to the education sector in the area of expansion of opportunities for the citizenry, provision of infrastructure and facilities, as well as capacity building towards meeting the global standards and in the delivery of education.
8. I need to point out that the giant strides recorded by the Federal University of Lafia since its establishment in 2011 is an eloquent testimony of our collective determination to work in harmony to conquer societal backwardness. As a State poised to changing the narrative of cultural, religious and social impediments to the acquisition of education in this part of the world, we have zero tolerance to illiteracy in all ramifications. It is on the strength of this conviction that we have adopted a multi-pronged approach to addressing the plethora daunting challenges threatening the development of education in the State.
9. Your Excellency, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, on assumption of office in May, 2019 we were confronted with the grim realities of the state of education at all levels. Conscious of the ultimate benefit of our commitment to the people of Nasarawa State from whom we received our mandate, we are not limiting our effort in the development of education. This is why we have made a bold statement by allocating 26% to the sector in the 2020 budget in tandem with the UNESCO benchmark. Given the resources, we desire to transform the educational landscape of our State for the good of the people, particularly our teeming youths.
10. Let me place on record that, in consonance with our stakeholder’s role, the Government of Nasarawa State has provided the following interventions among others, aimed at fast-tracking the holistic development of the Federal University Lafia.
i. Donation of 206 hectares of lands for the permanent sites;
ii. Donation of the newly constructed Lafia General Hospital to serve as a Teaching Hospital for this University in view of the introduction of Medical and Pharmaceutical courses in the University.
iii. Construction of a female hostel at the permanent site;
iv. Construction of 1.2KM road from the Multi-disciplinary research Laboratory to the hostel area;
v. Automatic employment and provision of scholarship award to five (5) 1st Class students of the University, including a physically challenged student from Kogi State.
11. I am happy to state that, within the past nine (9) months. We have embarked on aggressive upgrading of physical structures of primary and secondary schools through collaboration with UBEC and the SDGs. we shall not rest on our oars until we have changed the scenario of dilapidation and desolation in the remaining schools in our efforts to improve the educational system in the State.
12. In the same vein, Government spends N29Million monthly to feed students in boarding schools across the state. Our modest effort in this direction has created tremendous impact in the welfare and wellbeing of our students. Concomitant to this, we intend to focus on capacity building and improvement of the quality of the hard and softwares that will facilitate the delivery of the set objectives in an ICT era education system.
13. At this point, Your Excellency, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I crave your indulgence to commend my predecessor, now a Distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Umaru Tanko Al-makura, whose signature is very conspicuous in all spheres of the State’s development, including education. I wish to specially congratulate him and my former boss and philanthropist, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, President of Dangote Group of Company for the award of the Honorary Doctorate Degrees. Indeed, this is a worthy recognitions.14. To the graduands whom we have gathered here to celebrate, I congratulate you all for successfully completing your courses of study in the Federal University Lafia. The certificates you received today are more than mere meal tickets. In other words, you are leaving this event with your letters of credence as ambassadors of Federal University Lafia to the world. It behooves you, therefore, to fly the banner of honour and integrity of your alma mater at all times.
15. You must go and build your communities, the nation and humanity as a whole; and not become agents of destruction under whatever guise. I have no doubt that you all have passed through this great institution, having been mentored in learning and character, and you are expected to give back in equal measure and more. Despite all the challenges, society does not expect less from you.
16. Let me, also use this auspicious occasion to specially commend the Governing Council, Management, Staff and the entire community of Federal University, Lafia for keeping faith with the noble ideals of the institution and working assiduously to creating the bright impact in your host environment and, indeed the larger society. May your efforts continue to yield the desired fruits in the years ahead.
17. Before concluding this address, let me humbly crave the indulgence of the Federal Government to facilitate the take-off of the Teaching Hospital that the Nasarawa Government donated to the University. I wish to once again re-echo my profound appreciation to Mr. President and the Federal Government for the attention being accorded to this University in particular and Nasarawa State in general. We remain grateful. It is our ardent prayer that the Almighty God will crown your painstaking efforts with resounding success.
18. Thank you and may God bless us all.