President Goodluck Jonathan has called on university authorities to put a stop to incessant industrial actions, which he said hamper solution of the numerous problems facing higher institutions. The president urged university staff to eschew the strike option as a means of getting their demands met by the government.
Speaking during the 26th Convocation Ceremony of the University of Calabar on Saturday, Jonathan said it is only when staff unions do away with strike as a means of settling disputes with government that Nigerian universities would truly be on their way to occupying their rightful place among great institutions of learning around the world.
Represented by the Minister for Education, Prof Raqqayatu Ahmed, the president said unbridled strikes inflict pain on the students and do more harm than good to the university system. He said: “Education sector is one of the key areas undergoing reform, and part of the reasons for this is to ensure that students and the nation are well served by the schooling system.”
The president disclosed that the Federal Government has mandated tertiary institutions to introduce entrepreneurial skills training into their curriculum. According to him, this would ensure that youths leave school with skills that will turn them into job creators, rather than waiting for years to secure their dream jobs. Berating the students for last year’s violent demonstration leading to destruction of property, president said it was dispiriting to receive reports of violence by students on the 26 and 27 of August last year, saying dialogue is the best way to resolve disagreements.
He also urged the university to strengthen it’s efforts at internally generated revenue and exploration of external funding possibilities as government alone cannot provide all the funds needed to run the institution.
In his opening remarks, Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof James Epoke, expressed gratitude to the Federal Government for donating N30 million to the university to aid in repairing structures damaged in last year’s students’ riot. Epoke said that 526 certificates were awarded to postgraduate programmes and out of this number 113 were for doctorate degree, 190 for Masters degree and 223 for postgraduate diplomas. On Friday, Bachelor’s degrees and diplomas were awarded to 8, 422 graduates.