Visitor to the University of Lagos (UNILAG), President Muhammadu Buhari, has questioned the use of funds by universities.
In his speech yesterday at the third day of the 2018 convocation of the university, during which postgraduate and honorary degrees were awarded to 5,829 recipients, Buhari lamented that public universities were not making judicious use of funds from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) and the Needs Assessment special intervention funds.
The President, who was represented by the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof Abubakar Rasheed, said: “The government is well aware of the numerous challenges facing universities.
“Critical among issues that require urgent attention are those relating to access without undermining quality, infrastructure and facilities, curriculum, quality assurance, governance and funding, to mention a few.
“However it is worrisome that some Nigerian universities are still not demonstrating adequate capacity for fund utilisation despite the need and justified clamour to increase funding.
“I am made to understand that some universities still find it difficult to access funds from TETFUND because they lack the commitment for the release of the requirements of such funds.
“In the same vein, there are hiccups to the utilisation of the Needs Assessment funds for the revitalisation Continued from Page 5
of our universities because some universities have not still been able to meet the requirements for further release of such funds.
“I implore pro-chancellors and vice chancellor of Nigerian public universities to take advantage of the initiative to enable Nigerian universities to efficiently and effectively meet up with their teaching, research and community development mandate.”
Buhari further charged university managers to be accountable for the funds they get.
“Funding is not just about making funds available but also includes the judicious management of available funds.
“As public officers, we must be accountable to the good people of Nigeria who have reposed the confidence in us to manage the country’s citadel of learning.
“What the public requires from the universities, whether public or private, is probity, accountability and transparency, and this must occupy the front burner in university management,” he said.
In his speech, the Pro-Chancellor/Chairman of Governing Council, Dr Wale Babalakin, praised the Visitor for not interfering in the affairs of the university.
“He has allowed the autonomy of the university to blossom. There is no interference in the academic curriculum or management of the University,” he said.
On his part, the Chancellor, Shehu of Borno, HRH, Abubakar Ibn Garbai El-Kanemi, urged President Buhari to award special status to UNILAG and increase funding to universities.
Giving the breakdown of graduating students, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Toyin Ogundipe, said 509 graduated with postgraduate diplomas; 5,190 with master’s degrees while 130 received Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees.
“Five professors were also honoured. They were former Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Prof Modupe Ogunlesi, who was conferred with Emeritus professorship; and Prof Herbert Coker, Prof Ayodeji Olukoju, Prof Taiwo Osipitan, and Prof Onatola Odukoya.
Awards were presented to graduates who distinguished themselves, including the graduate with the overall best Ph.D. thesis, Dr Mutiat Ibrahim, who got N200,000 from the UNILAG Alumni Association.
In her speech, Dr Ibrahim of the Department of Pharmacognosy, called for more funding for research.
Dignitaries at the event included the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi; JAMB Registrar, Prof Is-shaq Oloyede; Finnish Ambassador, Pirjo Suomela-Chowdhury; former Vice Chancellor, Prof Oyewusi Ibidapo Obe, among others.