ADDRESS BY THE VICE-CHANCELLOR, PROFESSOR SEDDI SEBASTIAN MAIMAKO TO THE 29TH AND 30TH COMBINED CONVOCATION CEREMONY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF JOS HELD ON SATURDAY 23RD JUNE, 2018 AT THE JEREMIAH T. USENI MINI STADIUM, NARAGUTA CAMPUS
It is with great delight that I join the Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor/Chairman of Council to welcome you all to the 29th and 30th Combined Convocation ceremony of the University of Jos. This is the first Convocation under the present Pro-Chancellor/Chairman of Council, Prince Tony Momoh and also the first during my tenure as Vice-Chancellor. May I therefore take this opportunity to congratulate all our graduands for completing their studies successfully their parents, guardians, teachers and well-wishers.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, my assumption of office as Vice-Chancellor exactly two (2) years ago today, came at a time when the nation was experiencing serious economic challenges occasioned by the worst recession in the nation’s recent history. The Federal Government had commenced the implementation of some innovative reforms in the public sector with the aim of improving efficiency and service delivery in the face of the economic downturn. It was a period of great anxiety for many Nigerians because most of the ideas being implemented were quite new and had never been associated with public service.
Since assuming office, we have nevertheless, been relentless in our effort to key in to the Federal Government’s public sector reform drive which we consider as a guiding principle in navigating the treacherous waters of implementing radical reforms in an institution such as ours. Two (2) years down the line, we have been able to record some modest achievements and this was largely made possible through the active support of our Chancellor, H.R.M. Oba (Dr) David Victor Folagbade Olateru-Olagbegi III CFR, Olowo of Owoand the strategic and results based leadership of our Pro-Chancellor/Chairman of Council, the venerable Prince Tony Momoh. I wish at this time to also recognize the contribution of our immediate-past Pro-Chancellor/Chairman of Council, Chief Don Obot Etiebet CON and members of the 12th Governing Council for providing the needed focus intended to make the University of Jos a model institution of higher learning in Nigeria, Africa and the world at large. We benefitted so much from their wise counsel which set the tone for whatever progress that the University has made since then.
Since coming on board, we have undertaken to implement some of those reforms which I earlier noted are in line with the Federal Government’s new policy direction. We are introducing measures to strengthen our capacity in effective and efficient Financial Management, Results-Based Management, Performance Contracting, deployment of ICT, Good Corporate Governance and corruption eradication measures as well as encouraging the culture of Team Building. However, one of the biggest challenges the University has had to contend with over the years is gross underfunding. Being a public institution, the main source of funding is the government which, owing to the prevailing hostile economic environment, has increasingly been unable to cater for much of our financial needs. This has forced the University to institute strict financial control measures aimed at ensuring prudent use of the limited funds available. The University has also embarked on some revenue generating initiatives aimed at diversifying and improving its revenue base. In this regard, we recently acquired the erstwhile moribund Naraguta Burnt Bricks and Clay Factory which is being resuscitated to commence production in no distant future. The University of Jos Consultancy Services Limited (UCL) is also being reinvigorated to make it a stronger player in the national economy by engaging in veritable commercial ventures and business enterprises.
As a research intensive University and with the support of the Federal Government through TETFund, we are creating awareness among academic staff with the objective of resetting their mindsets towards looking inwards for more productive and impactful research activities that will attract international funding and support. The University’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) is empowering our Researchers with the skills and competences to enable them package cutting edge researches into brilliant proposals that would attract global interest. A number of our outstanding academic staff are already leveraging on this to establish very exceptional research programmes. I would like to thank our international collaborators for availing us with such linkages and partnerships which have contributed to strengthening of our academic and research programmes.
Mr Visitor Sir, the University of Jos, true to its tradition as a leader, has done a sterling job towards developing systems and procedures used in improving service delivery. It is in recognition of this that the University was unanimously chosen to host the 2nd Quarter Meeting of the National Universities Commission (NUC) Parastatal SERVICOM Charter which will take place on 27th and 28th of June, 2018. I believe that recommendations arising from the deliberations will go a long way in improving service delivery and feedback mechanisms in the University system.
The University of Jos is totally committed to the development of this nation and the realization of the National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan of the present Administration. Towards this end, we have embarked on an intensive Staff Development programme designed to create a pool of Lecturers and allied Staff whose pedigree would be regarded as globally distinctive. They are expected to lead the charge in the task of preparing the next generation towards achieving the key goals of the National Development Plan. In the past two years, 363 Staff of the University have been given approval to undergo various training programmes including 134 being sponsored for PhD, 88 Masters, 57 for 1st Degrees/HND and 84 to obtain other types of certificates. On completion, they are expected to significantly contribute in the drive to reposition our Students for future leadership roles. For the Students, there has been a steady increase in the number being admitted into the University from about 5,000 only five years ago to about 8,000 currently. This has led to rapid increase in the student population from 21,000 in 2008 to over 38,000. The University of Jos will continue to deploy relevant and technology-driven learning tools to improve the quality of education. The goal is to produce graduates that have the relevant skills sets relevant for the 21st Century.
The feat by Mr Nwafor Chinaza Ofobike, a 400 level Student of Accounting who won the 2018 Annual Tax Quiz organized by the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, is only but the latest example of the extraordinary cerebral prowess being exhibited by many of our Students. Another Alumnus in MLS – ask HOD MLS.
Our over 170,000 alumni including several State Governors, Deputy Governors, Members of the National Assembly, Eminent Jurists, top ranking government officials, captains of industry and leading names in the entertainment industry among many others, comprise a key component of the highly skilled manpower that drives the economy of this nation. We are proud of their achievements including that of the initiator and public face of the internationally acclaimed and nationally celebrated ‘Not-too-Young-To-Run’ Act recently signed into Law by the President, Mr Samson Itodo, who is an Alumnus of this great University.
I commend the efforts of the Unijos Alumni Association led by its indefatigable President, Alhaji Idris Yakubu for embarking on several projects aimed at adding value to the system including the building of an Alumni Centre meant to cater for the diverse academic and social needs of Alumni and other members of the University community.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, the University has in recent years benefitted from substantial investment towards improving its physical infrastructure through the TETfund, Presidential NEEDS Assessment and other similar interventions. Many stalled projects some of which were started more than ten (10) years ago are now being completed including the Central Bank Centre of Excellence for which work will soon recommence. I wish to commend the Central Bank Governor, Dr Godwin Emefiele who is a true friend of the University. His commitment in ensuring that this project is completed and delivered to the University is highly appreciated.
Given the acute infrastructural deficit that has bedeviled the University for most of its existence, it is heartening that several critical projects are being undertaken and are now at various levels of completion including the Faculties of Arts (Block B), Engineering, Management and Social Sciences, the new Senate Building, rehabilitation of the African Centre of Excellence for Phytomedicine and extension of University Health Centre Building among many others. Through internal funding sources, we have also renovated and completed many new projects including halls of residence, lecture theatres, laboratories and offices.
Our ICT infrastructure is relatively well developed. With a state-of-the-art Data Centre, an appreciable number of computers and ICT equipment deployed at our various Campuses which are available for use by students and staff, the University of Jos is among the best technologically equipped institutions of higher learning. We are still working hard to increase the ratio of computer access among Students and Staff. In a similar vein, we are operating an elaborate library system comprising four libraries whose modernization programme has made significant progress. Today, the library boasts of many electronic databases with full journals and over seven thousand volumes accessible to all our students and staff. I am pleased to report that our main Library Complex at the Naraguta Campus which, as many of you would recall, was gutted by fire in October 2016 is currently undergoing rehabilitation and we are optimistic that it will soon return to its former glory when the work is completed. For this, I wish to register my profound appreciation to the Federal Government through the National Universities Commission (NUC) and TETfund for facilitating the facelift. To our numerous stakeholders who have contributed to ‘Beauty from Ashes’ project through donations in cash and kind towards revamping and restocking the burnt Library, we say a big ‘Thank You’. I can assure you that your investment will not be in vain.
When I was appointed Vice-Chancellor two (2) years ago, one of my major concerns was to improve the level of discipline among our students to help maintain the good name of the University. The University management has since introduced some measures which included reorganizing the governance structure of the University to allow greater student representation and engagement of the student leadership in continuous dialogue. These measures have worked very well and the University has been experiencing unprecedented tranquility that has enabled academic programmes to run uninterrupted. We shall continue our efforts to increase our engagement with the student community for greater awareness and better discipline.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, the University places a lot of importance on staff welfare. We have as a consequence sought to maintain cordial relations with the Four Staff Unions which has contributed to industrial peace in the University. In this regard, I wish to commend both the Unions and Staff for their patience and understanding in the face of paucity of funds to cater for some of their demands for better welfare conditions. However, I strongly believe that if we continue to put heads together, we can devise creative ways of addressing some of these demands such that it would be satisfactory to all parties.
Mr. Visitor Sir, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, the University management has done its best under the circumstances to position University of Jos as a world-class institution of higher learning. In this wise I feel confident to proclaim to you today that the men and women before you represent the best of our society. They comprise 166 PhDs, 2,906Masters, 103 Postgraduate Diplomas, ___ Bachelors and ____ Diplomas. We are proud of them because they have worked diligently and excelled. We have no doubt that they will be successful in their chosen careers.
Among those graduating with degrees, we have following classifications:
- Distinction - 4
- First Class honours - 29
- Second Class honours (Upper Division)1,950
- Second Class honours (Lower Division) 5,738
- Third Class degree 3,149
- Pass Division 351
- Pass Qualified (Medicine & Pharmacy) 734
- Diploma 399
- Post Graduate Diploma 103
- Post Graduate Programme (M.A & M.Sc) 2,906
- Ph.D 165
- Backlog 2, 820
GRAND TOTAL = 18,348
One of the highpoints of today’s ceremony is the conferment of honorary degrees to some distinguished Nigerians who have made unique and outstanding contributions to national development and the growth of humanity. They are:
- His Royal Highness, Engineer John G. Mallo, Saf Butura, who will be conferred with the degree of Doctor of Engineering, Honoris Causa(D.Engr.)
- Sir Mike Mbama Okiro will be conferred with the degree of Doctor of Law, Honoris Causa (LL.D)
- Professor Umar Danbatta will be conferred with the degree of Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa (D.Sc.)
As I conclude, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, permit me to thank our gallant Academic and Non-Teaching Staff for their commitment to duty and positive projection of the Unijos brand which has enabled the University to earn its reputation as a foremost destination for intellectual enterprise in Nigeria. Our immense appreciation and gratitude also goes to the Federal Government for supporting us in all our endeavours and for discharging its role as Proprietor with distinction.
May I once again congratulate all the graduands on their achievement. May you find success in all your future endeavours.
Thank you and God bless.
Professor Seddi Sebastian Maimako