President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has warned against incessant strike actions that have paralyzed academic activities and prolonged the years that students are supposed to spend in Nigerian universities.
The President in his speech at the 33rd convocation ceremony of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) said his government was working around the clock to address the situation that usually leads to industrial unrest in the universities.
The best-graduating student of the university, Miss Oluwanifemi Favour Olajuyigbe with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4. 93 said her class of 2021 spent seven years for five years of courses without carryover or other academic challenges.
But Tinubu who was represented by a visiting lecturer at the National University Commission (NUC), Prof King David Tanayaweh said his government is aware of the challenges facing the higher educational institutions, particularly our universities, and said efforts are being made to address the situation.
Pointedly, Tinubu said his government would not shirk its responsibilities in ensuring that educational institutions get their dues to perform their statutory duties optimally.
He said one of the first actions his government took was the signing of the Students Loan Bill into law. This Act, he said would enable indigent students in all our tertiary institutions to have access to interest-free loans which they would pay back at their convenience in the future when they are gainfully employed.
His words “Under my watch and as I have said in my manifesto, no student will drop out of school as a result of inability to pay school charges.”
On industrial unrest in the universities, Tinubu said “I would like to enjoin all the unions in our universities to cooperate with the Government to deliver the needed development by ensuring an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity on our campuses.
“On our part, we will ensure that motivational activities are put in place to ensure improved productivity. Reciprocative actions would be expected from our universities as the Government works hard to raise the bar of conducive teaching and learning environment.
“To whom much is given, much is expected. Dialogue, patience, and positive engagements are better means of achieving results than strike actions. Industrial disharmony does nothing but disrupt life, waste time, and elongate the academic calendar.
“Therefore, all avenues for dialogue must be explored and exhausted before strike actions are considered, and as the last resort. We are all aware that University education is capital-intensive. For adequate funding, therefore, all the stakeholders have a role to play.
“Suffice to say that the Government alone cannot do the funding. I, therefore, call on the organized private sector operators and international partners to collaborate with our universities and research institutes in the areas of research funding and utilization of research outputs for national integration and development.
” This will also rub on our graduates in the areas of value addition, experience, hands-on training, exposure, and less expenditure on employees’ engagement and training. If this kind of learning environment is achieved, we will have students who will be well focussed, and eschew all forms of violence and other anti-social behaviours.”
Tinubu commended FUTA for its achievements since it was established and for becoming third third-best university in the last ranking of the nation’s universities.
Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State in his speech said FUTA has been a good addition to the development of the state. He advised the students to use the knowledge they acquired to better the society.