The Visitor to the University and the President and Commander in Chief of Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, has charged newly-graduated students of the University to be job-creators rather than job-seekers. Speaking at the University’s 23rd, 24th and 25th Combined Convocation Ceremonies, President Buhari, who was represented by the Director, Directorate of Accreditation, National Universities Commission, Dr. Biodun Saliu, said that the current administration would give the fullest and possible support to every planned effort that was geared towards creating more jobs through the reorientation of Nigerian youths to developing an entrepreneurial mindset, as this was vital to the attainment of government’s objectives of improved food security, employment, poverty reduction and wealth creation.

The President added that the country did not have all the means to provide jobs for every graduate, adding that while the government was committed to employment generation for majority of the teeming youths, they too must be prepared and be determined to contribute their own quota by striving to engage in one form of productive activity or the other. President Buhari admonished the graduands to take advantage of some of the programmes that had been put in place by the Federal Government to promote entrepreneurship which included those by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN Anchor Borrowers’ Programme), Bank of Industry (BoI), Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Industrial Training Fund (ITF) and the Bank of Agriculture (BoA), among others. He noted that the programmes were meant to provide start-up loans at concessionary rates for participants, calling on the private sector to assist government in promoting youth entrepreneurship through the development of micro, small and medium scale enterprises in the country.

He said that the Federal Government would not relent in investing heavily in research in agriculture, Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET), as well as skills development to meet the nation’s middle manpower needs and promote national growth. Commenting on the government’s concern with the development and retention of new generation of academics and professionals that would drive the sector on a sustainable basis, President Buhari stressed that “Realising the importance of entrepreneurial skills, the Federal Government, through the National Universities Commission, has made it mandatory for all universities to teach entrepreneurship skills. By that, we will be rescuing the nation from a consumption input-driven economy to a productive and export-oriented economic giant. I am happy to know that FUNAAB’s Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies (CENTS), is living up to expectations in this regard. The government is also impressed with the strides of the University in its laudable programmes such as the World Bank Centre of Excellence for Agricultural Development and Sustainable Environment (CEADESE) and the Community-Based Farming Scheme (COBFAS), among others”. Earlier, the Visitor was represented on the first day of the convocation ceremonies by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Convocation Lecturer, Chief (Dr.) Audu Ogbeh.

The Chancellor of the University, His Eminence, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi-Otu (V), the Obong of Calabar, stated that he was glad to be part of the historic event, the first ever that he presided-over as the fourth substantive Chancellor of the University, while commending the University as a leading citadel of learning in the country even as he congratulated the Governing Council, Management, Senate, Staff and Students of the University. The Natural Ruler and the Grand-Patriarch of the Efik Kingdom said the importance of Universities of Agriculture would ever remain relevant in the scheme of things in Nigeria, noting that the country had learnt a big lesson on, over-dependence on a single commodity. According to him, “In other words, oil has failed us as a nation. Nigeria should retrace its step by going back to agriculture; the over-dependence on oil remained a shame and would continue to fail us as Africa’s most populous country. Therefore, we must go back to the basics and the way out is to embrace agriculture. That is where our University should make a big difference, as a leading agricultural university in the country. The efforts of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to diversify the hitherto monolithic economy, is appropriate and welcome”. The Obong who is also the Rex Maximus Calabaris and the Defender of Christian Faiths in Nigeria, urged the Federal Government to do more by investing resources in carrying out research, adding that the University’s researchers and academics should also seek for better ways of improving agricultural practices.

The Pro-Chancellor, Dr. (Barr.) Aboki Zhawa stated that the Combined Convocation Ceremonies was unique. Dr. Zhawa, who is also the Chairman of the University’s Governing Council, said that he had a dream that by year 2020, more than half of the University’s student population would be living on campus, adding that those without means to pay fees would also be able to do so. The Pro-Chancellor stated that the University would be cultivating part of its 10,000 hectares of land for commercial farming, adding that a blueprint was being prepared as a road map. He, therefore, appealed to the Visitor and the NUC to restore the College of Management Sciences (COLMAS), in order to meet the aspirations and yearnings of Nigerian citizens. He also cautioned people from working against the University.

The Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ololade Enikuomehin, on his part, disclosed that the 2013/2014 Academic Session produced 71 First Class, 784 was 2nd Class Upper Division, 855 was 2nd Class Lower Division, 141 was 3rd Class and six had Pass Degree graduates, adding that the College of Agricultural Management and Rural Development (COLAMRUD), had 146 graduates; the College of Animal Science and Livestock Production (COLANIM), had 286 graduates, while the College of Engineering (COLENG), produced 77 graduates. Others were the College of Environmental Resource Management (COLERM), which had 245 graduates; the College of Food Science and Human Ecology (COLFHEC), 258 graduates; College of Natural Sciences (COLNAS), 497 graduates and the College of Veterinary Medicine (COLVET), 21 graduates, while the College of Plant Science and crop Production (COLPLANT), produced 351 graduates making 1,881 graduates.

The Acting Vice-Chancellor stated that in the 2014/2015 Academic Session produced 75 1st Class; 1,000 2nd Class Upper Division; 1,296 2nd Class Lower Division, 306 3rd Class and 19 Pass Degrees, stressing that the College of Agricultural Management and Rural Development (COLAMRUD), had 251 graduates; the College of Animal Science and Livestock Production (COLANIM), 454 graduates; the College of Engineering (COLENG), 115 graduates; while the College of Environmental Resource Management (COLERM), had 307 graduates. Others were the College of Food Science and Human Ecology (COLFHEC), which produced 254 graduates; College of Management Sciences (COLMAS), 364 graduates; College of Natural Sciences (COLNAS), 593 graduates and the College of Veterinary Medicine (COLVET), 26 graduates, while the College of Plant Science and crop Production (COLPLANT), produced 367 graduates making 2,731 graduates.

Professor Enikuomehin had stated that in the 2015/2016 Academic Session, the University produced 57 1st Class; 1,094 2nd Class Upper Division; 1,451 2nd Class Lower Division; 381 3rd Class and seven Pass Degrees. According to him, the College of Agricultural Management and Rural Development (COLAMRUD), had 272 graduates; the College of Animal Science and Livestock Production (COLANIM), had 466 graduates; the College of Biosciences (COLBIOS), had 214 graduates; the College of Engineering (COLENG), produced 165 graduates, while the College of Environmental Resource Management (COLERM), had 342 graduates. He revealed that the College of Food Science and Human Ecology (COLFHEC) had 340 graduates, College of Management Sciences (COLMAS) had 470 graduates, College of Physical Sciences (COLPHYS) had 287 graduates; the College of Veterinary Medicine (COLVET) had 26 graduates, while the College of Plant Science and Crop Production (COLPLANT) produced 483 graduates, making 3,065 graduates for the session.

Highlighting the future plans of the University, the Acting Vice-Chancellor sought the executive approval of the Visitor for the establishment of the College of Health Sciences alongside the inauguration of the University Teaching Hospital Governing Board and the College of Law, in line with the Federal Government’s diversification and expansion of specialised universities’ operational boundaries, while making a strong case for the reconsideration of the Federal Government’s policy that Universities of Agriculture should discontinue to run courses in the management sciences. According to him, “This portends negative omen for the staff and students of the University. It would not only reduce access to education, but would reduce the capacity of the affected universities to adequately contribute their quota to national development. Therefore, the Federal Government should reconsider its position on the matter in the best interest of the nation”.

On the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy, Professor Enikuomehin appealed for the exemption of federal universities from the scheme, noting that it became imperative in view of the difficulty being encountered by universities in the course of discharging their core duties, especially in research and the payment of salaries. He, however, congratulated all the graduating students for toiling very hard to make a huge success out of their several years of dedication, hard work, perseverance and determination, adding that as they go into the world, they should remember to be good ambassadors of the University.

The Executive Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, at the occasion, stated that the government of Ogun State was proud to identify with the University, saying that the state was delighted that the University was back on track. Represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Barrister Taiwo Adeoluwa, the Governor pledged that the state would cooperate fully with the University to return to its place as the citadel of learning and scholarship. Senator Amosun said that the ceremony was about them and their achievements, while equally extolling the virtues of the Acting Vice-Chancellor for making out time, to come and see him personally to invite him to the ceremonies. He assured the University of the state government’s support at encouraging agriculture and agribusiness.

The 2013/2014 Session had Mr. Besidonne, Charles Eyituoyo of the Department of Microbiology, College of Natural Sciences (COLNAS) as the Best Graduating Student with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.93, while the 2014/2015 Session had Mr. Shittu, Remilekun Abduladi of the Department of Civil Engineering, College of Engineering (COLENG) as the Best Graduating Student with a CGPA of 4.84. The Best Graduating Student of the 2015/2016 Session was Mr. Lapite, Olumide Moses of the Department of Economics, College of Management Sciences (COLMAS), who had a CGPA of 4.88. Highpoint of the ceremonies was the investiture of the new Chancellor as well as conferment of Master’s and Doctorate degrees to deserving students.