Nigerian Concord Newspaper
We are gathered here today to celebrate a moment of fulfilment, of joy and a deep sense of accomplishment on the part of the graduating Students as well as a season of happiness and pride for the parents, relatives and friends who had eagerly looked forward to this day.
2.This epoch event is the second and last in the life of my Administration and it is unique in the sense that it marks 30 years of boundless academic growth of the University.
3.Let me join hands to share the joy of this day with the graduating Students. You have been prepared for the battle of life, you have been shaped and furnaced for the challenges, uncertainties and opportunities life would throw at you. I urge you to go out there and project, distil and exhibit the glowing skills that you internalized while here.
4.Let me specially and warmly welcome and congratulate our new Chancellor, His Gracious Majesty, (Barr) Disrael Gbobo Bob-Manuel II, the Paramount Ruler of Abonnema Kingdom in Rivers State on whose shoulders providence has placed the royal guidance of this Institution. We are encouraged by your antecedents, pedigree, amiable personality and informed stance on issues of local and international relevance. We remain firm in our belief that you are already one of us and that you will give us the right leadership and guidance.
5.In a special way, I congratulate the distinguished personalities who have just been conferred with Honorary Doctorate Degrees of the University. We look forward to your bountiful benevolence to the University which you should henceforth regard not only as your partner but also as your second home.
6.I would like to specially congratulate our Graduates who have similarly been conferred with the Diplomas and various Degrees of the University today. It is my firm belief that the knowledge and skills which you have acquired during your studies will be necessary potentials for accelerating your career development and by extension, add value to the technological, industrial and socio-economic development of our dear nation.
7.Special congratulations to the University Governing Council, the Management, and the entire Staff of the University for successfully putting together this remarkable event. I hope this is the beginning of resurrecting the tradition.
8.Your Excellencies, distinguished Guests there is no gainsaying that education remains the all-time solution to the myriad of challenges facing mankind. The denial of education is largely responsible for the 80% of the challenges we face as a country, whether it is the herder-terrorist attack on farming communities, banditry, or Boko Haram, etc. The University has within the last 30-years trained students in novel programmes that have only added not values to humanity but have also grown in leaps and bounds in terms of scholarship and research, infrastructure development, social impact and collaboration.
9.Let me place on record that in consonance with our stakeholder’s role, the Government of Benue State has provided interventions aimed at fast-tracking the holistic development of the University, key among them include sustained financial support and placement of the University on first-line charge which make Staff of the University to receive Salary before any other in the State.
10.In pursuance of the University’s vision to be the University of first choice in Nigeria and Africa, and among the top 200 in the world, my Government has bequeathed three critical assets to the Institution, namely: the Makurdi Zoological Garden, the J.S Tarka Foundation, and the defunct Agricultural Development Company (ADC). I am aware of the challenges and resistance I have faced in taking these actions. However, I am optimistic and convinced that sooner than later, the public and citizens of the State will appreciate the wisdom behind this action of Government. Therefore, I charge you intellectuals and the Management to explore the full potentials of these assets to enhance research and economic fortunes of the Institution and the State at large.
11.In the early part of my Administration, we intervened in the Accreditation crisis that resulted in the stagnation of our Medical Students for several years. Our intervention has paved the way for seamless graduation Medical Doctors who are doing the State proud in their various areas of practice. In the same vein, my Administration handed over the Schools of Nursing and Midwifery to the University to serve as the Department of Nursing Sciences. This gesture is in furtherance demonstration of our avowed commitment to providing high level manpower for the Health Sector.
12.Let me assure the University of the continued support of my Government in its drive towards attainment of the objectives of the founding fathers of the University. We share the sentiments of the Late South African legend, Nelson Mandela, who once stated that “education is the most powerful weapon that can be used to change the world.” We consider education as one of our cardinal responsibilities, and this responsibility is a social debt we owe this generation and posterity. That accounts for the huge investment we have expended in education.
13.My dear Friends, as an Alumnus and Visitor to our University, I would like to also request the Staff of the University to always show understanding. My regime has shown such understanding in many ways some I have already mentioned. Note that the COVID-19 Pandemic had hit hard even on the most economically developed countries of the world. I have resisted every temptation to reverse certain gestures my Government has conceded to the Staff of the University for the purposes of industrial harmony. One of such gestures is the Tax concession. Remember also, that during the various strikes including the last eight months, I continued to pay Staff Salaries including Earned Allowances. This high-mindedness should be reciprocated by the Staff of the University, Teaching, and non-Teaching alike. This is my sincere charge to you.
14.As we approach the threshold of the 2023 General Elections, I urge all Nigerians to eschew abusive and violent tendencies and allow the process to pass on seamlessly. Let us shame our detractors that we can conduct free, fair, and credible elections in Nigeria. I hereby, humbly request that you all go out and perform your civic responsibilities as OBEDIENT citizens of the State. Permit me to guide us further, that as intellectuals, graduates, and members of an informed community, it will be a shame to hear that we willingly desire to perish as if we lack knowledge. I humbly leave us will the words in the Holy Book (The Bible); Isaiah 1:19 “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.” Not my words but God Almighty is the one who spoke, is speaking and shall continue to speak. The choice is ours.
15.Finally, let me bid our graduating Students God’s mercies and divine favour as they set out on the next phase of their lives. Today, you have been confirmed, certified, and found worthy in character and learning to be admitted into the circle of scholars. I implore you, therefore, to be great Ambassadors of this University and let the light of the knowledge you have acquired here brighten your road as you navigate your way around career paths and service to humanity. To the Honorees, your pedigree and hard work has distinguished you for recognition by this great University. As I mentioned earlier, you have become part of this University. Whatever you can do to assist Research, Endow a Faculty Chair or Infrastructure, will go a long way to improving the University. I am sure the Council, Management, Staff and Students will never forget such gesture in a hurry.
16.I salute all the pioneer Staff and Students at this great University. One of such Staff is His Royal Majesty, Orchivirigh Tor Tiv, Professor James Ayatse. I am correctly informed that the Guest Lecturer for the Convocation Lecture is a pioneer Student and a Professor at Kaduna State University. It is my view that this manner of recognizing your former Students will encourage those coming behind. May I at this juncture also condole the Council, Management, Staff and Students of all the losses. Lately, it was Professor Armstrong M. Adejo. I am informed that a 400 Level Chemistry Student was killed during the herder/terrorist attack at Nagi, in Gwer-West Local Government Area a week ago. May their souls rest in peace, Amen.
17. Thank you for your attention.
18. In God we trust.