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Uni should contribute to economic growth

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By Mercy Kelani

They should take on the role of catalysts for societal transformation.

On May 16, 2024, the governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodimma, initiated a discussion addressing the contribution of universities to Economic Growth through research and technology, emphasizing the necessity for Nigerian universities to follow suit. He urged the universities of the nation to take on the role of catalysts for societal transformation and pave the path towards a revitalized Nigeria. Governor Uzodimma analysed historical evidence to demonstrate the significant impact that universities worldwide have had in the past.

He questioned whether Nigerian universities have fulfilled similar roles and sought to understand the reasons if they have not. The convocation lecture, in its 52nd edition, took place at the main campus of the prestigious university in Nsukka. During the Convocation lecture, Governor Uzodimma emphasized the importance of universities taking the initiative to pave the path towards a revitalized Nigeria. During the event, 12,526 students received their first degrees. The governor emphasized the importance of universities guiding the way towards a brighter future for Nigeria, equipped to tackle issues like Climate Change.

Everyone must work towards eliminating issues such as corruption.

Also, he mentioned that universities should start by accurately assessing Nigeria’s position as a nation of 200 million people following 63 years of independence. He believed that universities should introspect and uncover the obstacles preventing the nation from fully utilizing its abundant human and material resources. During his lecture, the governor brought up several inquiries. He asked why industrial production and exports remain at a low level, as well as why raw materials continue to be the primary Export.

More so, he wondered why ethnic groups in Nigeria have not been successfully integrated into a cohesive nation and why Corruption is prevalent in public institutions, such as universities. In order to create a thriving society in Nigeria, everyone must work towards eliminating issues such as corruption, inequality, and Poverty. This is the vision all Nigerians share for the country, and it is achievable given its high Literacy rate. Nigeria already boasts a wealth of highly skilled professionals who are sought after in countries around the globe.

Nigeria’s total number of universities has now reached an impressive 170.

Furthermore, he likened universities to workshops where individuals transform ordinary rocks into monumental works rather than mere inconveniences. By fulfilling this purpose, higher institutions act as guiding beacons steering nations towards progress. Dr. Azikiwe worked tirelessly to establish UNN because he believed it was crucial for producing skilled individuals to meet the needs of the newly independent Nigerian state. The governor of Imo State celebrated the fact that with the addition of other prestigious institutions, Nigeria’s total number of universities has now reached an impressive 170. By 2023, he observed that private entities possessed 79 of them, the Federal Government controlled 43, and state governments oversaw 48.

Uzodimma expressed disappointment in the challenging conditions of Nigerian universities, which prevent them from making a significant impact on national development. He highlighted the lack of essential facilities and standards for Education and character development as major obstacles. He believes that higher institutions are severely lacking in fundamental resources like up-to-date classrooms, labs, and libraries. This leads to students being crammed into small spaces without access to essential modern tools for studying and researching in the 21st Century. The governor expressed his skepticism about the ability to cultivate well-educated young individuals in the current educational environment. As a result, it is not shocking that numerous university graduates lack a fundamental understanding of their respective fields despite earning degrees.

Related Article: More Universities Needed to Bridge Gap-NUC

The major obstacles preventing Nigerian higher institutions from making a global impact in emerging technologies and innovations include insufficient funding, lack of proper infrastructure, shortage of skilled ICT personnel, as well as limited collaboration with industry and government. He expressed that tertiary institutions are not keeping up with the rapidly advancing technologies like artificial intelligence, biosensors/biometrics, big data, algorithms, blockchain, robotics, quantum computing, 5G, virtual/augmented reality, and gamification. He expressed satisfaction in the fact that his administration will hold the Tertiary Education Trust fund (TETFUND) accountable and ensure transparency in allocating funds to higher institutions. Uzodimma urged universities to take on the responsibility of being catalysts for change and leading the nation towards a different path.


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